Oct 9th, 2020

Sequence Questions in Arithmetic Reasoning! What are Sequence Questions?

Sequence questions are routinely asked on the ASVAB arithmetic reasoning test.

For these questions, you will be presented with a series of numbers and asked to work out what the next number in the sequence should be.

Sequence questions are one of the few question types on arithmetic reasoning that are purely number based. All other questions are word problems with numbers. To answer these questions correctly, you must identify the numerical pattern.

A simple example would be: 2, 4, 16, ___.

Note that the pattern here is 2, (2×2) 4, (4×4) 16, (16×16) 256

In other words, each number in the sequence is the multiple of the preceding number.

The best way to answer sequencing questions is to practice as many ASVAB test questions as possible. The more questions you practice, the easier it becomes to identify the same kinds of pattern that appear repeatedly on the exam.

If the sequence involves a rapid shift in number values, you can safely assume that multiplication is the correct course of action. Notice in our example above how the numbers stay low, 2, 4, 16, but then shoot up to 256. When you identify this kind of pattern, you should first assume that the answer involves multiplication.

However, if all numbers remain low – for example: 1, 2, 4, 8… – then you can assume that addition is the best strategy to apply. In this question, the correct answer is 16 – because each number is the addition of double the preceding number.

Multiplication and addition are not the only kind of problems to expect. A third, more tricky kind of question may also be asked. For these problems, there is more than one arithmetical operation at work.

Let’s take a look at the following example:

8, 12, 9, 13, 10, ….

In this question, note that the pattern is Plus Four, Minus Three.

Therefore, the next number in the sequence will be 14, followed by 11, and so on.

Of course, multiple operations may also involve multiplication. What matters is that you are aware of these kinds of operations and can think it through on the day of your exam. One way to identify these kinds of problem is to notice how tightly packed together the numbers are. The range is very tight – and so it is likely that more than one operation is at play.

Why are Sequence Questions Included?

You may be wondering, why are sequence questions asked at all during the ASVAB exam.

The answer is that logic and analytical skills are used to identify patterns. This ability tells the examiner that you can work out problems under pressure. This kind of transferrable skill can be used in many other circumstances, and not just with arithmetic problems.

For ASVAB examiners, candidates who can easily identify the steps involved in working through problems demonstrate a high capacity in reason, logic, and analytical skills – skills prized in the military and many other careers where developing a clear and coherent long-term strategy is important.

Take Home Message

Here are some take-home techniques to apply to sequence questions in arithmetic reasoning.

First, don’t just work through the problem in your mind.

Yes – for many candidates, these problems are easily worked through. For many others, this is not the case.

To eliminate as much risk as possible, take out a pen and paper and note the difference in numbers and what is likely to be at work:

• Is it likely to involve addition?
• Is it likely to involve multiplication?
• Is it likely to involve more than one operation?

To establish this, it is imperative that you practice as many ASVAB test questions as possible in the weeks and months leading up to the exam. That way, you can hone your skill and instinctively arrive at the correct course of action.

By having this structured approach to answering ASVAB questions, you increase the probability of securing the correct answer. Sequencing questions are just one part of the AR test. That said, by applying the techniques and strategy in this study guide, you go that much further toward securing a high score on one of the four tests used to calculate your AFQT score.

Check back to our blog here at ASVAB Test Practice soon for even more techniques to help you dominate the ASVAB exam!

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