IBPS PO 2022: Learn the basics of Number Series

By Amrit Gouda|Updated : September 29th, 2022

Number Series questions often daunt many of you. However, it is a major topic in the Quantitative Aptitude Section OF IBPS PO, SBI PO, IBPS Clerk, SBI Clerk, and all other Bank exams. The questions under this topic are usually asked in a set of 5-6. Apart from being less time-consuming, it is also a highly scoring-chapter.

Hence, we advise you all to have thorough practice on this topic. Today we are sharing some study notes to help you all clear the basics of number series questions for bank exams.


What is a Number Series?

A number series is nothing but a sequence of numbers arranged in some logical way. This topic basically consists of a set of numbers connected by a specific pattern and you need to identify the pattern and answer the missing number or you may be asked to identify the number that doesn't fit the pattern.

Importance of Number Series

Kindly go through the importance of the Number series questions for Bank exams. You need to understand some important pointers regarding this chapter before moving forward.

  • You can expect 4-6 questions from this chapter in almost all types of Bank and Insurance exams.
  • The most important characteristic of these questions is that you can easily solve all the questions in 3-4 minutes if you have decoded the pattern.
  • This is one of the favorite topics among candidates.
  • You can easily ensure to get good marks in the quant section.

Numbers can have interesting patterns. Here we list the most common patterns and how they are made with the help of few number series questions with solutions for bank exams:-

1. Arithmetic (Difference/Sum based): An arithmetic series is obtained by adding or subtracting the same value each time. These series types will have a fixed difference between the two consecutive terms.

 Example: 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, …

This sequence has a difference of 3 between each number.  The pattern is continued by adding 3 to the last number each time.  Hence, the next term will be 25+3 = 28
The value added each time is called the “common difference”.

2. Geometric (Multiplication/Division based): The pattern will be identified by multiplying or dividing the term by some number to obtain the next term.

 Example: 1, 3, 9, 27, 81, 243, …

If you closely observe, the next term can be obtained by multiplying by 3.
3= 1*3 , 9 = 3*3, 81= 27*3, similarly 243 = 81*3. Hence next term will be 243*3 = 729.
The value multiplied or divided each time is called the “common ratio.”

3. Exponential Series: As the name suggests, these series will be of form a^n. These could be perfect squares or perfect cubes etc.

 Example: 4, 16, 64, 256, 1024…

If you closely observe, the numbers are increasing at a speedy rate.  This is the basic characteristic to identify if exponents can do a series. In this case we can see 16 = 2^4 , 64 = 2^6 , 256= 2^8 , 1024 = 2^10. The next term will be 2^12 = 8096

Other Quantitative Aptitude Study Notes




Simplification & Approximation


Calculation Short Tricks


D.I Basics, Pie Chart, Table Chart, Bar Graph, Line Graph, Mixed Graph, Missing D.I


Number Series


Quadratic Equations


Simple Interest


Compound Interest


Mixture & Alligation






Pipes & Cisterns


Age-based problems


Profit, Loss & Discount


Ratio & Proportion


Time, Speed & Distance


Time & Work



4. Alternating Series: Every alternate term forms a part of the series. Here you need to look for the pattern among the alternate numbers.

Example: 3, 9, 5, 15, 11, 33, 29, ?
Now for the given series, the pattern that follows is -
3 * 3 = 9
9 - 4 = 5
5 * 3 = 15
15 - 4 = 11
11 * 3 = 33
33 - 4 = 29
So, the next term is - 29 * 3 = 87
An easy way to identify such a series is that the numbers might not increase consistently. They usually increase and decrease continuously.

5. Special Number Series -

(a) Prime Numbers: Prime numbers are special numbers that are divisible only by 1 and itself, which means it is not possible to factorize the prime numbers.
(b) Fibonacci Series: Fibonacci series are special series in which the current value is determined by adding the previous two values.

 Consider the series 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, …

13 = 8+5, 8 = 5+3, 5 = 3+2. Hence next term = 13+8 = 21

6. Mixed Series - 

These series involve different arithmetic operations together. This series may be applicable when you cannot spot any common difference or ratio, or alternate arrangement in the series.
Example  - 5, 12, 27, 58, 121, ?
Now, if you closely look, no particular pattern in the difference can be spotted. The series that follows is -
5 * 2 + 2 = 12
12 * 2 + 3 = 27
27 * 2 + 4 = 58
58 * 2 + 5 = 121
So, the next term should be - 121 * 2 + 6 = 2

The patterns provided here are the most common patterns on which the series may be based. However, many more patterns may be possible by varying the abovementioned parameters.

Points to remember - 

  1. Identifying patterns solely depends on how quickly you can categorize the series. This needs practice and solving a series of questions becomes instinctive after a while. Identify how the series grows; this should help you categorize your series.
  2. If you fail to categorize a series into some categories, consider finding the special series in them. We have mentioned Prime and Fibonacci numbers. There can be other types of numbers like Armstrong numbers etc.
  3. Do not give much time to the number series questions. If you cannot establish relations between terms in a minute, it’s better to leave the question as a new kind of series can consume a lot of time that can be used elsewhere.

Expert Tips to Solve Number Series


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  • A number series is nothing but a sequence of numbers arranged in some logical way. This topic basically consists of a set of numbers connected by a specific pattern and you need to identify the pattern and answer the missing number or you may be asked to identify the number that doesn't fit the pattern.

  • First, observe the number series and try to decode the pattern involved. If you are able to decode the pattern in 40-50 seconds then it is fine otherwise leave it. You can again try subject to the availability of time.

  • In this article, our experts have provided a number series of study notes for the IBPS PO 2022 exam. Kindly go through it and practice questions regularly to become an expert in this chapter.

  • After understanding the concept of the Number series, you can practice questions from the previous year's question papers and our mock tests.

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