ASVAB Test-Taking Tips for Reading and Gleaning

By Rod Powers

Although no shortcuts exist for improving your reading comprehension skills for the ASVAB (besides practice), you can do a few things on test day to make sure you score as high as possible on this part.

If you’re running out of time on this subtest or you’re not sure whether you can identify the main idea of a passage, take a guess. (But be careful: Guessing and getting too many questions wrong at the end of the subtest may result in a penalty against your score.) If you think that’s a good piece of advice, check out these tried-and-true tactics for test day:

  • Read first, ask questions later. Read the passage all the way through before glancing at the question and answer options.

  • Take it one question at a time. Some passages have more than one question associated with them, but look at only one question at a time.

  • Understand each question. What’s the question asking you to do? Are you supposed to find the main point? Draw a conclusion? Find a word that’s nearest in meaning? Make sure you know what the question is asking before you choose among the answer options. This tip may seem obvious, but when you’re in a hurry, you can make mistakes by misunderstanding the questions.

  • Read each answer option carefully. Don’t just select the first answer that seems right. Remember, on the Paragraph Comprehension subtest, one answer is often most right and others are almost right. You want to choose the most right answer, not the almost right answer. And to do that, you have to read all the answers.

  • Check your feelings at the door. Answer each question based on the passage, not your own opinions or views on the topic.

  • Don’t choose vague answer options. They’re incorrect 99.99 times out of 100. (Oh heck, call it 100 times out of 100.) If an answer strikes you as not quite true but not totally false, that answer is incorrect. Those nasty ASVAB test-makers have put those answers in there to throw you off. Don’t give them the satisfaction of falling for their trap!

  • (Almost) never select never. For the most part, answer options that are absolutes are incorrect. Never, always, and related words are often a sign that you should select a different answer. Words like generally and usually are more likely to be correct.