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Kaplan's ASVAB 2005 Edition comes complete with a targeted review of all the material on the exam, three full-length practice tests, plus exclusive test-taking strategies. With this powerful combination, Kaplan's ASVAB will help you score higher on this critical exam and get the military job you want.
You'll increase your score with:
3 full-length practice tests
Complete answer explanations
In-depth review of all material covered on the exam
Comprehensive AFQT review and practice
Targeted technical subtest chapters for Science, Electronics, Automotive, Shop, Mechanics, and Assembling Objects
Hundreds of practice questions to help build speed and accuracy
Proven score-raising strategies
If you've purchased this book, we assume you are considering taking the ASVAB (short for Armed Services Vocational Abilities Battery). People take the ASVAB for many different reasons, and at different stages in their career decision-making process. And depending on why and how you are taking the ASVAB, you may want to read certain sections of this book more carefully than others.
Many students take the ASVAB in high school or vocational school, because it's offered for free and, even if they aren't considering a career in the United States Armed Forces, it can give them valuable feedback on where their aptitudes presently lie, as well as where they stack up, percentage-wise, against others considering the same career. If you are taking the ASVAB this way and also think that you may want to enlist in the U.S. Armed Services, you will want to make sure to do well on the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualifying Test), which we'll discuss in a bit.
Others take the ASVAB after high school because they have recently considered a career in the military. If you didn't take the ASVAB in high school or elsewhere, and are between the ages of 17 and 35, you can still take the ASVAB for free by simply walking into a recruiting station and asking to take the test. Those of you who are considering taking the test this way should spend some serious study time beforehand figuring out what type of military career you want to pursue, and what subtests of the ASVAB you will need to do well on to assure that you qualify for the position you seek.
This book won't give you all the answers to the test. The truth is that you probably already have many of the answers rattling around somewhere in your head. But this book can help you understand what will be expected of you on test day and give you strategies for handling the very toughest questions on the test. It can also offer a solid review of those subjects that may not be your areas of strength, but that you are willing to study now in order to increase your military career options.
What Is the ASVAB?
There are presently four versions of the ASVAB. The first version is Form 18/19, or student version of the ASVAB, which is the paper-based test commonly given to over a million high school and vocational school students each year. The ASVAB is administered once or twice a year at almost 15,000 high schools and postsecondary schools in the United States. The second version of the ASVAB, Forms 20-22, is known as the production version. This version is given by the Armed Forces for enlistment purposes only. While the questions on the two versions are different, they are designed to be of equal difficulty. The third version is the CAT-ASVAB, which is a computerized version of the Forms 20-22 ASVAB. We'll discuss the pros and cons of taking the computerized test in a bit, but for now just know that, like the other two versions, the computerized version is supposed to be of equal difficulty and yield the same scores. As of this writing, prospective enlistees have their choice as to whether to take either the paper or computerized version of the Forms 20-22 ASVAB, but that may change. Any of these three ASVABs may be used for enlistment in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Finally, a fourth "shortened" version of the ASVAB has been offered in secondary and post-secondary schools since 2002. This shortened test contains only five subtests (the two math and two verbal tests, and the General Science test) and takes about two hours to administer, rather than the 3.5 hours that it takes to administer the full-length ASVAB. For this reason many schools are finding the shortened version easier to administer, and the shortened ASVAB is becoming increasingly popular. Students who take the shortened ASVAB, like students who take the full-length ASVAB, will get an AFQT score that determines their eligibility in the different branches of the Armed Forces. If they then decide to enlist, they can then take a computerized "merge" test of the subtests that they did not take on the shortened student ASVAB.
The full-length ASVAB is made up of up to nine sections, depending on which version of the test you take. The paper version of the ASVAB at the time of this writing does not include an "Assembling Objects" subtest, but that may soon change.
What Is The AFQT?
