How to Pass the ASVAB

If you're considering a future with the military, the first big step is to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Before you schedule a physical and begin pre-training for boot camp, you will have to qualify for military service. The ASVAB isn't any run-of-the mill test: it determines what branch of service you're eligible for, job opportunities, and even monetary incentives.


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    Know the cutoff scores. The minimal passing scores for each branch of military service varies and they are also subject to change. There may be waivers available for scores that aren't high enough to pass: check with your recruiter or career counselor for more information. Also, know that if you are interested in a particular military occupation specialty (MOS), each job requires a certain score.
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    Take a pre-ASVAB. If you're worried about possibly failing the ASVAB, take a pre-ASVAB to gauge your performance. Your scores on these practice tests do not count; this is simply a diagnostic tool that will give a pretty accurate determination of whether or not you will pass the actual ASVAB. You can take a pre-ASVAB with a military recruiter and you can also find them on the internet and in some books.
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    Review your results. If you pass: great! If you don't: no worries. The ASVAB covers a lot of material but what really matters to you are the scores that contribute to the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT). The AFQT score is comprised of the results of four subtests on the ASVAB: (1) arithmetic reasoning (AR), (2) paragraph comprehension (PC), (3) word knowledge (WK), and (4) mathematics knowledge (MK). Your AFQT score determines whether or not you can join certain branches of military service. If you have a particular MOS in mind, check with recruiters or career counselors about what specific additional ASVAB subtests are used for admission which could include general science (GS), electronic information (EI), auto and shop information (AS), mechanical comprehension (MC), or assembling objects (AO).
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    Know what to work on. If you scored poorly on some of the subtests, you will need to study the basic knowledge that the section covers. The best way to figure out what "basic knowledge" each section covers is to consult books that specialize on ASVAB test-taking. Look for books that present material on the nine subtests (mentioned in the last step) and a sample ASVAB test. Also, if you can, make note of the questions that you answered incorrectly on your diagnostic test and include those in your study routine.
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    Study in the test-taking environment. The ASVAB is administered in a quiet room with other people testing at the same time. You should study in an environment similar to the one that you'll be testing in.
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    Quick review. When you have time, quickly review some material that you haven't quite mastered. This gives your brain time to process the information and the techniques you need to exercise on the test. Do this on a daily basis.
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    Take another diagnostic. When you feel ready for the ASVAB, take another diagnostic to be sure. Set a timer and take the test in a quite area to really simulate the conditions of the ASVAB you'll be taking. You should have made improvements in the subtests you studied for. If you don't pass the diagnostic, however, don't be discouraged. Complete steps three through seven again with these new results in mind. Your dedication will serve you well: both on the test and in your future endeavors with the military.
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    The test. The ASVAB is different than most tests you've probably taken. There are a few things that you need to consider when taking the ASVAB:
    • Points are not deducted for wrong answers: you get points for answering questions correctly. So, when taking a pencil-and-paper format test, read through the questions, first, and then answer the ones that are easiest for you, first.
    • With the paper-and-pencil format of the ASVAB, try not to leave any questions unanswered. If time permits and you are still struggling with tougher questions, venture an educated guess.
    • Nowadays, ASVAB tests are mostly being administered via computer. With this format, you only get one question at a time, so there is no need to scan read the test or organize your test taking strategy. When you answer a question correctly, you get a slightly more difficult question after that. When you get a question wrong, you get a slightly easier question after that.
    • When working on a tough question, plug in the multiple answer choices to see if they fit. The question itself may be difficult, but by weeding out the obvious wrong answers, your improving your chances of getting it right.

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Categories: Careers in the Military