IBPS PO/Clerk exam: Expert's take on preparation, study material and more

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 07, 2017 11:47 hrs

With IBPS PO/Clerical exams around the corner, candidates are busy with last minute preparations. Divya Pari, who currently works at RBI, Mumbai, gives an insight on how she prepared for her IBPS PO and RBI Grade-B exams. If you have followed in her footsteps, you are likely to breeze through your exams.  
On preparing for IBPS PO/RBI Grade-B exams:

I roughly had 3 months to prepare for RBI Grade-B phase-1 exam. As I was not very confident about maths, I enrolled at a coaching institute . I spent 2 to 3 hours on the subject everyday. This time was used to become familiar with mathematical concepts as I had completely lost touch with them after school, my undergraduate degree being in Biotech.

Apart from this, I spent time reading newspapers. I did not have any schedule as such, but I invariably covered all the material I had - newspapers, previous years' question papers and practice questions on various topics in mathematics. 

My goals were to complete 3-4 months newspaper content, learn the basics of banking and economics, work out all the previous years PO, clerical as well as RBI papers and try out a few of those papers with sectional timings. Timed practice tests helped the most. In the end, how well one scores within the allotted time is what matters.

For phase-2, I had about one and a half months time. Since the syllabus is vast, if you are already in a hectic job, it is better to start preparing for phase-2 even before the Phase-1 results are out.

For interview, it is important to be thorough with the basics of banking and economic concepts as well as your present work related areas. Except for the computer section, my preparation for Phase-1 of RBI Grade-B exam was sufficient for IBPS. I merely had to revise what I had learnt.

How to crack the English section:

As far as Phase-1 of RBI Grade-B exam or IBPS is concerned, general awareness, reasoning and math sections do not require a thorough knowledge of English. Even the English section could be reasonably answered except for the questions that test grammar. It is the strategy used that determines the score. 

For instance, if the lack of English knowledge is a problem, you could attempt the sentence re-arrangement and reading comprehension questions first and attempt only those grammar questions that you are sure of. This will help you get the best possible score possible.

In Phase-2 of RBI Grade-B exam, one of the papers is English. It may pose a problem. But sufficient practice should fetch a decent score. If English is where the candidate faces problem, he or she must read a lot everyday and aim to score higher in the other papers/sections. This way the final score can be as good as those candidates who have a good hold over English. 

Choosing the right study material:

I did not stick to any book as such. For phase-1, I mainly read the newspapers and reacquainted myself with the mathematical concepts and material provided at the training center. Once this was done, I attempted all the previous years' question papers. 

For phase-2, the first task was to collect the material for the topics in the syllabus either from books or the internet and update the content with the latest happenings. Reading one general newspaper like Hindu and one business newspaper like Economic Times, Mint or Business Standard is absolutely essential as this would help you answer questions in the best possible way. It also helps with the general awareness section in Phase-1 and the interview as well.

IBPS is very similar to phase-1 of RBI Grade-B exam. The computer section is present in IBPS exam but not in RBI Grade-B exam. For IBPS, I used Computer Literacy and Knowledge by Kiran Prakashan. For the other sections, I just revised what I had studied for RBI Phase-1 exam.

There are several books available on Flipkart.com that provide solved previous year question papers for both IBPS and RBI exams.

Attempting the right questions:

Knowing which questions to attempt first and which ones to leave when pressed for time is crucial. It is always better to leave out a difficult question when it is possible to score with easier questions. Wasting too much time on the wrong question is a common mistake by aspirants. It is also important to focus on your strengths. If grammar is problematic, sentence arrangement and reading comprehension should be attempted first. 

On right guidance: 

My teacher provided me with the moral support and technical inputs without which I would have never had the confidence to attempt and clear the Grade-B exam or the IBPS exam. When your guide believes in you, it is a tremendous psychological boost and motivates you to work harder.
Most valued tip:

To solve previous years papers within the time set without losing heart. Even if a paper is very tough you can still make it, as there are chances that the cut-off could turn out to be low.
Beyond exams:

If the candidate is from a completely non-banking and non-financial background, then reading newspapers regularly and learning the financial and economic terms discussed in the newspapers would be of great help.

More from Sify: