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Who has the Best ASVAB Study Guide?

Preparing for the ASVAB

Updated: August 17, 2014

The Armed Force’s Qualification Test (AFQT) is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, better known as the ASVAB, it is the only test used by the United States military to determine one’s eligibility for enlistment. Each service has a minimum AFQT score, or “QT score” required for enlistment; as a matter of fact, enlistment eligibility is the only real function the AFQT, it is not used to determine what rating or job for which you may qualify.

The ASVAB is comprised of nine separate sections. Each section is timed, and they vary in topics from Arithmetic Reasoning to Word Knowledge. Each section’s score is referred to as a “line score.” Each military job uses a combination of those scores, depending on what skills the job requires to determine if you would line score qualify. Similarly, the AFQT standard score is computed with the formula 2VE + AR + MK. VE is a combination of the Paragraph Comprehension (PC) and Word Knowledge (WK) line scores, AR is Arithmetic Reasoning and MK is Mathematics Knowledge, it is only those 4 line scores that make up the QT score. To simplify, the QT score is the “get in” the military score, the composite line score is the “what you can do while you’re in the military” score.

As we discussed, the QT score is the determinate for enlistment, and because there is only 4 sections that determine the QT score, you should concentrate your efforts in them.

I am a fan of the various books and web sites out there that offer sample tests, however, I am not a fan of spending any money on them (keep in mind, most libraries have the books available for checkout…for free), I do not think one resource is better than another, and I will not recommend one over another, but what I will do is provide you with the best process for getting ready to take the ASVAB test.

First off, if at all possible, study in a relatively quiet public place – preferably a library. Public places have unfamiliar surroundings – you will take the ASVAB test in unfamiliar surroundings – it makes sense to prepare for the entire test, not just the academic portion. Another reason to use a library is they usually have multiple computers for public use. If you take the ASVAB test at the MEPS, more than likely it will be on a computer – if possible, use a different computer each time you visit the library because each computer will vary in some way, like the screen resolution or brightness, or the keyboard may be laid out differently – point is you are preparing, training yourself to be versatile.

To best prepare for the PC and the WK sections, READ the daily newspaper, either online or the old fashioned way – after you read each article, write a short paragraph about the content – every word in the article that you don’t have a firm grasp on, look it up in the dictionary and force yourself to use that word at least two times that day in regular conversation. You will be amazed at how good this works.

For the math sections, AR and MK; this is what I find the practice guide’s best attribute. The word problems – work them, understand them. Most applicant’s QT scores suffer because of poor performance on the arithmetic reasoning section of the test. Arithmetic Reasoning are those dreaded word problems – a paragraph that you are supposed to extrapolate a math problem from a real world circumstance. The Mathematics Knowledge section, practice fractions and your most basic algebra. Know how many ounces are in a cup, and how many cups are in a pint, quart and gallon. Know how to convert, compare and calculate fractions. Solve for X in about every way you can think of – remember, “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” or PEMDAS (Parentheses, Exponentiation, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction) when completing problems, work the part of the problem in the parentheses first and so on. Once you have exhausted all the problems in the study guide, start making up your own problems. Practice!

Whether it is the first time you are taking the ASVAB, retesting or taking the confirmation test, make getting ready for the ASVAB part of your daily routine. Your score matters.

If you are taking the ASVAB as a retest, do not take the test on the first day you are eligible to take it – only take it when you feel you are ready. Do not rush it!



24 Responses to “Preparing for the ASVAB”


  1. Rachel says:

    I shipout to bootcamp April the 9th, and I am super excited. I have a quick question. When it comes to wisdom teeth, do they pull them out or do we have a choice? Mine are fully out and don’t bother anymore, I would just like to know so I can get them removed before or just leave them as is. Thank you!

