Cracking English section in banking exams


English Section in IBPS Prelims and Mains

The English Language Section is one of students’ most feared sections while preparing for the Mains Exams for either RRB or PO. In fact, many students tend to ignore this section- both while attempting the test and also while preparing for the test. To master the strategy behind cracking this section, let’s first look at specific exams and their coverage. Understanding the coverage of these exams would allow you to not just plan your preparation better, but also to score well enough to get your dream Bank job.

Regional Rural Banks – Office Assistant (OA) & Officer Scale (OS):

RRBs majorly test on 5 areas:

1.) Grammar 2.) Reading Comprehension 3.) Vocabulary 4.) Logical Deduction and 5.)

Interpreting a Paragraph. RRB Officer Scale 1 (OS 1), also sometimes tests you on Critical Reasoning.

If you look at the above, the major focus is on the following skills- a.) Language (through grammar and vocabulary) b.) Reading (through Reading Comprehension and Paragraph Interpretation) c.) Logic (through Deduction and Critical Reasoning). Needless to say, all these are important skills to possess for any professional, especially, a banker. Please note that, Logical Deduction and Critical Reasoning, though are part of English as syllabus, they are tested in Reasoning section.

In both RRB OA Mains and RRB OS 1 Mains, you are given 120 minutes to attempt 5 sections (including English Language), without any section time limit. However, to score well in English Language section (which has 40 questions), you need dedicate at least 20 mins for this section. In an ideal scenario I would suggest 25 mins, for this is an area where you can score well.

So, then what should be your strategy in these 20 mins? What are the areas to attempt? As a result what areas should you prepare in the coming weeks?

In general the difficulty of questions would be at Level 1 (very easy), 2 (easy) and 3 (average). So, your first target is to get as many Level 1 and Level 2 questions as possible, correct- which include, Vocabulary questions, Vocab-based & Direct- Fact based questions in Reading Comprehension and Grammar questions. Generally, by focusing on basic rules in areas like Verbs & Tenses, Subject- Verb Agreement, Pronouns, Prepositions, Articles & Determiners, Adjectives and Adverbs & Modifiers, most of your Grammar preparation is completed and you can confidently crack these questions in the test. Unless you are very confident or the questions are easy, Para Jumbles, Cloze, Central- idea/ theme based questions in Reading Comprehension should be avoided. However, if you find a Level 1 or 2 questions in these areas, don’t miss them.

IBPS PO Mains Exam

When it comes to IBPS PO Mains Exam, unlike RRB Mains exams, there is sectional time-limit of 40 mins to attempt 35 questions for the English Language section- which means more than 1 min/ question. Also, the level of difficulty is higher when compared to RRB exams- at 3 (average), 4 (difficult) and sometimes 5 (very difficult). This is a test which selects the best in the country; hence you need to be well-prepared while taking this test.

While the areas of testing and strategy remains similar to that of RRB Mains, there a few additional things you need to consider while preparing for IBPS PO Mains Exam:

a.) You would be focusing on Level 3 and Level 4 questions and ignoring Level 5 questions.

b.) IBPS PO Mains Exam is known to give newer and different question formats to test various concepts. For ex: Concepts like Reverse Syllogisms, Para Jumble with an asterisk, etc. In fact, the unfamiliarity towards these question formats makes them higher level questions. So, you need to expose yourself to as many varieties as possible during your preparation.

c.) Unlike RRB Mains exams, which have 1 mark per question (and ¼ negative marking), in IBPS PO Mains, each question will have separate marks (and ¼ negative marking of that correct mark awarded). Hence, you might have to balance questions with higher marks (usually tough ones), with those with lower marks (usually average ones). All, this boils down to right practice and smart exam strategy.


The key to crack RRB Officer Scale / Office Assistant or IBPS PO Mains Exams, is to practice smart and understand your strengths and weakness and play it along as per exam need and structure.

Various websites, including ours – provide you with ample practice across various concepts, question formats and accurate Strength/ Weakness Analysis to help you prepare better for these Bank Exams.

To conclude, ensure that you understand the coverage of questions in the test you are appearing for and strategise your preparation accordingly.

This article - authored by Mr Sumanth Palepu, was originally published in Telangana Today on 23rd October 2017.

Read 250 times Last modified on Monday, 05 February 2018 16:33
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