The IBPS P.O. On-line Exam, one of the most reputed exams in the Indian banking sector, was held on the 19th (Saturday) and 20th (Sunday) of October 2013. The next set of dates for the exam are 26th/27th of Oct 2013 and 9th/10th of Nov 2013. It has been ascertained from students' assessment that overall, the examination was moderate, comparatively easier than the one held last year.

A snap shot of the examination is given below.

Duration of the Examination 120 Minutes
Number of sections 5
Negative Marking 0.25 of marks assigned to the question
Total Questions 200
Quantitative Aptitude 50 Questions
Reasoning 50 Questions
English Language 40 Questions
General Awareness 40 Questions
Computer Knowledge 20 Questions

The sectional analysis is as follows:

Quantitative Aptitude: 

In general, the difficulty level of this section can be pegged at moderate to difficult. It was reported that there were no questions on Simplifications and Approximations. This was something unexpected and caught students off-guard. Since the above were replaced by questions from various topics of Arithmetic, which usually take more time to solve, this section was time-consuming.

The break-up of the 50 questions of this section is as:
Data Interpretation – 20
Number Series – 5
Quadratic Equations (Comparisons) – 5
Questions from individual topics of Arithmetic – 15
Data Sufficiency – 5


According to the feedback received from candidates who have appeared for this exam, the difficulty level of this section can be termed as more or less moderate. As has been the pattern ever since the exam has gone on-line, this time too non-verbal questions were conspicuous by their absence.

The break-up of the 50 questions in this section is as:
Deductions – 5
Data Sufficiency – 5
Input/Output – 5
Decision Making – 5
Puzzles – 15
Other topics– 15 (Symb & Not based Conclusions, Assumptions / Inferences / Cause and Effect, Direction Sense / Word Digit Formation / Ranking etc.)

General Awareness:

It was reported by students that most of the 40 questions in this section were from Banking Awareness and Indian Economy. Current affairs also formed the basis for a few questions. The difficulty level can be stated as easy to moderate.

English Language:

As reported, this section can be called a difficult one, as the Comprehension questions, which students dread, dominated this section. In one of the slots on the 19th of October, there were two passages with 15 questions and in one of the slots of the other day, the two RC passages had 10 questions each.

Earlier, when the exam used to have 50 questions in this section, this kind of pattern was common. But with almost half of this section dominated by questions on reading comprehension, students found it very lengthy and exhaustive. Had these questions been substituted by those of verbal ability, it could have become easy for candidates to work on this section with greater speed.

The break-up of the 40 questions is as:
Reading Comprehension – 15-20
Cloze Test – 10
Para formation Questions – 5 (with six sentences to sequence)
Grammar – 5 - 10

Computer Knowledge:

The questions in this section were reported to be easy. No great preparation was needed to tick these multiple choice questions. In fact, answers to a few questions could be worked out by looking at the various choices that each of these questions had. As compared to other IBPS exams, this section presented very little challenge to students.

This section was reported to be easy in all the slots on 19th and 20th Oct 2013.


Overall it has been reported that the 2013 IBPS P.O. exam was of moderate difficulty level. The paper was lengthy and time consuming.

SBI had announced vacancies for 1500 PO posts, for which the notification was released in the last week of Jan 2013 and the exam was held on 28-04-2013. About 17 lakhs candidates applied for this exam.

There was no change in the pattern of the paper as compared to the previous SBI PO examinations. The written examination was for 250 marks consisting of Objective and Descriptive tests. The snap shot of the paper pattern is given below :

SNO Test Area No of Questions
1 Reasoning 50 Objective Test – Total Questions: 200. Duration: 120 Minutes
2 Data Analysis & Interpretation 50
3 General Awareness/Marketing/Computers 50
4 English Language 50
5 Descriptive Writing 5 Duration: 1 hour. Marks:50

The section wise analysis of the paper is presented below.

Data Analysis and Interpretation:

There were 45 questions on DI – Nine sets with 5 questions in each set. The questions given were based on bar graph, line graph, pie chart and radar chart. Other than these 45 questions, there were three questions on data provided in a small caselet and there were two questions on probability. A set based on radar graph was a surprise element in this exam.This particular question type has never appeared in the SBI PO exam till now. Although this radar graph was unsettling, answering the questions was easy after familiarising oneself with the details of the graph.

S.No Type of Representation Description of the set Easy Moderate Difficult
1 Pie Chart + Table Distribution of teachers in four schools- Male and Female teachers 0 3 2
2 Pie Chart Distribution of money among six students 1 3 1
3 Line Graph Marks scored by three students in six subjects 1 3 1
4 Radar Graph Expenditure incurred by two persons in six months 3 1 1
5 Table(5 rows,10 columns) Average Max and Average Min temperatures of five cities in five months 3 2 0
6 Table(5 rows,12 columns) Prices of three items in four restaurants over five years 3 2 0
7 Table(10 rows,5 columns) Arrivals, Departures, Distance travelled by a train 2 2 1
8 Bar Graph(Vertical bars) Number of teachers sent on three different duties to five cities 4 1 0
9 Bar Graph(Horizontal Bars) Electricity bills paid by three persons in four different months 4 1 0
10 Caselet Number of boys and girls passing an exam 0 3 0

As can be seen from the break up of questions given above, most of the questions on DI were easy to moderate. Very few were difficult. Over all, DI questions were time concuming. Students may have had to spend more time on this and they may have run short of time for other sections.

The two questions on probability were of moderate difficulty level. Unlike the previous year's test paper for SBI PO selections, the level of difficulty of questions this year has come down. A score of 35 plus can be considered as a good score.

