Chapter 7

Arithmetic Reasoning: Math Word Problems


Solving life’s little (math) problems

Multiplying your chances for a better score

How many miles per gallon does your brand-new SUV get? How long does it take to go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck? These are examples of everyday questions that can be answered by arithmetic reasoning. (Okay, maybe the woodchuck situation doesn’t happen every day.)

The rest of the world calls this type of question math word problems. The ASVAB calls them Arithmetic Reasoning. No matter what they’re called, these problems help you apply mathematical principles to the real world (at least the real world according to the people who think up word problems). Your job is to read a word problem, determine what the question asks, and select the correct answer.

Arithmetic Reasoning is an important part of the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score, which is used to determine your general qualification for enlistment in all the service branches (see Chapter 1 for more information). Also, certain military jobs require that you score well on this subtest (see Appendix A).

The test administrator will supply you with scratch paper and a trusty number two pencil, but one thing he or she won’t give you (or even let you bring) is a calculator. You can use your paper and lead to clarify the data, write formulas, and mathematically solve the problem. You can even use them to ...

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