How to Use AFQT Practice Exams to Your Advantage

By Rod Powers

Most full-length AFQT practice exams have questions that are very similar to the ones you see on the ASVAB subtests that comprise the AFQT score. Practice exams can help increase your confidence and ensure that you’re ready to take the actual ASVAB, but you have to use them correctly.

Here’s a little not-so-secret secret: No ASVAB or AFQT preparation book includes the exact same questions as what you find on the actual test. Actual ASVAB test questions are controlled items; that means that the military keeps them to itself. If you see any questions on the actual ASVAB or AFQT that are the exact same as the ones you find in any other preparation guide), it’s pure coincidence.

However, just because the practice exams don’t include the exact same questions that you see on the AFQT doesn’t mean that the practice exams aren’t valuable — just use them the way they were designed to be used:

  • Practice Exam 1: Use your first practice exam as an initial assessment tool. Take this test before you set up your study plan. You can use the results of to determine which areas of the AFQT you need to spend the most time on.

  • Practice Exam 2: Use a second test as a progress check after a week or two of study. Adjust your study plan accordingly.

  • Practice Exam 3: Take another practice exam about a week before you’re scheduled to take the actual ASVAB. Use the results to determine which AFQT subjects need a little extra attention.

  • Practice Exam 4: Take a final practice exam a day or two before the ASVAB to make sure you’re ready and to boost your confidence. If you don’t score well, you may want to consider asking your recruiter to reschedule your ASVAB test for a later date to give you more time to study.

You may find your recruiter trying to rush you to take the ASVAB and medical exam so he can get you signed up quickly. Recruiters live and die off their recruiting goals. Make sure you don’t let the recruiter schedule your exam until you’re sure you’re ready to take the test.

The mini-AFQT computerized test that recruiters have in their offices is a pretty good indicator of whether you’re ready for the real test. Usually, people’s AFQT scores are within five or six points of what the mini-AFQT predicts.

Although you can’t equate scores on the practice exam with actual AFQT scores (because of the method of scoring the AFQT), shoot for a minimum of 80 percent on each subtest, keeping in mind whether your practice test mimics the paper version, the computerized version, or a random number of questions replicating the question type:

  • Arithmetic Reasoning: For the paper version, this subtest has 30 questions. If you miss more than 6 on a practice exam, you should dedicate more study time to solving math problems. For the CAT-ASVAB, you have 16 questions. If you miss more than 3, you should concentrate on improving this score.

  • Word Knowledge: The Word Knowledge subtest has 35 questions on the paper version. You need to focus more attention on this area if you miss more than 7 questions. You must complete 16 questions on the computer version, so you should study more if you miss more than 3 questions.

  • Paragraph Comprehension: If you miss more than 3 of the 15 Paragraph Comprehension questions on the paper version or 2 out of 11 on the CAT version, dedicate more study time to your reading skills.

  • Mathematics Knowledge: Missing more than 5 questions on this 25-question subtest indicates you need further study. Concentrate on your math skills if you miss more than 3 on a CAT-ASVAB practice test.