ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Practice Questions

By Rod Powers

The following questions are designed to present you with an opportunity to practice your Paragraph Comprehension skills for the ASVAB. Read each short paragraph, followed by one or more questions regarding information contained in that passage. Make sure to read the paragraph carefully before selecting the choice that most correctly answers the question.

Sample questions

Passage one

Mrs. Berry’s was my first coup de main. The house was at the top of a high hill with more steps to climb to reach the porch which spanned a plain but scrupulously neat living room. The floor was freshly scrubbed with white sand, there was a deal table also scrubbed to snowy whiteness and a few splint bottomed chairs scrubbed likewise. All this I noticed standing on the threshold of the front door which stood wide open from habit, one could see, rather than with any notion of inviting wayfarers to enter. I knocked on the floor with the point of my umbrella and after some minutes a comely little black woman appeared in the doorway just opposite and stood with hands crossed in front of her waiting to learn the cause of the intrusion.

  1. When the narrator arrives at the house, she
    • A. knocks on the door.
    • B. knocks on the floor.
    • C. opens the door.
    • D. rings the doorbell.
  2. The woman’s crossed hands imply that she’s
    • A. bothered.
    • B. excited.
    • C. afraid.
    • D. bored.

Passage two

Some people argue that baking is an art, but Chef Debra Dearborn says that baking is a science. She says that if you follow a recipe carefully, assembling the ingredients accurately, cooking at the specified temperature for the specified period of time, your cookies will always turn out right. Chef Dearborn says the best baking is like the best experiment — anyone can duplicate it.

  1. In this passage, the word assembling most nearly means
    • A. measuring.
    • B. putting together.
    • C. buying.
    • D. storing.
  2. According to the passage, a person who’s all thumbs in the kitchen
    • A. should get out of the kitchen,
    • B. is an artist.
    • C. isn’t following the recipe carefully.
    • D. is Chef Dearborn.

Passage three

At dinner-time tonight I was feverish to do three things at once: write out my day’s journal, eat my food, and read The Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff. Did all three — but unfortunately not at once, so that when I was occupied with one I would surreptitiously cast a glance sideways at the other — and repined.

  1. Which of the following was the author NOT planning to do?
    • A. go shopping
    • B. eat food
    • C. write a journal
    • D. read a journal

Passage four

To motivate your people, give them tasks that challenge them. Get to know your people and their capabilities, so you can tell just how far to push each one. Give them as much responsibility as they can handle and then let them do the work without looking over their shoulders and nagging them. When they succeed, praise them. When they fall short, give them credit for what they’ve done and coach or counsel them on how to do better next time.

  1. According to the paragraph, if your subordinates fail to adequately perform their tasks, you should
    • A. punish them.
    • B. praise them.
    • C. counsel them.
    • D. both B and C.
  2. After assigning responsibility for the tasks at hand to your subordinates, you should
    • A. supervise them closely to ensure the tasks are performed correctly.
    • B. let them do the work on their own.
    • C. check their progress at the end of each day.
    • D. schedule sufficient work-breaks to avoid job burnout.

Use this answer key to score the Paragraph Comprehension practice questions.

Passage one

  1. B. The correct answer is Choice (B) — she knocks on the floor using her umbrella. If you missed this one, read the passage more carefully.
  2. A. The correct answer is Choice (A). The passage states that the woman is waiting to see “the cause of the intrusion,” which indicates she is bothered or annoyed.

Passage two

  1. B. Although measuring is something you do when baking, it doesn’t most nearly mean the same thing as assembling. Putting together does. Therefore, Choice (B) is the correct answer.
  2. C. The passage states that if you follow a recipe carefully, “your cookies will always turn out right.” The correct answer is Choice (C).

Passage three

  1. A. The passage’s first sentence tells you everything you need to know — it mentions writing and reading journals and eating food. Shopping isn’t mentioned, so the correct answer is Choice (A).

Passage four

  1. D. If you didn’t read the passage, praising someone who didn’t measure up may seem like a bad idea. However, the last sentence states you should give your subordinates credit for the parts of the task they performed correctly and counsel them how to do better the next time. Although that sentence doesn’t use the word ⁠praise, you can infer that giving someone credit means the same thing. The correct answer is Choice (D).
  2. B. Choices (C) and (D) sound like good ideas, but they aren’t suggestions discussed in the paragraph. Remember to avoid the trap of answering based on your personal feelings. Choice (A) is the opposite of what the passage suggests — the writer says to “let [employees] do the work without looking over their shoulders.” Choice (B) is the correct answer.