The Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT) Explained – Part 2

BogiDope, T-6 executing ground operations.

There are a lot of great study books available for the AFOQT and most of them are relatively inexpensive. Many of these books contain multiple practice tests. Timing yourself while taking these practice tests is a great way to prepare for the pressure of taking the real thing. As mentioned before, older study books are still very useful if you make sure not to bother studying for the subtests that were removed from the new version of the AFOQT, Form T. Some of these books also contain studying materials and practice tests for the flight aptitude tests of other military branches, which are also helpful due to the similarities between the subtests. Below are some highly recommended study books and online resources.

BogiDope was created in order to help you, our valued members, make educated and informed decisions about your aviation career. If you are beginning that journey and preparing for the AFOQT, we hope you enjoyed and learned from Part 1 of this series.  Continuing that trend in AFOQT Explained -Part 2, our goal is to help you feel fully prepared for the test.  There are many ways to study for the AFOQT, and Part 2 is an outline of the subtests and material you will be required to master in order to score well on the AFOQT.  Make no mistake about it, this test is extremely important to obtaining a UPT slot.  Take the time to review each section of this article and take notes.  Consider buying a study book (we have linked a couple for you) and give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Now sit back, relax, learn and then get started preparing for the AFOQT.

How To Study For the AFOQT

There are a lot of great study books available for the AFOQT and most of them are relatively inexpensive. Many of these books contain multiple practice tests. Timing yourself while taking these practice tests is a great way to prepare for the pressure of taking the real thing. As mentioned before, older study books are still very useful if you make sure not to bother studying for the subtests that were removed from the new version of the AFOQT, Form T. Some of these books also contain studying materials and practice tests for the flight aptitude tests of other military branches, which are also helpful due to the similarities between the subtests. Below are some highly recommended study books and online resources.

Barron’s Military Flight Aptitude Tests, 3rd Edition
Master the Officer Candidate Tests
Military Flight Aptitude Tests For Dummies
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Information Pamphlet

Verbal Analogies

In this subtest, you will be presented with two sets of words, but one set will be incomplete. The words in each set have some sort of relationship to each other. You will need to select a word from the answer choices that completes the unfinished set by fulfilling the same type of relationship. Common examples of these relationships are parts of speech, semantic relevance, and levels of categorization.

This subtest requires two distinct skills: general vocabulary knowledge of the words in question as well as the ability to think critically in order to determine the relationships between these words. Be extra careful and make sure that you don’t get tricked into selecting an answer choice that is related to the word in a different way than the relationship of the other word set. The subtest requires you to solve 25 problems in 8 minutes, so you’ll need to work quickly and solve 3 to 4 problems per minute to finish in time. If you’re racking your brain and spending a lot of time on a particular problem, it’s a good idea to go with your gut feeling and move on.

Most of the words you’ll encounter won’t be very obscure, so your focus should mainly be on honing your ability to quickly decipher relationships between words. The following resources are great tools for preparing for this subtest. – Analogies Sample Questions
GRE Exam Cram – Verbal Section: Analogies
McGraw Hill Higher Education – Verbal Analogies: An Introduction
MacMillan Dictionary – Parts of Films, Stories, and Plays
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course

Arithmetic Reasoning

This subtest primarily contains word problems that require multiple steps to solve. The calculations don’t tend to be exceedingly difficult, but the real challenge is often in determining which types of calculations need to be performed. Scratch paper is provided and the use of a calculator is not permitted. Common formulas are provided in the test booklet, but memorizing them will save you a lot of time.

With 29 minutes for 25 problems, you’ll have a little over a minute to solve each problem. Because it may take you a while to figure out how to set up the problem and because you’ll need to perform multiple steps, it’s easy to get behind. It’s a good idea to quickly take a look at the answer choices before beginning to solve each problem. If the answer choices are significantly larger and smaller than each other, it may be wise to use rounded calculations so that you can more easily rely on mental math. If the answers are close to each other, you may need to do the math completely by hand to be sure you can calculate the exact answer. It is extremely easy to become fixated on a particularly confusing problem and it’s critical that you discipline yourself to know when to make an educated guess and keep moving. If any problem takes you more than a few seconds to even start to conceptualize the types of calculations you might need to perform, skip it and come back to it later if time permits (and if you don’t end up with enough time to revisit it, bubble in a guess when time is almost up). The difficulty varies randomly between each problem and the last thing you want is to end up with a handful of correct answers for difficult problems and nothing but guesses on the rest of your answer sheet because you wasted all your time.

