It has been reported by our students, that the online IBPS PO/MT CWE 2017 Main examination held on 26th Nov 2017 was on par with the one held in 2016, in terms of difficulty level, with the exception of some new question types were added to this exam.

The difficulty level of the Reasoning and English Sections was a few notches higher than the usual, and they were hence more challenging than the other sections. The Quant section was time-consuming, whereas the one on GA was of moderate difficulty level.

The following changes / new question types were observed in the paper this year:

  1. Questions on direction-sense based on Symbols Notations were inserted;
  2. A new format of Puzzle questions was presented (diagram based and selections);
  3. Questions on Input-Output involving a new logic (using concept of coding-decoding) were asked.
  4. The Cloze test paragraph in the English section was presented in a novel manner – each of the five options per blank had a pair of words, and the candidate had to opt for that choice where both the words fit that given blank.
  5. Para forming Questions were presented with an entirely new look, and a new version of Error Identification questions were introduced.

The snap shot of the exam is given below:

S.NoName of TestsNo. of QsMax MarksDuration
1Reasoning & Computer Ability456060 Minutes
2Data Analysis & Interpretation356045 Minutes
3General Economy / Banking Awareness404035 Minutes
4English Language354040 Minutes
TOTAL1552003 Hours

The analysis of the above mentioned session, as reported by our students, is given below.

Quantitative Aptitude:

According to feedback received from our students who appeared for this exam, this section can be rated as moderate to difficult and was quite time-consuming.

Questions on DI were quite tedious and time-demanding; questions on caselets were tough, while those on number series were reportedly a mix of moderate and difficult. Individual questions in this section were based on topics like Age, Time & Work, Time & Distance, Mensuration, Mixtures & Alligations etc.. Though not direct questions, they have been described as tricky, and only a complete knowledge of concepts could have helped a candidate work them out accurately. Questions on Data Sufficiency (2 statements) found a place in this year's test, and they too ranged from moderate to difficult. There were 5 questions on Data comparison that were reportedly moderate.

TopicNo. of Questions
Data Interpretation (Table - Missing data, Bar + Table, Caselet)15
Number Series (Wrong number)5
Individual Questions (Ages, Time & Work, Mensuration, Mixtures & Alligation etc..)5
Data Sufficiency ( 2 statements )5
Data Comparison5

Reasoning Ability and Computer Aptitude:

This section has been labelled 'difficult'.

The emphasis here was on puzzles, which were a tough nut to crack. There are two new types of puzzles here – Diagram-based and Selections. The questions on Direction-Sense were based on Symbols and Notations, and students found these both bothersome and time-consuming. Questions on Coding-Decoding were equally difficult. The Data Sufficiency topic posed moderate to difficult questions. About 10 questions were asked on Critical Reasoning.

There were no questions on Computer Aptitude in this section.

TopicNo. of QuestionsDifficulty level
Puzzles (Linear Arrangements, Circular Arrangements, Distributions, Selections, Diagram based etc)18Difficult
Direction Sense based on Symbols and Notations5Difficult
Coding – Decoding3Difficult
Blood Relations based on Symbols Notations4Moderate - Difficult
Data Sufficiency2Moderate - Difficult
Critical Reasoning10Difficult
Input-Output3Moderate - Difficult

English Language:

This section was much more difficult as compared to that of last year. There were two RC passages with a total of ten questions. The commonly and frequently asked Para formation and Error Identification questions were with a seemingly novel format, and were hence slightly harder to grasp immediately. The first type included 5 sentences arranged in sequential order, and questions asked read as -

Which of the following sentences can replace the first sentence?

Which of the following sentences can be placed between the 2nd and the 3rd sentences? Etc. With regard to Error Identification, a certain part of the sentence in bold was declared as being grammatically correct. The test-taker was expected to identify an error from the remaining parts of the sentence.

Though not shockers, these supposedly questions must have certainly foxed the candidate by their unexpectedness! These can therefore be tagged as moderate to difficult.

Other questions included the usual ones on Sentence Connectors/starters and Synonym / Antonym.

The Cloze test paragraph in the English section was presented in a hitherto unseen pattern, and may have confounded the students. Each of the five options for any given blank contained a pair of words, and the candidate was supposed to pick and mark that option as his / her answer choice, where the words fit the blank appropriately. Overall, this section can be pegged as 'Difficult'.

