IBEW Math Aptitude Test: What to Expect, Sample Questions & Practice Tips

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The IBEW math aptitude test section is what most candidates worry about.

There are several reasons for that. But the most common ones are low math scores in high school or the fact that they haven’t practiced math for years.

So, this guide’s purpose is to give you a clear understanding of what to expect and to help you prepare for and pass this section. This includes:

What Kind of Math Questions to Expect on the IBEW Aptitude Test?

The math portion of the IBEW aptitude test consists of 33 multiple-choice questions with a 46-minute time limit, followed by a Reading Comprehension test section.

The math topics include algebra, which is divided into four sub-topics, and number series.

Important note: all unions and locals use the same test version. This means that if you’re taking the NJATC/JATC aptitude test, the NECA aptitude test, or any other Electrician Apprentice/Pre-apprentice test, you’ll encounter the same question types.

So, overall, these are the math topics you’ll see on these tests:

  • Equations
  • Polynomials
  • Functions
  • Inequalities
  • Number Series

Further down this page, you’ll find sample practice questions (with full solutions) for each topic.

How Hard Is the IBEW Math Test?

The math questions on the IBEW aptitude test are harder than on other common pre-apprenticeship tests. Several reasons make this test section challenging for most candidates. Many applicants feel rusty as they haven’t touched math since high school, others failed their math classes, and some think it’s their weak spot.

Additionally, since there’s a tight time limit of less than 90 seconds per math question, it might make the testing experience even more overwhelming.

Despite these challenges, it’s possible to improve your math skills quickly using focused practice, even if you haven’t solved math problems for years. More about this practice later on this page.

Check our detailed guide to read about other reasons that make the IBEW aptitude test so difficult.

Can You Use a Calculator on the IBEW Aptitude Test?

Calculators are not permitted on the IBEW aptitude test. You’re allowed only to use a pen and scratch paper.

For some of the easier questions, you might even want to use mental calculations and save extra seconds for the tougher questions that come later.

Why It’s Essential to Score High and Not Only Pass the Test?

The minimum passing score for the entire test is getting into the top 4-ninths (4/9) of the test takers.

That being said, since there are many applicants and only limited open spots (especially in more competitive locals), candidates who score the highest will be selected first.

Other candidates who only pass the test but don’t score high will need to wait until new slots are open and the hiring staff reaches their names on the list. And this process may take even YEARS.

That’s why it’s important to strive to score as high as possible on your first try and ensure that you’ll be one of the first to get invited for the oral interview.

Visit our IBEW test scoring guide to learn more about the exam’s results and see answers to FAQs.

IBEW Math Sample Questions

Here are five practice questions – one for each subject of the IBEW math test, coupled with detailed solutions.

Take this free IBEW practice test for additional math sample questions.

Algebra Equations

What is the value of X?

(x/6) = (x/2) – (4/3)

A. 1
B. 3
C. 4
D. 6
E. 12

The correct answer is (C) – 4

(x/6) = (x/2) – (4/3) / The common denominator on the right side of the equation is 6.

(x/6) = (3x/6) – (8/6) / Multiply each fraction on both sides by 6, to eliminate the denominator

x = 3x – 8 / Subtract x from each side.

0 = 2x – 8 / Transfer -8 to the left side of the equation, turning it into a positive number.

8 = 2x / Divide each side by 2.

4 = x

Algebra Functions

Look at the following graph:

Algebra Functions Sample Question

Which of the following equations best represents the graph?

A. Y = 3X – 3
B. Y = 5X + 3
C. Y = -6X – 4
D. Y = -3X + 8

The correct answer is (B).

As can be seen from the graph, the slope of the line is positive. Thus, choices (C) and (D) can be eliminated. As can also be seen from the graph, when X = 1, Y is between 5 and 10. According to answer (A), Y = 0 when X = 1.

According to answer (B), Y = 8 when X = 1. Thus, only answer (B) agrees with this graph.

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 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.

Additional Useful Practice Resources for the IBEW Math Questions

As mentioned, applicants who score the highest are chosen first to get invited for an interview, while candidates who only pass with a minimum score might wait for an interview for months and even years.

In addition, if you fail the exam, you must wait six months before retaking it. And that’s why practicing hard beforehand becomes crucial on the IBEW aptitude test.

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

This is the only company that provides practice material for the mechanical reasoning questions (in addition to math and reading) that appear in some locals’ aptitude tests.

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

IBEW Math Test Practice Tips

#1 Get a Good Grasp of the Foundations

Before you start solving math practice questions, first ensure you master math foundations. These include the four operations, arithmetic, decimals, basic equations, square roots, exponents, and more.

