SBI PO Preliminary Exam 2018 – Sectional time limit and its implications


SBI PO Prelims Exam 2018 - Review on Sectional time limits 

Probationary Officer at State Bank of India, one of the most sought-after jobs in the banking universe has posed an interesting question with the release of its recent notification for the Preliminary Exam.

According to the notification, there are sectional time limits to the three sections. However, there are no sectional cutoffs; category wise merit list will be drawn based on the aggregate marks scored in the preliminary exam. Candidates numbering approximately 10 times the number of vacancies in each category will be shortlisted for the Main examination. However, the number of questions per section remain the same. The pattern therefore for the Preliminary Exam is as follows –

Section Number of Questions Time limit (in minutes)
English Language 30 20
Quantitative Aptitude 35 20
Reasoning Ability 35 20
Total 100 60








A question that a lot of students repeatedly ask us – what are the implications of the changed exam pattern on the overall cutoff scores? In today’s article, let us look at how sectional limits change the nature of the exam and consequently, your strategy to crack the exam.

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In an examination where there are no sectional limits, the general tendency observed is that students would spend more time on Quantitative Aptitude and Reasoning Ability sections leaving around 10-15 minutes for the English Language section. Or in other cases where a student is relatively weaker in Reasoning Ability section as compared to the other two, she would be spending 35-40 minutes on her areas of strength thereby trying to maximize the overall score. But, with the changed pattern, here is what we are predicting

– the overall scores of the candidates will fall down. The reasons are

a) A candidate cannot take complete advantage of his/her strength.

b) He/she will be forced to spend more time on his/ her weak areas giving out relatively less output as compared to the previous scenario

c) Spending more time in a section like Verbal Ability might result in increased negative scores where students often mark answers based on “gut” feel rather than a logical thought process.

Does this mean only a student naturally good at all the three sections wins this game? Not exactly. But, a student with better time management skills, speed and accuracy would surface in the top percentiles. Below are few tips to better your test-taking strategy and study plan to suit the changed exam pattern.

SBI PO 2018 Study Plan

Increased focus on areas of weakness – Increase your focus on areas of weakness as there is no escape from them. These areas will be a huge deciding factor in your success. Check out if there are models/concepts that you are not aware of and add them to your knowledge bank. Particularly in sections. Previously, it was only a matter of crossing the sectional cut-off in the section where you were weak – but now that alone would not suffice. Even in this section, you should be able to attempt the easy questions correctly.

Increased focus on improving accuracy and time management – New pattern demands higher accuracy and better judgment. Especially in areas of your strength, sectional time limit results in lesser number of attempts and hence accuracy is of utmost importance. Another way around to improve your speed in your areas of strength so that you can increase the number of attempts without compromising on the accuracy. However, do note that this strategy is fraught with danger as a low accuracy can result in negative marks hampering your overall score.

Fine-tuning your test-taking strategy – Decide about which kind of questions to attempt before the actual test and practice the strategy across different Mock Tests. It is nearly impossible for a candidate to answer all 100 questions in 60 minutes. However, choosing the right 60 to 70 questions would take you to the 99th percentile. For instance, in the reasoning ability section, a decision has to be taken between attempting miscellaneous questions or the puzzles or in the English section – deciding between passage-based questions first as against the individual questions.

Leveraging your subject/ section of weakness – New pattern provides you with the luxury of looking more closely for easy questions from the lot while not requiring you to hurry through. This can help increase overall accuracy thereby increasing your overall scores.

An efficient Study plan: To begin with, a smart study plan is the first step in your preparation. Customize your study time-table for the next 40 days based on your areas of comfort. Consistent effort in each section is necessary to ensure better overall scores.

Full-length SBI PO Prelims Mock Tests – On account of these changes, the cut-offs could drop lower this year. However, you should start taking tests on platforms such as Conduira Online wherein you can compare your performance with other test takers and get a hang of where you stand as well as what the probable cut-offs would be. This will help you in assessing your strengths, weak areas and experiment with your test-taking strategies, improve your judgment of the difficulty of questions and fine-tune your time management skills.

As we come closer to the D-day, it is natural we grow more anxious. And the only way to make sure we keep a check on our tension is by preparing smartly. Conduira Online wishes you good luck with your preparation. Keep calm and fight on!


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All the best!

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Read 525 times Last modified on Tuesday, 05 June 2018 16:21
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