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How To Approach For Bank PO Exam?

How To Approach For Bank PO Exam?

How to approach for Bank PO? The Complete Guide to Success

The job of a probationary officer in a bank is one of the most popular public sector jobs in the country these days. The IBPS conducts the recruitment examination for this purpose and a lot of candidates try their luck in this examination every year. The prospect of having a bank job makes this examination a popular one to the aspirants. In order to stand out in this stiff competition, you need to have proper planning along with proper study material so that you may devote your time to only preparation and nothing else. Getting a job as a PO is not impossible but it is not possible if you are not working hard for it. In this blog, we are going to discuss regarding the smart way to work hard so that you get the required direction in your preparation.

Before going into the details, let me introduce myself. My name is Sourin Saha and I have experience of appearing and clearing a lot of banking exams. I am presently working as an Administrative Officer in one of the leading general insurance companies in India after brief stints with State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda as an assistant and a PO respectively.

IBPS PO Examination: What is this examination?

The Institute for Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) is responsible for conducting the online examination and interviews for recruitment of probationary officers or management trainees in the public sector banks of the country. It announces a Common Written Examination (CWE) for this purpose and all the participating banks give their vacancies to the IBPS. It conducts the whole recruitment process and then recommends the candidates for the participating banks according to their merit and preference exercised in the online application form. Almost all the major public sector banks excluding SBI participate in this common recruitment process conducted by the IBPS.

How much is the salary of an IBPS PO?

This is the most important question for any job. The starting salary of the IBPS PO is in the scale of 23700-980*7-30560-1145*2-32850-1310*7-42020. It means that the basic salary of the PO at the initial stage is Rs 23700 and along with it various allowances are given. The CTC of a probationary officer without the leased accommodation comes to around Rs 6 lakhs per annum. The monthly in-hand salary will be around Rs 34k in a metro city with the HRA component. The wage revision is due with effect from 01.11.2017 and this pay is expected to rise once the same is settled.

Eligibility Criteria for IBPS PO: Who can apply?

  1. Age Criteria: The minimum age limit to apply for IBPS PO is 20 years whereas the maximum age limit to apply for this examination is 30 years. There is also relaxation for the SC, ST and OBC community candidates as per the extant guidelines of the government in this regard. The age is calculated on the basis of the cut-off date as per the advertisement every year.
  2. Educational Qualification: Anyone who is having a graduate degree from a recognized university can apply for this examination. However, the candidate should possess the required qualification on the cut-off date as decided by the IBPS in the notification.

Apart from the above, a candidate must be a citizen of India or Nepal or Bhutan in order to be eligible to apply for this examination.

What is the Exam Pattern for IBPS PO?

The IBPS PO examination is conducted in two phases – Prelims and Mains Examinations and they are followed by a personal interview. The marks obtained in the prelims examination is not considered for final selection but the marks in the mains examination and interview are considered in order to prepare the final list of selected candidates.

The Prelims Examination is mainly a screening test in order to evaluate candidates on the basis of the basic skills required for any banking. There is negative marking in this examination and also, a candidate has to secure minimum cut-off marks in the individual sections as well as in total to qualify in the examination. It is of the following pattern:

Subjects No of Questions Marks Time
Quantitative Aptitude 35 35 20 minutes
English Language 30 30 20 minutes
Reasoning Ability 35 35 20 minutes
Total 100 100 60 minutes

It is followed by the Mains Examination. In this also, there is negative marking and also the sectional cut-off for individual sections. The pattern is as follows:

Subjects No of Questions Marks Time
Reasoning Ability and Computer 45 60 60 minutes
Data Analysis and Interpretation 35 60 45 minutes
English Language 35 40 40 minutes
General Awareness with special reference to Banking and Finance 40 40 35 minutes
Total 155 200 180 minutes
Descriptive Paper in English 2 25 30 minutes

This mains examination is followed by personal interview conducted by the IBPS. The total marks allotted for interview are 100 marks in the IBPS PO examination.

How to Prepare for IBPS PO Examination?