TopicNo. of QuestionsDifficulty level
Reading Comprehension10 ( 2 passages)Moderate - Difficult
Para Forming Questions3 to 4Difficult
Error Identification5Moderate - Difficult
Cloze Test6 to 7Difficult
Synonym/Antonym4Moderate - Difficult
Sentence Connectors/starters2 to 3Moderate - Difficult
Phrase Replacement2 to 3Moderate - Difficult

General Awareness:

While half of the questions asked here were based on Banking Awareness and Indian Economy, the other half were drawn from Current Affairs. Students have reported this as a moderate and doable section.

(B) Descriptive Test:

This section was conducted for 25 marks, with a time limit of 30 minutes, and comprised Letter and Essay Writing. There were 3 topics for writing essays and 3 for letter, and the test taker had to pick one topic from each and write on it. Both the letter and essay were to be written in 150 words each.

Essay topics:

  1. Which reform in Indian education can be compared with that at the International level?
  2. Cashless economy – Advantages and Disadvantages
  3. How gadgets influence the intellectual capabilities of humans

Letter Writing:

  1. Letter to a friend advising him to plan his own start-up.
  2. Letter to the HR department of your office emphasising the need of training to your subordinates .
  3. Letter to the Branch Manager of your bank, informing him about the loss of your credit card and asking him to block the old card and issue a new one.

The IBPS PO exam was held in 12 slots, on the 7th, 8th and 14th of October 2017. The detailed analysis, including the changes in the exam pattern, as reported by our students are enumerated below:

English continued with its horror trail that it had begun a couple of years ago, and once again succeeded in taking the wind out of students' sails! Questions were aimed at testing a candidate's knowledge and application of grammatical concepts and rules, and hence the manner of their presentation too was novel and unlike that seen earlier. Though some old question types were tweaked and presented differently, conventional questions types also appeared in this section.

The uneven distribution of topics across all the slots was another feature of this year's exam, as opposed to the trend in previous years. The topics were spread arbitrarily in various slots.

Till the previous year, all the questions on a sub-topic in any given section used to be in a sequential manner in one part of a section. However, this year they were seen to be distributed randomly and were not given in any order of succession.

We at T.I.M.E. ensure that both the basics and functional aspects of every topic are discussed in our sessions, and students made to work out on exercises that reinforce these inputs.

The analysis of the exam held across all slots, as reported by our students, is presented below.

Snapshot of the Exam:

Duration of Exam 60 Minutes
Quantitative Aptitude 35 Questions
Reasoning Ability 35 Questions
English Language 30 Questions
Total Questionss 100
  1. No of choices per question: 5
  2. Each question carries one mark.
  3. Negative Marking: 0.25 of the marks assigned to that question.

The analyses of the individual sections are given below.

Quantitative Aptitude:

This section can be rated as moderate and was calculation based. No new question types / pattern of questions were asked in this section in any of the slot.

Common topics for all slots:

  • There were 5 to 6 questions on Approximations. These questions were of moderate difficulty level .
  • There were 12 questions (2 sets) on Data Interpretation, and almost all of them involved a lot of calculations.
  • The Individual questions varied from 12 to 13 in number. These were a combination of easy, moderate and difficult ones.

Variation in topics in some slots:

  • In some slots there were 5 questions on Number series where as in some slots questions on Quadratic comparisons were given instead of questions from Number series.

A student could therefore, have solved around 17 - 19 questions in approximately 20 minutes (recommended), if he chose judiciously.

Topic No.of Questions
Data Interpretation (2 sets. Line graph and Table in most of the slots) 12
Number Series (Missing number) / Quadratic Comparisons 5
Approximations 5 - 6
Individual Questions (Ages, Time & Work, Time & Distance, Mensuration, Averages, Mixtures & Alligation, Profit & Loss, Partnership, Ratio, Simple & Compound Interest) 12 - 13


  • This section has been given a 'Moderate' tag.

Common topics for all slots:

  • There were 20 questions on puzzles (Linear, Days and Colour based, Floor etc..), which ranged between moderate and difficult. However few students report that there were 25 questions on puzzles in their exam slot.
  • There were five questions on Direction Sense, Blood Relations and Ranking and were of easy to moderate difficulty level.

Variation in topics in some slots:

  • The weightage of questions from topics of Deductions, Symbols-Notations, Coding-Decoding and Input-Output were not uniform across slots. In some slots there were questions on Input-Output. The questions on Input-Output generally asked in Main examination. In some slots there were questions from Deductions. The questions from Coding-Decoding and Symbols-Notations were asked in about 9 to 10 slots.

About 15-17 questions could possibly be solved in 25 minutes (recommended). The topic -wise split, as reported by our students, is as given below.