As mentioned above, brushing up on your mental math skills is a hugely beneficial move. The following books, apps, and online resources offer useful tips and ways to practice mental math.

Secrets of Mental Math: The Mathemagician’s Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks
Mental Math Cards iOS App
Mathemagics iOS App
FlexMath – Mental Math

Most of the required calculations for the problems do not require any knowledge above the level of College Algebra and Geometry. You can expect to encounter problems that will require single-variable and multi-variable linear equations, systems of equations, ratios, probabilities, unit conversions, “work” problems, and various elements of geometry. For the geometry-related problems, it’s helpful to memorize the first few sets of Pythagorean Triples so that you can learn to recognize when you’re dealing with them. This will save you the time-consuming steps of squaring or determining the square roots of multiple numbers when you’re dealing with a right triangle. It’s also a good idea to take things back to the basics and get used to doing large digit multiplication and division by hand again if it’s been a long time since you’ve worked without a calculator.

The following resources are sure to help you prepare for the Arithmetic Reasoning subtest.

Khan Academy (Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Mathematics I) Word Problem Solvers
TheMathPage – Word Problems
Purple Math – “Work” Word Problems – Pythagorean Triples
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course

Word Knowledge

This subtest is simply a measure of your vocabulary knowledge. You will be presented with a single word and you must select another word from the answer choices that is a (usually simpler) synonym. With 5 minutes to cover 25 problems, you’ll have to solve 5 problems per minute, so work quickly. Taking a few extra seconds to analyze the root of a word might be helpful if you’re stumped, but as with other subtests, make sure you have the discipline to know when to guess and move on.

Studying Greek and Latin word roots might allow you to sometimes manage to speculate about the meaning of a word you’re not familiar with, but other than that, there are no magical tips. The best way to study for this subtest is to start exposing yourself to as many new words as you can. The following resources are a great place to get started.

Oakton Community College – List Of Greek And Latin Roots In English – Vocabulary Workshop Practice Tests
Magoosh GRE Vocabulary Flashcards iOS App
Tyrannosaurus Prep – GRE Vocab Practice Quiz Game
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course

Math Knowledge

There’s obviously some overlap with Arithmetic Reasoning on this subtest, but you won’t have to deal with fictional scenario word problems that require you to decide on the appropriate calculations to make. Instead, you’ll be dealing with straightforward mathematical concepts (although the required knowledge tends to be more advanced than what’s necessary to perform the calculations for the Arithmetic Reasoning problems). You’ll have 25 minutes to get through 22 problems, so you’ll need to solve 1 to 2 problems per minute to complete this section in time, but the lack of traditional word problems helps to make that accomplishable. As with the Arithmetic Reasoning subtest, you will be provided with scratch paper and may not use a calculator. Common formulas are provided in the test booklet, but memorizing them will save you a lot of time.

Proficient knowledge of high school and college-level Algebra and Geometry should be enough to be prepared for this subtest. There are a lot of possible mathematical concepts you may encounter, but common ones include systems of equations, imaginary numbers, ratios, factoring (binomials, trinomials, and polynomials), complex orders of operations, exponents, radicals, functions, probabilities, and geometry.

As with the Arithmetic Reasoning subtest, being comfortable with mental math is a huge help that will save you a lot of time in solving each problem. The following books, apps, and online resources offer useful tips and ways to practice mental math.

Secrets of Mental Math: The Mathemagician’s Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks
Mental Math Cards iOS App
Mathemagics iOS App
FlexMath – Mental Math

The following resources are great ways to prepare for the kinds of mathematical concepts you’ll encounter.

Khan Academy  (Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Mathematics I, Mathematics II)
Purplemath  (Beginning Algebra Topics, Intermediate Algebra Topics)
Washington State University (Sample Problems From Intermediate Algebra)
Paul’s Online Math Notes (Algebra – Factoring Polynomials)
IXL – Geometry Practice
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course

Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension subtest is simple in concept. You’ll be required to read a moderately lengthy passage (generally 5 to 6 paragraphs) and answer multiple questions about it. After you’ve completed those questions, you’ll do the same for another few passages. Some of the reading material is quite dry and it’s important to focus your attention to be sure you’re truly internalizing what you’re reading. As the subtest’s name implies, comprehension is important. Many of the questions will require you to decipher the meaning of the passage or its particular sections rather than simply recalling specific facts mentioned within the text. Sometimes you’ll need to think about what the passage implies rather than states, or even what the passage doesn’t state.