Now that we are clear about the exam pattern and the eligibility criteria, let’s understand the smart way to prepare so that you get the desired result without wasting your resources. There are basically five subjects in the recruitment for bank PO examination:

  1. English Language
  2. Reasoning Ability
  3. Quantitative Aptitude along with Data Interpretation and Analysis
  4. General Awareness with Special Focus on Banking and Finance
  5. Computer Awareness
  6. English Language:

This is a nightmare to most of the candidates given the unpredictable nature of the questions being asked in English these days by IBPS. The questions may be new but the basic rules are always the same in any English examination. You just need practice and also you need to keep your cool in the exam hall so that you do not lose focus in the examination by coming across unknown type of questions. The syllabus of English Language includes the following:

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Error Spotting
  3. Cloze Test
  4. Paragraph Completion
  5. Fill in the Blanks
  6. Misfit Sentences
  7. Sentence Rearrangement
  8. Connect the Sentences
  9. Phrase or Word Connector
  10. Synonyms and Antonyms
  11. Matching the Columns

You should follow these tips for scoring well in this section:

  1. First go through the basic rules of grammar from a standard grammar book so that you are very well aware of the rules and their exceptions. Focus mainly on the exceptions since error spotting questions are mainly asked from such areas
  2. Be very careful while answering this section since the options are very confusing and it will definitely lead to you negative marking. Don’t attempt if you are not very sure about the answer
  3. Try to avoid silly mistakes. This is possible if you have practiced properly before the examination. You will remember the mistakes you can do and you will definitely be more careful
  4. Once you are done with the syllabus, start taking mocks since in English practice is very important and the more you practice the more you will be able to understand your weak areas
  5. Revise the topics once you are done with the syllabus since you may not remember all the rules and especially the exceptions. Focus on areas in which you are not that strong
  6. Practice all the topics from the CAT books since the recent pattern is similar to that only. But only practice the medium difficulty level questions in the CAT books

The following books are recommended for preparation of English Section:

  1. High School English Grammar by Wren and Martin
  2. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
  3. Objective General English by SP Bakshi
  4. Objective English by RS Aggarwal
  5. How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
  1. Reasoning Ability:

It has recently become the most time consuming section in any IBPS Examination since the questions are often very twisted and lengthy to solve. This can create confusion in the minds of the candidates and it will definitely affect their performance in the examination. The syllabus of this section includes:

  1. Coding and Decoding
  2. Ranking and Direction
  3. Puzzles
  4. Seating Arrangement Questions (Both Linear and Circular)
  5. Logical Reasoning such as Statement and Argument, Statement and Conclusion etc.
  6. Blood Relations
  7. Syllogism
  8. Machine Input and Output
  9. Code based inequalities
  10. Alphanumeric Series

In order to master this section, you should prepare in the following way:

  1. Learn the basic rules of the syllabus though there are very few rules in this section. Most of the questions are based on common sense and the main factor is time in this section
  2. In case of seating arrangement and puzzle questions, you need to understand which one to solve and which one to leave. There are some time consuming ones that waste a lot of your time and do not get solved ultimately
  3. In reasoning section, go through the whole section without fail. There may be questions at the end that are easy for you to solve but due to improper time management you are not able to attempt them
  4. Don’t waste too much time on one question since you need to solve other questions also. Since there is sectional timing, keep in mind that you have to at least visit all the questions and if time permits, you can always come back to a question after you are done with other questions
  5. In case of coding-decoding, there are certain common codes. You need to keep them in mind all the time so that while attempting such questions, you can apply these codes at once without wasting much time
  6. You may be good in some areas whereas may not be as good in others. The best approach is to first attempt the comfortable areas followed by the other areas in any section
  7. Practice a lot in this question. It will instill a sense of mind calculation in case of puzzles and seating arrangements, the most time consuming topics in Reasoning. You will definitely be able to solve such problems faster

The following books are recommended for preparation of Reasoning Section in IBPS PO Exam:

  1. A New Approach to Reasoning – Verbal, Non-Verbal and Analytical by BS Sijwali and Indu Sijwali
  2. Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by RS Aggarwal
  3. Analytical Reasoning by MK Pandey
  4. How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT by Arun Sharma
  1. Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation:

This section is purely based on your capacity to apply something along with proper practice. The syllabus will include the following:

  1. Profit and Loss
  2. Ages and Averages
  3. Mixture and Alligation
  4. Ratio and Proportion
  5. Simple and Compound Interest
  6. Permutation and Combination
  7. Probability
  8. Linear Algebra
  9. Quadratic Equation
  10. Polynomial Functions
  11. Simplification
  12. Surds and Indices
  13. Data Interpretation

The following tips will be helpful in preparing for this important section in IBPS Examination:

