SBI – PO 2015 Prelims: The Rush Hour

Dear Readers,

The SBI PO 2015 exam (prelims) is just around the corner.  By now, you must be familiar with the pattern of this exam. You must be wondering about how to allocate your time across the three sections of this exam. 

Do note that the three sections of this paper have separate qualifying marks. Thus, each of the sections is equally important. However, you must note that while the English Language section comprises 30 questions, the other two sections comprise 35 questions each. Further, when you look at the question types for different sections, you can observe that many question types in the English Language section (such as Fill in the blanks, Spot the error, etc.) require comparatively lesser time than typical Quantitative Aptitude questions and Reasoning questions. Thus, a good time allocation strategy would be around 15 mins for English Language, 20 mins for Reasoning Ability and 25 mins for Quantitative Aptitude (considering that Data Interpretation questions can sometimes be very time consuming). 

Now, what should be the order of attempting the different sections of the test? A standard answer to this question is that you should start with your favourite section (that section in which you are most comfortable). This would give you confidence and help boost your speed since you would be starting with questions that you are most comfortable with. Another approach can be as follows – start with English Language, move on to Reasoning Ability and then go to Quantitative Aptitude. The logic behind this approach is quite simple. As already discussed, many questions in English Language would be short and less time-taking. Hence, you would gain some momentum/speed as you solve several questions quickly. Reasoning Ability requires sound thinking as the questions are often relatively complex. Towards the end of the exam, you would be worried about time left, etc. Hence, it is better to attempt Reasoning earlier instead of keeping it for the end. Quantitative Aptitude questions can be lengthy at times but they are usually relatively simple/straightforward. Hence, keeping Quantitative Aptitude for the end is sensible. This is one strategy that is likely to give good results.

Let us now look at the individual sections and see what should be done in each section.

English Language: Some of the common question types in this section include: 

1. Reading Comprehension  

2. Spot the Error/Sentence correction                    

3. Fill in the blank                  

4. Cloze test                           

5. Para-Jumbles                   

Among these, question types like spot the error, fill in the blanks and cloze test need hardly 10-15 seconds per question. So, if you begin your exam with these questions, you will be done with around 20 questions within the first 6-7 minutes easily. Additionally, these questions will not tire you or exhaust you (calculation-intensive questions can easily exhaust you). This will help in ensuring that you perform better in the exam overall. 

After you are done with the other question types, go for the comprehension questions. In this exam, it is expected that there would be only one passage with five questions. Be very attentive while reading the passage and try to understand its gist. This will save your time once you attempt questions based on the passage.

As discussed earlier, you should finish the English section in about 15 mins.

Reasoning Ability: This section commonly includes questions based on:

1. Syllogism 

2. Seating Arrangement 

3. Directions and Blood Relations 

4. Data Sufficiency 

5. Logical Reasoning 

6. Input Output 

As discussed above, you should give about 20 minutes to this section. 

Questions based on syllogism, inequality, logical reasoning and data sufficiency are generally less time consuming. Their solutions can be derived by using simple tricks and formulae. Thus, these questions should be attempted first. 

Question types like seating arrangements/ordering and puzzles are often asked in groups. If you are able to solve/arrange things for the entire set, the whole bunch can be answered at a time. Read such questions quickly but carefully. Attempt a question set only if you are confident of solving it quickly. Do not waste time on sets that appear too complicated to be solved quickly.

Keep questions based on input-output for the end. These questions are fairly straightforward, but can often be time-consuming.

Quantitative Aptitude: Some of the common topics that are covered in this section are:

1. Number Series

2. Simplification

3. Averages

4. Profit & Loss

5. Time & Work

6. Time & Distance

7. Partnership

8. Ratio & Proportion

9. Problems on Ages

10. Data Interpretation

SBI PO written exams often include a lot of data interpretation questions. Hence, it is possible that out of the 35 questions allotted for this section, almost 25 questions in 5 different sets could be based on data interpretation. The remaining 10 may be based on the other topics listed above.

It is better to target single questions first since they are generally direct and less time consuming. Such questions often involve basic mathematical concepts and are formula-based. 

After solving the single questions, start on the group questions in this section. Usually, these questions are based on simple mathematical processes and test your speed of calculation. It would be better to solve the maximum questions possible in a single group because moving to another set will require extra time to read and process the whole data to find the solution. This can be avoided by attempting all of the questions in a group at a time.     

These simple strategies should help you score well in this exam and get through to the Mains.

All the Best!

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