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Word Knowledge Study Guide for McGraw-Hill's ASVAB

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Jun 26, 2011

ASVAB Word Knowledge Questions

The ASVAB Word Knowledge test measures your ability to understand the meaning of words through synonyms. Synonyms are words that have the same or nearly the same meaning as other words. Your ability to recognize synonyms is an indicator of how well you comprehend what you read. Word Knowledge, along with Paragraph Comprehension, is part of the verbal ability portion of the AFQT.

Some Word Knowledge questions present a vocabulary word and ask you which of four answer choices the word "most nearly means." Other Word Knowledge questions present a vocabulary word in a sentence. You can use the meaning of the sentence to help you decide which of the four answer choices has the same meaning as the vocabulary word. The tested vocabulary words are not difficult scientific or technical terms. They are words that you are likely to encounter in your ordinary reading or conversation but which may be unfamiliar to you. This chapter will teach you ways to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words and improve your score on the Word Knowledge test.

If you take the CAT-ASVAB, you have only about half a minute to answer each Word Knowledge question. If you take the paper-and-pencil ASVAB, you'll have even less time, so you'll have to work fast if you want to get a good score. That's why it pays to spend time studying ways to build your vocabulary and tackling plenty of sample ASVAB Word Knowledge questions.

How Good Is Your Vocabulary Now?

Start your preparation for the Word Knowledge test by taking this short quiz. It will determine your level of strength in the area of vocabulary. Beside each word, write a word or phrase that helps to define the word. Correct definitions are given at the end of this chapter. Compare your definitions to the correct definitions. If your definition is the same or nearly the same as the correct definition, give yourself 1 point. If your definition is very different from the correct definition, give yourself 0 points.

18–20 points: pretty good work

15–17 points: not too bad

Below 15 points: you need some work

Start Building A Better Vocabulary

If it's clear that you need to brush up on your vocabulary for the ASVAB, here's what you can do to start studying for this test.

Memorize (Not!)

It may help you to memorize some common prefixes, suffixes, and word roots. However, memorizing word lists will not be particularly helpful, especially if your study time is limited. You need to use study methods that are far more useful than memorizing words and definitions.

Read, Read, Read, and Read Some More

Read everything you can get your hands on, including school books, newspapers, magazines, and fiction and nonfiction books. The more you read, the more new words you'll come across that you can add to your vocabulary.

Develop a Word List

As you read and find words you don't know, start developing a word list. Use the Word List Chart provided at the end of this section. Write down each word you don't know. Take a guess at the meaning. Write down your guess. Then go to a dictionary, your thesaurus, or your word processing program to find synonyms (words that mean the same thing). Write the synonyms in the last column of the chart. You don't need to write down the formal dictionary definition because the synonyms are what the ASVAB asks for. Also use the Word List Chart for words that you hear people say, but that you do not know.

Often just writing down a word and some synonyms will help you retain the meaning. You may also want to use the Word List Chart to create flash cards that you can take with you anywhere to study when you have some free time. Using something like 3" × 5" cards, write the word on one side and some synonyms on the other. Later in this section, you will have a set of words that can be used for these flash cards or whatever other study system you decide to use.

Review, Review, Review

Once you have developed your word list, listed synonyms, and worked through the sample tests, you still need to keep reviewing. Review on the bus to work or school. Review during TV commercials. Review during your spare time. Review during study sessions. Review before you go to sleep at night. Review with your parents. Review with your friends. Review with a study group. Review in whatever way is most convenient and efficient for you. Be realistic. If reviewing with your friends ends up as a chat session or a party, then that's not helping you reach your goal of scoring high on the ASVAB. Stay disciplined. Stay focused. Stay on track.

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