  2. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Rachel,

    If your wisdom teeth are fully developed and do not have a potential for any issues, you should be able to keep your wisdom teeth. All four of mine had to come out as they had grown in sideways :)

  3. Sarah says:

    I am looking to take the ASVAB and am concerned about the jobs that would be available to me. I took a practice test at both the Navy and the Air Force recruiting offices and made a 75 and 73 respectively. The Air Force recruiter discouraged me from enlisting in the Air Force because competition for officer positions are fierce and said that having just turned 31 I am too “old” for the Air Force. I did remind him that I don’t want to fly planes but work in the technology areas.
    He referred me to the Navy recruiter and he tried to sign me up on the spot. Unfortunately I am unsure because he’s a guy and I’m a woman with many more questions than answers. I was told because of my high student loans I may be limited in my job pick but because I tested high without any studying that I would do well and have a wider range of jobs to chose from. I do think the Navy would offer great opportunities but I’m concerned about choosing the wrong job and not making officer.
    I can do the job and have taken leadership roles at previous companies but was never compensated – even when I pointed out my contribution. I don’t question my abilities like the Air Force recruiter did but I still have serious doubts about how I will be treated and what opportunities may be available. I’m still very nervous about the ASVAB since I started studying for the AFOQT first. Are there any forums where I could possibly talk to a woman in the Navy?

  4. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Sarah,

    If you have a four year degree and you are considering a commission in an officer program, the ASVAB is not required. It sounds like you are talking to an enlisted recruiter — ask him to refer you to an officer recruiter. Gaining a commission is difficult, but you should try that first (if you have the four year degree) — if the officer recruiter tells you that you are not competitive, then I recommend finishing up with the enlisted recruiter you currently have.

    Within your recruiter’s division, it is very likely that there is a female Sailor stationed nearby. I am sure he should be able to get you face to face with her or at the very least get you on the phone with her.

  5. Austin [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    I took the asvab at my high school, how long does it take before I get my results back?

  6. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Austin,

    Usually between two to three weeks after the test is returned to the MEPS for grading.

  7. Austin [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Also, what is the minimum test score for a high school graduate for the Navy?

  8. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Austin,

    A 35QT is the minimum, but often times that score would not be high enough to qualify for a rating or program that is available, so many districts will not process unless a minimum of a 50QT is attained. The 50QT may ensure more opportunities.

  9. Isaiah. says:

    Do you know any good websites that will help me study and prepare me for the ASVAB. I would like to be a Cook or Builder in the Navy and I was wondering what score I would need to get on the ASVAB to be able to obtain those jobs.

  10. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Isaiah,

    I will not recommend any particular ASVAB study source; I am sure they all have their positive features, but because I have never actually used one, there is no way I can endorse one.

    Look here, ASVAB score job information, for the specific lines scores required for the Navy Builder and Culinary Specialist (cook) ratings.

  11. Daniell says:

    I am highly considering joining the navy. My husband is active duty and I’m nervous, to say the least but I know it will be very beneficial for myself and my family in the future to join the navy. My concern is the test, I have a book to study from but want to get a job in the business/HR department, what do I need to do.

  12. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Daniell,

    Best advice is to relax and do your best.

  13. Ben says:

    Scored a 59 on practice asvab in recruiters office (AF) he said I’ll be getting about mid 60s low 70s on the real deal. Just want to verify if most people do better on the real one?

  14. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Ben,

    If that has been his experience, there really is no reason to doubt him. Personally, I have seen it go both ways, and the indicator I used most that helped determine whether it will be that kind of an increase over the practice was how the applicant did on the math questions.

  15. Paula. says:

    Hello, I have a question for you!! I have the verification test to do, but I don’t know what to expect. My recruiter seems relaxed and won’t tell me when I’m suppose to go, and I only have 2 more weeks until the one month expires. So, what happens if it does expire? What should I do?

    And, another question; besides the verification test, do they do the PT fitness the same day, or you can leave it for when you are ready? Please answer because I’m really nervous because I don’t know what to do at this point!! Thank you so much!! By the way this is for army not navy!! But, I hope you can answer me still!

  16. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Paula,

    I assume you took the PiCAT? What did you score on it? If your score is not a qualifying one, it is very likely that your recruiter will not send you to take the verification test — it would be a waste of time. You need to ask him.

    I am not familiar with the Army PT test. If by PT test you mean the MEPS physical, that can be scheduled when you are ready and MEPS has an open slot available for the Army.

  17. Paula. says:

    Hello! Yes, I did my Picat, and my score was 53, I believe. I think I passed because he didn’t tell me otherwise, so that’s what I assume. So, my verification test doesn’t depend on the MEPS physical?? I can do it another time after I do my verification test?

    [edited to make sense]

  18. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Paula,

    Your recruiter may not want to take you to the MEPS to take the Verification test UNLESS he can have you physical and join. That would be especially true if your closest MEPS was not in the same city he is stationed.

