ASVAB Test Blog

Dec 18th, 2021

Types of ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Question!

types of asvab paragraph comprehension question

ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Exam Prep

There are four types of ASVAB paragraph comprehension question – all of which we explore in today’s blog.

Remember though – that paragraph comprehension (PC) is one of four exams used to calculate your AFQT score. To enlist in the military, then, this is one of the subtests that requires a little extra effort.

Here in this study guide, we aim to provide just that. By anticipating these four question types, you can prepare well in advance. You can identify key features that the question is asking – and you can anticipate the kind of strategies you need to apply to ensure you find the correct answer.

Paragraph Comprehension tests a candidate’s understanding of the text, how to logically work through passages of text, and how to infer information when presented with a given set of data. These are the skills you must hone, and by studying these four types of ASVAB paragraph comprehension question – you go that much further toward securing the highest possible AFQT result.

Type I – Finding Information

One of the most common ASVAB test question asked is to find information.

You will be presented with a set of data and asked to find the information requested. Sometimes the paragraph you are given does not directly relay the information to you. Instead, it may relate to the information needed – meaning you must infer the correct answer.

Inference is an important logical tool. Inferences is a skill that allows you to draw a conclusion based on evidence and reason. To select the correct answer, you must assess the evidence presented in the paragraph – working out the likely conclusion.

Sample ASVAB test question:

Studies show that 1-in-4 deaths in the United States can be attributed to heart disease, an increase of 33% over the past 25-years. In 2020, there were 800,000 new or current strokes each year, as well as 1.5 million heart attacks. These figures are expected to rise, due to dietary and other long-term factors.

How many patients died from heart disease in 2020?

  • 800,000
  • 1.5 million
  • 2.3 million
  • Impossible to determine

Take a few moments to work through this problem before reviewing the answer explanation below.

Remember – during the ASVAB test you will face the additional pressure of time. This can be enough to tilt your performance one way or the other. If you spend too much time on any one question, you squander the time needed to answer other, often more difficult problems. Similarly, if you spend too little time – and rush – you may end up getting simple questions wrong. Take home message: always stick to time-management, adequately allotting enough time for each question.

In terms of the question above, the correct answer is that it is not possible to determine. Yes, we have covered two causes of cardiovascular death – namely, stroke and heart attack, but these are not the only two causes of death from cardiovascular disease. There are many others that are not considered. Even if we add these two values together, we will still not arrive at the correct number. And this is what we mean by inference; the ability to analyse data and come up with the most accurate conclusion.

This same kind of inferential skill must also be applied to other types of ASVAB paragraph comprehension question.

Type II – Overall Meaning of the Paragraph

Often, you will be asked to establish the overall, general meaning of a paragraph.

These kinds of question can be simple or difficult, but in general the rule you must apply is not to rush into any one answer. It is very tempting to “match” some words in the answer with words in the paragraph – and falsely assume that you have found the correct answer. Often, they throw misleading answers into the equation to throw you off guard. You must be aware of this risk and act accordingly.

One such way is to take a step back – away from the specific details listed in the paragraph.

Instead, focus on more general statements. You are more likely to find general statements at the beginning and end of a paragraph; how it starts and how it concludes. The central core of the paragraph generally contains the data, and this specific data can throw you off the right path.

Type III – Word Knowledge

You may have practiced ASVAB test questions for the Word Knowledge subtest of the exam. One of the kinds of questions for that subtest is to identify the meaning of a word within a stated context.

The same kind of question is included in the paragraph comprehension exam. For example: you will be given a paragraph and the question will ask you to determine the meaning of a specific word within its context.

Just like the word knowledge exam, candidates are recommended to read the word in its wider context. This means reading the sentence before and after the word – piecing together the meaning.

Avoid the temptation of choosing the most “obvious” answer. Instead, take the time to read the word in context, eliminating answers one by one.

Another technique is to read the word in the paragraph with the answers – one by one going through. Often in English if something does not sound right – it is probably wrong. Use this technique at the very end – as a confirmation mechanism that you selected the correct answer.

Type IV – Wider Implications

Of all types of ASVAB paragraph comprehension question, perhaps concluding the wider implications of the paragraph is the toughest.

Put simply, you will be presented with a paragraph. From the details in that paragraph, you will be asked to determine its implications – in other words, what the paragraph is saying more broadly about what is going on.

Again, this comes back to the power of inference; the ability to draw conclusions based on sets of data and/or information.

Here is a sample ASVAB test practice question:

With COVID-19 infections on the rise, it is incumbent for all citizens to abide by public health guidance. A growing minority are choosing to flout these guidelines and instead gather in large groups – often house parties or other such gatherings. Many law enforcement personnel have recommended that authorities should be tipped off to deter the possibility of these gatherings taking place. That way, more can be done to stem the flow of viral spread and reduce the number of hospitalizations that occur over the coming weeks and months.

To prevent viral spread, law enforcement has advised citizens to:

  • Stay 2-meters apart and wash hands consistently.
  • Breach the guidelines if there is a sufficiently necessary reason.
  • Monitor activity in their community about mass gatherings.
  • Reduce viral spread by staying at home.

Take a few moments to establish the correct answer.

If you have inferred correctly, then you will have come to conclude that citizens have been recommended to spy on citizens who disobey the rules. Note that the question is not asking about public health guidance such as washing hands and staying at home. Instead, it focusses on law enforcement asking citizens to report potential gatherings before they take place. This way, gatherings can be prevented and thereby reduce the possibility of avoidable viral spread.

These are the kinds of inferences you must draw; avoiding the popular answers but sticking rigidly to the specific inference the question is asking you to draw.

That’s about it for our review of the top four types of ASVAB paragraph comprehension questions. We hope you found this useful. Check back to our blog soon for even more tips and tricks to help you master the 2022 ASVAB exam!



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