The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is a respected aptitude test developed by the Department of Defense. It tests a young adult’s potential success in the US Military and must be taken before enlisting.
You can’t technically fail the test, but your score will determine what branch you can join and what you may be able to specialize in. So, ensuring you are well prepared and get your best possible marks will give you more options to choose from when looking at a career in the US Armed Forces.
The ASVAB tests many areas of your aptitude, and your math skills will be tested in 2 primary subtests, Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge. However, strong math will be helpful in other tests like the Electronics Information subtest.
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ASVAB Math Test Format
The ASVAB is a multiple-choice test, and each question will have 4 possible answers you must choose from.
Depending on where you take the ASVAB, it can be administered in 2 formats. Although computerized ASVAB is used at all MEPS locations, if you’re not near a MEPS location, you will take the test at a Military Entrance Test (MET) site, which may use pen and paper for testing.
The Computerized ASVAB (CAT-ASVAB) is adaptive, which means the questions will differ for each participant depending on their previous answers. You can’t go back and modify your previous answers.
Pencil and Paper Testing
The paper and pencil ASVAB (P&P-ASVAB) is a standard test, which means everybody gets the same questions. You can review and update your answers for each section but not previous sections.
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Topics Covered in the ASVAB Math Subtests
The ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning section will test your ability to understand and solve math word problems. So you must first read and understand the question, extract the equation from it, and then solve it.
The areas of math you need to know for this subtest are:
- Arithmetic: You may get questions on simple arithmetic like addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication.
- Percentages: You may get general questions on percentages, such as calculating a sale price or discount.
- Ratio and proportion: You may get questions on ratios and proportions, such as calculating baking ratios on different recipe components.
- Questions on interest: You may get questions on simple and compound interest relating to a bank savings account.
- Numbers: Understanding whole numbers, fractions, decimals, real numbers, and imaginary numbers will be required.
Example Question: There are 5 apples, 4 oranges, and 3 pears in a bag. What is the chance of pulling out either an orange or a pear?
Example Answers: 1/4 – 1/3 – 7/12 – 3/4
The ASVAB Mathematics Knowledge section will test your understanding of basic high school maths. Your 10th-grade maths classes and prior grades would cover this information, including basic Algebra and basic Geometry.
The areas of math needed for this subtest are everything from Arithmetic Reasoning and:
- Order of operations.
- Fractions and decimals.
- Number patterns.
- Geometry formulas.
- Formulas for shapes, factorials, and number pattern series.
- Algebra expressions and equations.
- Geometry: Such as shapes, lines, and formulas.
- Calculating quadratic equations (without a calculator)
Example Question: Simplify (x6)(x5)
Example Answers: 2×11 – 2×30 – x11 – x30
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Tips for passing the ASVAB math subtests
- Fully understand order of operations; this is key in the math subtests.
- Memorize essential formulas needed for the test so you can quickly recall them and answer questions rather than racking your brain.
- Write everything down and work it out on a piece of paper; trying to solve everything in your head will make the test even harder.
- If you don’t understand the question or know the answer, test each answer provided with the question given.
- Purchase a good test prep book or course to help you study and prepare.
The ASVAB math subtests can be challenging. The official ASVAB website has sample questions you can test your ability to solve.
If you feel your knowledge is lacking and it’s been some time since you took high school maths, or you didn’t do well when you did take it, then a good study guide with lots of practice questions will help you.
Our recommendation would be The Ultimate ASAB Math Course.