Are You Allowed to Use A Calculator on the AFOQT?

April 01, 2024
AFOQT Math Preparation Without A Calculator Image

No Calculators Allowed During AFOQT ImageIn a word: no. Calculators, smart phones/watches, tablets, personal electronic devices of any kind are all prohibited per the official ‘What to Expect‘ PowerPoint slide released by the Air Force Officer Personnel Center (AFPC). Other helpful nuggets of Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT ) Day information provided on said slide include:

  • Pencils & scratch paper will be provided (bring an extra #2 pencil and some paper – just in case)
  • All AFOQT Test Questions are multiple choice (4-5 possible answers per question)
  • The number of examinees will vary by location
  • All 12 sections are timed (see Study Guide Central for further info)
  • Total test administration will take approximately 5 hours including 2 short breaks and instructions

Within the strict ‘no calculator’ policy lies a strategical AFOQT test preparation gem: don’t waste your time studying overly complex math problems similar to what you might see on standardized tests like the GMAT, ACT, and/or SAT that do allow calculators. It is worth noting the SAT contains a math portion that does not allow calculators (i.e., SAT Math Prep materials may be of some use if you find yourself hungry for more after devouring the 200+ AFOQT Math Practice Test Questions available via AFOQT Guide & AFOQT Academy Study Guides/Tests.).

Some of the more (seemingly) time consuming problems you’re likely to encounter on the AFOQT include factoring expressions, like this example provided on the AFPC ‘Official AFOQT Changes’ document (click the ‘AFOQT Form T Prep Course’ link to view);

The factors of 30x^2 – 30 are:

  • A.(5x – 6), (6x + 5)
  • B.(15x + 5), (2x – 6)
  • C.(5x – 6), (6x – 5)
  • D.(30x – 5), (x + 6)
  • E.(5x + 5), (6x – 6)

With a multiple choice test you have the advantage of knowing the answer is right in front of you (which can quickly become a disadvantage if you allow yourself to agonize too long over any one question – train yourself for test day time constraints!).

In this example, 30x^2 – 30, we can work backward pretty quickly.

B & D are eliminated off the bat because we can’t multiply and produce our original expression.

C is eliminated because we know we can’t multiply two negatives to get a positive.

Choose between A & E, then plug and chug.

(5x + 5) (6x – 6)

=30x^2 – 30x + 30x – 30

After simplifying:

=30x^2 – 30

Correct Answer: E

Have a look at this expression factoring video courtesy of Mahalo for a live demonstration.

The takeaway message: It’s important to put in the work leading up to test day – know the material and the time constraints! It’s equally important to employ multiple choice test ‘best practices.’ Identify and eliminate two items, work with the remainders and make an educated guess if you run low on time. Remember: you’re not penalized for guessing!