ASVAB Reading Comprehension Study Guide

The purpose of the Paragraph Comprehension portion of the ASVAB Test is to assess how well you can read and comprehend the information presented to you. Our ASVAB Reading study guide will give you some simple, straightforward advice about how to master these questions and get a high score.

Tip 1: Identify the obvious wrong answers

With most multiple-choice questions, there will be at least one answer choice that cannot be correct. This choice will likely be the opposite (or close to the opposite) of the answer, and not be supported at all by the text. If you can identify the obviously wrong answer and eliminate one answer choice, you can increase your odds of finding the correct answer by 25%.

Tip 2: Look for matching phrases 

The correct answer is going to always refer to a specific part of the text, so try to identify it immediately. Scan the answer choices and take a moment to check if each one is reflected in the passage.

Tip 3: Look for qualifiers

Qualifiers are words like “always,” sometimes,” “never,” and “often.”

When you are looking at the answer choices, answers marked with absolute qualifiers, like “always,” and “never,” are often the wrong choice. If you think an answer with one of these qualifiers may be correct, look for the exact word or phrase in the passage. If a qualifier is absolute, it will have to be absolutely stated in the passage.

The correct answer is more likely to use qualifiers like “sometimes” or “often” to leave the interpretation more open and general. Check the answer before you just pick it but gravitate towards answers that use these qualifiers.

Tip 4: Eliminate similar (or exact) answer choices

Only one answer choice can be correct, so if there are two answers that are incredibly similar, neither one of them can possibly be correct.

Tip 5: Pay attention to wording, and know what you are being asked

Look for words like “not” in the question because then they are asking you to pick the incorrect answer.

Let’s put these ideas into practice with two examples

Because leadership is charged with bringing new ideas, methods, or solutions into use, innovation is inextricably connected with the process of being an effective leader. Innovation means change, and change requires leadership. Leaders must be the chief transformation officers in their organizations and learn everything there is to know about the change before it even takes place. Furthermore, they must learn how to deal with the emotions that result from the chaos and fear associated with change.

According to the passage,

(A) leaders should resist making changes that subordinates are likely to resist.

(B) innovation and change are distinctly different processes.

(C) it’s not necessary for the leader to know everything about a change before it’s implemented.

(D) change is often associated with panic and disorder.

 

Tip 1: Eliminate the obviously wrong answers

Which of these 4 answer choices is clearly wrong? The entire passage is about how leaders should be leaders in innovation. Additionally, the passage ends with the thought that leaders need to be prepared to deal with the emotions of the people who are experiencing the change.

Answer choice (A), “leaders should resist making changes that subordinates are likely to resist” goes against the nature of the passage and is therefore the answer you should immediately eliminate.

Tip 2: Look for matching phrases

We’ve already eliminated answer choice (A). Answer choice (B) suggests that innovation and change are different. Even if you don’t already know the definition of innovation (“positive change”), you can scan the passage and see that “innovation means change,” so that option is incorrect.

The same goes for answer choice (C), which is directly refuted by the sentence “Leaders must …learn everything there is to know about the change before it even takes place.”

This leaves answer choice (D) as our only possible answer, but let’s double-check it anyways. The answer mentions “panic” and “disorder,” so let’s scan the passage for those words or synonyms of those words. In the final sentence of the passage, the author mentions “chaos” and “fear,” which are similar to “panic” and “disorder.” Reading this sentence, we can see that it closely mirrors the meaning of answer (D).

Answer Choice (D) is correct.

According to the passage,

(A) leaders should resist making changes that subordinates are likely to resist.

(B) innovation and change are distinctly different processes.

(C) it’s not necessary for the leader to know everything about a change before it’s implemented.

(D) change is often associated with panic and disorder.

 

Let’s try one more:

A helping relationship refers to interactions in which the counselor makes a determined effort to contribute in a positive way to the counselee’s improvement. In counseling, the counselor establishes a helping relationship by drawing on practices that help the counselee live more in harmony with himself or herself and others and with a greater self-understanding. The relation- ship develops because the counselee needs assistance, instruction, or understanding.

Which of the following statements is not supported by the passage?

