Cracking SBI PO Mains

indexThe second and most crucial round of the SBI PO exam is round the corner. The main aim of this article is to help students to prepare for this round.

First let us understand the exam pattern.

About the Exam: The objective exam will have four sections of 50 marks each, as per SBI notification. The sections are:

a) English Language (Grammar, Vocabulary, Comprehension etc.)
b) General Awareness, Marketing &Computers
c) Data Analysis & Interpretation
d) Reasoning (High Level)

Let me now deal with the agenda. Moving ahead, I have answered few frequently asked questions and also provided guidelines on preparation for the exam.

What is more important speed or accuracy? SBI PO, foremost is the test of speed. That does not mean that accuracy is not important. But to have a chance of clearing the overall cut off, the number of attempts need to be decent and for that calculated risk (Marking an option after making an intelligent guess or after eliminating two options) has to be taken. So, I suggest that you should approach the exam with an aggressive mindset to see all the 200 questions and attempt all those questions for which you are more than 50% sure.

What would be a decent attempt or a decent score? This is the most difficult thing to suggest. Both the things can only be judged on the spot once the question paper is in hand. I suggest that one should focus on the preparation rather than worrying about attempts and cut offs. Prepare well, make a sound test taking strategy and go with a positive attitude.

How to prepare for the sections? The next 10-14 days are the most critical phase of this entire SBI PO exam journey. Your entire focus should revolve around how to make full use of these days left for the exam. Here are my suggestions:

a. For Data Interpretation: This section is going to be a differentiator- a section which could make or mar your chance. The DI sets could be calculation intensive. You should focus on improving your calculation speed. Besides solving previous SBI PO papers, for practise, I suggest to solve DI caselets asked in CAT exam (year 1990 to 2000). The moderate level DI questions could be of this level. To practise calculation intensive DI set, I suggest to solve previous 5 year papers of IIFT (IIFT is an entrance exam of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade). These should be sufficient.

Now, why I am saying that DI would be a differentiator? Because most of the students think of DI as a time consuming section and their mere focus is on clearing the cut off. But then most of the students will not make it to the next round. So, if you wish to differentiate yourself then prepare for DI.

Remember, DI caselets difficulty level can be judged in a minute, unlike LR caselets. And that makes your job of seeing all the 50 questions of this section easy.

b. For Logical Reasoning: Everybody or shall I say majority, feels comfortable about this section. The problem with this section is that it is a double edged sword, if you crack a caselet you get 5 answers correct, but if are unable to crack it then you end up wasting time. SBI has clearly mentioned that the questions in this section will be of high level, and so the risk with the section also increases.

For preparation, I suggest to pick the areas and make them solid. Syllogisms are must attempt as they can be solved quickly. So practise syllogism. At least one question on circular seating arrangement will definitely be asked, so practise this part. Input Output sequencing questions will also be asked. Once again I suggest solving previous year SBI PO papers and CAT papers (1990 to 2004) for practise.

As a general observation, if you are finding this section easy then majority will also find it easy. Also, most people will think of scoring well in this section. So, you need to be competent enough.

c. For English: The easiest and the most neglected part of this section are RC passages. And because they are neglected, they will be the differentiator. Your aim should be to attempt both the RCs (I assume two RCs will be asked) in the exam. The parajumbles and cloze test are also easy and should be attempted. Grammar can be bit tricky. At this juncture, solving previous SBI PO exam papers should be sufficient for the preparation.

The good part about this section is that it is less time consuming. And the bad part is that it often is subjective and accuracy may suffer. But I suggest to focus on the good part and to attempt 30-35 questions.

d. For GA/Marketing/Computers: When it comes to GA, be thorough with the happenings of the last 3 months. The questions from computers and marketing are of very elementary level and being aware about the basic terms will be sufficient. Of course previous year papers will give you an idea about the level of questions being asked.

The best part of this section is that it can be finished in 10 minutes and hence it should be attempted first.

