What Type of Algebra Should I Study for the ASVAB?

All branches of the military have used the ASVAB as a means to assess applicants for over forty years.
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The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, is a multiple-choice exam designed to gauge potential success in a future military career. Mathematics, particularly algebra, is a key content area, accounting for 30 or 55 of the questions on the ASVAB test depending on paper or computer administration. Knowing the key types of algebraic concepts, from linear equations to ratios and proportions, as well as other key math concepts appearing on the exam can boost your chances of getting the score you want.

1 Linear Equations

One of the most essential algebraic concepts you can encounter on the ASVAB is the linear equation, which is an equation in one or two variables that can be plotted as a line on a graph. The standard form for such equations is ax + b = 0, wherein a and b represent real numbers and x stands for the variable to be solved. These questions can appear as the equations themselves, or you can translate a word problem into a linear equation for solving.

2 Linear Inequalities

You can also expect the ASVAB to include linear inequalities, a variation of the basic linear equation. Linear inequalities also involve a linear expression in two variables but replace the equal symbol with the greater than, less than, greater than or equal to or less than or equal to symbols. You will need to understand these different symbols of inequalities; for example, recognizing the greater than or equal to symbol in the equation ax +b ≥ 0.

3 Radical Equations, Exponents, Ratios and Proportions

You may also encounter equations that incorporate exponents, such as xa (a should appear as a superscript), where a is a real number, or radical signs, like √x, so it is essential that you understand how to isolate and solve each. Word problems within the math sections of the ASVAB can also ask you to work with ratios and proportions in the form of calculating percentages, interest or depreciation.

4 Additional Necessary Math

Geometry is also an important component of ASVAB math questions. You might be asked, for example, to calculate the volume of an object, so you should be aware of the basic equations for calculating such values. You can also expect questions incorporating general number knowledge. Such questions can include simple practices, such as rounding decimals to different place values, or can involve mathematical applications in different fields, like a general science question that asks you to convert temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit.

Teresa J. Siskin has been a researcher, writer and editor since 2009. She holds a doctorate in art history.