ASVAB Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension Practice Questions

Try out these practice questions to see if you’re ready to take the ASVAB!

Question 1
Select the answer choice that most closely matches the meaning of the italicized word.
The professor did his best to appear universally erudite, even when asked questions about subjects he knew little about.
A. civil
B. progressive
C. amoral
D. scholarly

D: The professor wants to appear erudite even when he doesn’t know much about a subject. You can predict from the context that erudite means “learned.” Choice (D) scholarly means “learned” and is the correct answer. Civil, progressive, and amoral don’t relate to knowing a lot about a certain subject.

Question 2
Select the answer choice that most closely matches the meaning of the italicized word.
She displayed fortitude in finishing the race despite the pain in her foot.
A. speed
B. cheerfulness
C. courage
D. vulnerability

C: Because she finished the race even though she was in pain, you know she was pretty tough. This aligns with her showing (C) courage. If anything, a sore foot implies that she ran more slowly than usual, so speed doesn’t fit. You don’t know whether she showed (B) cheerfulness or was gritting her teeth with every step. Choice (D) vulnerability, or “weakness,” is the opposite of what you need here.

Question 3
Select the answer choice that most closely matches the meaning of the italicized word.
Abnegate most nearly means
A. approve
B. deny
C. hope
D. recognize

B: The root word negate within abnegate means “to deny the existence of something.” The prefix ab– means “away from,” so to abnegate means “to turn one’s back on or reject.” This makes choice (B), deny, the correct answer.

Question 4
According to the following paragraph, who first conquered Mount Everest?
Since its first official documentation by Sir George Everest in 1865, Mount Everest in Nepal has been the “Holy Grail” of mountaineers. Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to successfully complete the ascent to the peak in May 1953. His feat won him international acclaim, not to mention knighthood. But much less celebrated is the first successful ascent of Everest by a woman, which did not take place until May 16, 1975. Junko Tabei of Japan was the first woman to reach the summit of the world’s most famous single peak. The first American woman to scale its heights successfully was Stacy Allison of Portland in 1988.
A. Sir George Everest
B. Junko Tabei
C. Sir Edmund Hillary
D. Stacy Allison

C: This Detail question asks you for the first person to conquer Mount Everest. Researching the passage, you must be careful not to assume that the mountain is named for its conqueror. While Sir George Everest, (A), first documented and recorded the height of Everest in 1865, it was (C) Sir Edmund Hillary who completed the first ascent to the peak in 1953. The question does not ask for the first woman, or the first American woman, to reach the summit, so (B) Junko Tabei and (D) Stacy Allison are out. The correct answer is (C).

Question 5
What can you infer from the following passage?
In 1918, as the world prepared to celebrate the end of World War I, a stealthier form of death appeared: the so-called “Spanish influenza.” It is said that this strain of influenza killed more in a single year than the bubonic plague killed in a century. The outbreak gave modern scientists their first close look at a worldwide pandemic and paved the way for great advances in medicine. Furthermore, the unprecedented number of patients led to a boom in the medical field. One lasting result was an increase in pay for doctors, encouraging many to enter the profession. It could be said that the Spanish flu introduced the idea of “medicine for profit” to the world.
A. advances in medicine in the early twentieth century would not have happened without the outbreak of the Spanish flu
B. scientists know little about the cause of the bubonic plague
C. a doctor today might not have chosen to enter the medical profession before World War I
D. the huge numbers of Spanish flu patients overwhelmed the available medical care and resulted in drafting more doctors to deal with the epidemic

C: The question asks for an inference that can be drawn from the passage but provides no clues about the nature of the inference. Each answer choice must be compared with the information given to identify the one choice that must be true based on the passage. The correct answer is supported by the fifth sentence, “One lasting result was an increase in pay for doctors, encouraging many to enter the profession.” If many people were encouraged to become doctors because of higher pay, we can infer that lower pay before World War I was a deterrent to entering the profession. The word “lasting” implies that higher pay is still motivating more people to become doctors today. Choice (A) is extreme; even though the flu brought about advances, you cannot infer that advances would not have happened anyway. Choice (B) is unsupported by any facts presented. Choice (D) distorts the facts given. Doctors were encouraged by higher pay, not drafted. Also, there is no evidence that medical care was overwhelmed by the unprecedented numbers of patients. In fact, the patients caused a “boom” in the field.

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