Topic No of Qs
Puzzles (Linear, Days and Colour based, Floor etc..) 20
Deductions (Syllogism) 3 – 5 (in some slots)
Symbol-Notation based conclusions 3 – 5 (in some slots)
Input-Output 5 (in some slots)
Coding-Decoding 3 – 5 (in some slots)
Miscellaneous (Blood Relations, Direction Sense, Ranking etc..) 5

English Language :

  • This section has been given a 'Moderate – Difficult' tag.
  • Cloze test passage and PFQs were missing from this section.

Common topics for all slots:

  • The lone Reading Comprehension passage was conventional in its presentation, and comprised 10 questions split into the familiar 6 detail questions + 2 antonyms + 2 synonyms manner.

Variation in topics in some slots:

  • The question on Phrase Replacement has been modified. Here, a sentence had been given with a part in bold font. This was followed by three phrases numbered (I), (II) and (III), from which one of more could be picked from five choices listed below them.
  • Questions of Error Identification involved five complete sentences labelled (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5), and aspirants were expected to mark the grammatically incorrect one as their answer. This pattern too has been restructured and presented differently.
  • Questions on Sentence Odd Man out have been revamped and were hence formidable to crack. Instead of choosing one sentence that was not in sync with the rest out of the given five, the new presentation involved a long-winding sentence divided into five parts labelled A, B, C, D and E. The test-takers were directed to use four out of these five parts to construct a logically and grammatically correct sentence, and pick one of the five choices corresponding to the correct order.

Thus, about 12-14 questions could possibly be solved in 15 minutes (recommended) in the English section. The break-up of the questions is as follows:

Topic No of Questions
Reading Comprehension 10
Error Identification(Identify the part(s) which has 'NO' error) / Sentence OMO 10
Phrase Replacement 10

Over all, the paper was a combination of easy, moderate and difficult questions across all the three sections and can hence be rated as 'Moderate'

Good Attempts and Expected Cutoffs:

Test Area Good Attempts Expected Cutoff
Quantitative Aptitude 17 - 19 8 – 10 Marks
Reasoning Ability 15 – 17 7 – 9 Marks
English Language 12 – 14 6 – 8 Marks
Overall 45 - 50 43 – 47 Marks

The SBI PO 2017 Main examination held on the 4th of June 2017, as per the feedback received from our students, was along expected lines with regard to unexpectedness, or in simple words, was mind-boggling!

The overall examination can be rated as tough. Data Interpretation and English sections were difficult, while the Reasoning section was very difficult. The General Awareness section was easy and thankfully, as per expectations. The sectional and overall cutoff is expected to be lower than that of SBI PO 2016 main examination.

Surprise elements seem to have become a norm in all Bank exams, and the SBI PO Main exam was no exception to this. Certain unforeseen factors that popped up out of the blue created problems for candidates in terms of accuracy of answering and time management.

Students, let us now understand what these 'surprise elements' are! These are our age-old conventional and commonly asked questions presented to us in different formats, that take the wind off our sails during exams. Which is why test-takers get agitated upon coming across such questions in Bank exams.

Let us present a few examples to elucidate this point:

SBI PO 2016 Main – Para Odd Man Out Questions asked in this exam, wherein test-takers were asked to mark off the out of context sentence, were actually an extension of the previously commonly asked Paragraph formation or Para jumbled questions, which were slightly tweaked to create this so-called newness. The thought process applied to crack these questions is similar to the one used for the PFQs, and so there is little to be foxed by with this presentation.

Sentence starters, that require joining two similar or contradictory sentences or ideas using conjunctions or idiomatic phrases, are a test of grammar and understanding of idea flow.

In SBI PO Main 2017 too, there were a few such surprise elements where the same old question had been twisted a bit to give rise to a seemingly new question type, and also panic among candidates.

The RC passage was presented differently, the PFQs were lengthier in terms of the number of sentences, and direct grammar questions were posed in a novel manner.

Thus, you need to keep your cool when confronted with such questions in your exams. Be thorough with your concepts and think logically to overcome this hurdle called 'surprise elements'!!!

The snap shot of the exam is given below. There was variable marking scheme in the DI, English and Reasoning sections of the objective test.

(A) Objective Test:

S.No Name of Tests No. of Qs Max Marks Duration
1 Reasoning & Computer Ability 45 60 60 Minutes
2 Data Analysis & Interpretation 35 60 45 Minutes
3 General Economy / Banking Awareness 40 40 35 Minutes
4 English Language 35 40 40 Minutes
Total 155 200 3 Hours

The section wise analysis of the above mentioned session, as reported by our students, is given below.

