Exam Guidelines for Bank Probationary Officers (PO’s)

Bank jobs are currently among the most in-demand jobs in India. More than 20 lakh aspirants generally appear for exams conducted by IBPS, RBI, SBI, private Indian banks, co-operative banks along with gramin banks at the clerical, PO (Probationary Officer) and SO (Specialist Officer) levels. These bank exams help to filter a large proportion of aspirants based on their exam performance. Shortlisted candidates then go through rounds of group discussion and personal interviews.

There is no fixed syllabus for such exams. While the broad areas from which questions can be asked are known, no question is generally considered “out-of-syllabus”. You have to keep this in mind and prepare for aptitude tests. However, you can identify the most common areas by solving previous year question papers (or sample papers) and taking sufficient mock tests. Bank PO exam is so much about speed test. It makes a lot of sense to do sufficient amount of practice.

While each specific exam may have a different format in terms of total questions, the number of sections, number of questions per section, negative marking and so on, the overall content structure of all upcoming bank exams is similar. Each section in the test may have a separate cut-off. You need to get some minimum marks in each section to qualify for the next stage of the bank recruitment process.

The commonly tested areas are:

  • Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation (50 marks) – School Level Math (x class), Basic charts and tables.
  • Logical Reasoning (50 marks) – Puzzles, Analytical and Critical reasoning
  • English Language (40 marks) – School level grammar, English comprehension
  • General Awareness (40 marks) – GK and Current affairs
  • Computer Awareness (20 marks) – Computers, Applications, Internet

Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation (QADI)

It tests your calculation skills and knowledge of school level mathematics. Build your basics with school level textbooks as most questions conform to the difficulty level and style given in these textbooks.

Practice as many questions as you can, without using a calculator at any point. Also, whenever you approximate the given numbers, have a look at answer options to check whether they are spaced out or close to each other. The approximation may lead to incorrect answers if the answer options are very close to each other.

For data interpretation question, focus on understanding how the given data is to be read and what the question requires. This will help identify the required calculations and save vital time. You should learn to find shortcut methods and learn to identify the answers quickly from the given answer options.

Logical Reasoning (LR)

It tests your power of observation and mental ability i.e., your ability to interpret data and information given in the form of puzzles, brain teasers or clues and sort it to arrive at a meaningful outcome.

Aspirants need a lot of practice and immense concentration for solving these problems like mirror images and problems that involve figures as a single mistake can lead to errors in the entire set.

There may be individual or group questions from a large (almost infinite) number of areas. You should decide whether to attempt these or not based on your comfort level. During preparation, if you do not have adequate time, you can practice these questions at the very end. This section has one of the highest allocation of marks, so try to practice it thoroughly.

English Language or Verbal Ability (VA)

It tests your English language skills but is not just a test of vocabulary or grammar. It is more of a test of language comprehension and your ability to interpret information given in English.

In this section, vocabulary plays a very crucial role.it requires very good grammar checking skills along with a good reading habit. Instead of trying to mug up new words, focus on reading as much as possible. This will automatically improve your vocabulary.

Read as much as you can and from as many sources as possible to improve your comprehension skills. These not only improve your language and comprehension but also help you in the general awareness section and GDPI rounds.

General Knowledge and Current Affairs (GK)

It tests your general awareness more than your knowledge of trivia and random information.
This is also a scoring section. Usually, 75% of the questions are related to the banking field, while 25% is allocated to current affairs.

To score good marks, keep yourself updated with the current banking policies, various changes they may have undergone, the causes, the policies, budget and the present economic scenario of the country.

Apart from this, keep yourself abreast with latest happenings in the field of science, history, geography and other areas. Reading the newspapers and watching the news on TV regularly will also help you prepare for this section. A well-read person is automatically able to tackle this area to a large extent.

Computer Awareness (CA)

This is usually an easy section and is based on simple applications. If you know the basics of computers and the working of MS Windows and MS Office, you will be able to score decent marks in this section. You may also choose to refer to basic NCERT Computer books.

While there is no sure-fire way to prepare this section, you can prepare by increasing your comfort level with computers. The more you use them, the easier it becomes for you to answer these questions. You then don’t need to remember or mug up answers. Even with a limited practice of a few months, you should be able to answer most questions very comfortably.

Interview Round

The interview questions can vary from goal oriented topics like ‘Why do you want to join as a Bank PO?’ to any key financial policy changes. In a case of Specialist Officers’ role, they may ask in-depth questions from that specific subject.

Broadly, in the PO interview goal orientated and current awareness questions are asked. Make it a habit of reading newspapers, magazines on current affairs and business and books on banking.

Best Ways to Crack the Bank PO Exams

  • Start with the section which takes the least time with the greatest accuracy. Don’t get stuck in any section that takes a little more time e.g. reasoning Section.
  • Aspirants should pick up questions that they are good at. Solve questions as much as possible and Pick up easier questions first.
  • Practice is essential for this exam. However, even with practice, you may not be able to identify the logic for certain questions of the topics like series, visual reasoning etc. If you are unable to get the pattern in 2-3 minutes in the exam, it is advisable to leave the question for the time being and come back to it later.
  • Aspirants need to keep themselves updated about current happenings of the world and having knowledge of static General Knowledge would be enough from the examination point of view.
  • There are many Mock tests available online that will test your general and quantitative aptitude. Try to take up as many online tests as possible. This will not only give you confidence but also help you build a strategy to handle the exam in a successful manner.
  • Learn to manage time effectively. When you are taking the exam, divide your time in such a manner that you are able to attempt all the questions. It may seem difficult to answer 200 questions in 120 minutes, but with a little bit of smartness and practice, you can give it a shot.

Hope these tips have been helpful to you. Best of luck for your exam.

Samual Sam
Samual Sam

Learning faster. Every day.