Tips for Taking the ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Subtest - dummies

Tips for Taking the ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Subtest

By Rod Powers

The best way to score well on the ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension subtest is to improve your reading comprehension skills. However, you can also do a few things on test day to make sure you score as high as possible:

  • Watch the time. As with all the ASVAB subtests, this test is timed. You have 13 minutes to read through approximately 9 paragraphs and answer 15 questions on the paper version, or 11 questions in 22 minutes if you take the computer version. This period is plenty of time, so you shouldn’t feel rushed. Although you don’t have time for daydreaming, either.

  • If you don’t know the answer, you may take an educated guess by using the process of elimination. On the paper version, you may guess freely at your discretion. However, on the computerized test, you risk receiving a penalty for too many wrong answers at the end of the subtest. If you need to guess, make sure to eliminate as many choices as possible before choosing your answer.

  • Question first, read later. Your first instinct may be to read the entire paragraph first, before looking at the questions. However, many reading comprehension test experts recommend the opposite. If the question asks you to find specific information or discern the main idea of the paragraph, skimming or scanning can save loads of time. Read the question first so that you can best decide what reading technique to use.

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

  • Understand each question. What is the question asking you to do? Are you supposed to find the main point? Draw a conclusion? Find a word that is 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. On the Paragraph Comprehension subtest, one answer is often “most right” while 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 baggage at the door. Answer each question based on the passage, not your own opinions or views on the topic.

  • Don’t choose ambiguous 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 it there to throw you off. Don’t give them the satisfaction of falling for their trap!

  • Always be cautious about 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.