The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is required of all candidates interested in joining a branch of the U.S. military. The exam tests word knowledge, reading comprehension, arithmetic reasoning and math knowledge. Each branch of the military has a minimum overall score for enlistment, such as 31 for the Army. Scores on the subsections are used to evaluate a candidate for specific jobs within the military, such as engineering or clerical work. Scoring well on the math section can improve your overall score and qualify you for jobs requiring math.
Computer vs. Paper-and-Pencil
Choosing the test format that best suits your test-taking style could have a significant impact on your score.The computer test gives you 39 minutes to answer 16 questions in arithmetic reasoning or word problems and 20 minutes for 16 mathematical knowledge equations and problems. The test only allows you to enter one answer and you cannot change it. If you choose the right answer, the next question is harder; if you get the answer wrong, the next question is easier. The paper test includes 30 questions for arithmetic reasoning and 25 questions for mathematical knowledge, with time limits of 36 minutes and 24 minutes, respectively.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the arithmetic reasoning section covers three general categories of questions: ratios, percentages and questions of speed, time and distance. The mathematical knowledge section covers more advanced concepts, such as adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators, factoring, reciprocals, factorials, prime numbers, exponents, algebraic equations and geometry concepts like angles and area. Use old textbooks or an ASVAB test-prep book to review these concepts. If it has been a long time since you have taken math classes or if you are having particular trouble with any of these concepts, it may be worth working with a tutor for a few weeks or months.
Test-prep books and online resources offer practice tests for the ASVAB that include the same kind of questions as those on the real test. By taking several practice tests, you can get a feel for what to expect on test day and identify any weak areas. For example, you are not allowed to use a calculator on the ASVAB, so practice working out problems quickly by hand. If you are taking the paper test, do not leave a question blank, since you are not penalized for guessing. If you are taking the computer-based test, learning to recognize the types of questions quickly can help you have more time for the answers. For example, the Coast Guard notes that ratio problems typically provide test-takers with three variables, asking them to solve for a fourth.
Reviewing Areas of Weakness
Once you have identified areas of weakness, spend additional time reviewing those concepts. If factorials are a problem, for example, spend a few extra days or weeks focusing more time in your study session on factorials or work with a tutor on those concepts. After reviewing, take practice tests again to see if you have improved. Repeat the process until you are performing well on all the required concepts for the test and feel confident going into test day. The Coast Guard says that the key to success is repetition and recommends changing up your study by working with friends or focusing on specific kinds of problems during each study session.