What You Need to Know to Pass the ASVAB
If you are interested in the military, chances are you are fully aware of what the ASVAB is. According to the (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Batter), “The ASVAB is a multiple-aptitude battery that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military. It is administered annually to more than one million military applicants, high school, and post-secondary students.”
Knowledge is power, and the same is true for the ASVAB. How can you expect to pass it if you are don’t know anything about it? There are an inordinate number of websites out there with tips for passing this test. In this article, we will give you an overview of test-taking tips, and we will provide additional information about the test that will help you in your quest to do well. The better you do, the better your choices in finding your military dream job.
What Does the Test Look Like?
Currently, the ASVAB contains nine different test sections. The sections will take as little as 10 minutes and up to 36 minutes to complete. The entire ASVAB is allotted 3 hours for completion. Administration of the test typically takes place at Military Entrance Processing Stations (also called MEPS), or at satellite locations called Military Entrance Test (MET) sites. The computerized format usually given at the MEPS, whereas the written version is given at the MET sites.
Here is an overview of the sections of the test in the computerized version and the time allotted for completion of each of those sections:
- General Science (GS) – 16 questions in 8 minutes
- Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) – 16 questions in 39 minutes
- Word Knowledge (WK) – 16 questions in 8 minutes
- Paragraph Comprehension (PC) – 11 questions in 22 minutes
- Mathematics Knowledge (MK) – 16 questions in 20 minutes
- Electronics Information (EI) – 16 questions in 8 minutes
- Automotive and Shop Information (AS) – 11 questions in 7 minutes
- Mechanical Comprehension (MC) – 16 questions in 20 minutes
- Assembling Objects (AO) – 16 questions in 16 minutes
- Verbal Expression (VE)= (WK)+(PC)
Here is an overview of the sections of the test in the written version and the time allotted for completion of each of those sections:
- General Science (GS) – 26 questions in 11 minutes
- Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) – 30 questions in 36 minutes
- Word Knowledge (WK) – 35 questions in 11 minutes
- Paragraph Comprehension (PC) – 15 questions in 13 minutes
- Mathematics Knowledge (MK) – 25 questions in 24 minutes
- Electronics Information (EI) – 20 questions in 9 minutes
- Automotive and Shop Information (AS) – 25 questions in 11 minutes
- Mechanical Comprehension (MC) – 25 questions in 19 minutes
- Assembling Objects (AO) – 25 questions in 15 minutes
- Verbal Expression (VE)= (WK)+(PC)
Please note: Navy applicants also must complete a Coding Speed (CS) test.
Tips for Taking the ASVAB
It’s always good advice not to stress too much before taking any kind of important test, and the ASVAB is no exception to this rule. Not stressing will help you with the other tip of test-taking, which is to get a good night’s sleep. The ease of which the good night’s sleep can be had will probably depend in large part where you are taking the test. If you are taking it at your school and you can sleep in your own bed the night before, that is definitely an advantage. But if you are going with your military branch and staying at a hotel, relaxing and sleeping isn’t quite as easy. Sometimes in these potentially stressful situations, getting a good night’s sleep two nights before the test day can be even more important than the night before. The bottom line, though, is to try not to worry yourself out of a good night’s sleep.
Once you are at the testing site, you will probably have to wait in line along with other test-takers. Once you get in, be sure to listen closely and follow instructions. Also, if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask them. Don’t be intimidated if you get a little “attitude” from the folks who are administering the tests. Often they are not all that happy to be there, but it has nothing to do with you personally. It’s still their job to help out, so make sure they do if you need it.
After you actually sit down at a computer, it is critical that you read directions and listen to instructions extremely carefully. If you so much as press an incorrect key on the keyboard, it could disqualify you for that day, and you would have to come back on another day. This is usually something all test takers wish to avoid!
Work your way through the questions briskly, but do not rush. You cannot go back to a question once you’ve moved beyond it, so read carefully, consider the answer, and you should have plenty of time to finish up the entire test.
Dos and Don’ts for Taking the ASVAB
Make sure you do:
- Ask questions if you’re unclear about something
- Listen and follow the instructions
- Read the keyboard instructions carefully
- Use plenty of scratch paper as needed
- Do think things through carefully the first time
- Eliminate answers that are obviously wrong
- Guess if you cannot figure out a question within a minute or two
Make sure you don’t:
- Take too long on any one question
- Talk to anyone sitting around you
- Press the wrong keys on the keyboard
- Skip any questions because you cannot go back to them
- Fall asleep
And here is another tip that might seem like a no-brainer but which is still worth mentioning: Use the restroom BEFORE you start taking the test!
General Study Tips:
The ASVAB for Dummies website has lots of good tips on taking the test, and they offer the following pointers:
Pointers for Guessing on the ASVAB
No matter how well you study for the ASVAB, you’ll more than likely come across a few questions where you simply do not have a clue as to the answer. If you guess wisely, and you can possibly score extra points on many ASVAB subtests if you happen to get the answer correct. If you leave a question blank, you have a 0 percent chance of getting the right answer, but if you guess, you actually a 25 percent chance of getting the right answer. Don’t forget those odds when you are test-taking!
So how are your guessing skills? ASVAB for Dummies goes on to provide a few quick pointers on making your best guess:
- Eliminate answers up front that you know are wrong and then guess among the remaining selections. If you eliminate one answer, your chances of getting the question right go up to 33 percent. Eliminate two, and you’re at a pretty sweet 50-50.
- So how do you narrow down your choices? Well, try to keep these ideas in mind:
- Answers that include always or never types of statements are usually not the correct answer.
- If two answer options have completely opposite meanings, one of them is probably the correct answer.
- If two answer options are very close in meaning, then you can probably rest assured that neither is correct.
- Never guess based on past choices. For instance, if there seem to have been a log of “B” answers in previous questions, don’t assume “B” isn’t correct in the question you are guessing at.
- When you are truly stumped and can’t even eliminate one of the choices, pick the same letter for your guess. For example, if guess “B” on 10 questions that you have no clue as to the correct answer, your odds of having the answer right for at least one or two increases enough to make this a very worthwhile strategy.
Other Resources to Help You in Taking the ASVAB
A printable fact sheet about the ASVAB is available here.
References and documentation about the ASVAB can be found here.
Free ASVAB pre-tests can be found here.
Military.com has put together a handy list of study tips that should help you, whether you are studying for ASVAB or for something else.
Learn more about the ASVAB program designed to help students explore potential careers here.
Learn more about the subtest contents of the ASVAB here.
Learn how to understand the way ASVAB scores are computed and used here.
Read tips for how teachers can help their students prepare to take the ASVAB here.
Discover how the military has used these tests over the years to select and classify the newest round of recruits here.
Delve deeper into the topic of what procedures are in place to evaluate the fairness of what is contained on the exam as well as test scores here.
Take a look at other papers and reports that are referenced in the ASVAB website. There, you can also download ASVAB-related documents. Take a look here.