Quantitative Aptitude:

This section can be rated as moderate - difficult and time-consuming.

There was variable marking scheme, similar to last year. Questions on Data Comparision (5Qs) and one set of DI - 5Qs (based on Marked price and Discount) carried one mark each and the rest of the questions were of 2 marks each.

There were 3 DI sets (details given in table below). All these sets were difficult and time-consuming.

There were 5 questions each on Data Sufficiency, Data Comparision and Probability. The difficulty level of these question types can be pegged between moderate and difficult. There was one set of 2-3 questions on Mixtures-Alligations.

Topics No.ofquestions Difficulty Level
Double pie charts + Table (based on Boats & Streams) 5 Difficult
Line graph + Table (based on Time & Work) 5 Difficult
Line graph + Table (based on Marked Price and Discount) 5 Difficult
Data Comparison 5 Moderate - Difficult
Data Sufficiency ( Three statements ) (P&C, Numbers, Mensuration, Partnership etc..) 5 Moderate - Difficult
Mixtures & Alligations 2-3 Moderate - Difficult
Probability(set-based) 5 Moderate - Difficult
Miscellaneous 2-3 Moderate - Difficult


This section can be given a 'very difficult' tag.

Overall, this section has been rated as both difficult and time-consuming. No question was asked from Computers, a trend noticeable in the SBI Clerk 2016 Main exam and SBI PO 2016 Main exam.

The following table gives the break-up of various question types. There was variable marking scheme, like last year.

Topics No.ofquestions Difficulty Level
Puzzle (Linear Arrangement, FloorArrangement, Square Arrangement, Distribution, Photo frames & Shelves etc..) 22 Difficult – Very Difficult
Input / Output 5 Difficult
Symbol Notation (Inequalities) 5 Difficult
Data Sufficiency (Three statements) 3 Moderate - Difficult
Critical Reasoning 8 - 10 Moderate - Difficult

There were a total of 22 questions on puzzles which are very difficult to crack. The questions on Input-Output and Symbols & Notations were presented in a different format, away from the common presentation.

English Language:

A part of this section was a shocker! Following the pattern set by the exam last year, the cloze test set was conspicuous by its absence.

Para jumbled / formation questions (PFQs) – This year, the pattern changed a wee bit. The first and the concluding sentences were fixed, while the order of the remaining four had to be sorted out. This is just a slight deviation from the commonly and routinely asked PFQ, and candidates had to more or less adopt the same approach.

Error identification questions (10 Qs) – Five were like the originally asked ones, while the remaining five were presented with a minor modification. Instead of planting one error in only one of the four parts of the given sentence, the test-taker was given the choice of a possibility of multiple errors in the sentence, and five choices with various combinations from which to choose.

Fill in the Blanks – In the pace of the original one sentence with tow blanks, two sentences with two blank spaces were given. The candidate had to fill both the pairs of blanks with the same set of words. This is not an entirely new question, as you would realise; it is a minor alteration of the earlier type, and it is very obvious that the approach remains the same, provided one stays calm.

Phrase replacement – Here too, there was only a small change introduced in the pattern. There were a number of words / phrases in bold in the same sentence, and the test-taker had to pick that choice which presented those that were erroneous and needed to be replaced. Not a great difference, but certainly one that needed one to be attentive, alert and aware.


Reading Comprehension – While one passage had five questions and this set conformed to the original pattern, the second RC was formatted differently. All the paragraphs were split and numbered, and questions were posed from individual paragraphs. The same approach that one adopts while answering RC related questions was necessary for successfully attempting this part too. Difficult, but not unachievable if one keeps track of the linking thread, and understands what was asked, properly.

Central idea – This can be labelled as a 'new' and 'never-asked-before' question type. A sentence was given at the beginning of three paragraphs. This sentence was used in each paragraph. Later, the candidate was asked to identify that para which bore the central idea of this given sentence. This was challenging, and would have really knocked out the candidate's brains working it out.

This section can be rated as difficult, as here, students had to not only deal with the surprise presentations, but also understand how to answer them.

Topic No of Questions Difficulty Level
Reading Comprehension 10 ( 2 passages) Difficult
Error Identification 10 Moderate - Difficult
Phrase Replacement 5 Difficult
Para Jumbled Sentences 2 Moderate - Difficult
FIB ( 2sentences with 2 blanks each) 5 Difficult
Central Idea of the Sentence in the given Paragraph 3 Difficult

General Awareness:

As reported by our students, about half of the questions asked here were on Current Affairs and the remaining on Banking Awareness and Union Budget.

