ASVAB Electronics Information Study Guide

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Subtests Electronics Information

Electronics Information

  • 104 Questions
  • 9 Problems
  • 77 Flash Cards


Electron Flow 36 1 22

All electricity is the movement of electrons which are subatomic particles that orbit the nucleus of an atom. Electrons occupy various energy levels called shells and how well an element enables the flow of electrons depends on how many electrons occupy its outer (valence) electron shell.


Conductors are elements that allow electrons to flow freely. Their valence shell is less than half full of electrons that are able to move easily from one atom to another.


Insulators have valence shells that are more than half full of electrons and, as such, are tightly bound to the nucleus and difficult to move from one atom to another.


Semiconductors have valence shells that are exacly half full and can conduct electricity under some conditions but not others. This property makes them useful for the control of electrical current.


Current is the rate of flow of electrons per unit time and is measured in amperes (A). A coulomb (C) is the quantity of electricity conveyed in one second by a current of one ampere.


Voltage (V) is the electrical potential difference between two points. Electrons will flow as current from areas of high potential (concentration of electrons) to areas of low potential. Voltage and current are directly proportional in that the higher the voltage applied to a conductor the higher the current that will result.


Resistance is opposition to the flow of current and is measured in ohms (Ω). One ohm is defined as the amount of resistance that will allow one ampere of current to flow if one volt of voltage is applied. As resistance increases, current decreases as resistance and current are inversely proportional.

Conductive Materials

All conductors have resistance and the amount of resistance varies with the element. But, resistance isn't the only consideration when choosing a conductor as the most highly conductive elements like silver and gold are also more expensive and more brittle than slightly less conductive elements like copper. A balance needs to be struck between the electrical qualities of a material and its cost and durability.


Electrical power is measured in watts (W) and is calculated by multiplying the voltage (V) applied to a circuit by the resulting current (I) that flows in the circuit: P = IV. In addition to measuring production capacity, power also measures the rate of energy consumption and many loads are rated for their consumption capacity. For example, a 60W lightbulb utilizes 60W of energy to produce the equivalent of 60W of heat and light energy.

Circuits 16 7 16

A load is a source of resistance that converts electrical energy into another form of energy. The components of a microwave, for example, are loads that work together to convert household electricity into radation that can be used to quickly cook food.

Open & Closed Circuits

A closed circuit is a complete loop or path that electricity follows. It consists of a source of voltage, a load, and connective conductors. If the circuit is interrupted, if a wire is disconnected or cut for example, it becomes an open circuit and no electricity will flow.

Ohm's Law

Ohm's law specifies the relationship between voltage (V), current (I), and resistance (R) in an electrical circuit: V = IR.

Series Circuit
Series Circuit

A series circuit has only one path for current to flow. In a series circuit, current (I) is the same throughout the circuit and is equal to the total voltage (V) applied to the circuit divided by the total resistance (R) of the loads in the circuit. The sum of the voltage drops across each resistor in the circuit will equal the total voltage applied to the circuit.

Parallel Circuit
Parallel Circuit

In a parallel circuit, each load occupies a separate parallel path in the circuit and the input voltage is fully applied to each path. Unlike a series circuit where current (I) is the same at all points in the circuit, in a parallel circuit, voltage (V) is the same across each parallel branch of the circuit but current differs in each branch depending on the load (resistance) present.

Series-Parallel Circuits

Circuits are not limited to only series or only parallel configurations. Most circuits contain a mix of series and parallel segments. A good example is a household circuit breaker. Electrical outlets in each section of the house are wired in parallel with the circuit breaker for that section wired in series making it easy to cut off electricity to the parallel parts of the circuit when needed.

Battery Configurations

Batteries can be connected together in various combinations to increase their total voltage and/or total current. Connecting batteries in series combines their voltage while keeping their current the same, connecting batteries in parallel combines their current while keeping their voltage the same, and using a series-parallel configuration, half the batteries can be connected in series and half in parallel to combine both voltage and current.

Electrical Systems

Types of Current 12 7
Direct Current (DC)
Direct Current (DC)

Direct current flows in only one direction in a circuit, from the negative terminal of the voltage source to the positive. A common source of direct current (DC) is a battery.

Alternating Current (AC)
Alternating Current (AC)

In contrast to the constant one-way flow of direct current, alternating current changes direction many times each second. Electricity is delivered from power stations to customers as AC because it provides a more efficient way to transport electricity over long distances.

Electronic Components 30 1 22

Resistors are used to limit voltage and/or current in a circuit and can have a fixed or variable resistance. Variable resistors (often called potentiometers or rheostats) are used when dynamic control over the voltage/current in a circuit is needed, for example, in a light dimmer or volume control.


Fuses are thin wires that melt when the current in a circuit exceeds a preset amount. They help prevent short circuits from damaging circuit components when an unusually large current is applied to the circuit, either through component failure or spikes in applied voltage.

Circuit Breakers

Like fuses, circuit breakers stop current flow once it reaches a certain amount. They have the advantage of being reusable (fuses must be replaced when "blown") but respond more slowly to current surges and are more expensive than fuses.


Capacitors store electricity and are used in circuits as temporary batteries. Capacitors are charged by DC current (AC current passes through a capacitor) and that stored charge can later be dissipated into the circuit as needed. Capacitors are often used to maintain power within a system when it is disconnected from its primary power source or to smooth out or filter voltage within a circuit.


A diode allows current to pass easily in one direction and blocks current in the other direction. Diodes are commonly used for rectification which is the conversion of alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). Because a diode only allows current flow in one direction, it will pass either the upper or lower half of AC waves (half-wave rectification) creating pulsating DC. Multiple diodes can be connected together to utilize both halves of the AC signal in full-wave rectification.


The transistor is the foundation of modern electronic devices. It is made entirely from semiconductor material (making it a solid state device) and can serve many different functions in a circuit including acting as a switch, amplifier, or current regulator. A transistor works by allowing a small amount of current applied at the base to control general current flow from collector to emitter through the transistor.

Integrated Circuits

Circuits containing transistors are packaged into integrated circuit chips that allow encapsulating complex circuit designs (CPU, memory, I/O) for easier integration into electronic devices and machines.


A thermocouple is a temperature sensor that consists of two wires made from different conductors. The junction of these two wires produces a voltage based on the temperature difference between them.

Magnetism 10 10
Magnetic Fields

A moving electric current produces a magnetic field proportional to the amount of current flow. This magnetic field can be made stronger by winding the wire into a coil and further enhanced if done around an iron containing (ferrous) core.


An inductor is coiled wire that stores electric energy in the form of magnetic energy and resists changes in the electric current flowing through it. If current is increasing, the inductor produces a voltage that slows the increase and, if current is decreasing, the magnetic energy in the coil opposes the decrease to keep the current flowing longer. In contrast to capacitors, inductors allow DC to pass easily but resist the flow of AC.


A transformer utilizes an inductor to increase or decrease the voltage in a circuit. AC flowing in a coil wrapped around an iron core magnetizes the core causing it to produce a magnetic field. This magnetic field generates a voltage in a nearby coil of wire and, depending on the number of turns in the wire of the primary (source) and secondary coils and their proximity, voltage is induced in the secondary coil.