Know What to Expect on the ASVAB Math Exam
Often the most efficient way to get the correct answer to a math problem is to use a strategy rather than just to “do the math.” That’s especially true on the ASVAB Math Exam, since you cannot use a calculator on the exam. On some math tests, if you get the wrong answer but show that you set up at least some of the math correctly, you’ll still get partial credit. On the ASVAB, you only get credit for a right answer. One advantage of this is that you will get credit for the correct answer regardless of how you get to it.
The two math sections on the ASVAB are called “Arithmetic Reasoning” and “Mathematics Knowledge.” Together they form the quantitative half of the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT), so you’ll want to do well on these sections no matter what your ultimate vocational aim in the military.
[ TRY KAPLAN’S PRACTICE QUESTIONS: ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge ]
The Kaplan Method for ASVAB Math Questions
Working quickly and efficiently is essential to maximizing your score on these sections. To accomplish this, use the Kaplan Method for ASVAB Math Questions.
Strategies for Solving ASVAB Math Problems
Several methods are extremely useful when you don’t know—or don’t have time to use—the textbook approach to solving the question. In addition, performing all the calculations called for in the question can often be more time-consuming than using a strategic approach and can increase the potential for mistakes.
Two problem-solving strategies that may be new to you are Backsolving and Picking Numbers. These strategies are a great way to make confusing problems more concrete. If you know how to apply these strategies, you’ll nail the correct answer every time you use them.
Sometimes it’s easiest to work backward from the answer choices. Since many Arithmetic Reasoning questions are word problems with numbers in the answer choices, you can often use this to your advantage by using Backsolving. After all, the test gives you the correct answer—it’s just mixed in with the wrong answer choices. If you try an answer choice in the question and it fits with the information given, then you’ve got the right answer.
Here’s how it works. When the answer choices are numbers, you can expect them to be arranged from small to large (or occasionally from large to small). Start by trying either choice (B) or (C). If that number works when you plug it into the problem, you’ve found the correct answer. If it doesn’t work, you can usually figure out whether to try a larger or smaller answer choice next. Even better, if you deduce that you need a smaller (or larger) number, and only one such smaller (or larger) number appears among the answer choices, that choice must be correct. You do not have to try that answer choice: simply select it and move on to the next question.
By backsolving strategically this way, you won’t have to try out more than two answer choices before you zero in on the correct answer.
[ GOOD TO KNOW: What is the AFQT? ]
2) Picking Numbers
Another strategy that comes in handy on many Mathematics Knowledge questions and also on some Arithmetic Reasoning questions is Picking Numbers. Just because the question contains numbers in the answer choices, that doesn’t mean that you can always backsolve. There may be numbers in the answer choices, but sometimes you won’t have enough information in the question to easily match up an answer choice to a specific value in the question stem. For example, a problem might present an equation with many variables, or it might give you information about percentages of some unknown quantity and ask you for another percent. If the test maker hasn’t provided you with a quantity that would be really helpful to have in order to solve the problem, you may be able to simply pick a value to assign to that unknown. The other case in which you can pick numbers is when there are variables in the answer choices.
When you are picking numbers, be sure that the numbers you select are permissible (follow the rules of the problem) and manageable (easy to work with). In general, it’s a good idea to avoid picking −1, 0, or 1 because they have unique number properties that can skew your results.
Strategic Guessing Using Logic and using a combination of approaches are other useful shortcuts to getting more correct answers more quickly. Remember, you get points for correct answers, not for how you got those answers, so efficiency is key to maximizing your score.
[ KEEP STUDYING: ASVAB Strategies • ASVAB Technical Subset Strategies ]