Chemistry forms a small, but not insignificant part of the ASVAB general science exam. Here, we’ve put together a brief overview of the type of detail you are expected to know to master this part of the ASVAB test.
Of course, many ASVAB candidates question the purpose of studying chemistry.
Many see it as somehow “irrelevant”, in the same way that many students find it difficult to understand why they need to study algebra. The reality is that there are many legitimate reasons to study chemistry as part of ASVAB training.
First, many careers within the military rely on a sound knowledge of science; chemistry being just one of those sub-disciplines. Cutting-edge science has always been an important part of the modern military.
Second, studying chemistry tests your analytical skills. Analytical skills are those that help you think through problems. Much of chemistry is abstract. You often need to think outside the box. So, whilst you may not actively use chemistry knowledge in your military career, the transferrable analytical skills you gain are invaluable.
Scoring high on the ASVAB chemistry test, then, informs exam boards of your overall critical thinking skills as well as your suitability in a military career that may have a significant scientific component.
For these reasons, you should score as best possible on the ASVAB chemistry test. Below, you can find more details on the type of detail to expect, as well as what subject areas you are likely to face.
Here are the key objectives to guide your ASVAB study:
- Know the difference between mass and weight
- Understand the chemical structure of matter
- Know the fundamentals of physical chemistry
Let’s review each of these topics in turn.
Mass and weight are not the same thing. For the ASVAB exam, it’s important that you know the differences between what, at first sight, appear to be the same thing.
Weight is the name given to the effect that gravity has on mass.
For example – in space, where there is no gravity, you would weigh nothing. Even though you would weight nothing, you would still have mass.
Matter is everything you can see that is, when broken down, a collection of atoms.
Atoms are the most indivisible part of nature – meaning you cannot break atoms into smaller components.
Even though atoms cannot be broken down, they do have constituent parts.
- Protons – which have a positive charge
- Electrons – which have a negative charge
- Neutrons – which have a net neutral charge
The number of protons an atom has determines its atomic number. For example – hydrogen has only 1 proton, so its atomic number is 1. When you consult the periodic table, then, you should know how many protons an element has based on its stated atomic number.
Atoms are seldom on their own. They interact with other atoms, joining up by forces to become molecules. We all know what the chemical formula for water is – H20 – meaning there are 2 atoms of hydrogen and 1 atom of oxygen, merged together to form that molecule. Other molecules include methane (CH3), glucose (C6H12O6) and carbon dioxide (CO2).
Glucose is composed of 3 atoms and can therefore be referred to as a compound.
Note that the periodic table also contains atomic weights for each element. Consult your periodic table and you’ll find the atomic weight at the bottom of each element. You can use these atomic weights to establish the mass of a compound. In the case of glucose above, we have 6 atoms of carbon (6 multiplied by an atomic weight of 12), 12 atoms of hydrogen (12 multiplied by an atomic weight of 1) and 6 atoms of oxygen (6 multiplied by an atomic weight of 16). By adding all three totals together, we learn that the total weight of glucose is 180.
You can follow the same process for any other molecule or compound.
Finally, as part of your ASVAB chemistry exam, it’s important that you know the fundamentals of physical chemistry.
This means understanding the three principle states of matter:
You are also expected to know how states of nature – such as the application of heat or low temperatures – impacts each of these states of matter.
For example, a solid object has less kinetic energy than a gas. In a gaseous state, atoms / molecules have more kinetic (movement) energy and, as a result of that energy, disperse rapidly. When gasses are cooled, such as water, those molecules and atoms begin to re-join and condensation forms.
Potential energy is stored energy. For example, if you were to hold back one of the ends of a ruler, and held the ruler in place, you have stored potential energy in that system. Once you release the grip, that energy manifests itself. You need to know the definition of potential energy and how that energy impacts the three states of matter listed above.
ASVAB chemistry is just one part of your ASVAB general science exam.
That said, you cannot overlook it. You must score high on the ASVAB exam and that means scoring well on all subject areas. You are, after all, in direct competition with every other candidate for military enlistment.
At ASVAB Test Guide, we’ve put together the complete range of resources you need to pass the 2019 ASVAB exam. Our resources include detailed tutorials on all parts of the ASVAB exam, as well as an amazing range of exam-like questions – with explained answers – to help maximize your result on exam day. Take a few minutes to learn more about how our ASVAB online course can help you.
In the meantime, though, check back to our ASVAB blog soon for even more great articles, tips and tricks, on how you can prepare for the ASVAB exam!