Recruits who are preparing to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery know they have to score well to get the position they desire in the military. Each branch of the military has an average score that they accept, as well as the score recruits need for each position. Recruits who want the highest score possible need to know which sections of the ASVAB may be the hardest.

The ASVAB and Subtests

The ASVAB is actually a battery of eight to ten subtests, depending on where a recruit takes the test. According to the official site of the ASVAB, the subtests are in general science, arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, math knowledge, electronics information, auto and shop information, and mechanical comprehension. Depending on where a recruit takes the ASVAB, the battery of tests is available on paper or on the computer. The ASVAB takes approximately three hours to complete.


The most important part of the ASVAB, according to the official ASVAB site, is the four tests that make up the Armed Forces Qualification Test: arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, paragraph comprehension and word knowledge. The scores on these four tests are combined, and the result is a percentile score. The higher a recruit's percentile, the better his or her chance is of getting a desired assignment. According to Instant ASVAB, the paragraph comprehension and word knowledge tests are counted twice for the AFQT score. The better recruits score on the paragraph comprehension and word knowledge tests, the better their scores on the AFQT.

Math Tests

Two math tests also contribute to the AFQT score: arithmetic reasoning and mathematics knowledge. The arithmetic reasoning test, which covers simple math calculations, takes 36 minutes and consists of 30 questions. According to the Cape May Coast Guard Training Center, of the two tests, the mathematics knowledge test is considered to be the most difficult because it has mostly word problems, with a 24-minute time limit. A recruit will need to remember all of his or her math classes -- from arithmetic to geometry -- and process problems quickly to receive a good score.

Mechanical Comprehension

Of the other tests -- electronics information, auto and shop information, general science and mechanical comprehension -- the mechanical comprehension test is considered to be the most difficult. According to the Cape May Coast Guard Training site, the mechanical comprehension test consists of 25 questions to be completed in 19 minutes. Many of the questions on the mechanical comprehension test look like word problems, with a drawing, chart, or graphs to illustrate the problem. The mechanical comprehension test covers simple machines, gears, measuring work, friction, power, clutches, force and pressure, machine elements and basic mechanisms.

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About the Author

Lori Garrett-Hatfield has a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She has a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. She has been working in the Education field since 1994, and has taught every grade level in the K-12 system, specializing in English education, and English as a Second Language education.