Your score on the AFQT, or the Armed Forces Qualifying Test, determines your eligibility in all branches of the Armed Services. You'll get a better chance to know all the subtests that make up the ASVAB when you take the practice ASVAB that follows this chapter. But first, because it plays such a crucial role in whether you qualify for the Armed Forces in the first place, you need to understand what the AFQT is all about. The ASVAB does not have an "overall" score. When someone talks about getting a score of, say, a 75 or 80 on the ASVAB, he or she is really talking about the AFQT score, not the overall ASVAB score.
The AFQT score is derived from your performance on just the verbal and math subtests of the ASVAB, or to be more specific: Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge. You should also realize that your verbal sections are doubly counted, while the math sections are only counted once. Scoring on the AFQT is a rather complicated affair, so let's break it down piece by piece.
The military determines your AFQT score by first adding your Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension scores together to get your "Verbal Expression" or "VE" score. The formula to derive the AFQT "raw Score" is 2VE + AR (Arithmetic Reasoning) + MK (Mathematics Knowledge) = AFQT score. This raw score is then converted to a scaled score which is then converted to a percentile score (it's rather complicated, we know). The percentile score that is your final AFQT score tells you how well you did on the AFQT compared to other test takers. Thus, someone who scores a 50 on the AFQT scores in the 50th percentile, i.e., has a score better than 50 percent of all ASVAB test-takers. (See "How to Read Your ASVAB Scores" at the back of the book.)
So it's your percentile score on the AFQT that determines your eligibility in the Armed Forces. As a general rule, anyone who scores lower than the 30th percentile will not be allowed into any branch of the Armed Forces.
In order to join the Air Force, one needs a minimum AFQT score of 40. Those who hold a GED rather than a regular high school diploma have a tougher time getting accepted. The Air Force will accept about one percent per year from non-high school diploma holders, and these candidates must achieve at least a 50 AFQT score even to be considered.
Army recruits must score at least 31 on the AFQT, with no more than ten percent per year being high school dropouts. GED holders must score a 50 percent or better to be eligible (although waivers are possible).
Marine Corps recruits must score at least 32, with no more than five percent being high school dropouts. GED holders must score at least 50 on the AFQT (although waivers are possible).
Navy recruits must score at least 31. Between five and ten percent per year can be high school dropouts, but they also must score a minimum of 50. Additionally, high school dropouts must be at least 19 years of age, and show a proven work history. Female applicants to the Navy must also score at least a 50, because of the limited availability of female accommodations on Navy vessels.
Like the Air Force, Coast Guard recruits must also score at least 40 points on the AFQT. A waiver is possible if a recruit's ASVAB "line scores" qualify them for a specific job, and the recruit is willing to enlist in that job. Line scores are composite scores based on various groupings of subtest scores; for instance, someone who wants to qualify for a skilled technical position in the military needs to get a high "Skilled Technician" (ST) line score, which is a composite score derived as follows: ST = GS (General Science) + VE (Verbal Expression) + MK (Mathematics Knowledge) + MC (Mechanical Comprehension). For the very few who will be allowed to enlist in the Coast Guard with a GED, the minimum AFQT score is 50.
Retaking the ASVAB
ASVAB results are valid for two years. After taking an initial ASVAB Test (any school-administered ASVAB doesn't count as an initial test), one may retake the ASVAB after 30 days. After the retest, one must wait at least six months before taking the test again. The military services use the latest ASVAB scores, not the highest, for service and job qualifications, so if you are going to retake the ASVAB, make sure you have prepared well to top your previous score.
While each of the services has its own policies governing when or if a retest will be given, in general a retest is not allowed for the mere purpose of improving your scores (unless the overall score is below the minimum acceptable by that service). In the Army and Air Force, if one scores high enough to qualify, then he or she is only allowed to retest if something unusual happened during the test, and there is substantial evidence to show that the score(s) do not reflect the applicant's true potential. An example would be a high school honor student who accidentally mismarked the answer sheet, resulting in an extremely low score. The fact that the individual is an honor student would be evidence that the low score is below their actual potential.