With 38 minutes to solve 25 problems, you can average less than one problem solved per minute and still complete this section in time. As long as you’re a moderately fast-paced reader, time is not a big enemy for this subtest. The greatest time threat is the temptation to second-guess a previous answer after you’ve solved a few more. If you truly have an epiphany, then go ahead and correct yourself, but if you’re still not quite sure and want to revisit an answer to mull it over, resist that temptation until you’ve completed the rest of the subtest. A good tactic is to quickly skim through the questions before you begin reading the passage. While you read, some of the simpler answers will jump out at you and you can quickly answer them. If you read the passage before the questions, you may end up having to revisit the text to pick out details that didn’t stick in your memory.

If you’re a fluent English speaker, this section probably won’t require a lot of studying since you’ve been learning to comprehend literal concepts since you first learned to read. However, it’s not a bad idea to devote a bit of time to practicing. The following resources will assist in preparing for this subtest.

CollegeBoard – Reading Sample Questions
Mometrix Test Prep Review – Reading Comprehension Practice Test – SAT Reading Comprehension Practice Tests
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course 

Situational Judgement

The Situational Judgement subtest is made up of hypothetical scenarios that a person might encounter as a military officer. Each scenario is described in 1 to 2 paragraphs and generally focuses on difficult situations that could be encountered in a position of leadership. For each one of these scenarios, you will be presented with 5 possible actions to address the situation and must choose the most effective action and the least effective action as two separate answer choices. You’ll have 35 minutes to pick 50 answer choices (for 25 situations). This requires an average pace of 1 to 2 answers per minute, but that should pose no problem if you’re a moderately fast-paced reader.

The official AFOQT Form T Information Pamphlet states that this section is scored relative to the consensus judgement across experienced Air Force officers. It also states that only one “most effective” and on “least effective” answer may be selected for each situation, even though “some actions may have been judged equally effective or equally ineffective by experienced officers”. This could possibly indicate that there is an element of variability in the grading of these answers. Although one answer is likely weighted most heavily, some answers may be considered “more correct” or “less correct” than others rather than each item having only a single definitively correct answer. This subtest is not factored into any of the 6 AFOQT subscores, but it is speculated that data from it is kept on file for analyses to be made in order to look for correlations between judgement characteristics and personnel factors, such as job preferences and attrition rates.

This subtest is impossible to truly study for. Your answer choices will inevitably be shaped by your life experiences, character, and personal philosophies. However, the official AFOQT Form T Prep Course contains a short Situational Judgement practice subtest which can prove useful for learning what to expect.

Self-Description Inventory

If you’ve ever taken a personality test, you’ll feel right at home here. You’ll be presented with a series of short, easily understandable statements, such as “I enjoy reading poetry”. For each of these statements, you’ll be required to select how strongly you personally agree or disagree. There are five answer choices: “Strongly Disagree”, “Moderately Disagree”, “Neither Agree nor Disagree”, “Moderately Agree”, and “Strongly Agree”. You’ll have 45 minutes to evaluate 240 statements, which will require an average pace of 5 to 6 answers per minute. It will only take you a few seconds to read each statement and the objective is to answer based on your gut feeling, so there should be practically no chance of running out of time on this subtest.

Like the Situational Judgement subtest, it’s impossible to truly study for the Self-Description Inventory. Just try not to second-guess yourself and answer as quickly as possible. This subtest is not factored into any of the 6 AFOQT subscores and the official AFOQT Form T Information Pamphlet explicitly states that there are no right or wrong answers. It’s speculated that data from this subtest is analyzed to look for correlations between personality attributes and various forms of personnel data, such as job preferences, attrition rates, etc.

Physical Science

This subtest replaced the previous AFOQT version’s (Form S) more broad General Science subtest. It’s mostly conceptual high school physics and chemistry, but it’s a good idea to get reacquainted with basic physics formulas like gravitational acceleration, force, work, and temperature conversion. You’ll encounter concepts like motion, thermodynamics, elements and molecules, meteorology, and astronomy.

According to the official AFOQT Form T Information Pamphlet, the Physical Science subtest is currently not factored into any of the 6 subscores. However, General Science was factored into Form S’s Navigator/CSO subscore, so it’s a possibility that Physical Science will be incorporated into one or more subscores at some point down the road after more data is gathered. This change may not be announced, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. The following resources will help you brush up on physics and chemistry.

