The banking sector in India offers numerous employment opportunities. Along with decent pay, you enjoy perks like discounted loan rates, an excellent work-life balance, pension, etc. If you have chosen banking as your career, a Probationary Officer (PO) post is the perfect place to start. Every year, the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) conducts examinations to recruit people for PO posts across banks in India. Continue reading to learn how to prepare for bank PO exams.
What Does A Probationary Officer Do?
A PO is a banking professional responsible for the bank’s overall management. As a PO, your role includes issuing chequebooks, passing cheques, handling cash, coordinating with other departments and staying updated about new schemes and product launches. Therefore, quick thinking, data analytics and communication are essential skills you must possess as a PO. Banks assess PO candidates through exams conducted by the IBPS.
Bank PO Exam Syllabus
To understand how to start banking preparation, you must know the syllabus first. The Bank PO exam is conducted in two phases – Phase-I and Phase-II, both of which are computer-based tests. Let’s briefly break down the syllabus for each phase:
Phase-I is a preliminary test to filter out candidates for the main exam:
|Subject||Topics||No. of Questions|
|English Language||Reading comprehension, word usage, error detection, one-word substitution, para jumbles, etc.||30|
|Quantitative Aptitude||Profit & loss, simple and compound interest, work & time, time & distance, data interpretation, number systems, simplification, etc.||35|
|Reasoning Ability||Logical reasoning, alphanumeric series, seating arrangement, syllogism, blood relations, data sufficiency, etc.||35|
Along with topics from Phase-I, you have to study the following topics for the main exam:
|Subject||Topics||No. of Questions|
|Reasoning & Computer Aptitude||Verbal reasoning, directions and distances, computer fundamentals, internet, Microsoft Office, operating system, etc.||50|
|Data Analysis & Interpretation||Pie charts, number series, difference-based series, simplification, pipes & cisterns, probability, etc.||50|
|General/Economy and Banking Awareness||Current affairs, Indian economy, Indian constitution, RBI functions, agriculture, sports, authors, etc.||60|
|English Language||Reading comprehension, phrases and idioms, sentence rearrangement, error spotting, fill in the blanks, etc.||40|
|Descriptive Paper||English Language (Letter writing and essay)||2|
How To Prepare For Bank PO Exam
The following strategies can help you crack the PO exam.
Make A Realistic Timetable
Final-year college students and working professionals can benefit from preparing a timetable to manage their time better. If you start early, you can study for four to five hours. It helps to allocate extra hours to topics you find difficult. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot stick to your study plan. You can make changes while figuring out a schedule that works best for you. However, ensure you create a realistic timetable you can actually follow. Avoid going overboard with the study hours.
Work On Your Fundamentals
Most of the PO exam syllabus consists of topics you would typically have studied in school. Most data analysis and reasoning topic questions are based on them. Clearing the basics is, therefore, an essential step in how to crack the bank exam on the first attempt. This includes every concept and underlying theory associated with the topic, not just the mathematical formulae. You also need to study the derivations to improve your analytical skills. For English subjects, you must polish your grammar skills.
Keep Up-to-date With Current Affairs
An essential tip on how to prepare for the bank PO exam is to stay on top of current global affairs, as it is one of the subjects in both the preliminary and main exams. Newspapers and news channels are excellent sources for current affairs. You can get information on finance, sports, politics, etc., which are common subjects for general awareness and current affairs tests.
Read And Write More
Since you must score high marks for English in both Phase-I and Phase-II, improving your English-language skills is essential. A crucial tip on how to start banking preparation is to read more and practise writing. Apart from your study hours, you can spend ten to fifteen minutes reading newspapers or novels during your free time or before bed, as reading is a cognitive exercise that strengthens your mind. Phase-II also includes essay writing, for which you must practice writing long-form content and time yourself as you do so.
Learn Arithmetic Shortcuts
There are no provisions for using calculators while appearing for bank PO exams. You are allocated an hour to solve the Phase-I exam paper, three hours for Phase-II and 30 minutes for the descriptive paper. Assuming you dedicate 20 minutes to each subject in Phase-I, you need to solve 35 questions in 20 minutes, i.e., approximately 34 seconds to solve each question. You can cut down the calculation time with shortcuts. However, it helps to learn the fundamentals to use the shortcuts effectively.
Practice Previous Year’s Exam Papers
A proven tip on how to prepare for the bank PO exam is to practice solving exam papers of previous years. Analyse the questions to understand the difficulty levels and the frequently occurring question types. Time yourself while solving these papers. You can allocate more study hours to challenging topics or those that consume more time.
Practice Mock Tests
Since the exam is primarily online, it is best to simulate such an environment through mock tests. When the exam time is up, the mock test ends automatically, just like in the actual test. Make it a goal to attempt at least one mock test for both phases at least once a week. The more mock tests you try, the better you get at managing your time.
Final Note: While the syllabus for the PO exam may seem simple, time constraints during the actual exam can be challenging. To improve speed and accuracy, we recommend seeking professional help. As a Vi customer, you can activate the Pariksha Pass on the Vi app to enjoy exclusive benefits like unlimited mock tests, specially curated courses in English and vernacular languages and free access to current affairs articles.
Sign up for a Vi connection and activate the Pariksha Pass on the Vi App to prepare for various competitive exams.