(B) Descriptive Test:

This section carried Letter and Essay writing. There were three letters given and the candidate had to write a letter from among them. Among the 3 essays given, one had to be chosen by the test-taker. What was noteworthy was that both the letter and essay were to be written in 150 words each.

Letter writing [20 Marks, 150 words] -

  1. A letter to be written to your branch manager that you have deposited money in your account through ATM but the amount has not been credited into your account.
  2. A letter to be written to the editor expressing your concern over the impact of news through social media.
  3. A letter to be written to your sibling giving him / her advice about issues related to stress and anxiety.

Essay writing [30 Marks, 150 words]-

  1. Write an essay on the impacts of technology.
  2. Travelling teaches us more compared to books and documentary. Please elaborate this in an essay written in support of this statement.
  3. Effects of social media.

Analysis of SBI PO (Prelim) Online exam held on 29th April 2017 (All slots)

The following is the detailed analysis of the SBI PO Preliminary Examination conducted on 29th April 2017 (All slots).

Snapshot of the Exam:

Duration of Exam 60 Minutes
Quantitative Aptitude 35 Questions
Reasoning Ability 35 Questions
English Language 30 Questions
Total Questions 100

No of choices per question – 5. Negative Marking – 0.25 of the marks assigned to each question

The analysis of the above mentioned session, as reported by our students, is given below. The difficulty level and topic wise break up was same for exams held across all four slots.

Quantitative Aptitude:

According to the feedback received from our students who appeared for this exam, this section can be rated as easy to moderate.

The 10 questions on DI were straightforward and quite easy to attempt. Questions on number series and simplifications reportedly ranged between easy to moderate for all the slots.

The individual questions in this section were based on topics of ages, ratio, time and work, alligations, profit and loss, partnership, percentages, simple and compound interest etc. Though the questions were not direct ones, students found them to be tricky. An in-depth knowledge of concepts was mandatory in order to solve them. Questions on Quadratic Comparisons were reportedly easy.

Topic No of Qs
Data Interpretation( Line & Table ) 10 ( 2 Sets)
Quadratic Equations (Comparisons) 5
Number Series (Missing number) 5
Simplifications 5
Individual Questions (Ages, Ratio, Time & Work, Percentages, Profit & Loss, Partnership, Alligations and Simple & Compound Interest) 10

Good number of attempts: 20 to 22


This section has been given an 'Easy - Moderate ' tag.

The emphasis here was on puzzles, which ranged from easy to moderate. There were 23 questions on puzzles in one of the slots and 20 in other slots – Linear, Floor, Distributions, Month & Date based.. Questions were also asked from topics like Symbol-Notation based conclusions, Blood Relations, Coding-Decoding and Direction Sense. No question was asked from Syllogisms.

The topic -wise split of questions as reported by our students, is given below.

Topic No of Qs Difficulty level
Puzzles (Linear, Floor, Distributions, Month & Date based) 23 ( in one of the slots) and 20 (in other slots) Set based Easy to Moderate
Blood Relations 2 to 3 Set based Moderate
Symbol-Notation based conclusions 5 3 Set based and 2 Individual Easy to Moderate
Coding – Decoding 1 to 2 Individual Easy
Ranking 2 to 3 Individual Easy
Direction Sense 2 to 3 Individual Easy

Good number of attempts: 18 to 20

English Language :

The English section comprised 30 questions, the break-up of which is listed below. This section was of easy to moderate difficulty level.

Topic No of Qs Difficulty level
Reading Comprehension 10 Moderate
Phrase Replacement 10 Moderate
Cloze test 10 Easy - Moderate

There was a lone RC passage with a total of ten questions; out of these, six to seven were a mix of those based on ideas contained in the passage, and the remaining three to four were based on meanings and opposites of words used in the text. The passage can be termed as 'moderate'.

Grammar questions on 'Phrase Replacement' were of moderate difficulty level and had not been much of a hassle to attempt.

The Cloze Test passage that appeared in the exam (as reported by our student) was presented in a very hitherto unseen and unusual manner. The fill-ups had already given and candidates were expected to find the most appropriate word from among the choices. If the fill- up as given for that blank in the passage was appropriate, option 5 which said 'No change required' was to be marked.

Good number of attempts: 13 - 15

Over all, the difficulty level of the paper can be tagged as Easy to Moderate across all slots