ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning That You Should Know

ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning: Solving Word Problems with Math

The Arithmetic Reasoning subtest on the ASVAB measures your ability to pull information from word problems and solve mathematical concepts in real-world situations. Like the Mathematics Knowledge subtest, it formulates a big part of your AFQT score, and it’s also used to help determine which jobs you’ll be most suited for when you're in the military.

This subtest requires you to read a word problem, figure out what mathematical concept it's asking you to use, and arrive at the correct answer. It includes questions that involve fact-finding, algebra, and geometry. You'll have to use your reasoning skills to cut through unnecessary information, choose which type of math to use, and find the right answers. You have 39 minutes to work through 16 Arithmetic Reasoning questions on the computerized ASVAB or 36 minutes to complete 30 questions on the paper ASVAB. Calculators are not allowed.

The Questions You'll Work On

You’ll find three types of questions on the Arithmetic Reasoning subtest:

Algebra: The algebra questions on this subtest deal with unknown variables. It's your job to figure out what the question is asking before you calculate the answer.

Geometry: These questions ask you to solve for circumference, area, volume, and similar values. They also include distance and several other geometry concepts.

Fact-finding: Fact-finding questions ask you to read through a word problem and find specific facts; they include fractions, percentages, ratios, and other concepts that don't fall into the algebra and geometry categories.

What to Watch Out For

As you work your way through the Arithmetic Reasoning questions in this chapter, keep these tips in mind:

Read the questions thoroughly and make sure you understand what they're asking — otherwise, you could end up working out the wrong problem.

Ensure that you're using the correct units of measurement for each problem, and if you need to, convert them.

Pay attention to whether your answer is realistic in the problem's context.

Use estimates when you can because they can help you identify the right answer while allowing you to skip tricky calculations.

Don’t forget to solve for additional information when it's necessary; the ASVAB is about attention to detail, and two-step problems are common.

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