(A) Successful counseling requires developing a relationship.

(B) Most counselees initially reject advice given by the counselor.

(C) Counseling helps a counselee develop a greater understanding of him/herself.

(D) Counseling relationships are developed by relying on helpful practices.

 

Tip 3: Look for qualifiers

The only answer choice with a qualifier is answer choice (B). “Most” may not be an absolute qualifier, but it is pretty close. Because of that, we are going to keep an eye on answer choice (B).

Tip 4: Eliminate similar (or exact) answer choices

While not exact, answer choices (A) and (D) both discuss the importance of counseling relationships. Because these ideas are very similar, (A) and (D) are likely wrong choices.

Tip 5: Pay attention to wording

Notice that the question here uses the word “not, which means we are looking to pick the answer choice that is not supported by the passage. Since (A) and (D) are similar, we can eliminate them. We already noticed that (B) has an almost absolute qualifier, meaning it probably doesn’t support the passage. Skimming the passage, we can see that our instinct was correct.

Which of the following statements is not supported by the passage?

(A) Successful counseling requires developing a relationship.

(B) Most counselees initially reject advice given by the counselor.

(C) Counseling helps a counselee develop a greater understanding of him/herself.

(D) Counseling relationships are developed by relying on helpful practices.

 
Answer choice (B) is correct.
 

Now that you’ve read over all our tips for success on the Reading Comprehension section of the ASVAB, put your skills to practice with the review quiz below.

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Question 1
Many people still don't believe global warming is real; perhaps they don't want to believe humans have damaged our planet so badly. The facts are, the earth is heating up and we have very little time to make change before the damage is irreversible. The poles are warming even faster than the rest of the earth, which is melting glaciers, making sea levels rise, and endangering the incredible animals that live there. We need to do something now if we want to save these polar species and ourselves.
 

The author implies that

A
Global warming isn't real.
B
Humans have been one of the main causes of global warming.
C
We are already past the point of no return when it comes to global warming.
D
Animals that live on the polar ice caps are more important than other animals.
Question 1 Explanation: 
The author states that many climate change deniers "don't want to believe humans have damaged our planet so badly", which implies a belief that humans are at fault. Answer A is incorrect because the author is refuting the claim that global warming is fake. Answer C is incorrect because the author states we have "very little time" before the damage is irreversible, not "no time". Answer D is incorrect because, although the author calls these animals "incredible", there is no information in the paragraph that indicates the author finds them more important than other animals.
Question 2
Rock climbing is one of the most underrated sports. There are so many incredible climbers that display feats of strength and determination that you just can't find in other sports. There are so many varieties of climbing to watch, too: speed climbing, bouldering, ice climbing, dry-tooling, canyoning, and more. Luckily, the movie Free Solo is helping to bring mainstream attention to this incredible sport. The documentary is showing people around the world how courageous, strong, and intelligent a rock climber has to be.
 

This writer believes

A
That Free Solo is the best movie ever filmed.
B
That every person should be amazed by rock climbing.
C
That people don't know rock climbing exists.
D
That rock climbing deserves more appreciation.
Question 2 Explanation: 
From the passage, the only belief that is made clear is that the author believes rock climbing deserves more appreciation. We can gather this from phrases like "mainstream attention" and "most underrated sports". The author never states that Free Solo is the best movie ever; they just call it important. The author also doesn't imply that every person should be amazed by rock climbing; they simply state that it deserves more attention than it's currently receiving, not that it deserves every single person's attention. The author also never states that "people don't know rock climbing exists", but rather that people don't appreciate what it takes as much as the author appreciates it.
Question 3
I knew I shouldn't have been so stressed about the decision, but I was. I felt like it would determine my entire high school experience. The lady had a range of brass and woodwind instruments laid out before me and encouraged me to try each one. The problem was that I was terrible at all of them. When I played the oboe, I sounded like a dying goose, and when I played the trumpet, I sounded like a baby blowing raspberries. The kind lady told me that that's how everyone sounded the first time they picked up an instrument, and I should just pick the one that interested me most. I was still nervous. I didn't want to be the worst musician in the marching band!
 