Without strong foundations, you’ll likely struggle with the more advanced questions on the assessment.

#2 Identify Your Weaker Areas & Study Them Hard

Even if you think you’re horrible at math, there are probably a handful of math subjects you’re pretty good at. Once you start practicing, one of the first goals should be to identify your stronger and weaker areas and study the latter harder.

This will ensure that you focus on the topics that demand improvement and maximize your prep time.

#3 Improve Your Solving Speed & Accuracy

After practicing for a while and improving at solving problems, it’s time to take your ability to the next level.

One of the main challenges of the IBEW aptitude test is the immense time pressure. Not only that some of the questions are complex, but you also have very little time to solve each one.

To overcome this challenge, practice as many full-length simulations and timed tests as possible. This will enable you to get used to working accurately under time pressure.

Another useful method is learning shortcut techniques that can help you cut down on solving time, such as elimination techniques and fast calculations.

#4 Train Hard, Fight Easy

It’s recommended to practice solving math problems slightly harder than the actual test. You’ll find it much easier to solve the test questions if you’re used to high-level problems.

For a greater impact, make sure you practice these more challenging questions under time pressure.

#5 Learn How to Solve Problems Backwards

If you’re stuck on a question, it’s often helpful to work backward by using the answer choices and plugging them into the problem until you find the one that fits.

#6 Skip Through Questions But Don’t Forget to Go Back

All the IBEW aptitude test questions are weighted equally, and you can go back to previous ones. Use this to your benefit by skipping questions that seem more complex during your first run and answering the easier ones first to gain quick wins and build your confidence.

Then, use the remaining time, return to the skipped questions, and solve them on the second run. Just ensure you leave enough time for them by knocking the easy ones fast.

Check our IBEW test preparation guide to get 9 additional tips to help you start off on the right foot.

What Are the Math Requirements to Be Eligible to Apply for an Apprenticeship?

To be able to apply for one of the apprenticeships, you must meet several prerequisites.

One of them is strict math requirements. For most apprenticeships, you’ll need a minimum grade of “C” or better for one year of high school algebra.

If you don’t meet this minimum grade, you have several other alternatives:

  • Take equivalent college algebra courses (which can be taken at your local community college).
  • Show the college math placement test results, indicating a placement level beyond high school algebra.
  • For GEDs taken after January 1st, 2014 – a minimum score of 150 on the math test portion.
  • Provide evidence that you’ve successfully completed the NJATC Math Tech Course. This is the least favorable alternative, as the Math Tech Course is costly and demanding. The enrollment costs $135 and the algebra level is much higher than what you actually need to pass the aptitude test.

*Note that you must provide transcripts for most of these alternatives.

What Math Subjects Will You Encounter in the Actual Classes and Training?

A large chunk of the IBEW (or other locals and unions) class training consists of math classes. That’s also why passing the aptitude test with a sufficient score and meeting the math requirements is so important for these institutes.

Students who don’t have the needed math fundamentals and skills will likely struggle in their math classes and find it hard to pass the internal math exams.

The subjects you’ll learn and be assessed on include:

  • Add/Subtract/Multiply/Divide whole numbers and fractions
  • Ratios
  • Systems of equations
  • Trigonometry
  • Vectors
  • Geometry
  • Technical math

Why Do You Need to Know Math As an Electrician?

Many ask this question when they see the strict math requirements for getting into an electrical apprenticeship (and then the math curriculum).

The truth is that you don’t need high-level math skills to be a successful electrician. The math you learned in high school is more than enough for this profession.

The only exception is for people aiming for an electrical engineering career. This career path will demand stronger math skills and mastering advanced math and physics concepts.

Here are some examples of the basic math skills you’ll need to use as an electrician:

  • Trigonometry: you’ll need to know how to use equations, specifically for understanding AC power or to determine the correct angle to bend a section of conduit.
  • Ohm’s Law: you’ll use it to find out the current of a circuit, voltage drop, power loss, and conductor resistance.
  • Four Operations Arithmetic and Percentages, Fractions, and Decimals: used mainly for routine measurements and calculations, such as room measurements, wiring lengths, calculating loads, and converting watts to kilowatts.


Strong foundational math skills are essential to getting into an electrical apprenticeship. You’ll need to meet certain math prerequisites, pass an aptitude test with 33 math questions, and take math classes at your electrical school.

On this page, you learned what to expect on the IBEW math aptitude test and got useful tips to help you ace these questions.

Use the sample questions on this page and the additional practice resources to strengthen your math skills, score high on the test, and secure an interview.