Khan Academy – Physics (One-Dimensional Motion, Forces and Newton’s Laws of Motion, Centripetal Force and Gravitation, Work and Energy, Impacts and Linear Momentum, Torque and Angular Momentum, Fluids, and Thermodynamics)
Khan Academy – Chemistry  (Atoms, Compounds, and Ions, Chemical Reactions and Stoichiometry, Electronic Structure of Atoms, and Periodic Table)
Cabrillo College – Physics Practice Quizzes  (Chapters 2-5, 7, 11, and 14)
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course

Table Reading

The Table Reading subtest is about as simple as it gets. You’ll have been provided with a large (20×20) coordinate grid document when you received your test booklet, but you will not be allowed to look at it at all until this subtest starts. Each point on the grid contains a sequential negative or positive number and each problem in this subtest is simply a set of (x, y) coordinates. You must navigate to the given coordinate intersection on the grid and take note of the number listed there and select it from the answer choices.

This subtest may be simple in concept, but you’ll need to work very quickly to answer the 40 problems within the 7-minute time limit (5 to 6 problem per minute). The difficulty is compounded by the fact that you are not allowed to use scratch paper as a straight edge to assist in quickly finding the intersections on the grid. If you’ve got a very steady focus, you may be able to save yourself some time by just eyeballing the intersection, but you’ll likely need to place a finger from each hand on each axis in order to direct your focal point precisely to the proper spots. Because the numbers are sequential, it becomes very easy to second-guess yourself and wonder whether you’re a spot off in either direction. The lamination on the grid document can also be bothersome if the fluorescent lighting in the testing room produces a heavy glare. The need to constantly adjust the angle of the grid document to shift the glare away from your focal point can deprive you of precious time.

The best way to practice for this subtest is to print out the Table Reading Chart, Items, and Key provided on the official AFPC PCSM website and practice under the time constraint of the real subtest (7 minutes for all 40 items).

Instrument Comprehension

If you have significant flying or flight simulation experience, this subtest will likely be one of the easiest you’ll encounter on the AFOQT. Each problem contains a graphic of an aircraft’s attitude direction indicator (also known as an artificial horizon) and its compass. Each of the 4 answer choices contains a graphic with an external view of an aircraft. Your job is to decipher what the aircraft’s spatial orientation would look like from an external viewpoint based on the information provided by the flight instruments.

The attitude direction indicator will illustrate the angle of pitch (climb or dive), as well as the angle of bank (turn). The shaded section of the instrument represents the ground and the unshaded section represents the sky. The aircraft’s nose is always aligned with the center of the instrument, so if instrument is mostly shaded, the aircraft is diving, and vice versa. The shaded section also rotates as the aircraft banks, which mirrors the ground reference perspective a pilot would see when banking the aircraft. For example, if the shaded section fills more of the left side of the instrument than the right, the aircraft is banking to the left, and vice versa.

The compass simply illustrates the geographic direction the aircraft is pointing to. It’s fairly easy to work through this section quickly because north is always at the top of the compass graphic, which means that in the external viewpoint graphic, the aircraft’s nose will be pointed away from your vantage point when heading north or towards your vantage point when heading south.

The challenge increases somewhat when there are significantly extreme pitch and/or bank angles and mixed headings (northwest, southeast, etc.), but you can still solve these problems quickly by process of elimination since you are looking for a specific combination of only 3 factors (pitch angle, bank angle, and compass direction). You’ll need to work at an average rate of 5 problems per minute to get through all 25 problems within the 5-minute time limit, but that’s not exceedingly difficult.

An example problem, similar to what you will encounter on the Instrument Comprehension subtest. The attitude direction indicator is mostly unshaded (the aircraft is climbing) and the shaded portion is located on the left side and is completely vertical (the aircraft is banking 90 degrees to its left). The compass indicates that the aircraft is heading south. Choice D is the correct answer.

If you don’t have much flying or flight simulation experience, don’t worry. It should still be easy to grasp the functionality of the attitude direction indicator with a little bit of practice. The following resources are great ways to learn about the information provided by this instrument.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 – Attitude Indicator Tutorial Video
Pilot Effect – Attitude Indicator Video
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course

Block Counting

The Block Counting subtest is designed to gauge your ability to visualize three-dimensional objects. You will be presented with an illustration equal-sized blocks viewed from an angle. The blocks are arranged in odd fashions reminiscent of a partially deconstructed Jenga tower. Each block is given some sort of identification, such as a number and letter combination. For each illustration, you will be given approximately 5 questions. Each question simply references a specific block, and the correct answer choice is the number of other blocks that the block in question touches. The blocks must touch faces — diagonal edges do not count as touching. You’ll have 4.5 minutes to complete 30 problems, which means you need to maintain an average pace of 6 to 7 problems per minute. It’s tough, but doable. Resist the urge to double check any particularly difficult problems or you run the risk of likely not finishing this subtest in time.