Which of the following is a proper summary for the passage above?

A
A student is anxiously choosing what instrument they should play in the high school marching band.
B
A student is discovering how terrible they are at every single instrument they touch.
C
A student is preparing for their years in high school.
D
A student finds the perfect instrument to play in the high school marching band.
Question 3 Explanation: 
Answer A is the best summary of what is going on in the passage. Although answer B may seem true as well, we must account for what is said in the paragraph; that this person is trying all these instruments for the first time, and that everyone sounded bad when they first tried an instrument. Thus, we can assume that the narrator isn't actually terrible, but is just like everyone else. Answer C is too general to be a proper summary, and answer D is incorrect because there is nothing in the passage to indicate that the "perfect instrument" has been found yet.
Question 4
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a U.S. Representative and a member of the Democratic Party. She is one of the most controversial politicians of our time. Ocasio-Cortez is 29 and is much different than her colleagues; she has a huge social media presence, unashamedly posts videos of herself dancing online, and is very vocal in Congress. She will call out issues and people she disagrees with on Twitter, which is not a typical mode of justice for the U.S. Government. Her method of argumentation and vocalization is much different than what we've seen in the past, which is stirring up mixed opinions about her.
 

The author suggests that Ocasio-Cortez differs from other politicians in that

A
She is much younger than anyone who's served in congress.
B
She is a Democrat in the House of Representatives.
C
She is controversial.
D
She uses unique mediums like social media to gather support and express her ideas.
Question 4 Explanation: 
One of the main topics that the passage focuses on is her usage of social media, specifically Twitter, so D is the best answer. Answer A is incorrect because, although the passage states she's young, it does not focus on her age as the main difference between her and her fellow congressmen; it is also factually incorrect, because there have been Representatives as young as 24 in the past. Answers B and C are also incorrect, because there is nothing in the passage to imply that being a Democrat in the House or being controversial is unusual.
Question 5
Modern poetry just isn't as good as classic poetry. Nowadays, people can write simple sentences and call it a poem with deep meaning; that didn't fly in the past. The romantic era poets paid attention to rhythm, meter, syllabics, rhymes, and figurative language, which required much more skill and expertise. I wish poets today still read works from guys like Keats and Coleridge to learn from the greats.
 

Which of the following statements is NOT supported by the passage?

A
Today's poets can learn from the romantic era poets.
B
Keats and Coleridge were the best of the romantic poets.
C
Classic poetry is better than modern poetry.
D
Modern poems aren't as complex as poems from the past.
Question 5 Explanation: 
Answers A, C, and D are all stated in the passage under different wording. Although answer B might seem true as well, the author is using Keats and Coleridge as an example of romantic poets; at no point is it stated that they are the best. The passage even says "guys like" these two, meaning that there are others with the same abilities.
Question 6
It's important to do research before you get a pet. Animals are a lot of work, they aren't just some toy you can go buy on a whim. Carefully look into the needs of the pet you're looking to get, the amount of work required to keep it happy and healthy, and what kind of home environment is best for them. Remember, even though pets can bring you joy, they are living beings, too. It's your job to give them the best life you can.
 

The purpose of this passage is

A
To instruct readers on the steps to getting a pet.
B
To inform readers that they aren't ready for the responsibility a pet requires.
C
To entertain readers with a story about bringing a pet home.
D
To convince readers that getting a pet is a very big decision and should be properly prepared for.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The passage is persuasive in form, as it provides reasons the author believes you should properly prepare for a pet before getting one, as well as ways you should prepare, like doing research. It is not a story or an instruction manual with steps, nor does it ever assume the reader isn't ready for a pet; it just cautions against getting one "on a whim".
Question 7
Jess may be my best friend, but that doesn't mean I agree with everything she does. I try to tell her that she should do her homework after soccer practice every night, but she never listens to me. And then when we have tests in class, she complains to me that she doesn't do well! Of course I love her, but she can really get on my nerves. If she'd only listen to me she would have better grades and be less stressed. Sometimes I wonder if she's doing it on purpose to antagonize me!
 

