What is the Arithmetic Reasoning Section of ASVAB

ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning - A Brief Overview

The Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a mandatory test required for the purpose of enlistment in the Armed Forces of the Unites States. It is a timed test that includes the following sections:

  • General Science (GS)
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Word Knowledge (WK)
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
  • Electronics Information (EI)
  • Auto Shop (AS)
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
  • Assembling Objects (AO)

Importance of Arithmetic Reasoning

This is an important section of the test, mainly due to the following reasons:

  • It is used to compute the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score.
  • It is used to calculate the General Technical (GT) score.
  • The score of this section is used to calculate the overall score for jobs that require Arithmetic Reasoning. For example, your Arithmetic Reasoning score is used for calculating your aptitude to qualify to be a Submariner or part of the Aircrew in the Navy.

What does Arithmetic Reasoning Section Test?

This section of the ASVAB tests your ability to solve arithmetic word problems. The questions are framed around the concepts that you have studied at high-school but are posed in an indirect manner. Mathematical skills are an important aspect of military life, which is why the scores from these sections (AR and MK) are calculated for the GT and AFQT score.

The difference between the Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematical Knowledge section is that the Arithmetic Reasoning section has descriptive problems.

For example, twelve children of a class of 30 passed in Mathematics and 15 passed in Chemistry. How many children in the class passed in both the subjects if 10 passed in none?

The Mathematical Knowledge section includes figurative questions, such as algebraic problems, geometrical problems, and so on.

For example, the figure of a cube may be displayed and you might be asked to calculate the volume.

Duration of the Arithmetic Reasoning Section

The section is administered in two formats:

  • Paper and Pencil based test (P&P-ASVAB)
  • Computerized test (CAT-ASVAB)

In the P&P-ASVAB, you need to answer 30 questions in the duration of 36 minutes. In the CAT-ASVAB, you need to solve 16 questions in a time span of 39 minutes.

Question Types and Score

The question types in the Arithmetic Reasoning section can vary from descriptive problems to direct questions. However, both questions have multiple-choice options to choose from.

An example of a descriptive problem is:

  • Two people going around a circular park of radius 20 m meet at the starting point after 6 rounds. If the speed of the faster person is 2 meters per second, then what is the speed of the slower person?
  • An example of a direct question is:

  • What is half of one-fourth of half of 20 equal to?

Although the question type is limited to multiple-choice type, a variety of Math topics are tested using these problems. Thus, it is good to brush up on all the Math concepts. The Math areas covered are of high-school level and cover topics such as Fractions, Numbers, Algebra, Interest, and Exponents. Learn to identify the area from which the question is asked. Make sure that you understand how to apply the concepts to the questions. Note the equivalent of the question in equation form. Then proceed to solve the problem.

Scoring high in Arithmetic depends on whether you have a clear understanding of concepts and have practiced enough. The composite range of score for the Math section (that is, AR + MK) in ASVAB is between 180 and 240. The average score is thus 200.


Ignoring the Arithmetic Reasoning section of ASVAB can impede your chances of enlisting in military services. Most jobs in the Army, Navy, Air Force and the allied services require mathematical and computational abilities for day-to-day activities in the job. Hence, it is a crucial part of the initial scoring (AFQT) and is also used to determine the kind of job you can apply for. The Armed Forces require Math and English as basic capabilities, and so it is important that you focus in these areas in order to gain entry into the services.