  1. Go through the basic formulae in each and every chapter carefully and focus on the inferences from any formula since questions are often asked from such areas
  2. Follow CAT books for the purpose of practice but restrict yourself to the medium difficulty level questions only for IBPS PO Examination
  3. Don’t try to apply something in which you are not comfortable. Don’t go for shortcuts if you don’t know them well. It will cost you marks
  4. Practice and practice as much as you can and that also should be different types of problems so that you get proper exposure. In the examination even if you face something very much extraordinary you will not be disturbed
  5. Mind calculations are must to score well in this section since saving time is very important in Quant section and mind calculation can save a lot of your time
  6. In every Data Interpretation question, there are 1-2 questions which take a lot of time. Leave them first and attempt other questions. If you have time at the end, come back to such questions
  7. Don’t lose hope if you are not able to attempt many of the questions consecutively. It will create panic in your mind thereby affecting your overall performance in the examination
  8. Take mocks as many as you can to get accustomed to the exam pattern. It will help you score well in the actual examination
  9. Pick your questions wisely in the examination since the target of the examiner is to puzzle you so that you can’t score well. You have to be smart to attempt the right questions

The following books are recommended for preparation of Quant and DI section in IBPS PO Exam:

  1. Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma (Select chapters only)
  2. How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma
  3. Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by RS Aggarwal
  4. Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit K Sinha
  5. Quicker Mathematics by M Tyra
  6. Fast Track Objective Mathematics by Arihant Publications
  1. General Awareness with special focus on banking and finance:

Due to the vast syllabus, getting good marks in this section is quite difficult and moreover with more chances of getting negative marking, it becomes more problematic to score well in this important examination. The syllabus of this section includes:

  1. Current Affairs of last 6 months
  2. Static GK
  3. Banking Awareness

In this section, the following tips are very useful for preparation:

  1. You have to study this section regularly followed by immediate revision so that you can retain the information
  2. It is more important to revise in this section since retention is the issue here and not mugging up facts
  3. You should first finish the syllabus and revise the same at least once. After that you should start taking sectional mocks in GA so that you can understand the areas where you need to work
  4. Relate things so that you can store information in a more effective manner and also retrieve the same more conveniently. This will also ease the burden on you
  5. Practice from multiple sources so that you come across different questions every time. It will increase your knowledge since it is not possible to cover everything by anybody
  6. Don’t attempt questions in which you have strong confusion since that may cost you marks

The following books are recommended for preparation of IBPS PO exam:

  1. Monthly Capsule by Bankers Adda or Gradeup for Current Affairs
  2. Banking Awareness Capsule from any of the above mentioned websites
  3. Static GK can be studied from Lucent’s General Knowledge but only the relevant chapters
  1. Computer Awareness:

Though it is not a separate section anymore in the IBPS PO examination, the questions may be tricky in the examination. Moreover if you can confidently answer the computer questions in the Reasoning Section, it will help you in scoring high as Reasoning questions will take more time to solve. The syllabus of this section will include:

  1. History of Computers
  2. Important Facts about computers
  3. Memory
  4. Input and Output Devices
  5. MS Office
  6. Important Terms
  7. Important Abbreviations
  8. Shortcut Keys on Keyboard
  9. Function Keys
  10. Database Management System
  11. Internet

The following tips will be helpful in the preparation of this section:

  1. Study the entire syllabus
  2. Go through the technical aspects since the questions have become very technical recently
  3. Revise at least once
  4. Understand what you are studying rather than just mugging up
  5. Practice as much as you can

You may follow these books for preparation of Computer Section:

  1. Objective Computer Awareness by Arihant Publications
  2. Objective Computer Awareness by Kiran Publications
  3. Computer Awareness Capsule by Bankers Adda / Gradeup

Important dates to remember for IBPS PO 2018

On-Line Registration 14th August 2018 to 04th September 2018
Payment of Fees Online 14th August to 04th September 2018
Prelims Examination 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st October 2018
Result of Prelims October /November 2018
IBPS PO Mains Exam Date 18th November 2018
Declaration of Result December 2018cefceg
Conducting Interview January / February 2019
Allotment April 2019


IBPS PO Examination is coming ahead and it is high time that you start your preparation in full swing so that you can make a mark in the tough competition in front of you. Plan properly and execute perfectly and you can become a Probationary Officer with a leading public sector bank of the country by next year.

All the Best!!

Sourin Saha

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