IBPS RRB PO 2020 Prelim and Main – Strategy and last-minute tips for the Quantitative Aptitude Section

This section of the RRB PO 2020 Prelim exam comprises of 40 Qs. The total time allotted for the Quantitative Aptitude Section and the Reasoning section is 45 minutes. There is no sectional time limit. One may allot 20-25 minutes of time for the Quantitative Aptitude section

The Quantitative Aptitude section of the RRB PO 2020 Main exam comprises of 40 Qs, but the maximum marks are 50. One may allot around 30 minutes for this section though there is no sectional time limit.

There is a negative marking scheme for both Prelims and Mains exam, where 1/4th of the marks assigned for a question are deducted for each wrongly marked response. For Prelim and Main exams, there are minimum qualifying marks for individual tests. For main exam, just qualifying in the individual test may not be sufficient to score enough marks for getting qualified for the interview. A student should also score sufficiently high in the total marks.

The students should focus on the following question types.

  • Simplifications
  • Approximations
  • Number Series (Missing and Wrong Numbers)
  • Data Interpretation
  • Quadratic comparisons
  • Individual quant questions on Arithmetic
  • Data Sufficiency (Important for Main exam; very rarely asked in Prelim exam)
  • Data Comparison (Important for Main exam)

Data Interpretation: Questions on Data Interpretation carry more weightage in the Main exam than in the Prelim exam. In the main exam, at least 50% of the questions are on Data Interpretation.

In the Prelim exam, questions on single graphs like Table, Bar Graph, Line Graph, Single Pie chart are asked whereas in the Main exam, question types include a combination of graphs like Table + Bar Graph, Table + Line graph, Two pie charts, Caselets etc.. Five questions on caselet are asked in almost every year. The questions based on Caselet should be attempted at the end. In the exam of 2016, questions on Quant-based DI (Time& Distance based)have also been asked. One must be thorough with the basic concepts of Quantitative Aptitude in order to attempt these question types accurately.

Simplifications & Approximations:

Questions based on Simplifications and Approximations are asked quite frequently in the Prelim exam and carry five questions. In the main exam, no such questions are asked in the last three years. These questions are easy to solve and hence, students should not skip them.

To answer questions on Simplifications & Approximations and Data Interpretation, students should learn and practice the following:

  • Multiplication Tables (20X20)
  • Squares of first 25 Natural numbers
  • Cubes of first 20 Natural numbers
  • Powers of 2 (Upto 12)
  • Powers of 3 (Upto 7)
  • Fraction / Reciprocal values (Upto 12)
  • Complements of 100
  • Rules of Indices
  • Basic % concepts

Arithmetic Questions:

Questions here test the knowledge of a student in fundamental concepts. These questions are important for both the Prelim and the Main examinations.

Important topics include – Ages, Percentages, Profit & Loss, Partnership, Time & Work, Boats & Streams, Trains, Mensuration, Simple & Compound Interest, Averages, Mixtures & Alligations, Permutations and Combinations, Probability etc.

Number Series and Quadratic Comparisons: Generally, there are five questions each on Number Series (Missing or Wrong No.) and Quadratic Comparisons. These are important for both the Prelim and the Main examinations. Questions on Quadratic comparisions are easy to attempt. Hence the student should certainly attempt these questions. In the last three years in two of the four slots, five questions each on Quadratic Comparison were given in the Prelims exam.

Data Sufficiency & Data Comparison: Questions based on Data Sufficiency & Data Comparison are in general a part of the Main exam. These questions demand a thorough understanding of the basics and are tricky to solve. These two question types at times can be asked in the Prelim exam as well, but their difficulty level would certainly be much lower, keeping in mind the basic nature of the exam.

The following table presents a topic-wise split of question types asked in the RRB PO 2017, 2018 & 2019 exams (Prelim & Main). [This is based on feedback given by T.I.M.E. students who have appeared for such exams earlier]

(Quantitative Aptitude)
RRB PO 2019 PO Prelim
(Comprising of all slots)
RRB PO 2018 PO Prelim
(Comprising of all slots)
RRB PO 2017 PO Prelim
(Comprising of all slots)
(Comprising of all slots)
Data Interpretation 10-17
(table, Line, caselet)
(Line, Bar, Caselet)
  (Pie, Table, Line)
10 – 17
  (Table/Bar, Line, Caselet)
Number series 5 (Missing/Wrong) 5 (Missing/Wrong) 5 (Missing/Wrong) 5 (Missing/Wrong)
Arithmetic 10-14 15 10 10 -15
Quadratic equations 5/0 5/0 5 5
Speed Maths 0/5 0/5 5 5(In place of quadratic equations)
Data Sufficiency 5 0 0 0 – 5
Data Comparison 0 0 0 0
Total 40 questions 40 questions 40 questions
(Quantitative Aptitude)
RRB PO 2019 PO Mains RRB PO 2018 PO Mains RRB PO 2017 PO Mains Overall
Data Interpretation 22
(Missing table, Bar graph, Double Pie-chart, caselet)
(Missing table, Bar graph, Double Pie-chart + caselet)
  (Double Pie-chart, Table, Bar, Caselet)
20 – 22
  (Missing Table + Bar graph + Pie-Chart + Caselet)
Number series 0 0 5(wrong) 0 – 5
Arithmetic 14 10 10 10 – 15
Quadratic equations 0 5 0 0 – 5
Speed Maths 0 0 0 0
Data Sufficiency 0 5 (2 statements) 5(3 statements) 0 – 5
Data Comparison 4 0 0 0 – 4
Total 40 questions 40 questions 40 questions

Strategy & Time-Management:

In order to maximise the score and to manage time effectively, we recommend the below mentioned plan for attempting questions.

It is advisable to attempt questions on - Simplifications & Approximations, Number Series, Quadratic Comparisons, Individual questions on Arithmetic, Data Comparisons and Data Sufficiency - first, before moving on to those on Data Interpretation.

Questions on Data Interpretation should be targeted at the end. Among these questions, Quant-based DI and Caselet-based questions should be attempted last.

Some useful Tips:

  • Going through the Analyses of previous years papers will help you understand what topics were asked in the exams, weightage of questions from each topic, pattern of questions etc.
  • Whether sectional time limit is specified or not, time management, speed and accuracy play an important role in helping you clear your exams. Work on your speed and accuracy.
  • Practice questions daily. This will definitely give you an edge over others, who are appearing for thee exams.
  • Tracking your performance on a regular basis helps you identify the areas / topics in which you are weak and need to boost up your preparation.
  • Answering the questions in a particular sequence, so as to maximise your attempts and your score, is very important. See the order given above.
  • Take ample online tests, topic wise as well as Mock Tests – these will help you understand your preparation levels and also assist you in time management, so that when you go for the actual exam, you give it a shot with confidence.

All the Best !!