How to prepare for SBI PO

How to prepare for SBI PO

Hello everyone,

My name is Deepak Patil and I am a BBA Graduate from North Maharashtra University. Before joining SBI as a PO I was working with a private company. While working with private sector, I realized that I did not have enough opportunities and motivation to continue with the job. And hence I made up my mind to write bank exams. I started appearing for the exams from year 2015 which proved to be full of bad luck for me. I missed SBI PO Mains GK cut off by mere 0.75 marks and the same happened with IBPS PO as well (missed by 0.5 marks). It was very disappointing for me. Then I tried to figure out where exactly I was lacking and started working on it. It was in April 2016 when I started preparing for SBI again and wrote the exam in July and cracked the same. So this is how it worked for me. Let’s discuss briefly how I prepared for each and every section of SBI PO Exam.

So here we go-

  • Preliminary Exam

This is the very first phase of SBI PO exam where the exam is of 60 min in which you have to attempt 100 questions. For the Preliminary exam I started writing mocks as SBI just tests your basics in this exam. I had enrolled for Oliveboard Mock test series, which was of great help. Let’s discuss every section-

  • Quantitative Aptitude– This is the easiest section for some guys, whereas it happens to be nightmare for the rest. I would rate this section as an easier one if prepared and strategized to solve properly. I started with clearing all the basic concepts first and then started solving questions to test my mettle. After that I solved many sectional tests for the same. While solving this section, first of all solve all the easy questions without sticking around any questions. There are a lot of questions which are intentionally put in this section  to bewilder the candidates. So taming this would utterly depend on how much you practice as well as analyze the mock tests. Apart from OB Mock Tests, you can refer R S Agarwal.
  • Logical Reasoning– This section happens to be a bit tricky. It includes Puzzles, Syllogism, Number series, Statement and Conclusion based questions, blood relations, coding-decoding, Input-Output. So while dealing with section, I never touched puzzles at first place as puzzles are always time-consuming to solve. So I used to start with everything except Puzzles. Practice is of utmost importance in this section, so I used to write one sectional test a day. Oliveboard material is more than sufficient for this section I believe.
  • Verbal Ability– This section requires strong basics of Grammar. Literally speaking I did not prepare for this section at all since I was pretty sure about my basic concepts preparation of English Grammar. A holistic approach to deal with this section is just a thorough analysis of each and every mock test of Oliveboard. The tests have been designed in such way that they cover every part of English and more than enough to clear each nuances arising out during the course of analyzing the mocks. Coming towards other type of questions like FIB and other Vocabulary based questions needs a good habit of reading. Though my vocabulary is good, I used to jot down the new words in my notebook while analyzing the tests, which helped me to a great extent in prelim as well as Mains.


  • Mains-

This is the most crucial Phase of SBI PO exam, which can decide your selection. Mains exam is known for its level of difficulty. This Phase needs a proper strategy in place in order to bell it. Let’s discuss each sec with tips and strategies-

  • QA– This section was on moderate difficulty level this year compared to other sections. This section includes Data Interpretation. I did not adopt any special strategy for this section . What I have observed in my last two attempts is pattern of type of DI sets remains same but the only thing that changes is Information and figures. I would suggest you people to buy a book for this section. It is called ‘Previous year papers solved of SBI & IBPS PO’ by Arihant publication. Moreover, just try to learn decimal to fraction and fraction to decimal values of some basic figures which help you for fast calculation.
  • LR– This section was easy one for me among the rest as there were some different puzzles which were never asked in the past but were part of the MBA CET (MH) exam which I had prepared for once upon a time. I had solved almost 30 questions in this section. Previous year SBI/IBPS PO papers and CAT papers along with enough number of mock test with thorough analysis is what I would like to recommend to prepare for this section.
  • VA– This section was the toughest one. I could hardly attempt 14-15 questions in this section. Majority of the questions were of CAT level and solving such questions needs ample amount of time which we did not get. Now this is where the strategy of skipping questions on the ground of our accuracy level and confidence level comes into picture. I attempted Grammar and Vocabulary based questions first and two RCs which had some moderate level questions. Talking about the reference books and other material- Sujit Kumar’s VA book and Oliveboard’s Mocks are sufficient.
  • GK– This is the section where you can score very well if you prepare honestly. A lot of candidates believe this section to be a scoring one and so do I. There is a lot of material available on internet for this section but we need to be precise while reading that. We should only be concerned of what is paramount for the exam. I extensively used Apps & websites to keep myself updated with latest current affairs and some PDFs downloaded from internet for Static GK.


  • Descriptive Paper–  

This paper is of 30 mins which is conducted subsequently after Mains exam. It includes one essay and one letter. The essay topics are usually asked from current affairs, economic issues, social issues and so on, so reading newspaper is something that can help you to excel in this section. My strategy to write essay was to prepare some points first and elaborate them. Points such as- Introduction, Positive/Negative points and then Conclusion. Adding a quote in the starting or ending(depends on its nature) would be an icing on the cake. Moving forward, Letter writing is on simpler side if you know the correct format of the letters (Formal/Informal Letters). You can search for the formats of Formal and Informal Letter, which are easily available on internet.


Group Discussion and Personal Interview Preparation Strategies

Group Discussion and Personal Interview are reckoned as the best ways to evaluate a deserving candidate. This Phase has a lot of importance, given its weightage in the final selection. 1/4th of the total normalized marks are added from this phase. So let’s discuss my strategy for these sections:

  • GD

GD is the most crucial element of the Phase-3 which is GDPI. Group discussion topics are always asked from the current affairs. So we need to keep ourselves abreast with all the current happenings around the nation as well as Globe. I would recommend to the aspirants to honestly read a Newspaper (The Hindu) on daily basis. Our batch had the GD topic namely- “Is Selfie an undesirable element of the modern technology”

  • PI

Now the last step to our destination is Personal Interview. It is the easiest part of the entire selection process if you duly know yourself. Various questions are asked from your Educational, Family as well interest background. Apart from this, the panel asks some banking as well as Current Affairs questions as well. To prepare for this section you need to brush up all your educational background, current Affairs, banking terms (current Affairs involving Banking terms). Now I would not shed any light on family background as well as your interest based questions as they totally depend on you. Also, I request you to not to open a door to next conversation unless or until you are pretty sure about it or forced by the panel. So whatever the panel intends to elicit, just answer the question in the expected manner. Last Minute tip for PI which helped me to a greatest extent (This is what I believe to be the cornerstone of my whole interview confidence)-  just free yourself from all the fears, put a smile on your face and be calm.

Finally I would like to tell you take as many mocks as you can because this is how you can evaluate your preparation level and identify where exactly you are lacking, work on your weak areas and play the game.

All the best guys. Feel free to contact me in case of any difficulty in the preparation.

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