10 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Study for the AFQT - dummies

10 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Study for the AFQT

By Rod Powers

In order to join the U.S. military, prospective soldiers have to get an acceptable score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (otherwise known as the ASVAB), the military entrance exam.

The ASVAB has nine separate sections, but the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test) score is calculated with the results from four sections: Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), and Mathematics Knowledge (MK).

Because the military entrance exam is often tied to current job opportunities, enlistment bonuses, and training schedules, aspiring enlistees need to do their absolute best the first time they take the ASVAB.

Parents of eager future soldiers are commonly involved in the military entrance process. Here are the top ten ways parents and guardians can assist their children (or friends) in making sure they get the very best score the first time.

Establish solid study habits

Future military personnel benefit greatly from healthy habits formed before “getting in.” Help your child become organized and responsible about his study goals in order to put him on the right platform for the best possible outcome.

Creating an organized study area with adequate supplies is a must. Your child will need a quiet space specifically for study, such as a desk in his room or even the dining room table (if it isn’t the family activity hub). He’ll also need appropriate study tools, such as study guides and Internet access. Laying the foundation for all of this is pertinent to advancement.

Make an ASVAB study plan

Sit down with your child and a calendar, marking the current day and the test day (if you know it) or desired test day. Note the time she has from now until test day, whether it’s one month, three months, or six months and beyond, and make a study plan. First, jot down her weekly schedule, such as school, work, and extracurricular activities, adding in time for rest and meals. Then find the spaces in the schedule she can commit to use as AFQT preparation time. She can use this time to visit the library, study independently at home, study with a group of friends, and meet with military personnel.

If your child’s calendar already seems impossibly full, take a hard look about how important some of those activities are. To form a serious commitment to ASVAB study, she can’t be distracted by less important events.

Making a study plan creates a level of commitment. The feeling of success your child will get from sticking to the plan will build confidence and help move her closer to her goal.

Personalize study tactics

Each individual has weak and strong areas and benefits from different learning methods. Finding out what methods work best for your child is crucial for his success. If he’s a visual learner, flashcards and drawings are helpful. If he retains information better when it’s communicated verbally, reading aloud may be useful. He may even want to record the reading and play it back. If writing notes in a secluded quiet setting works best, go for it. Help your child find the best method for him and incorporate that into his study plan.

Use practice exams to your advantage

Practice exams are a very valuable study tool. Not only do they give your child an idea about the type of questions she’ll see on the test format, but they’re also useful in determining what AFQT subject areas she needs to spend the most time on. Grade and log the practice tests to show your child’s improvement and areas of weakness. She can take the exams again and again until she feels she’s completely ready for the real deal.

Encourage your child to read

Your child should read as much as possible while preparing for the AFQT. Two of the four subtests (Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension) deal with word usage and interpreting written paragraphs. You can encourage reading by giving your child magazines, books, newspapers, and online access.

Communicate with the recruiter

Stay in touch with your child’s recruiter like you would his teacher. Make sure you’re up to date with the recruiter’s intended exam schedule, any upcoming meetings, and his or her recommendations. The recruiter will be able to offer advice and helpful links and resources that will be useful during study time.

Avoid test anxiety

People who suffer from test anxiety worry about how well they’ll do on test day, even when the day is still a ways out, which tends to cloud concentration and create unnecessary stress. Verbally coaching your child to not be anxious or worried doesn’t usually reduce stress. However, redirecting your efforts by using positive reinforcements such as verbal praise, making a plan and following through with schedules, and being well organized are good ways to improve the situation. Being supportive and understanding goes a long way.

Focus on nutrition and physical well-being

Fuel equals brain power! Now is the time to pump your child full of wholesome goodness, which means cutting back on junk food. A balanced diet of about six smaller meals per day, with a mix of carbohydrates and protein and plenty of water, tends to be extremely helpful. Make sure she’s getting enough sleep and a healthy amount of exercise. Address any specific health issues that may affect her performance on the test, or consider rescheduling the test until they can be resolved.

Foster confidence and independence

Confidence is key to success. But being your child’s cheerleader while letting him grow into independence can require a delicate balance. On one hand, rooting him on and providing support when he needs it is an important confidence booster. On the other hand, giving your child the space to go at it alone when he needs it shows him you trust his ability. Make yourself available for questions, but don’t hover and smother.

Be a role model

Your role as a parent constantly evolves as your child learns and grows. She’s watching and learning from you, so her attitude about education, studying, and learning will most likely reflect what she’s seen from you. You can set a good example by making good choices, maintaining a positive outlook, and actively working toward your own goals and success.