How to Pass the ASVAB

If you plan on entering the United States Armed forces, you will need to take the ASVAB to gain entry into one of the Military branches. We will be reviewing how to pass the ASVAB in this guide.

The key to passing the ASVAB is proper preparation. Students who dedicate adequate time and resources to their studies will perform better than students who decide to wing it.

Find out the best way to study for the ASVAB as well as using the resources we provide below to prepare.

Passing the ASVAB

The most important thing when trying to pass the ASVAB is being prepared. Luckily, there are a ton of free resources available for this exam.

The first thing you need to understand is that each branch of the Military has a minimum score requirement for eligibility. You will need to achieve the minimum score in order to pass the ASVAB for that specific branch of the Military.

You can practice for the exam by taking one of our free ASVAB practice exams.

Military BranchMin. Score (HS Diploma)Min. Score (GED)
Air Force3150
Coast Guard4050
Marine Corps3250

The table above is a brief overview of scores. You can read our complete guide to ASVAB scores for more in-depth information on this topic.

We know how to pass the ASVAB (from a technical standpoint), but what is the best way to study for the ASVAB?

How to Study for the ASVAB

Surprisingly, studying for the ASVAB is relatively straightforward. Many students make it more difficult than it needs to be. We will outline the steps you need to take to pass the ASVAB below.

An image outlining the different steps you can take to study for the ASVAB


The very first thing you should do is take a practice ASVAB exam. Taking a practice exam will accomplish a couple of things:

  1. Help you get a feel for the types of questions you will be asked to answer.
  2. Help you get a feel for the types of concepts you will be asked to answer.
  3. Help you determine which subjects you need to focus on

Taking a practice exam will help you narrow down and focus your studies. For example, you may have done really well on the paragraph comprehension section but struggled with the math knowledge section.

This information will allow you to focus more of your time on the math knowledge section (or whatever section you struggled in). This will help you study more efficiently and save valuable time. Practice exams are one of the best ways to study for the ASVAB.

Study Guides

After taking some practice exams, you should begin to plan out your studies. We recommend using study guides for this exam. There are plenty of resources available for this exam, with most of them being free.

You can begin by using our ASVAB study guide which includes a review of some key concepts. This is a good place to start.

You should start by studying the concepts you struggled with the most on the practice exams you took. If you are not sure where to start, you should definitely start by studying the following subjects:

  1. Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  2. Word Knowledge (WK)
  3. Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  4. Mathematics Knowledge (MK)

These 4 subjects make up an important part of your score called the AFQT score. This score is used to determine your eligibility for each branch of the Military. These subjects are a good place to start to ensure you pass the ASAVB.

More Practice

After spending some time studying, take some more practice exams. These will help you track your progress and ensure you are learning.

You may find that you are all ready to go and have scored well on your practice exams. You may also find that you need to spend some additional time studying to pass the ASVAB.

Ensure You are Comfortable with the Timing

The timing aspect of this exam throws some students off. An important step in passing the ASVAB is ensuring you are comfortable with the timing aspect. Some strategies to help you deal with the timing include:

  1. Learning Exam Content: This preparation tactic is research-oriented, as you should begin to research what the test covers. It is a smart idea to take a practice test early on in the preparation process that can be used as a baseline to calculate how you have improved over time.
  2. Familiarization: Familiarize yourself with the ASVAB format. Read our ASVAB overview for more information.
  3. Practice: The U.S. military operates with the adage – Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
  4. Focus: Remain committed to the preparation strategies you have adopted to improve your problem-solving skills.
  5. Time: The ASVAB is a timed test. Here is a list of the average amount of time for each question.
SubsectionApproximate Average Timing for Each Question (Seconds)
Word Knowledge30
Mathematics Knowledge75
Arithmetic Reasoning140
General Science30
Mechanical Comprehension75
Auto and Shop35
Electronics Information30
Paragraph Comprehension120
Assembling Objects60

Please note that these timings are for individuals taking the computer-based delivery version of the exam. Timings will vary if you are taking the paper-based version.

Resources to Pass the ASVAB

We have mentioned some resources above, but we will list some of our favorite resources in the table below. These are some of the best ways to study for the ASVAB and a great place to start.

Free ASVAB Practice
Free ASVAB Study
ASVAB Sample QuestionsOfficial ASVAB Website

What If You Don’t Pass the ASVAB Test?

If you do not pass the ASVAB your first time around, no worries. While this is not ideal, you can retake the exam.

You will need to wait 1 month to re-take the exam a 2nd time. If you fail the exam your second time, you can still re-take it. However, you will need to wait 6 months to re-take the exam a 3rd time.

General Overview of Exam

The ASVAB is comprised of 10 subsections that are crafted to carefully measure a test-taker’s academic prowess and technical aptitude. Four sections of the ASVAB determine if you meet the military’s general eligibility requirements.

  1. Word Knowledge (WK)
  2. Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  3. Math Knowledge (MK)
  4. Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)

These four subsections are scored separately to calculate your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). The AFQT measures the test-taker’s basic knowledge.

The other sections further determine your capabilities and skills. These scores help the military determine your aptitude in clerical matters, mechanical maintenance, combat, surveillance, to name a few. These additional sections include:

  1. General Science (GS)
  2. Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
  3. Auto/Shop Information (SI)
  4. Electronics (EI)
  5. Assembly of Objects (AO)
  6. Automobile Knowledge Information (AI)

Remember, the higher you score, the more likely you will be for a position of your choosing. You can review our complete guide on the ASVAB for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

The easiest way to pass the ASVAB is by taking practice exams. You can use these practice exams to become more familiar with the exam in terms of content, topics, and the timing aspect.

You can use the practice exams to narrow down the subjects you need the most help in. This will help you study more efficiently and save some valuable study time.

Some students may have the ability to pass this exam without studying. If you were a top student in high school, then you may be able to achieve this.

However, we recommend all students participate in some sort of studying before taking this exam. It is no fun failing this exam and having to re-take it.

At the very minimum, we recommend taking 1 practice exam in each subject to ensure that you do well and understand the concepts being tested.

Dave Evangelisti
Dave is our founder and CEO. He has 20+ years of experience in the testing and test prep industry.