How Can I Improve My ASVAB Score?

How Can I Improve My ASVAB Score?

The ASVAB, or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, measures an individual’s developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military. In other words, the ASVAB is a required exam that allows the military to assess where you may be best suited when enlisting.

ASVAB Subject Areas

The ASVAB measures the participants’ aptitudes in four domains. These domains are verbal, math, science and technical, and spatial.


The first domain of the ASVAB is verbal. There are two different verbal subtests in the ASVAB.

These subtests are:

  • Word knowledge - ability to select the correct meaning of words presented in context and identify synonyms for a given word

  • Paragraph comprehension - ability to obtain information from a written passage of text


The next domain of the ASVAB is math. There are also two subtests in this domain.

These subtests are:

Science & Technical

The third domain of the ASVAB is the science and technical subtests. There are four to five of these subtests, depending on which format of ASVAB you take. For example, in the CAT-ASVAB, shop information and auto information are offered as separate subtests; in the P&P-ASVAB, they are a single subtest.

These subtests are:


The last area of the ASVAB is the spatial domain. There is only one subtest in this section.

This subtest is:

  • Assembling objects - ability to determine how an object will look when it is fully assembled


What to Expect

The first step in preparing for the ASVAB is knowing what you are preparing for. Everyone wishing to enlist in the military must take the ASVAB. But what can you expect on the day of your test, and what can you expect from the test itself?

On the Day of Your Test

Before you can take the ASVAB, the recruiter supervising the test will go through a basic screening process. This screening will include things like:

  • Your marital status

  • Health history

  • Education

  • Drug use

  • Arrest record

Once you go through this screening process, you can take the ASVAB — if you qualify. You will need to bring a valid ID to the test. Additionally, if you are late, you will be required to reschedule. Depending on where you are taking the ASVAB, you will be given either a paper and pencil (P& P) or computerized version of the test.


If you are taking the ASVAB at a Military Entrance Test (MET) site, you will likely receive a paper version of the exam. The P&P test has nine subtests and is multiple-choice. It has different rules than the CAT-ASVAB, so you will want to implement different strategies when taking the P&P-ASVAB to perform your best on the exam.

Characteristics of the P&P-ASVAB:

  • There is no penalty for guessing.

  • You must wait for directions to move on to the next subtest.

  • You may review previous questions (not previous sections).

  • The test may take up to four hours.

  • The questions do not change; everyone gets the same test.


The CAT or computer-adaptive test version of the ASVAB has ten subtests, since auto information and shop information are offered separately. It is typically only given at Military Entrance Process Stations (MEPS). The CAT test is also multiple choice, but the computer issues your next question based on whether or not your answer for the previous one was correct. This means it can take less time since you do not have to answer every question.

Characteristics of the CAT-ASVAB:

  • There is a penalty for guessing.

  • You can move on to the next subtest after completing the previous section.

  • You may not review any previous questions or sections.

  • The test is usually completed in less than two hours.

  • The computer chooses your next question based on the success of your last answer.


The Basics of ASVAB Scoring

There are two primary elements to the ASVAB scoring technique. This means you will get two different scores after completing the ASVAB. For a more detailed overview of how ASVAB scoring works, see this article.

AFQT Score

The AFQT, or Armed Forces Qualification Score, is calculated using the following four ASVAB subtests: arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, paragraph comprehension, and word knowledge. This score is used to determine enlistment eligibility.

ASVAB Category Scores

The other types of scores that you will get from your ASVAB test are category scores. These scores are also referred to as “line scores.” The point of these scores is to determine what job opportunities are available to you based on your test scores. You may qualify for jobs in any of the following ten areas:

  • Clerical - high scores in verbal expression, arithmetic reasoning, and mathematics knowledge.

  • Combat - high scores in verbal expression, auto and shop, and mechanical comprehension.

  • Electronics - high scores in general science, arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, and electronic information.

  • Field artillery - high scores in arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, and mechanical comprehension.

  • General maintenance - high scores in general science, auto and shop, mathematics knowledge, and electronic information.

  • General technical - high scores in verbal expression and arithmetic reasoning.

  • Mechanical maintenance - high scores in auto and shop, mechanical comprehension, and electronic information.

  • Operators and food - high scores in verbal expression, auto and shop, and mechanical comprehension.

  • Surveillance and communications - high scores in verbal expression, arithmetic reasoning, auto and shop, and mechanical comprehension.

  • Skilled technical - high scores in general science, verbal expression, mechanical comprehension, and mathematical knowledge.

How to Prepare for the ASVAB Test

Like any other type of test, the more you prepare, the better you will do. So, how can you best prepare for the ASVAB?

Here are a few tips to prepare for your upcoming test day — whether it is your first try or you are looking to improve your score from your last attempt.

Study with Flashcards

Flashcards are an incredibly effective way to study. They can give you a good grasp of your current knowledge and help you quickly identify which areas you may need to devote more time to studying. If you want a quick review of key ASVAB concepts, check out these free ASVAB flashcards.

Complete Study Guides

Another incredibly effective way to study for any exam is to use study guides. Study guides give you an overview of what information you should know to pass the exam. You can use these to pinpoint the areas where you need to focus your studying. If you are looking for study guides to use, Union Test Prep offers free detailed study guides for the ASVAB so you can get the score you need for your dream military job.

Focus on Strategies for the Right Format

Some study strategies will apply to both the computerized and paper versions of the ASVAB. For example, whether you are taking the P&P or the CAT version, you will want to read the directions and questions carefully before submitting any answers. You will also want to keep an eye on the clock to avoid being pressed for time at the end of a section. Finally, you will want to rule out as many incorrect choices as possible if you are unsure about a question before selecting your answer.

While the P&P-ASVAB and CAT-ASVAB include the same questions, they have very different procedures. Because of this, you will not want to use the same strategy for both tests. Be sure to check with your recruiter before test day if you are unsure what version of the ASVAB you are taking, as it may impact how you study.

Strategies for the P&P ASVAB:

  • Do not get stuck on questions. Skip ahead to the next question and return to any you skipped after answering the ones you know.

  • Answer every question. There are no penalties for guesses.

  • Review your answers if you have extra time.

  • Make sure you have selected only one answer for each question. Erase any incorrect answers thoroughly.

Strategies for the CAT-ASVAB:

  • Know how the CAT-ASVAB works.

  • Be sure the answer you have selected is the answer you want. You cannot review questions once you have submitted an answer.

  • Manage your time wisely. The CAT-ASVAB does penalize guessing — especially when several answers are wrong at the end of the test.

Focus on the Areas that are Most Important to the Career You Want

Of course, you want to do well on the whole test, but if you are aiming for a particular type of career, some sections may be more important to you than others. If this is the case, you may want to focus your studying and preparation more heavily on those sections and do a more general review of the other sections. Talk with your recruiter if you are unsure what ASVAB test sections are most important to the career you are interested in.

Take Practice Tests

The final preparation technique you can use to prepare for the ASVAB is to complete practice tests. Practice tests are the most effective way for you to test your knowledge and get an idea of what the test itself will be like. You can access over 400 practice test questions and test your knowledge before you take the ASVAB for real.


Preparation is crucial whether you are taking the ASVAB for the first time or looking to improve your score from your last try on the test. With some studying, you can get the score you need to qualify for the job you are looking for in the military. So if you want additional practice before you take the ASVAB, check out Union Test Prep’s ASVAB lessons and other practice materials for free today!

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