What is an IPAT Test – Key Facts

An IPAT Test (Information Processing Aptitude Test) is designed to assess an individual’s ability to reason numerically with information under time pressure conditions and, in particular, analyse and solve problems. The test does not check any technical know-how.

IPAT consists of 2 different categories of questions: Numerical Series and Numerical Reasoning.

In total, between 18-28 questions follow a multiple-choice format and each allow approximately 2 minutes for an answer. A calculator is allowed.

  • IPAT Numerical series: A candidate is presented with a sequence of numbers or symbols and will have to identify patterns to choose the next item in the sequence
  • IPAT Numerical reasoning test: This is made up of 20 questions and will present you with a longer problem, that will require a number of steps to arrive at the right answer.

IPAT was created by IBM and, in 2019/2020 recruitment, is typically used to assess candidates applying for positions in IBM where numerical reasoning skills are particularly important. Examples include: Software Developer, Architect, Consultant, and Technical Specialist (e.g. Java, DevOps, Administrator), etc. The test is difficult and requires strong deduction and maths skills.

Questions in IPAT are very different from recruitment tests developed for other employers.

If you want to learn more about IBM’s end-to-end recruitment process, we have prepared a full 2019/20 IBM Employer Guide for their graduate and professional hiring process.

You can practice here 7 full IBM IPAT tests (over 200 questions) with GF.

IBM’s IPAT Numerical series sample questions (check answers at the bottom of the page):

IBM IPAT Test Example 1

IBM IPAT Test Example 1

IBM IPAT Test Example 2

IBM IPAT Test Example 2

IBM IPAT Test Numerical Reasoning Example

IBM IPAT Test Numerical Reasoning Example

How to prepare for the IPAT Test

  • A candidate will receive an invitation to the IBM IPAT online test via email and will have a maximum of 7 days to complete two out of sections
  • These will measure how quickly candidates can analyse information and reason numerically, under time pressure
  • Since there is not much time between the moment the invitation is sent and the test due date, we recommend you start preparing the moment you decide to apply to IBM as you may need to do a revision of key maths topics

We have interviewed a number of candidates who succeeded in getting a job with IBM. This is what they shared with us regarding preparation and tips to passing IPAT tests:

5 best tips to passing IPAT tests – 2019/2020 guide

  1. Practice, practice, and practice IPAT tests – there is no better way than hands on experience
  2. Target each of the 2 question categories individually
  • Numerical Series: Get better at identifying patterns in these question types by researching the different types of Numerical patterns that exist. Some of the pattern types we use include:
    • Common Rule
    • Difference
    • Pairs-based
    • Interleaved
    • Power-based
    • Exotic

Research these pattern types in further detail to get a clearer sense of the patterns that may appear in these test types. You will become more confident in identifying patterns, and thus more likely to improve your Accuracy and Speed scores.

  • Numerical Reasoning: Familiarise yourself with advanced GCSE Maths, and the concepts covered. Topics covered in IPAT include:
    • Ratios
    • Percentages
    • Time
    • Geometry
    • Mixtures
    • Interest Probability

…so it may be a good idea to brush up on these. A wealth of (FREE!!!) resources currently exist online that may help in this regard (e.g. MathsIsFun, BBC Bitesize, Khan Academy).

  1. Improve your ability to solve problems: Some candidates may have the arithmetic ability but can struggle to understand the information provided to arrive the correct answer.
    We recommend:

    • spending some time completing crossword puzzles and playing numerical puzzles and games, such as Sudoku.
    • solving mathematical-based quiz types and exercises available online should help to increase your ability to reason numerically
    • seeking out and analysing numerical passages, tables and charts in financial magazines and newspapers (e.g. The Financial Times)

By training your ability to numerically reason, you are more likely to be able to apply your numerical knowledge better when taking our IPAT Tests, which will, in turn, make you more likely to improve your Accuracy and Speed scores.

  1. Take an educated guess for multiple-choice question types for both categories. There is no negative marking, and thus no risk involved. If needed, return to questions you have guessed.
  2. Time management is critical: Do not get stuck on a question you are not sure of. Take a guess, proceed to the next question, and come back if there’s time left.

We hope these tips help to improve your performance in our IPAT Tests.

Keep practicing and good luck!

Answers to IPAT questions:

Example 1: This series follows the form: (1¹ + 1), (2² + 1), (3³ + 1), (4⁴ + 1), (5⁵ + 1), and so the answer must be (6⁶ + 1) = 46,657

Example 2: This is an interleaved series with a 2-term difference: The 1st, 4th, and 7th terms are multiples of four (4, 8, 12), the 2nd, 5th, and 8th terms decrease by one (11, 10, 9), and the 3rd, 6th, and 9th terms are multiples of 7 (7, 14, 21). Thus, the 10th term must be (12 + 4) = 16

Example 3: Firstly, denoting the price of one banana as X, extract the information from the question: One apple must be 5X/8 (as 5 bananas cost just as much as 8 apples), one bottle of milk must be 15X/8 (as one costs just as much as 3 apples), and a loaf of bread is 15X/16 (as it is half the price of milk). Now add prices of each product (X + 5X/8 + 15X/16 + 15X/8) = 71X/16. Now, as we know the price of a banana, substitute 1.60 for X. This gives the total money spent as ([71 x 1.6]/16) = 7.10, and the money left as (9 – 7.10) = £1.90