Exam Overview for ASVAB Power Practice Study Guide (page 3)
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a multiple-aptitude test taken by over 800,000 Americans every year. It is comprised of timed subtests in different subjects that measure the range of aptitudes necessary for military enlistment and job placement. A breakdown of these subtests— by test version—is shown in the table on pages 2–3, and a more detailed description of each subtest test appears later in this chapter.
The ASVAB, which was created by the United States Department of Defense in 1968 and adopted by all armed services by 1976, is used for two main purposes:
- As a military recruiting tool. The United States Department of Defense uses the ASVAB to determine the abilities of potential recruits, to gauge what they already know about certain subjects, to measure their general learning and vocational aptitude, and to predict performance in certain academic areas.
- As a guide for high school and post–secondary school students. The ASVAB helps students make decisions about their career paths, whether in the military or in another field.
ASVAB: Paper and Pencil versus CAT
Individuals can expect to take a paper-and-pencil version of the ASVAB at their local high school or a neighboring school offering the test. The student version of the exam (offered to high school juniors and seniors) is often referred to as the institutional version; candidates for military enlistment take the production version.
Depending on where an enlistee takes the ASVAB, he or she will take either the computer version of the ASVAB, called the CAT-ASVAB, or the paper-and-pencil version. Candidates taking the ASVAB at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) will take the computer version, while candidates for enlistment taking the ASVAB at a reserve center or Mobile Examination Team (MET) site will take the paper-and-pencil version.
The paper-and-pencil version of the ASVAB consists of either eight subtests (if you're a student) or nine subtests (if you're a candidate for enlistment). The majority of military applicants, approximately 70%, take the CAT-ASVAB. The CAT-ASVAB is a computer-adaptive test, which means that the test adapts to your ability level. The computer will give you the first question, and, if you answer correctly, it gives you another question on the same subject—but one that is a bit harder than the first. The questions get harder as you progress, and after you answer a certain number of questions correctly the computer skips to the next subtest.
The following is additional information about the CAT-ASVAB:
- It consists of ten subtests—the Auto Information and Shop Information subtests are administered separately. However, the results are combined into one score (labeled AS).
- The test takes about 1 hours to complete.
- Each subtest must be completed within a certain timeframe. Most individuals complete the subtests within the time alloted.
- Once you have completed a subtest, you do not have to wait for everyone else to finish—you can move on to the next subtest.
- As you complete each subtest, the computer displays the number of items and amount of time remaining for that subtest in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
- Once an answer has been submitted, you cannot review or change it.
- Test scores are available as soon as you complete the test.
- If you choose to take the CAT-ASVAB, you will be trained on answering test questions, using the computer keyboard and mouse, and getting help before starting the exam.
- The number of subtests, number of questions, and time limits for the CAT-ASVAB differ from the paper-and-pencil version in the following ways.
Please Note: If you are a recruit, chances are you're going to take the CAT-ASVAB. However, because this book is geared toward power practice, the six practice tests found here follow the paper-and-pencil production specifications because of the higher number of questions.
The ASVAB Subtests
The following is a detailed description of each of the subtests on the ASVAB. Most sections of the ASVAB depend on your knowledge of the subject as covered in high school courses or other related reading. The two sections that do not depend on knowledge of the subjects in advance are the Paragraph Comprehension and Assembling Objects sections. For the Paragraph Comprehension questions, you will be able to find the answers using the information given in the paragraph provided. The Assembling Objects section tests your natural spatial aptitude skills.
Subtest 1: General Science
The General Science subtest consists of questions that are designed to measure your ability to recognize, apply, and analyze basic scientific principles in the areas of:
- life science: botany, zoology, anatomy and physiology, ecology
- physical science: force and motion, energy, fluids and gases, atomic structure, chemistry
- earth and space science: astronomy, geology, meteorology, oceanography
Subtest 2: Arithmetic Reasoning
The Arithmetic Reasoning subtest consists of word problems describing everyday life situations and is designed to measure your reasoning skills and understanding of:
- operations with whole numbers
- operations with fractions, decimals, and money
- ratio and proportion
- calculating interest and percentage
- measurement of perimeter, area, volume, time, and temperature
Subtest 3: Word Knowledge
The Word Knowledge subtest consists of questions that ask you to choose the correct definitions of verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. These questions come in two forms:
- words presented alone, with no context
- words presented in the context of a short sentence
Subtest 4: Paragraph Comprehension
The Paragraph Comprehension subtest consists of questions that are based on several short passages, written on a variety of topics. No prior knowledge of the subject is required—all the information you need to answer the questions will be found in the passage. The questions in this subtest are designed to test the following abilities:
- literal comprehension: ability to identify stated facts, reworded facts, and sequence of events
- implicit, inferential, or critical comprehension: ability to draw conclusions, identify the main idea of a paragraph, determine the author's purpose, mood, or tone, and identify style and technique
- comprehension of main idea or words in context: ability to condense a paragraph into a single main idea, and determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word based on its context or usage
Subtest 5: Mathematics Knowledge
The Mathematics Knowledge subtest contains questions designed to measure your understanding and ability to recognize and apply mathematical concepts, principles, and procedures. The questions cover:
- number theory: factors, multiples, reciprocals, number properties, primes, and integers
- numeration: fractions, decimals, percentages, conversions, order of operations, exponents, rounding, roots, radicals, and signed numbers
- algebraic operations and equations: solving or determining equations, factoring, simplifying algebraic expressions, and converting sentences to equations
- geometry and measurement: coordinates, slope, Pythagorean theorem, angle measurement, properties of polygons and circles, perimeter, area, volume, and unit conversion
- probability: analyzing and determining probability
Subtest 6: Electronics Information
The Electronics Information subtest consists of 20 questions that are designed to measure basic knowledge of principles of electrical and electronics systems:
- electrical tools, symbols, devices, and materials
- electrical circuits
- electricity and electronic systems
- electrical current, voltage, conductivity, resistance, and grounding
Subtest 7: Auto and Shop Information
The Auto and Shop Information subtest includes questions on automotive repair and building construction. General shop practices are also included. The CAT-ASVAB splits these two subtests into separate subtests, but combines results into one score. The questions cover the following topics:
- automotive components
- automotive systems
- automotive tools
- automotive troubleshooting and repair
- shop tools
- building materials
- building and construction procedures
Subtest 8: Mechanical Comprehension
The Mechanical Comprehension subtest consists of problems—many of them illustrated—covering general mechanics, physical principles, and principles of simple machines such as gears, pulleys, levers, force, and fluid dynamics. Problems involving basic properties of materials are also included. The questions may test knowledge, application, and analysis of:
- basic compound machines: gears, cams, pistons, cranks, linkages, belts, and chains
- simple machines: levers, planes, pulleys, screws, wedges, wheels, and axles
- mechanical motion: friction, velocity, direction, acceleration, and centrifugal force
- fluid dynamics: hydraulic forces and compression
- properties of materials: weight, strength, expansion/ contraction, absorption, and center of gravity
- structural support
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