Bank exams, be it PO or clerical aren’t that difficult as people think. But the problem is the vacancies: applicant’s ratio. So all you need to worry is about your preparation and not the toughness of the paper (Update: A new Common entrance test for Bank’s has been finalized wef 2011)
If you are preparing for PO exam, the first thing you need to know is the pattern of the exam. A written test for a PO exam consists of 2 parts, objective part and a descriptive part . The objective part consists of four sections namely, English language test, quantitative ability, Reasoning and General Awareness/ Marketing aptitude.
The exact pattern for a specific bank (see update below) can be found in the ‘acquaint yourself booklet’ which you get when you apply to an exam.
But for now I’ll discuss on how to attempt a standard bank PO exam which has 225 questions in total with 135 minutes time i.e., 2 hrs and 15 minutes (this has changed with IBPS CWE for PO; see Update below).
225 questions in 135 minutes comes out to be 36 seconds per question. It may seem daunting but it’s not the end of the world since we aren’t attempting every question. If you can attempt 175-185 questions (> 190 is excellent) with 90 percent accuracy, you’ve done a good job.
So as soon as you are told to start answering, I would recommend starting with the General awareness/ Marketing aptitude section as there won’t be much to think or solve in it. Just see the question and mark the answer. Attempt as many questions as you can in this section (only if you’re sure of the answer) but you should be able to complete the section in 25 minutes (20 minutes would be excellent).
The next section to go for would be English and generally the first 9-10 questions in it will be that of comprehensive passage. So I would recommend leaving that part of the questions as the rest of the section is pretty Basic English which is very easy. Again you should be able to complete this section in 20-25 minutes.
So we’ve done with 2 sections in 40-50 minutes and left with another 135 questions which should be done in 85-95 minutes.
Depending upon your strength, go for either Reasoning or Quant but remember to solve the easiest questions first (this will be the deciding factor). Any thing that requires serious calculation in Quant or serious thinking in Reasoning should be left behind at first and come back to it if time permits at the end. For example questions on circular arrangement in Reasoning and compound interest calculations in Quant could be avoided.
From the feedback given by many test takers, what I found is that the DI part in Quant will be an important part in the test which is also very easiest part. Most of the question in it could be solved without even using your pen. So work hard on DI.
Coming to the time for these 2 sections, 50 questions in Quant (or all that you could solve) should be completed in 40 minutes which leaves out 45-55 minutes to solve 75 questions in Reasoning. Don’t neglect the non-verbal part in Reasoning as there would be atleast 15 questions from it.
All said and done, you should have atleast 5 minutes at the last which you could either use to solve the Reading comprehension in English or the arrangement questions in Reasoning.
If you are accustomed with any procedure from the beginning, I would recommend following that so that you don’t mess up completely. If this is your first attempt for PO/ clerical exam, then this method would work well.
Update: With IBPS CWE, the number of questions and marks allotted to these questions has changed but the sections remained the same. So you can still get an idea on how to proceed with answering the questions. The faster you complete GA, English papers, more helpful it would be to you when answering Quant and Reasoning part.