ASVAB Test Blog

Mar 8th, 2020

ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning Study Guide!

asvab arithmetic reasoning study guide

ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning Study Guide

Arithmetic reasoning is about solving word math problems. Here, in this ASVAB arithmetic reasoning study guide, we delve deep into this subtest and teach you the essential tips and tricks to master this part of the exam.

This is the second math-related subtest on the ASVAB exam, the other being the ASVAB Math Knowledge subtest.

There is a distinction between the two. Whereas Math Knowledge tests a candidate’s knowledge of more abstract concepts such as algebra and surface area and angles, arithmetic reasoning is about working through word problems that happen to contain numbers. As the name suggests, word problems demand that the candidate logically reason their way through a problem – identifying a solid and accurate path to the solution.

The ASVAB arithmetic reasoning exam tests an applicant’s analytical skills; an essential skill to become an effective, long-term member of the US military. That’s why this subtest is part of the four subtests used to calculate the AFQT score; the score that determines whether you are eligible to enlist in the military.

Arithmetic Reasoning Test Questions

Whether you are taking the paper ASVAB or CAT-ASVAB determines the number of questions you will be asked as well as the time allotted to answer those questions.

  • CAT-ASVAB: 15 questions to be answered in 55-minutes
  • Paper ASVAB: 30 questions to be answered in 36-minutes

Though there are more questions asked on the Paper ASVAB, this does not mean it is more difficult. Remember that the CAT-ASVAB is tailored toward your ability. If you get a question wrong, an easier question will appear next. Conversely, if you score five questions in a row correctly, you can expect a more difficult problem next.

Both exams will result in approximately the same score for the candidate.

You are not permitted to use a calculator. Instead, candidates will be given pen and paper to work problems out. However, arithmetic reasoning is concerned with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and percentages – therefore a calculator is not required. This exam is about how you can take the steps to work through test problems – the steps that take you from the question to the correct answer, and not so much concerned with the correct answer itself.

Test Taking Tips on Arithmetic Reasoning

In this part of the ASVAB arithmetic reasoning study guide, we learn more about how you can maximize your score on the day of your exam.

To answer arithmetic reasoning questions, you must have a template in mind. You need to first identify and understand the problem and then create a solution and the steps that need to be taken to resolve that problem. This takes practice, which is why candidates are recommended to take as many ASVAB test practice problems in the weeks leading up to their exam. The more ASVAB test questions you practice, the more you develop critical thinking skills and how to work out similar or even more complex problems.

On the day of your exam, it is imperative that you:

  • Do not rush. You have been assigned an allotted time for this subtest and you must maximize this time. Do not rush even simple questions because that increases the risk of avoidable error. You should also assign sufficient time for more difficult problems to ensure that you do not run out of time. It is natural to want to rush through easier problems, but this can create too many risks.
  • Avoid unnecessary data. Often arithmetic reasoning questions provide more information than is needed to answer the problem. Therefore, you must not be tempted to use information for the sake of it. That information may have been placed there to distract you. To answer the question, you only need to use the relevant pieces of information. Do not be tempted by these distractions.
  • Double check solutions. On arithmetic reasoning problems, it is tempting to assume that your method is correct. However, question setters often create answers that give you the impression that you have arrived at the correct answer. This may happen, for example, when you take an obvious misstep that is expected by examiners. That’s why it’s vital that you double check your method and ensure that all is correct. Never assume that, because you arrived at an answer listed in the 4 possible answers, that it is automatically the correct answer. It may not be!
  • Does the answer make sense? On many arithmetic reasoning questions, it is often possible to logically work through the answers and establish whether the answer is logical. For example, if the question asks about 10% difference but two of the answers are wildly out of the way, you can safely assume that they are the two most probable incorrect answers. Even if you are unable to work out an answer in your mind, you can arrive at an approximate range of what the answer is likely to fall into. Always ask yourself: does this answer make sense given what the question is asking and the information they have provided to me?
  • Stay calm. If you struggle with the first few questions, this should not be a cause for concern. Nobody is expecting you to score 100 percent in the exam. Similarly, none of your rival applicants are likely to reach a perfect score, either. By staying calm in the exam and putting possible incorrect answers into perspective, you remain clear-minded to work through all remaining problems. If you become stressed, this will impair your ability to work through the next set of questions.

How to Pass the ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning Exam

The best possible advice that we can provide in this ASVAB arithmetic reasoning study guide is to practice questions. Practice, practice, practice! There is no substitute for practice. The advice laid out above is how to maximize your performance during the exam, but you also need to prepare for the exam in the coming weeks and months.

No matter how much you read about arithmetic reasoning problems, what matters is that you test your knowledge and ability. By practicing hundreds of types of ASVAB test questions, you give yourself the edge. You refine and hone your logical reasoning skills, and these are skills that are transferrable across a wide range of careers – even after you leave the military. That is why arithmetic reasoning is one of the four knowledge domains used to calculate your AFQT score.

Even if math word problems are not your strength, they can become your strength. After several weeks of practice, you will notice that you are getting more questions right than wrong. The progress may be incremental, but it happens. Similarly, you do not lose weight overnight – instead, it is something that develops over the long-term. The same principle applies generally to the ASVAB exam. It’s about a long-term study approach that confronts all challenges that the exam can throw up.

And by adopting the test-taking tips in this ASVAB arithmetic reasoning study guide, you go that much further toward your goal of succeeding in the exam and enlisting in the US military.



ASVAB Math Knowledge Study Guide!

ASVAB Math Knowledge Study Guide Math is not everyone’s favorite sub

Read More

How Hard is the ASVAB Exam?

Is the ASVAB exam hard? Yes – the ASVAB exam is difficult. This is b

Read More

Sequence Questions in Arithmetic Reasoning!

What are Sequence Questions? Sequence questions are routinely asked on

Read More