A lot of people are thrown off by the Paragraph Comprehension section of the ASVAB. Here you are, cruising along, answering short, simple questions, and all of a sudden you're hit in the face with lengthy sentences -- and often they're about boring subjects! Then you're told to answer numerous questions on each paragraph. It can seem overwhelming. Don't panic. Just keep in mind that the questions in this section are divided into four types.
A question might ask you about a detail from the paragraph you just read ? in other words, a fact check. For example, in the following paragraph:
"Using bulldozers to slice bunkers and a helicopter landing pad out of a mountainside, U.S. special operations forces dug in Tuesday on a peak overlooking Pakistan, fortifying the area for the intensifying battle against al-Qaida and Taliban forces. Special operations forces -- who include Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and CIA operatives -- are playing a secretive but leading role in the battle against al-Qaida and Taliban suspects believed to be hiding out in the mountains of Pakistan's tribal areas."
You might be asked the following question about what you just read:
1. Which of the following is NOT being done by U.S. special operations forces?
The answer would be "D."
The second type of question is a general question about what you just read -- in other words, the summary.
If we use the paragraph above as an example once again, you might be asked:
2. The best title for this selection is:
The answer would be "B." Note that almost all of the choices are true statements, but they aren't the focus of the paragraph. The main point is that Special Forces teams are digging in, preparing to attack the rebels.
Earlier we talked about synonyms and context. Here's where you get tested on them. As you know, words have different meanings depending on how and where they're used (the context). Again, using the above paragraph as an example, answer this question:
3. In this paragraph's context, the word "leading" means:
This one's a bit tricky; you could argue that "leading" means "in front" in this paragraph, but the paragraph also states that the Special Operations forces are "secretive," meaning they aren't on the front lines, but working behind the scenes. Thus, the correct answer would be "A," as "principal" also means "most important" or "main." See how the context and your knowledge of synonyms come into play?
To infer is to take the information that is given to you and come to a conclusion about what it means, even though you're not told directly. For example, if the weatherman says there's a 80 percent chance of rain tomorrow, you can infer that he's recommending you break out your umbrella.
Take this paragraph as an example:
"Within a few hours after it is born, a young wild horse can run fast enough to keep up with the herd. It is able to do this because its legs are long for its size -- almost as long as they will be when the horse is fully grown. If young horses could not run so soon after birth, they would be quickly eaten by predators. Usually, only one foal is born at a time. In the case of Mongolian wild horses, the coat of a newborn foal is often quite light in color. After four or five weeks, this is shed and replaced by a darker coat. Foals usually stay close to their mothers. When there is danger, they are moved to the center of group and protected by all of the adults."
An inference question for this paragraph might go like this:
4. According to the author, young wild horses run fast soon after birth because:
This is a tricky one; you could argue that the answer is "A," because long legs help the horses run fast. This is true, but it doesn't explain why they run fast. The author suggests that if they don't run fast after birth, they will be caught by predators. Thus, the answer would be "B."
General Tips for Reading Comprehension
General Study Tips: Military.com has put together a no-muss, no-fuss list of study tips that should help you no matter what you're studying for.