Optiver Trader behind computer

Mastering the Optiver Zap-N Test

Published February 4th 2024
Last edited April 15th 2024

The Optiver Zap-N Test is a comprehensive cognitive assessment designed to evaluate a diverse range of skills pertinent to trading roles. Following the Optiver 80 in 8 math test and the NumberLogic test, this multifaceted evaluation comprises nine engaging games, each specifically designed to measure specific cognitive abilities.

The total duration of the assessment ranges from approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, during which candidates are challenged to showcase their competencies in multitasking, decision-making, strategic planning, and more.

Here's a detailed overview of each game, highlighting the skills assessed, gameplay details, and suggested strategies for preparation and success.

1. Zap-N Grill Master

  • Objective: Efficiently manage a grill by cooking and removing meat at the perfect time.
  • Skills Tested: Multitasking, time management.
  • Gameplay Details: The game starts with a few pieces of meat and progressively increases in quantity and cooking speed. Players must remove the meat from the grill when it's perfectly cooked (indicated by an orange progress bar), avoiding undercooked (blue bar) or burnt meat (red bar).
  • Duration: Approximately 5 minutes.
  • Preparation Tips: Engage in time-management and multitasking games like "Overcooked" or "Diner Dash". Focus on prioritizing tasks, adapting to increasing complexity, and maintaining accuracy under pressure.

2. Zap-N Balloon

  • Objective: Inflate balloons to earn money, balancing the risk of popping them.
  • Skills Tested: Risk assessment, decision-making.
  • Gameplay Details: The game unfolds in two distinct parts with varied risk-reward dynamics. In the first part, players earn 10 cents per successful pump. There's no penalty for a burst balloon other than the loss of potential earnings, encouraging initial risk-taking for 'price discovery'. In the second part, players earn 20 cents per pump, but risk increases as each pump adds a 10-cent penalty to a potential burst. This part demands more nuanced risk management, reflecting complex trading scenarios. Players are challenged to analyze the balloon's explosion patterns, akin to assessing price charts in trading. The game's essence lies in making calculated decisions: pushing the envelope to maximize earnings while skillfully navigating the risk of a burst balloon and subsequent penalties.
  • Duration: Roughly 20 minutes.
  • Preparation Tips: Engage in practice sessions to enhance risk assessment skills by playing games like Poker online. This will also develop a keen understanding of probability and risk management and will train you to make swift, informed decisions under changing conditions. Variants like Texas Hold'em or Pot Limit Omaha will suffice. 
  • Strategy: In the first attempts, adopt a bold approach for 'price discovery' by inflating the balloon until it pops, mentally noting the explosion thresholds. Mentally record and analyze data of explosion levels and successful collection points to deduce patterns, akin to analyzing trading charts. This helps in forming strategies on when to cease pumping and secure earnings, tailoring your approach to align with your risk appetite and the balloon's unique explosion pattern.

3. Zap-N Skyscraper

  • Objective: Reconstruct towers to match a given example by rearranging floors.
  • Skills Tested: Strategic planning, problem-solving.
  • Gameplay Details: Players move the topmost floor of any tower and strategize the sequence of moves to replicate the target tower structure efficiently.
  • Duration: About 5 minutes.
  • Preparation Tips: Engage with games requiring spatial reasoning and planning like "Tetris" or "Monument Valley". Practice visualizing the end goal and planning backward to determine the most efficient sequence of moves.

4. Zap-N Shapeshift

  • Objective: Quickly and accurately press keys corresponding to shapes appearing on the screen.
  • Skills Tested: Reaction speed, precision.
  • Gameplay Details: The shapes (circles and squares) appear randomly on different sides of the screen. The challenge is to maintain high accuracy and speed without getting confused by the position of the shapes.
  • Duration: 2.5 minutes.
  • Preparation Tips: Play reaction-based games such as "Piano Tiles", focusing on improving your reaction time and accuracy. Practice maintaining concentration and hand-eye coordination, especially under time constraints. In Shapeshift, make sure to focus on the shape only and not on the side the shape appears.

5. Zap-N Pincode

  • Objective: Memorize and input a sequence of numbers in various orders.
  • Skills Tested: Memory, concentration.
  • Gameplay Details: The game progressively increases in difficulty, challenging players to recall longer sequences and input them in direct, reverse, or sorted order.
  • Duration: Approximately 15 minutes.
  • Preparation Tips: Utilize memory improvement games or apps like "Lumosity" or "Peak". Focus on exercises that challenge your working memory and concentration, gradually increasing the complexity and length of the sequences.

6. Zap-N The Switch

  • Objective: Efficiently switch between solving an addition problem and a visual pattern recognition task.
  • Skills Tested: Cognitive flexibility, task-switching.
  • Gameplay Details: Players alternate their focus between solving a basic math equation and comparing sets of arrows, honing their ability to shift attention between different types of tasks quickly.
  • Duration: 1.5 minutes.
  • Preparation Tips: Engage in activities or games like "Brain Age" or "Dual N-Back" that require you to quickly switch between different tasks. Practice transitioning smoothly and accurately between tasks to enhance your cognitive flexibility.

7. Zap-N NumberBox

  • Objective: Utilize four numbers and basic arithmetic operations to match a target number.
  • Skills Tested: Mathematical ability, logical reasoning.
  • Gameplay Details: The game challenges players to creatively use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to reach the target number, requiring the use of all four provided numbers.
  • Duration: Roughly 3 minutes.
  • Preparation Tips: Solve puzzles and play games that involve number manipulation, such as "Sudoku" or "2048". Focus on developing quick mental arithmetic skills and exploring various numerical strategies.

8. Zap-N CodeCompare

  • Objective: Match a given code with one of several options before time runs out.
  • Skills Tested: Speed, accuracy, pattern recognition.
  • Gameplay Details: Players must quickly identify the correct match for a code from multiple choices, with the pressure of a running timer.
  • Duration: About 1.5 minutes.
  • Preparation Tips: Practice with fast-paced matching games or visual puzzles like "Set". Focus on quickly recognizing patterns and making accurate decisions under time constraints.

9. Zap-N Figure It Out

  • Objective: Deduce a hidden figure by selecting correct attributes based on feedback.
  • Skills Tested: Strategic thinking, deductive reasoning.
  • Gameplay Details: Similar to the games Mastermind and Set, players choose attributes for a figure and receive feedback on their accuracy, aiming to match the hidden figure in the fewest moves.
  • Duration: 15-20 minutes.
  • Preparation Tips: Play logic and deduction games like "Mastermind". Develop a systematic approach to narrowing down options and interpreting feedback to make informed guesses.


By understanding the objectives and intricacies of each game and focusing on relevant skills through targeted practice, you can enhance your readiness and performance in the Zap-N Test. Regular practice, along with a strategic and calm approach, will be key to excelling in this multifaceted cognitive assessment.

For more details on the rest of the Optiver interview, visit our guide to the Optiver interview.