ASVAB Vocabulary

5 Different Ways to Improve your Vocabulary

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a standardized test to measure the aptitude of personnel wishing to enlist in the various branches of the United States Armed Forces. After fulfilling the minimum or basic criteria, a candidate needs to appear for the test in order to sign up for the military services. The ASVAB also branches out to many specialized areas of the Navy, Army, Air Force, National Guard, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps.

Importance of Vocabulary in ASVAB

The importance of ASVAB vocabulary cannot be stressed enough. It is one of the crucial sections in the ASVAB that contributes towards your overall Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score. The AFQT score is computed from the scores of the following four sub-tests of the ASVAB:

  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Mathematical Knowledge (MK)
  • Passage Comprehension (PC)
  • Word Knowledge (WK)

ASVAB vocabulary is an inherent part of the Passage Comprehension and Word Knowledge sections. It is impossible to crack these sections if you do not have a good knowledge of words. Also, both these sections make up the General Technical (GT) score, an important score that can make or hamper your chances of getting into the Armed Forces.

It should also be noted that with the increase in competition, the GT scores are, more or less, increasing each year. Hence, a minimum cut-off score of 100 in GT would not suffice or guarantee your selection to the services.

Improving your Vocabulary

1. Take a test run (initially and regularly thereafter)

The first and foremost way to gauge your competency in words is to take a sample test. The sample test will help you to understand your weak areas so that you can work on them. The initial test will tell you the amount of effort required to build your vocabulary. This step will also help you to plan your preparation for the ASVAB vocabulary because if your initial scores are not up to the mark, you can estimate the timeline for your preparation.

2. Read as much as you can

Build your vocabulary by reading as much as you can. ASVAB vocabulary cannot be built overnight and requires intense preparation and wide reading. Make sure that you read a variety of topics in order to absorb words from different subjects.

3. Keep a checklist

It is a good idea to maintain a checklist of the alphabets you have completed. For example, you might want to devote a week to the alphabet 'A' and try and learn as many words as possible that begin with the letter 'A'. This is a systematic way to approach ASVAB vocabulary because it ensures that you have completed most words under each alphabet.

4. Use Flashcards

Flashcards are an effective way to prepare for the ASVAB vocabulary. Flashcards are especially helpful while you’re travelling or on the move. Use them anytime you want or refer to them when reading articles. It would be helpful to scribble the synonyms/antonyms of words (unless they are already printed) at the back of the flashcard. Keep referring to these time and again until you learn them.

5. Practice usage

Practice makes a man perfect! The formula for obtaining a high score can be attributed to practice. This is one area that would differentiate you from other ASVAB aspirants. The more you practice, the more expertise you gain in solving questions accurately. It is a good idea to use the words you learn in your daily speech and writing so that it becomes a habit to use good vocabulary, thereby increasing your knowledge of words and their usage.

Moreover, practice also helps you to time yourself because the ASVAB is a timed test, with very little time to answer many questions, and you need to be quick and accurate in answering.


Vocabulary is a fundamental part of the ASVAB because it makes up half of the AFQT score. More than helping you to solve questions in the test, a good and extensive vocabulary always helps you in the long run, especially in a military career. For example, you might be interested in the Administrative branch, which will require superior vocabulary skills. However, it must be remembered that simply learning words without the knowledge of their applicability will not yield results in the long run, especially in the test. Hence, you must ensure that your preparation is holistic; that you learn the word, its meaning, and the best way to use it.

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