Each subtest is timed and, on the computerized version of the ASVAB, that’s the only time you’ll get for that subtest. On the paper version you can go back and check answers on previous subtests but, on the CAT-ASVAB once you complete a subtest your answers are set in stone and you can’t go back to review.
So, it’s very important to both know how long you have for each subtest and to have taken enough practice tests to know how long that subtest will typically take you. That way you’ll have a good understanding of how much time to spend on each question and what pace you need to maintain to get through the subtest in the time allotted.
Also, make sure to take practice tests under actual testing conditions – use a timer to make sure you’re not taking additional time to complete the practice test that you won’t have available at the real test.
Don’t spend too much time on one question. If you draw a complete blank make an educated guess and move on. You’re not expected to get every question right and the more time you waste on questions you know you don’t know the greater the chance that time will run out leaving questions you could have potentially answered correctly unanswered.
The best way to overcome time anxiety is to take practice tests to gain confidence that you have enough time to complete the test and to be focused on moving through the subtest. Answer a question, check your work, then move on and erase that question from your mind.
The ASVAB is not only designed to test your knowledge and aptitude but also to test your performance under stressful conditions and what could be more stressful than taking a test that will decide the course of the next 4+ years of your life!
You’ll take the nine subtests over a wide variety of material in around two hours. Although it may be difficult, you’re going to have to stay focused to do your best. Here are some tips to maintain your focus as you’re taking the ASVAB test:
- As mentioned in Study Tip 4 – make sure you get to the test location with plenty of time to spare. Nothing ruins focus and concentration more than being in a rush or arriving only to be rushed into the testing room.
- Let go of all your emotional baggage. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen at your physcial tomorrow or what your mom, dad, or recruiter will think about your performance. Focus on doing well on the test and think about the future after the test.
- Concentrate on one subtest at a time and don’tt waste your time thinking about the questions on the last subtest or wondering about what’s coming on the next subtest. Focus on the subtest you’re currently taking at all times.
- Take a few deep breaths and relax your mind before starting a new subtest. This will control your anxiety and get you in the right mental state to answer the questions. If you finish a subtest with time to spare use that extra time to take a few more deep breaths and relax.
- Remember that on the computerized version of the ASVAB you’ll immediately be moved on to the next subtest when you answer the last question on your current subtest. Be aware of the subtest timer and use those extra minutes to your advantage.
Your goal on test day is to be confident and put yourself in the best position to do well on the ASVAB. Part of that is the confidence you’ve developed from studying and preparing yourself for the test but here are a few test day tips to make sure you’re at your best:
- On the morning of the test eat a light breakfast. Eating too heavy of a meal will make you drowsy but having something on your stomach will make it easier to concentrate.
- Avoid early morning meals that are high in carbohydrates. While eating high-carb foolds will initially make you feel energetic, that energy rush will turn into an energy crash a couple of hours into the test. Eat foods high in protein (eggs, milk, yogurt, chicken, etc.) instead.
- Exercise the day before and, if you’re up to it, the morning of the test. Getting your blood pumping will help you remain mentally sharp.
- If you’re sick you may want to reschedule the test. Right before the test starts, the proctor will ask if there’s anything, such as sickness or injury, which may affect your test performance. After the test starts there’s no stopping in the middle and, if you do poorly, you’ll have to wait thirty days to take a retest.
- If you need glasses to read make sure to bring them! If you wear contacts bring a pair of glasses just in case.
- Bring a watch to help you keep track of time.
- Don’t bring calculators, MP3 players, backpacks, or any other personal items with you. You won’t be able to bring them into the testing room.
- Don’t drink a lot of liquids just before the test so you’re not wasting testing time having to take bathroom breaks.
- Make sure you arrive at the test site early and I mean military early where on time is ten minutes late!
- Do a “test run” drive to the testing center a few days in advance and around the time of day you’re scheduled to take the test. Make sure you know where the testing location is and what traffic and parking are like during the time frame you’re going to be taking the test.
You’ll remember more of what you study if you break up your study sessions into shorter blocks of 20 to 30 minutes each. Your brain remembers more of what you study near the beginning and near the end of a study session so take advantage of this by scheduling shorter study sessions.
Also, you’ll be better off studying for an hour a night for a week than studying for seven hours the night before the ASVAB test. There’s only so much information your brain can absorb at one time so those seven hours spread out over seven days will do you much more good than those seven hours jammed into one evening.
Your most important asset going into the ASVAB test is having the confidence that you can do well and that confidence doesn’t come from cramming the night before. If you just commit to an hour or so a night for a week or two you’ll almost guarantee that you’ll score high enough to earn the job you want.
The ASVAB test consists of nine subtests each of which measure a different area of knowledge or aptitude. Four of the subtests:
- Word Knowledge
- Paragraph Comprehension
- Arithmetic Reasoning
- Mathematics Knowledge
make up your AFQT score (what most people call their ASVAB score) and it’s this score that determines if you can enlist. Other than these four subtests, how important the other subtests are will be determined by the kind of job you want in the military.
If you want to be an interpreter or translator you’re not going to need to do well on the Electronics or Mechanical subtests so you can save a lot of study time by simply ignoring them. You’ll still need to do well on the math subtests to make sure you qualify for enlistment but as long as the line score for your particular job choice isn’t calculated from a certain subtest you don’t need to worry about doing well on that subtest.
So, what’s a line score?
Simply put, it’s a score that’s derived from your scores on various ASVAB subtests.
For example, in the Army the Electronics Score (EL) line score is calculated by adding your scores on the General Science (GS), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Electronic Information (EI) subtests. If you want to get a technical job in the Army you should concentrate on these subtests but if you’re going for a more clerical position (the Clerical Score (CL) is made up of Verbal Expression (VE), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), and Mathematics Knowledge (MK)) doing well on Electronic Information (EI) won’t help you.
Learn what subtests make up the line score(s) for the military job you’re interested in and concentrate your study in those areas.