The narrator of this passage is

A
Jess
B
Jess's mom or dad
C
Jess's friend
D
An omniscient narrator not in the story
Question 7 Explanation: 
The story is told in a first-person point of view, and the first sentence calls jess "my best friend". Thus, we can assume the person telling the story is Jess's friend.
Question 8
Do you think you have a "brown thumb" because you can never keep a houseplant alive? Don't worry, that's the reality for many people. It's a common misconception that a plant will live if you just put it in a bright space and remember to water it every day. Actually, different plants need very different things. Some plants like very dry soil, and should only be watered one or two times a month; others need their soil frequently watered to stay moist. Plants also need different amounts of direct and indirect sunlight, so it's even important to know if the window you placed them in faces north, south, east or west. With just a little extra effort and information, you can turn that brown thumb into a green thumb in no time!
 

According to the passage, which of the following best describes why most people fail to keep plants alive?

A
They did not have the knowledge about their plants that they needed
B
They water them too much
C
They don't give them enough sunlight
D
They aren't trained by a florist or botanist
Question 8 Explanation: 
The passage states that many people have "common misconceptions" on how to take care of plants, and suggests "a little extra effort and information" to get better at taking care of plants. These two phrases, along with the information the author assumes the reader doesn't know, make it apparent that many people don't have the necessary knowledge in order to keep plants alive. Watering too much and not having enough sunlight are two things mentioned in the passage as potential problems, but the author does not state that these are the exact reasons why everyone's plants die; in fact, it mentions the opposite problems as well, like watering too little. There is also no mention of training in the passage.
Question 9
Photography is a fun, easy, and rewarding pastime. Don't let all the buttons and settings on your DSLR camera scare you away; it's pretty easy to operate once you get the hang of it. The three things you need to pay attention to in order to take great pictures are the ISO number, the aperture, and the shutter speed. The ISO measures how sensitive your camera is to light. Lowering the ISO will bring in less light, and raising the ISO will bring in more light. Your aperture is how wide the opening in your lens is, and consequently, how bright the photo is and how much is in focus. A lower aperture makes a wider opening, brightening the photo and resulting in a shallow focus; a high aperture is a smaller opening, darkening the photo and allowing for a much further focus. Lastly, your shutter speed is how fast the camera shutter opens and closes. A faster shutter speed is better for fast motion and bright settings, because it will reduce blurring and the amount of light. Slower shutter speeds are better for dim lighting.
 

What is the purpose of this paragraph?

A
To persuade all readers to take up photography as a pastime.
B
To encourage people to use cameras, even if they're bad with technology.
C
To inform the audience of some important things to know in order to take photos on a DSLR camera.
D
To criticize how everyone already uses their cameras.
Question 9 Explanation: 
The bulk of the passage is informing readers of what settings to change on their cameras and how this effects the picture. This indicates that the author's main purpose is to inform the audience of these things. Although it does start with a bit of encouragement and praise for photography, it does not center on that, and it also never criticizes anyone's current or past usages of their cameras.
Question 10
It's crazy that we live in the 21st century and there are still people who believe the Earth is flat. Their TVs are serviced by satellites orbiting the Earth, they've watched NASA launch ships into space and take pictures from the moon, they've witnessed eclipses and felt jet lag and watched the setting of the sun. How can we have gone so far backwards to question one of the most basic facts we've known for hundreds of years? How is it more believable that the government is lying to us about the shape of the Earth than that the Earth rotates around the sun? It just doesn't make any sense.
 

Based on the passage, the most reasonable inference is that

A
We don't have enough evidence yet to prove the earth is round.
B
The author is not a flat-Earther.
C
Flat-Earthers don't know science.
D
We live in a time where people question everything.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The author of the passage speaks very critically of the flat Earth concept and its followers, so we can assume he or she is not a flat-Earther. Answer A is incorrect because the passage lists multiple ways we know the Earth is round. Answer C might be tempting, but the passage does not claim that flat-Earthers are ignorant of science, just that they question some of the things people typically accept as fact. Answer D might also seem true, but it has no basis in the passage; to say that people question "everything" extrapolates from the topic at hand.
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