ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Study Guide

ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Study Guide [2024 Updated]

Reading is one of the most fundamental skills in learning. One cannot achieve academic understanding without being able to know how to read. However, reading alone does not suffice the needs if it is only limited to sounding words or phrases. It should always be partnered with comprehension and a deep understanding of the text.

January 1, 2022

Reading is one of the most basic skills in education. Without the ability to read, one cannot achieve academic understanding. Reading, on the other hand, is insufficient if it is limited to sounding words or phrases. It should always be accompanied by comprehension and a thorough understanding of the text. Our ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Study Guide will show you how to get a good score in this section by providing helpful tips and tricks.

Enhancing reading comprehension will start with reading comprehension skills development. These skills would range from the most basic, low-order thinking skills to the most complex, higher-order thinking skills, such as taking simple notes, summarizing, and sequencing, all the way up to inferring, comparing and contrasting, distinguishing fact from opinion, finding the main idea, and drawing conclusions. Take our free ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension practice tests right now to improve all of these necessary skills.

Reading comprehension is also based on your purpose—whether you do intensive reading or extensive reading. Extensive reading is a pleasure reading and you read for the sake of relaxation. You can pick your own topic of interest and indulge yourself without having any accountability for what you read. Extensive reading usually occurs when you read magazines, comic books, picture books, novels, short stories, and the like. 

On the other hand, intensive reading is the total opposite of extensive reading. Intensive reading is deep and careful reading for information. This kind of reading is usually evident in academic reading where you read to collect knowledge through research papers, term papers, projects, and the like.

When compared, readers usually have more concentration and focus when having extensive reading as they self-indulge in the material. Intensive reading puts the readers under the pressure of understanding the text at hand which is why several techniques could be used to better apply intensive reading which will be discussed in the latter portion of this article.

Otherwise, all 9 ASVAB parts are covered by our free ASVAB practice test 2024 and ASVAB Study Guide. Check it out right now!

ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Test Information

The ASVAB paragraph comprehension section tests your reading ability and interprets the information contained within a passage. In this section, you will read a paragraph and be asked about the author’s purpose, or what is the meaning of a specific word in the passage, based on the case of the sentence where it is included.

To help you familiarize yourself with the test format of the exam, our Paragraph Comprehension questions are crafted with the same length-and-style passages as those on the actual ASVAB test. But first, how many paragraph comprehension questions are on the ASVAB? You will be asked 11 questions in 22 minutes on the CAT-ASVAB test, while the paper-and-pencil version features 15 questions in 13 minutes.

Your score in this section is calculated to your AFQT score, which determines if you are qualified for military service. So you should put more effort into this test to get a ticket to your desired job.

ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Study Guide

ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Study Guide
ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Study Guide


In testing reading comprehension, there are three types of questions that you have to be familiar with literal, inferential, and evaluative types of questions. Other scholars would term these as factual, interpretive, and evaluative questions that differ in their level of difficulty.

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Literal or factual questions usually appear on the first part of the questionnaire after the story. These questions use very basic thinking skills and would not require you to analyze them as the answers are found in the text itself and could be proven by anyone.  It will tell you what happened in the text or what the text is all about.

Although these types of questions are very basic, they are very important questions because they will provide you with the foundation of more advanced comprehension. If you are not able to attain this level of understanding, you will find it hard to proceed to the higher-level types of questions.

Literal questions usually include but are not limited to these:

  • What is the story all about?
  • Where did the story happen?
  • Who are the characters of the story?
  • When did the story happen?
  • How did the story end?

In terms of academic contexts, literal questions may be in the form of any factual knowledge asked such as the data, the stated information, the proponents, and such.


Inferential or interpretive questions test a higher level of comprehension. These questions would usually ask what the text means. Here, you go back to stating the basic information from the literal level and use the knowledge to interpret deeper understanding. These questions would solicit answers that are not stated in the text. Readers should make inferences from the given information and read between the lines.

Inferential questions could start with these phrases:

  • Why do you think…
  • What is the problem….
  • Why did the character….
  • What can you conclude about…
  • What lesson….

Inferential questions may ask you to make generalizations, emphasize the cause-and-effect relationship, predict what will happen, and identify unstated ideas from the text.


Evaluative questions are the highest form of questions. These types of questions let you go beyond the text and consider what you think and believe based on the information and inferences you made from the text. At this level, you are asked to justify your opinion, argue for a certain stand, analyze the content critically, and determine the stand of the author. While inferential questions are reading between the lines, evaluative questions are reading beyond the text and looking for the big picture.

This type of question uses higher-order thinking skills and often requires the highest level of reading comprehension. You may be asked some questions in these forms:

  • What is your opinion about….
  • Do you think… is it a good or bad thing?
  • How do you feel about…
  • Do you agree with…
  • What would you have done in…
  • How did the text make you feel?

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ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Tips

In taking examinations that require reading comprehension, the time pressure could make you throw off your focus. That is why it is important to come up with a good strategy for intensive reading. 

Asvab paragraph reading tips
ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Study Guide


Some strategies in reading may use SKIMMING and SCANNING for time-friendly information gathering. Skimming is a form of rapid reading that focuses on the titles, headings, topic sentences, tables, charts, symbols, and other visual organizers. This is a quick trip to pages to get an overall idea.

On the other hand, Scanning is going through the text to look for specific information while not necessarily reading the ‘whole’ text. Usually, scanning is used to look for literal information such as the Wh-questions. These strategies could help you save time, especially in dealing with lengthy paragraphs in a short period. 

In addition, some test takers prefer to read the questions first before reading the text. This method allows you to know exactly what to look for in the text without having to read the entire paragraph.

Most importantly, carefully read each option. Keep track of the time while reading, but don’t lose focus. Consider each question individually and look for keywords that may lead to an answer. Finally, to improve your reading comprehension skills, read more every day and practice answering comprehension skills questionnaires.

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    Marvin Shaw - ASVAB-Prep Writer

    Marvin Shaw is a homeschooling high school teacher and an ASVAB tutor. He's one of the creators of our ASVAB question collection. With his broad knowledge and a big love for the U.S. military, he's mentored hundreds of students to successfully enter the military.

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