Compare and Contrast to Solve ASVAB Word Knowledge Questions

By Angie Papple Johnston

Many sentence-based Word Knowledge questions on the ASVAB have context clues that can help you decipher the underlined word’s meaning. If you can pick up on the signal words that tell you about contrast and similarity, you’ll be able to boost your score and your vocabulary.

Signal words can be especially helpful when you try to predict a word’s meaning. This table lists some common signal words and whether they indicate similarity or contrast.


Practice question

  1. He recoiled as if he had just seen a ghost.

A. cringed

B. laughed

C. shouted

D. endured

Answer and explanation

  1. The correct answer choice is A.

The signal phrase in the question is “as if,” which is very similar to “like.” Knowing that, what’s the most likely answer? If you saw a ghost, you probably wouldn’t laugh, shout, or endure. (You might run, though.) The most correct answer is Choice (A), cringed, because that’s far more likely to be your response than any of the other choices are.