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If you are thinking of joining the military, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, is one of the most important tests you will take in your career. The score you get will determine what jobs you will be eligible for in the armed services and whether you are allowed to enlist in the first place. If you want to ace the exam, you will likely need to set aside at least two months to prepare. Along with a steady studying routine and a quiet place to work, you will want to arm yourself with the best preparation books available. So read on to find the best ASVAB prep books to buy today.
Best Simple Overview: 2018 / 2019 ASVAB For Dummies
The “For Dummies” guide to the ASVAB is a great place to start if you are starting from square one. Like the other books in the series, this book assumes you know nothing about any of the topics covered, which is helpful if you haven’t worked with, say, assembling items before, or perhaps anything other than basic math. One of the best perks of this book is the “cheat sheets” at the end of each subsection that provide an excellent overview of the topics and equations you’ll need to master to do well on that area. You’ll also find an in-depth guide to how the ASVAB is scored and what to expect once you’re in the test room on exam day. There are thousands of practice questions inside, as well as seven online practice exams.
Best Theory Overview: Barron's ASVAB with CD-ROM, 11th Edition
This book is an absolute bargain. Barron’s walks you through the theories behind each core area of the ASVAB and, rather than having practice questions all come at the end, integrates them into each chapter so that you can check your progress along the way. Each section is very detail-oriented, ensuring that you won’t miss anything you might encounter on the exam. The book comes with four full-length exams, two additional exams on an included CD and an unusually thorough guide to the “assembling objects” component of the exam, one of the hardest to master. There’s also a section on analyzing your scores once you’ve taken the exam, and to see how your aptitudes will prepare you for (or hinder you from) various military career paths. Unfortunately, this book doesn’t come with flashcards or diagrams, so you might want to supplement your studies with another book on our list.
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Best Built-In Study Method: ASVAB Study Guide 2018-2019 by Spire Study System
If what you are looking for in an ASVAB book is merely a ton of practice questions, this might not be the book for you, though it does have plenty of those inside. Instead, the main selling point of this book is the comprehensive study method and plan that decreases the amount of time you have to spend behind a desk and increases your comprehension and retention. Built in consultation with military and education experts alike, Spire proposes a 30-day study calendar that tells you when to study what topics for maximum retention. All of the topics are covered in-depth, and their visual outlines in each section will help the concepts stick. This is one of the few books that come with a guarantee that you’ll pass your ASVAB!
Best for Mechanical Review: ASVAB Secrets Study Guide: ASVAB Test Review
If you were a good student in school, you are probably competent in basic math, science, vocabulary and paragraph analysis. But mechanical skills? That’s not something you use every day. Thankfully, Mometrix’s ASVAB study guide has one of the most challenging and thorough overviews of the mechanical knowledge you’ll need for the test. Inside, you’ll find an in-depth review of different essential topics, including an entire section devoted to assembling objects. You’ll also learn the basic physics you need to master subjects such as calculating velocity, friction and the movement of fluids. If you want a more specific explanation of a concept in the book, you can scan the video code and pull up a more advanced tutorial in Mometrix Academy. Another helpful inclusion is a review book that reminds you of common test anxieties and how to overcome them.
Best For Extra Practice: ASVAB Prep Plus Kaplan
If practice does make perfect, then this book is designed to make you perfectly prepared for the ASVAB. There are nearly 2,000 (!) practice problems inside this book, as well as six full-length practice tests and with detailed explanations of the answers, online videos to explain critical technical concepts, subtests that cover the tricky math concepts more in-depth and plenty of flashcards. The online resources you’ll have access to let you customize your practice problems based on your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the difficulty of the questions. The book also helps you develop useful strategies for tackling vocabulary and math questions that can sometimes prove tricky. If you like to study on the go, this book also comes with tear-out study pages and a mobile site. If you buy this book, you probably can ace the test without spending money on other guides.
