How Hard Is the IBEW Aptitude Test? An Inside Look & Sample Questions

IBEW aptitude test - how hard is it - featured image

The IBEW Aptitude Test (specifically its math section) is considered harder than other common pre-apprenticeship tests.

The main reasons include time pressure, the complexity of questions, high cutoff scores, and more. Despite being hard, it’s possible to ace it with prior preparation.

Below, we’ll walk you through more aspects that make this exam challenging, provide examples of difficult questions, and show how you can increase your chances of passing it.

Why Is the IBEW Aptitude Test Considered a Difficult Exam?

Since the math portion of the IBEW aptitude test is the toughest for almost all test-takers, this page will focus on this part.

To learn more about the second portion of the test, which is 50% of your final score, visit our IBEW Reading Comprehension guide.

Five common reasons make the Electrical Aptitude Test harder than other apprenticeship exams:

  1. Time pressure: you have 69 questions with a 97-minute time limit for the whole test. The math portion has 33 questions to be answered in 46 minutes only.
  2. The math concepts are complex compared to other pre-apprenticeship tests.
  3. People who skipped or failed algebra in high school usually find it more challenging.
  4. You’re not allowed to use a calculator, so you must do all the calculations on scrap paper and in your head.
  5. It’s not enough just to pass the assessment. You must score high to be invited first for an interview since the competition is harsh. More on these scoring methods in our detailed IBEW test results guide.

Luckily, you usually get enough time to prepare beforehand, so you can use it to your advantage (even if you’re horrible at math).

Examples of the Most Difficult Questions (+ Solutions)

Algebra Polynomials

IBEW math sample question Algebra Polynomials

The correct answer is (A).

Remember the formula of the difference of cubes:

Simplify and reduce, if possible:

If you do not remember the difference of cubes formula you can solve it by opening the parentheses:

The correct answer is (A).

If you’ve chosen any other answer, review the solution and the use of formulas.

Algebra Linear Functions

What is the slope of the line that is perpendicular to the line that passes through the points (2,3) and (-8,1)?

A. 5
B. 1/5
C. -5
D. -1/5

The correct answer is (C).

To solve this problem you need to know the relationship between the slopes of the perpendicular lines. The slopes of two perpendicular lines are negative reciprocals of each other.

First, find the slope of the line that passes between the two points you were given: (2,3) and (-8,1).

To find the slope of this line, you can use the slope formula ( /[\frac{(y_1 – y_2)}{(x_1- x_2 )}] ) and substitute the two points given.

The slope of a line is the change in 𝑦 divided by the change in 𝑥. The change in 𝑦 is 3 – 1 = 2. The change in 𝑥 is 2-(-8) = 10. Thus, the slope of the line is:

2/10 = 1/5

Remember that perpendicular lines have opposite signs, and their slopes are reciprocals. The slope we found is: 1/5

The negative reciprocal of 1/5 is -5, thus the slope of the perpendicular line is -5 and the correct answer is (C).

Algebra Inequalities

If (a – b)2(a + b)2 = 4 , then ab = ?

A. -4
B. -1
C. 1
D. 4

The correct answer is (B).

Use the following formula:


Accordingly, the correct answer is (B).

If you chose answer (A), check your calculations. If you chose answers (C) or (D), you probably did not use the formulas correctly.

Number Series

0.5 | 1.5 | 3.5 | ? | 12.5 | 37.5 | 39.5

A. 7.5
B. 5.5
C. 11.5
D. 10.5

The correct answer is (D) – 10.5

The numbers triple and then increase by 2, alternately.

Valuable Practice Resources to Help You Ace the Exam

As you can see, it’s pretty tough to solve these math problems if you see them for the first time, let alone if you’re under time pressure. That’s why setting aside time for thorough preparation is crucial.

You’ll usually receive the test date at least a few weeks ahead. So, you’ll have sufficient time to improve your math skills and learn how to solve such problems efficiently.

To get the most out of your prep time, it’s better to use practice tests that simulate actual exams rather than solving generic math problems.

Several test prep companies offer preparation materials with realistic practice tests. But we found that JobTestPrep’s IBEW Aptitude Test practice offers the best value for money.

It’s worth noting that it’s the only company that provides practice material for the mechanical reasoning questions (in addition to math and reading). Some locals have started to add these questions in 2023.

Get dozens of accurate IBEW practice tests (math, reading, mechanical) to help you pass the exam.