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# Math Strategies for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Study Guide

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Updated on Jun 23, 2011
• Don't work in your head! Use your test book or scratch paper to take notes, draw pictures, and calculate. Although you might think that you can solve math questions more quickly in your head, that's a good way to make mistakes. Write out each step.
• Read a math question in chunks rather than straight through from beginning to end. As you read each chunk, stop to think about what it means and make notes or draw a picture to represent that chunk.
• When you get to the actual question, circle it. This will keep you more focused as you solve the problem.
• Glance at the answer choices for clues. If they are fractions, you probably should do your work in fractions; if they are decimals, you should probably work in decimals; etc.
• Make a plan of attack to help you solve the problem.
• If a question stumps you, try one of the backdoor approaches explained in the next section. These are particularly useful for solving word problems.
• When you get your answer, reread the circled question to make sure you have answered it. This helps avoid the careless mistake of answering the wrong question.
• Check your work after you get an answer. Test takers get a false sense of security when they get an answer that matches one of the multiple-choice answers. Here are some good ways to check your work if you have time:
• Plug your answer back into the problem to make sure the problem holds together.
• Do the question a second time, but use a different method.
• Approximate when appropriate. For example:
• \$5.98 + \$8.97 is a little less than \$15. (Add: \$6 + \$9)
• .9876 × 5.0342 is close to 5. (Multiply: 1 × 5)
• Skip hard questions and come back to them later. Mark them in your test book so you can find them quickly.

### Backdoor Approaches for Answering Tough Questions

Many word problems are actually easier to solve by backdoor approaches. The two techniques that follow are timesaving ways to solve multiple-choice word problems that you don't know how to solve with a straightforward approach. The first technique, nice numbers, is useful when there are unknowns (like x) in the text of the word problem, making the problem too abstract for you. The second technique, working backward, presents a quick way to substitute numeric answer choices back into the problem to see which one works.