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Best Diagnostic Test: Peterson's Master the ASVAB
As former Secretary of State for Defense Donald Rumsfeld once famously said, “There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say; there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know.” If you want to ace the ASVAB, you need to identify your personal unknown unknowns — and this is precisely what Peterson’s guide is uniquely qualified to help you do. This book begins with the absolute best diagnostic test of any review book, which will help you hone in on exactly what you need to focus your studying efforts on. This book also is one of the wordiest, meaning every topic you’ll encounter on test day, and more is sure to show up inside. In addition to the great diagnostic test and four full-length practice tests, the guide includes a full overview of military positions you’ll be qualified for based on your score for extra incentive to do your best.
Best Fluff-Free Guide: ASVAB Study Guide 2016-2017 By Accepted, Inc.
This book is as straightforward as they come. You won’t get confused by how the chapters are organized because it’s written in a straightforward format that almost makes studying for hours upon hours seem like fun. Rather than filling extra pages with fluff, this book is organized by the concept so that it’s easy to follow. Lest you think you might get tricked by the test writers, come test day, this book also and provides helpful insider tips from people, who have already taken the test to help you avoid common pitfalls. The guide includes hundreds of sample questions covering every topic you might encounter in the exam, as well as one full-length practice test. Some people might feel like the fluff-free style doesn’t have all of the information needed to feel 110 percent confident test day, so you might want to purchase another guide or two to supplement this one if you’re feeling nervous.
Best If You Need To Cram: CliffsNotes ASVAB AFQT Cram Plan
If you want to do your absolute best on any test, cramming is probably not the best way to do it. But if you are short on time for any reason, you will want to have this CliffsNotes survival guide to help you. Before you start, the guide will ask you how much time you have left before test day and then match you with a study plan, whether you have two months to prepare or just one week. This guide outlines day-by-day schedules and, after you take the included diagnostic test, gives you tips for the most important things you should focus on preparing for. The subject reviews cover all of the information you will be expected to know on the actual test, from arithmetic and word knowledge to paragraph comprehension and more advanced mathematical topics. There’s only one practice test included, but its formatted like an actual exam to give you an authentic mock test day experience.
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What to Know Before Buying an ASVAB Study Guide
By Rod Powers
The Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is the test the military uses to determine whether or not one has the mental aptitude to join the military, and—if so—what job(s) they may qualify for. The ASVAB is taken by more than one million military applicants, high school, and post-secondary students each year.
Anyone who enlists in the military must take this test. The overall percentile score, known as the AFQT Score, determines whether or not one can even enlist. In addition to the overall AFQT Score, individual composite scores determine enlisted job qualifications.
There are many study guides available on the market devised to help individuals improve their ASVAB test results. However, not all of these study guides are created equally, and few of them are cheap. Some things you should consider to get the best bang for your buck:
Test Score vs. Job Requirements
The ASVAB consists of ten individual tests, but only four of the tests (Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge) are used to compute the overall ASVAB score.
If your goal is to improve your overall score, you should choose a study guide which extensively covers the math and reading/vocabulary portions of the test.
On the other hand, the other six areas of the ASVAB Test (General Science, Auto and Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Electronics Information, Numerical Operations, and Coding Speed) are used (in addition to the above four areas) to determine job qualification(s).
If your goal is to qualify for a specific job, you should choose a study guide which covers the specific areas of the ASVAB used for that particular job qualification.
Types of ASVAB Tests
There are three versions of the ASVAB: the computer adaptive test (CAT), which is automated and given at Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS); the MET-site version, given at one of several Mobile Examination Sites around the country; and the student ASVAB, given to high school and college students.
The CAT version of the test is timed and takes about an hour and a half. This version is the one given most frequently to military recruits. The MET test is a pen-and-paper version and is more suitable for recruits who may need to take more time and go at their own pace. A referral from a recruiter is required for the MET test; when you complete your test your results are sent to the recruiter, who verifies them and helps you assess your scores.
The student test is also a pen-and-paper version and is given in conjunction with a school career counselor, who can help interpret the results and what course of study a student may wish to pursue based on how they perform in specific areas of the ASVAB.
Choosing an ASVAB Test Guide
Some ASVAB study guides are simply practice versions of the test, while others go out of their way to explain the various subject areas and give tips and examples on how to arrive at the correct answer. In general, the more pages the study guide has, the better the chances that the guide will provide detailed explanations.
There are also practice versions of the test online that simulate the CAT version of the test, where answers become progressively harder or easier depending on the participant's answer to each previous question.