4-Step Method: Master the ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Section
The ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension subtest provides passages for you to read. Then you answer questions based on your comprehension of each passage. This subtest would be easy if you had a lot of time to answer each question. It is difficult because you are only given 13 minutes total to answer 15 questions – that’s 51 seconds per question.
Since ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension passages are extremely dense with information, don’t try to absorb everything you read. This will slow you down and hurt your score.
The 4-step method to master the ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension section:
1.) Identify the Question
Read the question before you read the paragraph. This will allow you to determine if the question is asking you about one of the following: a specific detail, the main idea, vocabulary-in-context or to make an inference. If the question is asking about a specific detail or vocabulary-in-context then you can scan right to the key word in the paragraph. For example, a specific detail question looks like the one below. You can scan directly to the sentence we’ve underlined to quickly find that the correct answer is choice (C).
EXAMPLE: Children have a talent for learning new languages very quickly. Between the ages of one and twelve, a child has the ability to learn a new language 60% faster than a person over the age of twelve. Traditional classroom learning and textbooks account for part of the learning process, but more important are the dialogues children have with people that speak foreign languages. Reading mainly shows a child how words are used in a typical sentence structure. Conversations are key to learning a language so the child can ask questions and practice speaking what they have learned.
According to the passage, conversations are a valuable part of learning a new language because
A) words used in dialogue are more advanced
B) sentence structure is learned through speaking
C) children can ask questions and practicing speaking
D) children learn more quickly than adults
2.) Scan the Passage
Once you know your task, only read as much of the ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension passage that is necessary to answer the question. Let’s assume you are not being asked a detail or vocabulary-in-context question. That leaves a main idea or inference question. These types of questions will require you to skim the passage to select a correct answer. A tip for “skimming” through a passage is to read every 3rd word in the paragraph. If it’s a main idea question, you can answer very quickly. Just read the first and last sentence in the paragraph to find the answer. If it’s an inference question, then skim through using our “every 3rd word” trick and it will dramatically increase your reading speed.
3.) Spot Traps
Spotting traps in the possible answer choices allows you to quickly eliminate incorrect choices. Be suspicious of any ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension answer that includes trap words such as all, always, every, forever, only, solely, never or none. Use the catch-phrase, “Never say never,” as a memory device for finding trap words. Other potential trap words are comparison word. Beware of words like greatest and least or first and last in the answer choices.
4.) Determine Unclear Answer Choices
Another technique for spotting ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension incorrect answer choices is to find intentionally vague, partially true or partially false answer options. Don’t select the incorrect answer by recognizing the true part without considering the false part of the answer choice. When answering the questions on the ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension subtest, be sure to carefully consider all the choices and their wording. This is especially important for main idea and inference questions.
For more information about this ASVAB study topic, visit the ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension online course page. View a sample of this ASVAB study class to see if it’s a good fit for your study needs!