Step 4: Ace the ASVAB

What is the ASVAB and why is it important?

The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is a multiple-choice test designed to evaluate your skills in ten areas. In the Army you will have a job which is referred to as an MOS. MOS is an acronym for Military Occupational Specialty. The job opportunities open to you in the Army will be determined by your score on the ASVAB.

The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is a multiple-choice test designed to evaluate your knowledge.

Test Subjects

General Science covers the material generally taught in junior and senior high school science courses. Most of the questions deal with life and physical science. There are also a few questions on earth science. The life science items deal with basic biology, human nutrition, and health. The physical science items are concerned with elementary chemistry and physics. Fundamentals of geology, meteorology, and astronomy may be included in the earth science area.

Arithmetic Reasoning covers basic mathematical problems generally encountered in everyday life. These questions are designed to measure general reasoning and the ability to solve mathematical problems.

Word Knowledge tests ability to understand the meaning of words through synonyms—words that have the same or nearly the same meaning as other words. The test questions may appear in either of two forms: (1) the key word appears in the stem and is followed by “most nearly means,” or (2) the key word is used in a sentence.

Paragraph Comprehension consists of reading paragraphs that vary in length from one paragraph to several, and they are followed by one or more questions.

Auto & Shop Information covers the material generally taught in automobile mechanics in vocational-technical schools and in shop instruction. The automotive information may also be acquired as a hobby or by working with automobiles. The questions generally pertain to diagnosing malfunctions of a car, the use of particular parts on a car, or meaning of terminology. The shop information may also be acquired as a hobby or through shop experience using a variety of tools and materials.

Mathematics Knowledge measures general mathematical knowledge. It is a test of your ability to solve problems using high school mathematics, including algebra and some basic geometry.

Mechanical Comprehension measures your understanding of mechanical and physical principles. Many of the questions use drawings to illustrate specific principles. Understanding of these principles comes from observing the physical world, working with or operating mechanical devices, or reading and studying.

Electronics Information deals with electricity, radio principles, and electronics. This information can be learned through working on radios, working on electrical equipment, reading books, or taking courses.

Assembling Objects is only provided on the computer-based test and requires the test taker to determine how parts of an object might logically fit together.

Learn more details about the different versions of the ASVAB and try out Army.com's ASVAB Practice Test 1, ASVAB Practice Test 2, or look at the archive of ASVAB Questions of the Week.

Preparing for the ASVAB

You can obtain a higher score on the ASVAB by preparing properly. You should begin preparing for the tests ahead of time by:

  • studying subject matter,
  • reviewing sample questions in practice exercises,
  • and by taking practice test batteries.

Tips to help you prepare for the ASVAB:

1. Become familiar with the format of multiple-choice test items. The ASVAB uses only multiple choice questions.

2. Become familiar with the layout of machine-scored answer sheets. Make sure you understand how to correctly blacken the space in the correct manner.

3. Find out what the test will cover and review. There are a lot of study guides and test aids available at various bookstores or even possibly at your local public library. We have some ASVAB study guide reviews on Army.com to include:

4. Take a practice test under actual test conditions. Answer all questions within the allotted time of the actual test.

5. Check your answers at the end of the practice test. For questions answered incorrectly, try to determine why you answered them incorrectly. Getting the correct answer isn't always enough. Be sure that you also understand the rationale for arriving at the correct answer. This is important to expand your knowledge in the subject areas and have a better understanding of the types of questions that may appear on the test.

6. Set aside time every day for study. Keep this schedule everyday. Concentrate during this time and do not waste time taking frequent breaks.

7. Study with a friend or a group. This can be really helpful and may ease the stress of studying. You can also quiz each other on different subjects as needed. In addition if a group is depending on you to meet with them you are less likely to put off the study session.

8. Eliminate distractions. Studying is easier when there are little or no distractions. Try to find a quiet room in which to study and, if necessary, use the library.

9. Keep physically fit. You will perform better if you are in good physical and mental shape. You cannot study as effectively when you are tired, ill, or tense. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercise, and eating a well balanced diet.

Should You Guess on Test Day?

If you do not know the answer to a multiple-choice test item, should you guess? Yes! There is no penalty for incorrect answers on the ASVAB, so it is to your advantage to answer every question. First try to eliminate any answers that you feel are definitely wrong, and make your selection from the remaining answers.

Be sure to remember these three important points when preparing for the ASVAB and making a decision about guessing:

  1. Answer all items. There is no penalty for wrong answers.
  2. An "educated" guess is better than guessing "blindly."
  3. Guessing "blindly" is better than not guessing at all.

As with any comprehensive test there are some important things to remember. A comprehensive test is designed to show extensive understanding of the subject being tested. It is important that you study and prepare for the ASVAB but trying to "cram" the night before is counterproductive.

Prepare well in advance so that the day before the test you can get a good night's sleep and not be worried about the test. DO NOT STUDY THE NIGHT BEFORE THE TEST. Watch a movie, watch TV, listen to music. Do something that you find relaxing.

Typically, you will wait in line to take the test. When your group (usually a group of 2 or 3) is called to take the test, remember to LISTEN closely and FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. You may have an excellent knowledge base but if you can't follow the instructions you will not be successful. If you do not understand the instructions by all means ASK QUESTIONS. It is the responsibility of the MEPS personnel administering the test to answer your questions and to help you.

When you are actually sitting before the computer take a few deep breaths and listen very carefully. There are only a few keys on the keyboard that you will use in taking the test. Pressing an invalid key may disqualify your test requiring that you retake it on another day.

Read the questions carefully and evaluate your answer. Remember these are timed test but do not rush. You should have ample time to answer each question. If you skip a question you CANNOT GO BACK. So answer as best you can then move on.

Things You Can Not Do:

  • Talk to other people taking the ASVAB
  • Press invalid keys on the keyboard
  • Skip questions-you cannot go back

Things You Definitely Need To Do:

  • Ask questions if you don't understand
  • Go to the bathroom
  • Follow instructions carefully
  • If you don't know the answer it is better to make an educated guess than to leave it unanswered since you are not penalized for incorrect answers
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