  19. Paula. says:

    What you mean by that he can have me physical and join?? He can he do that? I mean, decide not to let me do the verification test?? I don’t know exactly where the MEPS is here, but I can search and see!!

  20. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Paula,

    A recrutier that has to send an applicant a long distance will not spend that time and provide the necessary transportation unless the applicant agrees to complete the process of joining. The link I provided in my last comment leads to a page where you can research the MEPS’ locations.

    You really need to sit down with your recruiter and discuss the process.

  21. Paula. says:

    Hi I was looking on the link you provide me and I’m in the Eastern And I got MEPS station that’s only 2 hours away, it’s not that far! So, that means that’s not the reason for him not want to help me! So what should I do?? You still advise me to go and talk to him? And see what’s going on?

  22. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Paula,

    Two hours away is far away. Four hours round trip plus waiting for you to take the test. That is almost an entire work day. Talk to your recruiter.

  23. Sherry says:

    Thanks for your support to others beginning the process.

    My son, a senior in high school, desiring 15t MOS with aspirations to make/earn crew chief to at some point go through the WOFT program for 153A. We know the line scores needed for both MM and GT. The ASVAB is offered in a couple weeks through Career Exploration Program at the high school and again in April. We believe his AFQT score will be adequate, however it is questionable with less than 2 weeks preparations to attain the line scores needed. Understanding the importance and relevance to his future and career, we’ve a few questions as to timing…

    Does it make sense to take the first test as just a guideline to determine strengths and weaknesses for future prep?
    Then to either to take it again when offered in April through CEP (HS program) or officially at MEPS next summer after graduation?

    One of my concerns is having to take a confirmation test if scores increase that dramatic. Needless to say, one doesn’t want to have to do another test just because of invested the time into preparations to increase it. Perhaps wiser to take online practice tests to judge abilities?

    Possibly take the online timed practice tests in addition to taking practice paper ones to see where he does better on CAT version or paper/pencil so that he has a choice while still in school next April?

    Another concern is not knowing when for sure he can get his choice MOS. Meaning we would have to do the DEP until the summer and don’t know if he can be guarenteed his MOS through that program. I’ve spoke to a recruiter that says he can’t tell us if 15t is available until after the ASVAB to show what he qualifies for.

    I’ve conflicting information as to whether the High School test counts as his first official test as with other questions. Two recruiters by phone have two different answers. My son has wanted that career since he was 7 years old and will not sign until that’s on his contract.

    Soooooo, guidance as to when he should test?

    Can he be guarenteed his MOS with DEP? Is so, how can I find out if his MOS available as to determine when to start with MEPS when the recruiter has said he won’t know until ASVAB scores?

    Is there an advantage to enlisting through DEP?

    Will he have time for review of contract after MEPS with attorney before signing?

    Does Army give newly enlisted guarantee of first duty station after AIT on contract or just “wish” list?
    On that note, any suggestions to get to Ft Campbell with the 160th to work on their blackhawks? One would presume some of the best of the best in pilots (Nightstalkers) so would the mechanics and crew chiefs to learn from and work with.

    Anything else you can clarify would be appreciated. And just now I see below, a Navy blog….Maybe another blogger you could refer me to being this is all Army.

    Thanks again………..for your assistance AND your service!!!

  24. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Sherry,

    I don’t know of another Web site like mine — there are forums out there where folks answer questions, but many times it is people without actual knowledge and they can be misleading.

    I do not know the specific ASVAB line scores required for the MOS you mention. You could look them up online, but there is no way of knowing if the scores you find are actually current.

    Everyone who joins the active duty military will have time in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). When a person signs up, they get a boot-camp date that works with the school date. When a contract is written for a job, they are actually reserving a seat in a classroom. If the scheduled classes are full, then the applicant cannot have the job; if there is empty seats, then getting the job is possible.

    On his first visit to the recruiter, he can ask for a blank copy of the contract and annex, and he can have anyone he likes to read them over. When a person joins, an annex is made to the contract that will list the specific MOS and boot-camp date.

    I do not know whether he can take it home without actually joining and keep the same job — you would have to ask whether they will hold the job for him; keep in mind that those are actual classroom seats that need to be filled and qualified people joining from all over the country are able to also fill those seats; they are first come first served unless the recruiting command is willing to take a chance to hold it. Before he goes to join, I recommend that he is ready to sign up for a job he would be happy with if they offer it to him.

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