ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning Math Study Guide

Sep 28 / Anderson Duran (ASVAB Tutor)
Do word problems make you blank out on the test? Do you feel like you can't pass ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning section?

We've got your back. To pass the Arithmetic Reasoning section of the ASVAB, you must improve your ability to do word problems. But what does that mean?

That means you need to learn the topics, formulas, and strategies to stay calm and score your highest. That's exactly what we're going to show you on this page! 

We’re going to cover:

1. What is the ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning Section?

The Arithmetic Reasoning section is 1 out of 10 subjects tested on the ASVAB and primarily covers word problems

If you don't like word problems, don't worry. Go through this entire study guide to understand the types of word problems you'll face, the formulas you need to know, and strategies to help you stay calm and avoid test anxiety

Keep scrolling and let's #AceTheASVAB!

2. How Many Questions are in the ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning section?

In short, there are 16 questions on the Arithmetic Reasoning Section (CAT-ASVAB).  

Here’s what matters though. You only have 39 minutes to complete all 16 questions. Do the math, and that’s just 2 minutes and 26 seconds per question.

No worries though! Using the following strategies, you’ll have more than enough time to complete all 16 questions. 

Oh! And you can take a free practice test that has video solutions so you can learn from every mistake!

3. What topics are on the ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning?

Like we said, the Arithmetic Reasoning section is all word problems. What types of word problems? Here's a list of the topics starting with some of the most popular types:
You can practice and grow in each of these ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning topics using the ASVAB All-Access Program. It's how our students raise their scores and get the jobs they want!

  • General Word Problems - Includes word problems that don't have a specific formula. You will have to understand the overall situation and create a solution. 
  • Ratios and Proportions - Includes word problems that compare the same things in the same way. 
  • Distance, Rate, and Time - Includes word problems involving the Distance, Rate, and Time formula (Distance = Rate x Time) 
  • Percentages - Includes word problems involving basic percent calculations, tax, discount, simple interest, and compound interest. 
  • Fractions - Any type of word problem that includes fractions and fraction operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) 
  • Geometry (Perimeter, Area, Volume) - Includes word problems involving measurement. You'll need to know your formulas for perimeter, area, volume, and surface area of different shapes. 
  • Unit Conversion - Includes word problems that require you to change units to properly complete it. Harder questions include converting rate units (example: turning meters per second to kilometers per hour) 
  • Statistics (Mean, Median, Mode) - Includes word problems involving basic statistics. Harder questions involve working backwards, such as finding one of the numbers in a data set when given the mean. 
  • Probability - Includes word problems involving simple probability, compound probability, and the fundamental counting principle (knowing how many different ways you can arrange a set of items). 

4. How to Tackle ASVAB Math Word Problems (3 Step Strategy + Video)

I get it. Word problems cause test anxiety. You blank out on them. Sometimes it feels like you just need to throw the numbers together and hope for the best. But it doesn't have to be that way. 

Raising your Arithmetic Reasoning score on the ASVAB starts with knowing your enemy and having a strategy to deal with it. That's where our 3-Step Word Problem Success Strategy comes in!

1. What do you want?
2. What do you have?
3. What's the connection?

Do you notice how there's no mention of calculating? That's because you have to have a plan before you start calculating. If you start calculating with the numbers you see without knowing why it's the right thing to do, then you leave yourself open to confusion and blanking out. 

So allow us to explain the strategy in a way that will have you excited to try out word problems! See below for both a video and a written explanation! 
Step 1: Read The Question Sentence
(what do you want?)
  • The first thing you should always do when tackling any word problem is understand what the problem is asking you to figure out! Do not read the whole problem
  • Why is this the first step?  Think about it like this: Do you like playing a game if you don't know how to win? Do you ever get in your car and drive without knowing where you're going first? 
Step 2: Identify The Information
(what do you have?) 
  • You might think this just means "writing down the numbers." Nope. That's 1% of the work. Whenever you write a number down, always make sure to write down what the number means. That's going to help you big time when you're making your plan. 
  • Remember: the numbers can change, but the process won't. So instead of writing down "45", make sure to write down "45 miles per hour". 
Step 3: Make a plan
(what's the connection?) 
  • This is where you connect what you want and what you have. If you wrote down the numbers and what they mean, you will be able to see a clear path to the answer. 
  • What if you don't see a clear path? Then you have to ask yourself "How does this help me get what I need?
Remember this: Word Problems are about understanding the story. The numbers DO NOT MATTER unless you KNOW WHAT THE NUMBERS MEAN.

5. ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning Practice Questions (with Video Solutions)

Practice makes perfect. Just reviewing strategies or watching videos isn't enough. That's why we're providing examples of the types of problems and difficulty you can expect. 

General (Arithmetic Operations) Word Problems

Important notes: 
These word problems don't have a specific formula to follow. Instead, you'll need to create a solution that makes sense within the story of the question. 

Proportion Word Problems

Main Idea: 
"Compare the same things in the same way." 
Need to know: 
Understanding how to simplify ratios (fractions) helps a lot and solving equations.

Distance, Rate, and Time Word Problems

Percent Word Problems 

Fraction Word Problems 

Geometry: Perimeter, Area, and Volume Word Problems

Unit Conversion Word Problems

Mean, Median, Mode Word Problems

Get thousands of questions and videos like this in the program: 

Probability Word Problems

6. ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning Math Formulas (Quizlet Sets)

ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning Quizlet Set:

ASVAB Unit Conversions Quizlet Set:

7. Take a Free ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning Practice Test (Online and Printable)

Looking for ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning word problems? Register for this FREE ASVAB practice test to get started. Not only do you get to watch video solutions to learn from every mistake, but it also includes automatic registration to a free online weekly ASVAB class! Register below: 
You can also check out the schedule for all ASVAB classes (Hosted by Duran Learning)

8. Do You Feel Like You Can’t Pass the ASVAB Math Sections? Don’t Worry; We’ve Got Your Back.

Join the ASVAB All-Access Program.
It's the #1 resource you can use to lower test anxiety, raise your score, and get the job you want. 
Did you know that 8 out of 10 applicants fail the ASVAB on their first try? It's because they aren't prepared. Don't let that be you. 

For a complete ASVAB program that guides you start-to-finish, learn more about the ASVAB All-Access Program here:
The program is designed to make studying less stressful so you can lower test anxiety and raise your confidence. 
You’ll be able to do this because we’ll set you up to Watch, Practice, and Master every concept. Here’s how: 
1️⃣ Watch: 
- Watch Coach Anderson teach in fun live classes
- Or conveniently watch the full recordings anytime (300+ past recordings included too) 
2️⃣ Practice: 
- Build your confidence with Guided Practice Videos and Worksheets
- Learn from every mistake with over 5000 practice problems and video solutions
3️⃣ Master:
- Build speed + confidence with speed drills for every math concept
- Get test ready with Practice Tests and video walkthroughs
📍Subtests we cover: AR, MK, WK, PC, and GS

Sign up now and raise your score. For more details, text ASVAB Coach Anderson: (833)-321-0182 

9. How Do You Raise Your ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning score? (Tips)

We've got you covered. Here's a list of tips you should follow to guarantee you'll raise your score: 
Tip #1: Learn Your Numbers
  • Knowing how to handle numbers saves you time on the test. That means you should constantly be practicing order of operations, fractions, decimals, negative numbers, and percents. Any problem can include any type of number, so make sure you're confident there.
Tip #2: Focus On Common Topics
  • Proportions, Rates, and Unit Conversions are the most common topics. Master those first if you're just trying to pass.
Tip #3: Learn + Practice Word Problem Strategy
  • We went over the 3 Steps to Word Problem Success earlier (click here), and it's how you should tackle every word problem. It'll help you stay focused, point out the necessary information, and learn from your mistakes. 
Tip #4: Use the Right Resources
  • Buying a random book isn't enough. You have to practice the right way with tools that present the information in a way you can learn from. That's why thousands of ASVAB students use our ASVAB All-Access Program. Click below to learn more, or text Coach Anderson at (833)-321-0182 with any questions. 

10. Conclusion - What Next?

So that's the complete guide to handling word problems for the ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning test.

For EVERY problem that you come across while you practice, make sure you attacking it in this order: 
1. What do I want?
2. What do I have?
3. What's the connection? (formula)

Essentially, this will help you stay on track while answering the problem so you don't get overwhelmed or run out of time. 

With all that said, did this study guide help you? 

Tell Coach Anderson what you think!
Text/Call: 833)-321-0182

More ASVAB Study Guides For You