Taking the ASVAB: Tips and Strategies

Navy sailors ASVAB test
Sailors aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan attend an Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery preparation course. (Seaman Tamekia Perdue/U.S. Navy)

The day before the test, it is paramount to (a) not worry, and (b) get a good night's sleep! If you're taking the test at your school, these should not be so difficult, but if you're going with your military branch to a hotel and waking up at 4 in the morning, relaxation and sleeping can be a problem. The night before, be sure you get to bed early. Read, watch TV, draw -- do something to help you relax and sleep well.

"Many people do poorly on the test because they get nervous and they rush. Or they begin the test unprepared and realize it's much harder than they thought it would be. When you are properly prepared -- meaning you've studied for the test and put some time into taking practice tests -- you will have the confidence to focus and do your best," said Jordan Stolper, CEO of Peterson's Test Prep, a leading test prep provider.

When you go to take the ASVAB, most likely you will wait in line with everyone else, and go in to take the test by twos and threes. Whatever you do, listen and follow instructions. Do not be afraid to ask questions! Some people at MEPS may give you a bit of an attitude (not many people enjoy getting up so early), but just laugh it off and ask your question. Their job is to help you.

Once you actually sit down in front of a computer, read and listen to the instructions very carefully. The keyboard will have only a few keys that you need to use. If you press an invalid key, your test may be disqualified and you will have to come back another day.

Go through the questions at a good pace but not too quickly. If you read things carefully the first time, you will find that there is plenty of time to complete the test. Remember that you cannot go back, so take each question seriously!

Our list of dos and don'ts:


  • Ask questions
  • Follow instructions
  • Read the keyboard instructions carefully
  • Use plenty of scratch paper
  • Do things carefully the first time!
  • Eliminate answers that are obviously wrong
  • Guess if you cannot figure out a question within 1-2 minutes


  • Take too long on any one question
  • Talk to your neighbor(s)
  • Press the wrong keys on the keyboard
  • Skip questions (you cannot go back)
  • Fall asleep

And finally, though, it should go without saying: Make sure you go to the bathroom BEFORE starting the test!

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