Is writing Mock Test important? Yes, very important. Before the actual exam, you should daily write one test and do a proper analysis of the test. This will help you to strategise your examination day approach. Half the students lose even after good preparation because they do not have proper strategy for the exam and hence they end up mismanaging their time.

What should be the order in which to attempt the sections in the test? You should be very clear with the approach to the exam. I suggest you to strictly follow the order of attempt and time allotment which you have decided for yourself; else your time management will go haywire.

My suggested order of attempt for the sections is:

Order Section Time Management
1. GA/Marketing/Computer 10 mins
2. English 25 mins
3. Logical Reasoning 40 mins
4. DI 45 mins


Prepare well, Take mock test, analysis and strategise for the exam.


What shall I do if my profile is not good? Will I get a good B school?


The first condition to get admission to any top B-school (Top 25) in India  is to do well in the written exam (which is the first round of the selection process).  Profile, which includes your academic record, extra -curricular achievements, work -ex etc, is only one of the parameter which goes in to the consideration during the admission process of a good B-school.   .

Having a below par profile is certainly disadvantageous but you can compensate for this disadvantage by doing well in the written round.  Some colleges consider the profile as an input to give the GD/PI calls (which is the second round of the selection process) and most of the colleges consider the profile only during the final selection (i.e. after the second round).  That means that for the majority of the good colleges you can further compensate for your weak profile by doing well in the GD/PI round. So, there is plenty of scope.  Secondly, if you know that your profile is not good then you can start working to make it good; yes this is difficult but not impossible. To achieve this difficult task, rather than making one big effort, you have to make the small iota efforts in many directions. For example, if you have never scored 80% in your academic life, expecting from yourself a score 90% in next semester is unrealistic. But you can certainly aim for scoring 5% more than your usual score, you can look to participate in the state/national level events, you can start taking leadership positions, you can do meaningful internships and perhaps many such small things. The many iotas will help you 🙂

Remember, your past efforts are affecting your present, that way your present efforts will also affect your future.  Past cannot be changed, but future can certainly be channelized. You should focus on improving your profile and put efforts to that effect.

Now, for the admissions to the good B-school.  You may not get a second round call from few IIMs who take profile as an input to give the calls for the GD/PI round. But you will certainly get the calls from the other IIMs and the top B schools, provided you score well in the written exam.

Bottomline is this: Do not think about the obstacles, prepare well, live with the drawbacks and build strengths to overcome the drawbacks.

IIFT CALL GETTERS: A Guide to fill the form.

Those who have cleared the first round of IIFT are now left with another ardent task.  A mammoth form awaits them.   And here I am with my list of suggestions which you can keep in mind while filling the form.


  • This form is purposefully given so that the interviewers can know about you. Fill up the form keeping in mind the fact that they will question you on the basis of this form.
  • Filling up this form would require serious introspection. Actually this serious introspection will also prepare you for many interviews which you will be facing ahead.
  • To begin with, I suggest you to write your biographical sketch. Write whatever you have done in past 6-7 years with the logic behind each decision you took.  Recall every good and bad moment and narrate it with the learning.  Elaborate for yourself.
  • Be honest. That is the best policy. The people perusing your form are veterans and they will easily find a cooked story.
  • We all have stories; it is just that we have never tried to relate them to find something about ourselves. Now you have to do it. If not for IIFT then you would have to do it for some other college (Wait there are quite a few mammoth forms which await you)

Continue reading


It is that period of the year again – wait for an uncertain CAT result, all other second rung exams over, a fatigued mind and the hope resting on the last and perhaps the fairest & the toughest of all the admission exams – XAT.

As compared to previous year XAT has expressed change in the exam pattern. This year GK is included in the PART A (main paper) of the test as the fourth section and another change is the time allotted for the main paper which is 150 minutes (Part B which constitutes essay could be of 20 minutes)

Here I intend to discuss how I would spend those 150 minutes for Part A inside the exam hall.   Continue reading