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Math Prep for ASVAB

by Lori Garrett-Hatfield

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, has been used for 40 years to predict future success in the military. High school students also take the ASVAB to help pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses and to aid with career planning. For recruits, a high score on the ASVAB means that they may get the career assignment they want. Reviewing your math skills will help you earn a high score on the Mathematics subtests and boost your overall score.

The ASVAB and Subtests

According to the official website of the ASVAB, there are between eight and ten sub-tests, depending on which form of the test is taken. The subtests measure a recruit's aptitude in four areas: verbal ability, math, science and technical. The most important score for recruits, at least initially, is the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or AFQT, score. The AFQT score is comprised of scores from four of the sub-tests: Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Word Knowledge. The higher the percentile score, the better chance a recruit has of gaining their preferred assignment. Because two of the scores counted toward the AFQT score are mathematics sub-tests, the two mathematics scores are important.

The Mathematics Subtests

There are two mathematics subtests on the ASVAB. The Arithmetic Reasoning subtest consists of 30 word problems with a 36-minute time limit. According to the Coast Guard website, the Arithmetic Reasoning sub-test covers the following areas: addition, addition of money, area, averaging, coinage values, converting fractions to percentages, discounts, division, elapsed time, fractions, multiplication, percent difference, perimeter, ratios, simple percentages, single variable algebra, speed/time/distance problems, subtracting money, integers, subtraction, time and weights/measures. The Mathematics Knowledge sub-test consists of 25 computation problems with a 24-minute time limit. The sub-test covers the following areas: adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions; decimals and percents; exponents, powers, reciprocals, factorial, prime numbers, roots, algebraic equations, and basic geometry.

Studying for the Arithmetic Reasoning Subtest

Because the Arithmetic Reasoning sub-test covers so much material, it is important for students to brush up on topics that they are weak in. Also, since this sub-test is entirely comprised of word problems, it is important that students know and understand the vocabulary involved. Both Flashcardexchange.com and Quizlet.com have practice tests and flashcards for vocabulary study. Testguide.com has study guides and practice tests for the Arithmetic Reasoning component. Safari Books Online has a comprehensive Arithmetic Reasoning practice test that will need to be printed out and used as a workbook. Finally, Practicequiz.com has a test for Arithmetic Reasoning that can be taken in either test mode or study mode. If the recruit takes the test in study mode, the program will tell him whether his answer is right or wrong and explain why.

Studying for the Mathematics Knowledge Subtest

Since the Mathematics Knowledge subtest performance improves with speed, practice is very important. The faster students can answer questions, the quicker they can complete the test, leaving time to double-check answers. Flashcard Exchange has a practice test for the Mathematics Knowledge subtest. Also, both ASVAB Practice Test and Testguide.com have practice Mathematics Knowledge subtests. Safari Books Online has a comprehensive Mathematics Knowledge practice test that can be printed out and used as a workbook, which is worthwhile if the student needs a good overall math review. Again, Practicequiz.com has a test for Mathematics Knowledge that can be taken in either test mode or study mode. If the recruit takes the test in study mode, the program will tell him whether his answer is right or wrong and explain why.

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.

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