IBM Numerical Reasoning Test

IBM looks for employees with a high numerical ability. Applicants have to pass a numerical test before being offered a position.

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IBM use the following tests in their selection process:

  • Verbal reasoning test
  • Numerical reasoning test
  • IPAT Test
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About IBM Numerical Reasoning Tests

IBM is a multinational technology and consulting corporation, previously ranked as the second largest firm in the US. Securing employment or a place on one of their graduate schemes is extremely competitive and candidates must be prepared to undergo a lengthy selection procedure. Once an online application form has been completed, candidates are required to undertake online psychometric tests. This is typical of graduate level positions, although further tests may be required for higher level roles. Candidates are informed in advance as to which tests they will be required to take.

IBM use a combination of Bespoke and Kenexa assessments throughout the recruitment process, as a means of screening out candidates. In regards to potential employees, IBM look for a set of key values throughout the selection procedure: Adaptability, Communication, Client Focus, Creative Problem Solving, Drive, Teamwork, Passion for IBM and Taking Ownership.

Numerical reasoning tests are a fair and objective way for IBM to assess a wide range of applicants, each having different experiences and different qualifications. By analysing the results of a standardised numerical reasoning test, IBM are able to quickly see which candidates are suitable for the role and which are not. This sort of information about candidates’ skills is difficult to glean from interviews and qualifications alone, so they use professional psychometric tests.

Often, IBM will ask applicants to take a numerical test online, which you can take from home. When the numerical test is used early on in the application process like this you will have to achieve a minimum score before you progress to the next round (typically a score in the top 50% of applicants is required however this does vary role to role). Further along in the selection process you might be asked to attend an assessment centre or interview where you will be asked to sit a numerical test again. This is so IBM can verify the person scoring highly in the test is indeed the person applying for the job.

IBM Application Process Stages

Here is the typical process for your application to IBM.

Stage 1

Application

Applications are made online and require candidates to provide their contact details, education and work experience. This is to ensure that the candidate meets the entry requirements for their selected role. Candidates are also required to complete an IBM application template, which lists competencies associated with the role and asks for examples of times when the candidate has demonstrated them.

Stage 2

Telephone Interivew
Verbal, numerical, logical and/or situational strength

Candidates who have applied for a BDE role will be contacted for a telephone interview, and not have any online tests to complete.

Stage 3

Online Testing

Successful candidates are sent an invitation to complete the “IBM IPAT”, a logical reasoning test comprised of three sections. Candidates need only complete two of these sections and can choose whether to complete them in one or two sittings. However, they must be completed within seven days of receiving the invitation link. All instructions regarding the IBM IPAT will be provided to candidates in the invitation email. Candidates who have applied for the ‘Graduate Strategic Analytics Consultant’ role will be asked to undertake an additional aptitude test provided by SHL which focusses more on their verbal and numerical ability. Candidates who have applied for the ‘Software Developer’ role will be asked to complete a personality questionnaire.

Stage 4

Assessment Centre

Selected candidates are then invited to attend an assessment day, during which they will undergo some or all of the following assessments: Group Activity – This usually involves logical problem solving or a discussion board, Confirmatory Test – This is a short test similar to the online test completed during the earlier stages, Written Tests – Some candidates will be required to complete Verbal Reasoning and Numerical Reasoning tests. Some applicants will also have a first round interview during their assessment day.

Stage 5

Final Interview

During this interview, candidates are assessed regarding specific skills necessary for the job applied for. It is also a good chance for candidates to find out about the role and establish whether this is likely to be a good fit. Successful applicants at stage 4 will be made an offer of employment or a place on a graduate scheme with IBM.

Buy Practice Numerical Tests

Our numerical practice test pack is suitable for preparing for the IBM numerical reasoning exercise.

Numerical Test Pack (suitable for preparing for IBM)

Prepare for all numerical tests including the IBM numerical test. Includes 23 practice tests covering all major test publishers.

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IBM Numerical Reasoning Test Questions

Like most numerical tests, the one used by IBM looks at your ability to interpret numerical and graphical data and answer questions which require numerical analysis of the data provided. The numerical test will be assessing your speed and accuracy. The answers are multiple choice and you should try to work quickly within the time limit, but also accurately. Negative marking is unlikely to be used but do not guess answers, as this will show up in your accuracy score. Sometimes you will find that you can make a best guess estimate by deducing that some of the answer options are incorrect. This approach to verbal tests will come with practice, and you will become familiar with the type of numerical tests used by companies such as IBM.

Companies are using numerical reasoning test more and more in their application process that candidates must go through. Numerical reasoning tests are favoured when the role being recruited for requires interpretation and manipulation of numerical data on a regular basis. A person's score in a numerical reasoning test is a good indicator of their ability to work well with numbers. This is very important in finance, accounting and actuarial positions.

IBM use numerical reasoning tests as part of their recruitment process to help them select the best candidates for a particular role.

So as a graduate or senior candidate applying for a job at IBM you might feel like the numerical reasoning test is an unnecessary hoop to jump through. But you should bear in mind that IBM are asking you to complete the numericall test as much for your own benefit as theirs; if you are not suitable for the role, a psychometric test will usually identify this. Research has shown that psychometric tests, such as those used by IBM, are a better predictor of job performance than traditional selection metrics such as level of degree achieved.

The numerical operations required in standardised numerical tests are of a level which most applicants can achieve. The difficult aspect comes with carrying out the calculations quickly and accurately within the time limit. You will be allowed a calculator for your numerical test at IBM, so make sure you know how to perform these basic operations. Percentage increases and decreases are the most common questions which catch out candidates. Here is a list of the most common operations you can expect in your numerical test:

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Percentages (including percentage changes)
  • Ratios
  • Most questions in most numerical reasoning tests follow a standard format displaying numerical data, the question and answer options on screen. These can be arranged differently, but each test will stick to the same layout throughout. The numerical data may be a graph, table, chart or other visual form. The question text may contain extra information which adds to what's given in the table, this might also be necessary to answer the question correctly. Lastly, the answer options are almost always multiple choice. Multiple choice answers can vary, however. You may have 4 options to pick from, 5, maybe 10, or more. The more answer options to pick from, the slimmer the chances are that you can obtain the correct answer by guessing.

    Some publishers will have less subtle variations in their test from what's described here. Capp for example, will ask you to rank the answer options by a particular criteria. Sometimes, in TalentQ tests, the question may have more than one answer, and you will be told to select two, or possibly more answer options from those availble. Test types by different publishers are explained here in more detail.

    Answered questions

    The same difficulty as real tests. Generally real employer selection tests don't differ that much in terms of difficulty which is why they compare your score against norm groups. Our practice tests are pitched roughly at graduate level, but this means they are actually suitable for preparing for all levels of job: entry; apprentice; graduate; senior; director.

    Yes, and PC, and Linux and smartphone and Android and...everything. Our practice tests will run on all systems and they are responsive so they will work well on tablets and smartphones too!

    How many times can I take the tests?

    Unlimited. You can take our practice tests as many times as you like; there is no limit. But to be honest, after taking the same test a few times you start to remember the answers, so that’s why we have lots of tests.

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