An example illustration and questions, similar to what you’ll find on the Block Counting subtest. For block S1, choice C is the correct answer because the block touches the faces of the two blocks on the right and the block supporting it.

The best way to study for Block Counting is simply to try your hand at practice questions that are specifically designed to imitate this subtest. All of the AFOQT study guides mentioned at the beginning of the “How To Study For The AFOQT” section of this article contain Block Counting sections in their practice tests and the official AFOQT Form T Prep Course also provides a few practice problems.

Aviation Information

This subtest covers a huge scope of potential knowledge, but if you’re an aspiring aviator, it’s probably the most enjoyable one to study for. If you have a Private Pilot’s License, you’ll likely feel at home, but it would still be wise to brush up on your ground school knowledge to make sure you’re prepared. Expect to encounter questions about aerodynamics, aircraft instruments and control surfaces, aircraft construction and engine types, flying maneuvers, meteorology, conceptual aviation physics, airport markings and lighting, and standard flying procedures, just to name a few. You’ll have 8 minutes to answer 20 questions, which requires an average pace of 2 to 3 questions per minute to finish in time. Most of these questions require genuine aviation knowledge and can’t be answered by just thinking critically, so if you don’t know the answer immediately, it probably won’t come to you and you can make an educated guess so that you don’t run out of time.

Aviation Information is obviously one of the most important subtests for your Pilot subscore, so it makes sense to devote a lot of time to studying for it. The single best resource is the FAA Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. It’s complete overkill to try to read and absorb all 450+ pages, but skimming through the suggested chapters below and picking up on key points will be hugely beneficial. Other helpful aviation resources are also listed below.

Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge: FAA-H-8083-25B (FAA Handbooks series)

Chapter 2: Aircraft Structure Basic Aerodynamics, Major Components, Types of Aircraft Construction

Chapter 3: Principles of Flight Structure of the Atmosphere, Theories in the Production of Lift, Airfoil Design

Chapter 4: Aerodynamics of Flight Forces Acting on the Aircraft, Axes of an Aircraft, Aircraft Design Characteristics, Aerodynamic Forces in Flight Maneuvers, Stalls, Basic Propeller Principles

Chapter 5: Flight Controls, Flight Control Systems

Chapter 6: Aircraft Systems Powerplant, Turbine Engines, Landing Gear

Chapter 7: Flight Instruments Pitot-Static Instruments, Gyroscopic Flight Instruments

Chapter 10: Aircraft Performance Pressure Altitude, Density Altitude, Performance

Chapter 11: Weather Theory Atmosphere, Altitude and Flight, Altitude and the Human Body, Air Masses, Fronts, Thunderstorms

Chapter 13: Airport Operations Types of Airports, Airport Markings and Signs, Airport Lighting, Lost Communication Procedures, Transponder

Chapter 14: Airspace Controlled Airspace, Uncontrolled Airspace, Basic VFR Weather Minimums

Chapter 15: Navigation Latitude and Longitude, Effect of Wind

Chapter 16: Aeromedical Factors, Hypoxia

NASA – Beginner’s Guide to Aeronautics – Aircraft for Amateurs
The Balance – Aircraft Flight Instruments: The Basic Six-Pack
FAA – Airport Sign and Marking: Quick Reference Guide
John and Martha King – Airport Signs, Markings, and Procedures Video
John King – Basic Aerodynamics: CG and Stability Video
GearDownFS – The Aerodynamics of Flight Video
Aviation Supplies & Academics – Private Pilot Airplane: Weather Video
USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course


Wow, we get it, that was a lot of material.  We hope you learned a lot from Part-2 of this series.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, you should be, there is a lot to study.  The good news is, you now know the battle space you will be operating in.  Start studying now!  The earlier you can begin the process the less overwhelming you will feel preparing for the AFOQT.  BogiDope will conclude this series with AFOQT Explained – Part 3, next week.  In Part 3 we will explain the scoring process, how to obtain your scores and most importantly how to improve your AFOQT scores.  You wont want to miss Part 3.

Note: this article was written using multiple different sources.  These sources include, the Pilot Candidate Selection Method website, prep books for the AFOQT test, USAF AFPC Official AFOQT Form T Prep Course and multiple phone calls to understand the process.

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