ASVAB AFQT For Dummies
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If your sights are set on becoming a military aviator, you need to do well on a military flight aptitude test administered by the armed services — the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps — and the Coast Guard. Whether you're taking the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT), the Army's Selection Instrument for Flight Training (SIFT), or the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB, used by the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard), be sure to create a study plan, prepare yourself for test day, and brush up on your multiple-choice skills.

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Creating an effective flight aptitude test study plan

Studying for the military flight aptitude test is serious business, so you need a study plan. Fly through the flight aptitude test by including these two key study points in your plan:

  • Commit to a study schedule. Getting ready for the military flight aptitude test requires dedication and determination. A proper study schedule is going to eat up a lot, if not most, of your free time; you have to be prepared to resist temptations and distractions as much as possible.

    Depending on how far out you are from test day, you should commit to at least two to three hours per day of test prep. If at all possible, start your schedule at least three to six months before your first exam (the more time the better) and plan to schedule at least a month between each branch service test you intend to take.

  • Practice taking tests. The old saying “practice makes perfect” holds true for taking military flight aptitude tests. To maximize your study time, take practice tests in an informal setting at the beginning of your test preparation to determine your exact strong and weak areas.

    About two-thirds through your study program, take practice exams (one per sitting) in a formalized setting. Start with the branch you least want to join and work up to your highest-priority test. Pretend you’re taking the real test; try to find an unfamiliar setting where you won’t be distracted and use the same mental approach as you would for the real deal.

    Score your practice test, and then informally review the questions you answered incorrectly, spending time refreshing yourself on those topics. A few days later, retake the questions you answered incorrectly to cement this information into your long-term memory. Then you can do additional review and set a time to take the next practice test.

Getting ready for military flight aptitude test day

As with any test, you want to be in tip-top shape the day of your military flight aptitude test. Ready yourself for flight aptitude test day by heeding the following exam-day tips:

  • Arrive well rested. If you’re tired, worn out, hung over, or otherwise not at your very best physical and mental condition when you take the military flight aptitude test, chances are your score will suffer for it. Get plenty of sleep the night before you take the test, and avoid using alcohol or an excessive amount of caffeine.

  • Dress in layers. Your testing room may not be the most comfortable place — it may be freezing cold, miserably hot, or somewhere in between. You won’t know until you get there. Dress in layers that you can easily remove or add as the test environment changes. Specifically, bring a sweater or light jacket with you. If you end up not needing it, great; if you find yourself cold, having the extra layer available will be a huge relief.

  • Fuel up. Your brain needs sustained energy while you’re taking the test, so you should carefully consider what you eat and drink the morning of your military flight aptitude test. When preparing your test-day breakfast (most if not all tests start in the morning), don’t consume tons of carbohydrates, especially the simple carbs found in such foods as sugary cereal, maple syrup, and sweet tea. Simple carbohydrates can cause a mental rush followed by a crash. Enjoy a balanced meal with an emphasis on proteins (eggs, sausage, bacon, and so on) to maximize your mental alertness. Go easy on the caffeine the morning of the test — just drink your normal amount of coffee or tea.

  • Pack for test day. Although some locations don’t allow you to carry a bag into the testing room with you, go ahead and pack a light duffel or book bag with a sweater or jacket, some light snacks full of complex carbohydrates (such as an energy bar or fruit), a bottle of water, and (if you’re a coffee drinker) perhaps a small thermos of coffee. In winter, you may want to consider bringing a change of shoes so you don’t have to take the test in soggy snow boots. Depending on which of the military flight aptitude tests you take and the rules regarding calculator use on that test, you may (in the future) also be allowed to bring along a simple calculator to use on the math sections. (The calculator can’t have any memory capability to store formulas or other test aids, though.)

  • Arrive early. Getting to the test site early is better than arriving late or even barely on time. You give yourself the opportunity to relax a little before the test starts. If you find yourself rushing to the test site the morning of the test because you got a late start or you got stuck in traffic, you’ll probably arrive frazzled, which isn’t going to help you do your very best.

  • Reschedule if you need to. If you aren’t feeling up to taking the exam on your scheduled day, don’t hesitate to reschedule! You’re better off to wait and make sure you’re on your game for the exam than to waste the opportunity. Be aware, though, that rescheduling more than once reduces the likelihood that the application staff will be willing to accommodate any additional changes in your schedule. If you must reschedule an exam, do it as early as possible, and don’t make a habit of it.

Strategies for solving multiple-choice questions on military flight aptitude tests

Most military flight aptitude test questions are multiple-choice questions that can require some strategic solving. Succeeding at multiple-choice tests requires mastering the solving strategies of the multiple-choice trade, general confidence in your test preparation, and core knowledge on the subject. Just knowing how to think when it comes to multiple-choice questions can vastly improve your test scores.

Here are the most effective tactics for tackling the multiple-choice questions you encounter when you take the AFOQT, SIFT, or ASTB:

  • Read and understand the directions. Sit down, take a deep breath, and make sure that you clearly understand what the test is asking you to do. If you have a question about the directions, ask the proctor (although the proctors have specific guidelines about what information they can give you that may or may not allow them to answer your question). Pay special attention to time limits for each section of the test, the number of questions you have to answer in the given amount of time, and any extra materials that you may be allowed to use, such as scratch paper and possibly a calculator.

  • Start with the easier questions. Because all questions in each test section count the same, you don’t want to spend so much time on one difficult question that you miss the opportunity to answer five other questions. When you encounter a difficult or time-consuming question, set that question aside and answer questions that are easier or that require less time to complete. You can then go back and tackle the harder ones.

  • Maximize guesses with the process of elimination. First, eliminate any answers you know for a fact can’t be correct. Decide how likely you think each remaining answer is to be correct and then pick the one you feel most strongly about. If you’re left with two answers that you’re evenly split between, consider choosing the longest answer or eliminating an answer that includes the term always or never. These last two criteria aren’t hard-and-fast rules; they’re just suggestions for helping you pull the trigger on a final educated guess.

    The military flight aptitude tests don’t penalize you for guessing incorrectly, so filling in something always gives you a better chance at earning points than leaving the question blank does.

  • Mark answers carefully. Make sure you mark the correct answer on the correct section on the correct form and that it indeed correlates to the question you’re answering. Putting answer 12 on the spot for question 13 is an easy mistake, so be sure to double-check your work periodically. After you find the correct spot for your answer, don’t sabotage your correct answer by filling in the oval sloppily. You need to completely fill in the oval without running outside the lines.

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