In the Navy, a retest can be authorized only if the following two conditions are met:
(1) There is evidence of substantial improvement in education or language ability, such as earning a high school diploma or GED, or completion of the Navy Functional Skills Course, since the last ASVAB was taken; and
(2) There is a positive reason for the retest, such as to qualify for a specific job program.
The Computerized Test Versus The Paper Test
Computer-adaptive testing, or CAT for short, has recently become a staple among big test-givers. The GRE, GMAT, and other high-stakes exams now require all test takers to take CAT versions of their tests. Computer-adaptive testing is really just a fancy way of saying that the difficulty of the questions you get on the test adapts based on your performance up to that point.
For example, the first question you receive on any particular CAT-ASVAB subtest will be of medium difficulty. If you answer it correctly, the next question you get will be pulled from a bank of above-average difficulty questions. If you get the question wrong, your next question will be of a lower difficulty level. This process is repeated throughout the test, so that the test can more precisely zero in on your exact performance level on the exam.
We've already noted that on the paper version of the ASVAB, harder questions are worth more than easier questions. This is also true, only more so, on the CAT-ASVAB. If you can do well early on while taking a CAT-ASVAB subtest, thus ensuring that the level of difficulty of the questions you are answering is above average, you will get a high score on that subtest even if you get several of the later questions wrong. If you get several questions wrong in a row at the start of a CAT-ASVAB subtest, for the rest of that subtest you will get a lot of softball questions, and even if you get all of these questions right, you may never be able to get out of the hole that you dug for yourself at the start of the test and get to the point where you are answering the tough questions that lead to a high score.
Studies have shown that, overall, people perform the same on the ASVAB whether they take the paper or CAT version of the test. There are, however, some individuals who will tend to do better on one version of the test than the other. If you do have a choice as to which version of the test you will take, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of taking the CAT versus the paper test
Advantages of Taking the CAT-ASVAB
The length of time of many of the subtests has been reduced, and the number of questions that you are required to answer has been reduced even more.
The test can be scored immediately. You will know how well you did as soon as you finish the test.
Test administration is very flexible, so you don't have to wait for the next scheduled test date to take the test.
There's no chance of losing points by filling out your answer sheet incorrectly.
Disadvantages of Taking the CAT-ASVAB
You cannot skip around on this test; you must answer the questions one at a time in the order the computer gives them to you.
If you realize later that you answered a question incorrectly, you cannot go back and change your answer.
You can't cross off an answer choice and never look at it again, so you'll have to use your scrap paper to keep track of the answers you've eliminated.
Kaplan's CAT Strategies in a Nutshell
If you are taking the CAT-ASVAB, applying certain CAT-specific strategies will have a direct, positive impact on your score:
At the beginning of the section, each question you get right or wrong will rapidly move the computer's estimate of your score up or down. A key strategy for doing well on the CAT is to get the computer's estimate of your score up to where you are handling the hard questions. Thus it pays to spend more time on those early questions, double-checking each answer before you confirm it. Getting to the hard questions as soon as possible can only help your final score.
As you progress through the middle part of a section, try to avoid getting several questions in a row wrong, as this can sink you score on the CAT. If you know that the previous question you answered was a blind guess, spend a little extra time trying to get the next one right.
The CAT does not allow you to skip questions. So if you are given a question you cannot answer, you'll have to guess. Guess intelligently and strategically by eliminating any answer choices that you know are wrong and choosing from those remaining.
Don't get rattled if you see difficult questions. It just means that you are doing well. Keep it up!
At the end of the section, you will be penalized more heavily for not getting to a question than for answering it wrong. So if you only have a minute left and several questions remaining, you should guess at random rather than leave anything unanswered.
Copyright © 2004 by Kaplan, Inc.
Excerpted from Kaplan ASVAB 2005 by Kaplan Copyright © 2004 by Kaplan. Excerpted by permission.
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