Given higher pay packages thanks to the Sixth pay commission and the perceived risk in the private sector due to recession, the number of candidates appearing in the Banking recruitment exams has reached record numbers. What was once popular among graduate students from rural and small towns has now spread to cities and includes Engineers too. In fact, I have taught students who are working with IT companies as programmers but are preparing for Bank PO exams.
Letâ€™s understand the exam first?
Firstly, it is an extremely competitive exam. The last SBI PO exam had about 15 lakh aspirants for 1700 jobs. Do the math. That makes it more competitive than CAT or even IIT JEE. So, intensive preparation is a must. Many institutes are offering short-term 3-4 month courses, which are ridiculous, given the level of competition.
Secondly, it is an exam that is based primarily on speed. Strong concepts, high accuracy and speed are the keys to cracking this exam. The SBI PO exam has 200 Qs to be solved in 120 min, i.e. 36 seconds per Q on an average. The IBPS PO exam has 250 Qs in 150 min, again 36 Sec per Q.
So work on speed calculations every day. 30 min a day solving 20-30 problems can seriously strengthen your ability to calculate fast and accurate. You can use good books on speed maths, especially Vedic maths.
The questions are not too difficult; they are essentially high school stuff. However the methods used in High school just wonâ€™t do. You have to understand that the same problem can be solved in many methods and you should pick the fastest method. Here a good teacher would help explain the many ways of solving the same problem and how to pick the right method
Thirdly you need a strategy to ensure optimal utilization of the allotted time. For example letâ€™s look at the IBPS PO exam
You have noticed that the total time allotted is 140 min and not 150. That is right. Always have a buffer of at least 10 min. Why do we need a buffer?
Because there is difference between allocation of time and actual time used in a section. We may allocate say 30 min for English, but you donâ€™t stop at 30 min exactly. You will most likely feel the need to solve that one or two extra Qs that will make you use 32/33 min in place of 30. Like that in each section if you exceed the allotted time, you lose 8-10 min from the last section, which you can compensate from the buffer time.
Please note that you can start from any section and move to any section at any point in time. Do not set yourself a target number of Qs that you need to solve. Just try to solve as many Qs as you can within the allocated time for the section.
Ideally start with Gen Awareness and then Computers, as they are areas where time taken per Q is min. If you donâ€™t know the answer keeps moving. You may feel that if you just think a little, you will remember the answer, but that rarely happens and you may end up losing time.
After these two go for whichever section is strongest. If you have no specific strong area go for English as the time taken per Q is lower and you get more marks for your allotted time.
IN QA and LA, please know that it is impossible to solve all the questions. So solve only those Qs where you are very confident and skip everything else. Attempting a Q and then giving up could cost heavily in term of time.
It is very important that we stick to the planned time limit, without being tempted to solve 1 or 2 Qs more by exceeding time allotted.
This allocation of time also helps you clear the sectional cutoff. Sectional cutoff is the min qualifying score (in each section), which has to be cleared. If sectional cutoff is not cleared you are disqualified irrespective of total score.
Online Exam Vs paper pencil exams
IBPS has successfully conducted CWE Clerical exam in online mode. It is likely that exams in the future will be conducted in this mode. While this may cause some tension among aspirants, let me assure them that it doesnâ€™t make much of a difference whether the test is online or offline.
Key points to remember for an online test
The basic process is view Q on the monitor, solve on rough sheet and then mark answer using the mouse.
Preparing for the exam
- Your preparation for an online exam doesnâ€™t change much as even in an online exam, you will solve the question on your rough sheets
- Practice reading from a computer screen. It takes some time to get adjusted
- Take as many online tests and online mock Tests to get used to the process
- Try to go for an Online Mocks which have a similar interface to IBPS online mock interface.
- Use the rough sheet only when absolutely required. Donâ€™t copy the full Q onto the rough sheet. Learn to practice doing calculations in the head
During the exam
- Donâ€™t touch the keyboard at all during the exam.
- The online exam allows you to view one Question at a time. You can move serially forward using button called â€˜Save and Nextâ€™ or â€˜Mark for review and nextâ€™
- Alternately you can also go to any specific question by number. For example you can go from Q 2 to Q51 (next Section) at any time using the question number menu on the right.
- You can clear the marked choice after marking a choice. In other words you can change answer choices after marking a particular choice.
- At any point in time, you can see the number of questions attempted, Qs un- attempted, Qs marked for review. This will help you track your progress.
The author is the CMO at VistaMind. VistaMind is a competitive exams preperation centre that was founded by some of Indiaâ€™s best CAT and MBA entrance Trainers. They have over 10 years of experience in setting up and/or running successfully the centres of a Leading Coaching Institute in India in cities including Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Mysore. As faculty and mentors, they have personally taught, guided and mentored more than 1,35,000 students and sent over 5000 students to the IIMs alone in the past decade.
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