English Language

Reading Comprehension(20 questions):

There were two passages with 10 questions each. The first was on “Changes in the World Economy” and the second was on the “Human Brain”. Both had approximately 600 words each. There were 12 questions and they were a blend of direct and inferential questions. There was a question that asked the ' author's objective'. The remaining eight were vocabulary based, 4 on synonyms and 4 on antonyms. Surprisingly, the questions were very difficult like never before. The first passage was more difficult than the second. The questions required one to go back to the areas in the passage which highlighted or supported the idea that was questioned. The options were too close to choose easily.

Verbal Ability(30 questions):

The break up of the 30 Verbal Ability questions is as follows:

Error identification — 5 questions;
Fill-in-the-Blanks questions(two blanks )-5 questions;
Paragraph Formation question(six sentences)-5 questions;
Vocabulary(synonym-antonym pair questions)-5 questions and
CLOSE test(ten blanks)-10 questions.

The grammar questions were easy. Most of them covered common errors. The fill-in-the-blank questions were difficult as they required a correct understanding of logic in the sentences. The words given as choices were difficult too. The paragraph formation question was very difficult. Finding the link of one idea in another statement was challenging. The Vocabulary(synonym-antonym pair) questions were a mix of both easy and difficult questions. The close test was of moderate difficulty level. The topic, Globalization, a familiar one, was the saving grace.

Overall, this section scored high on difficulty level. An attempt of about 25 questions and a score of above 15 is what an average student can possibly score.


The topics covered under Reasoning as also the pattern of questions were on lines similar to the ones which have appeared in previous SBI PO examinations. The pattern of questions from topics Conclusions and Blood relations was slightly different and the questions were difficult as a result. The questions on Critical Reasoning were easy and hence it is likely that students will score well in this area. The set based questions on Analytical puzzles too were simple as the information provided in the sets was less and it took little time in analyzing it. The questions on coding-decoding and Input-Output were similar to those that have been asked in previous SBI PO examinations. In the Data Sufficiency area, unlike the regular SBI PO pattern where there are usually three statements in such questions, only two were given this time around. The questions on Non-Verbal Reasoning are generally tough in SBI PO exams, but fortunately in this exam, they were easy, giving students an opportunity to score better.

The topic wise break up of questions is given below:

Topic Easy Moderate Difficult
Symbols and Notations (Conclusions) 1 2 2
Analytical Puzzle ( Distribution) 2 3
Coding & Decoding 3 2
Analytical Puzzle (Circular + Distribution) 2 3
Blood Relations based Symbols & Notations 3 2
Input and Output 5

Deductions 3 2
Data sufficiency
1 2
Critical Reasoning 2 3 2
Non Verbal Reasoning (Series) 1 2 2

22 20 8

Over all, the Reasoning section was easy and not lengthy at all. It is highly unlikely that students would have left any question unanswered. An average student can easily get a score of 25 – 30 marks and a bright student can score up to 38 – 40 marks.

General Awareness / Marketing / Computers

This section had 25 questions on GA, 13 on Computers and 12 on Marketing Aptitude.

Out of 25 Questions on GA, 6 were from Banking, one on Insurance, 10 are from Indian economy, including quite a few on Indian Budget. Hence the questions from Banking and Indian Economy dominated the paper. The remaining questions were on current affairs, mainly related to the events of Feb and March 2013. There were couple of questions from sports, persons in news and Awards.

As regards to GA, the difficulty level of the questions can be termed as easy to moderate.

The 12 questions on Marketing Aptitude were very basic in nature and fairly simple.Except for one or two questions, all the others were direct. Questions based on standard definitions of Cross Selling, Market penetration, Captive Marketing, To close a call, were direct and simple.The students can score well in questions on Marketing Aptitude.

As regards to questions on Computers, 7 out of 13 questions were easy. The break up of the 13 Computer questions is as follows:

Memory – 2 questions ( One question was based on definition of File and another was on computer memory. Both the questions were easy)

Basic Computer Architecture – 6 questions ( Here, the questions were a blend of easy and difficult questions. Questions on Largest Computer, Speaker attached to Computer.. were very easy. Questions on Super Computer and Mouse which emits light and detects signals... were difficult ones as these questions are not asked very frequently in bank exams)

Operating Systems - 2 questions ( Question on Guidelines for using software ... was an easy one where as the question on OS used in hand held devices ... was an uncommon one)

Computer Networks – 2 questions

MS – Office – 1 question ( The question was on MS help tool and was quite easy)

The students can score well in questions on Computers

Descriptive Writing

The Descriptive Writing in the SBI PO was on expected lines. Questions on Essay Writing(12 marks), Letter Writing(10 marks), Paragraph Writing(8 marks), Precis Writing(10 marks) and the Reading Comprehension passage(10 marks) were all there. A generous choice of three was given in each Essay, Letter and Paragraph Writing. That must have made it easier for students. Even the topics were not too complicated. In Letter Writing, one formal and two informal letter prompts were given. The letter to sibling in the informal was the easiest of all, which most students must have chosen to write, while the job acceptance letter in informal may have been avoided by most. The topics for essays were also on expected lines: Women entrepreneurs, Global Warming and Role of Banks, all of which have been covered by us. The ones given for Paragraph Writing were about Investments, Saving Energy and Small Scale Industry. The Comprehension Passage and Precis too were easy and less time consuming. Overall, an average student who attempted all the questions with fair justice done to length, content, organisation and language would score a minimum of 20. The cut-off, considering the difficulty level of topics, is likely to be between 22 and 24.

The class room level discussions and training at T.I.M.E. would have served as a boon to those students who utilized them, in helping them to manage their time in the exam by choosing and solving the easy and moderate questions first. The test taking strategies taught to them in classes would definitely have come in handy in helping them to be quick and accurate, thereby maximizing their scores. Those students who kept in mind the tips given by our faculty members will definitely secure good marks in this exam.