The State Bank of India (SBI) will hold online preliminary exams to recruit 2,313 Probationary Officers (PO) on April 29 and 30 and May 6 and 7, 2017.
The competition for the posts is going to be tough as a large number of candidates are expected to apply for the job, considered to be most coveted in the banking sector in the country.
Having said that, it is important to realise that apart from your mental ability and interest, success in most of the examinations, depends largely on how well you prepare for it. To prepare well, you need to understand the pattern of the examination and accordingly devise a strategy.
The preliminary examination is one-hour long objective type test in which candidates are asked 100 questions. Each question carries one mark and there are three sections in the exam. There are 30 questions from English section, while the other two sections– Reasoning Ability and Quantitative Aptitude—contain 35 questions each.
A candidate must clear the sectional cut off for all the three sections and then clear the overall cut off (as decided by the bank) to crack the prelims examination. It is also important to remember that 0.25 mark is deducted for every wrong answer and so wild guesses must be avoided.
Candidates should work out a proper strategy for all these three sections and put in effort accordingly. Candidates should devote more time in areas where they are relatively weaker. But at the same time other sections should never be ignored. It is important because you need to clear the sectional cut-off in all the three sections. But scoring well in your areas of strength will help you to clear the overall cut-off required for qualifying for the second phase of the exam.
Before trying to take a look at the preparation strategy for the three sections separately, candidates should keep a few points in mind that will help them in dealing with the test at a broader level.
  • There is no substitute to practice. There are three stages of preparation – Clearing the concepts, Practice what has been learned and lastly taking mock tests to set yourself up for the timing and pace of exam. Practice, Practice and Practice.
  • It is very difficult to solve all the questions in the examination. So it is advisable to pick the questions you answer judiciously and be focused while answering them to avoid mistakes. Though speed is very important, accuracy is more important. Even 55-65% of the attempts can help you to sail through the prelims exam.
  • A very good reading speed is one of the key factors for clearing this exam. The SBI preliminary examination is conducted online that further reduces your reading speed. So it is advisable for the candidates to do a lot of practice to increase their reading speed.
  • Being able to spot the difficulty of the questions is another important factor in clearing the prelims examination. It is advisable for students to identify the tough & time consuming questions and avoid them in first round of attempts. Come back to them later only if you have time. Deception in the choice of questions is the single most important factor for poor time management of bank students.
Section-wise preparation
There are three sections in the SBI PO prelims question paper and each section poses its own challenge. Apart from the overall strategy, candidates need to prepare a separate strategy to deal with each of the sections.
Quantitative Aptitude
If a candidate is good in calculation and his basic concepts are clear then this section is good for scoring. For quantitative aptitude, practice matters the most for scoring well within a limited time frame. But if you find this section difficult, it is important that you start practising questions with a plan to cover all topics. To speed up your calculation, start learning and revising tables till 20, squares, cubes and square roots. Learning short-cuts and tricks for calculations, knowing values of fraction in percentage and vice versa will help a lot. Some of the important focus areas for tackling this section are data interpretation, profit and Loss, simple interest & compound interest, time & work, speed and distance, percentage.
English Language
Keeping the time frame in mind, English seems to be a good scoring option for candidates who are not that strong in Quantitative aptitude and Reasoning. Scoring high in this section can help candidates clear the overall cutoff of SBI prelims. Talking about the preparation for the English section of the SBI PO Prelims Exam, we urge students to focus on English reading and comprehension, vocabulary, spot the errors, fill in the blanks and sentence rearrangement. Students must focus on learning the basics of grammar. Once the concepts are clear, students can save much time in this section to give time for Quantitative aptitude & Reasoning.
This section is generally of higher difficulty level and requires daily practise to crack tricky questions in this section. It is advisable not to get stuck on puzzle or seating arrangement questions for too long. A good hold on this section can come only by regular practise and timely selection of questions. This section is also a test of the ability of a candidate to apply his mind quickly and aptitude of spotting the angle and difficulty level of a question. Some of the focus areas to do well in this section are syllogism, blood relation questions, coding-decoding, input-output, direction test, mathematical in-equations, seating arrangements and puzzle-based questions.
Importance of Mock Tests
The last and a very important phase in the preparation for the preliminary examination is taking the mock tests. The importance of this test lies in the fact that it gives you an opportunity to prepare for the problems faced in the examination situation. Mock Tests aids in two things – identifying your strengths and weaknesses and building the rhythm of testing. There is a tipping point beyond which the testing may not help much. But getting to that is an important part of the game. We believe 10 to 15 mock tests are sufficient for these type of competitive exams.
All the Best !!!