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How to prepare for English Language of SBI PO Prelims exam

Vinay Kumar | March 2, 2017 at 1:24 pm

SBI PO Prelims English Language Preparation Plan

State Bank of India (SBI) recently released its notification for recruitment to 2313 vacancies in the Probationary officer (PO) cadre. The online application process for SBI PO Prelims exam is open till 6th March 2017. The SBI PO Preliminary exam is scheduled to be held in from the last week of April to the first week of May 2017. That leaves us with just the amount of time required to take our preparation to its peak and study to clear the exam. However, for this we need to be able to not only assess ourselves against the standard of the actual test, but also to work on areas which can lead to maximum improvement.

Let us take an indepth look at the following to help make our study plan and strategy for the English Language section in the Preliminary exam of the SBI PO recruitment process:

  1. Exam Format
  2. Expected Cut Off
  3. Trend Analysis
  4. Important Chapters
  5. Exam Strategy


Exam Format of English Language section in Preliminary exam of SBI PO recruitment

The Preliminary examination of SBI PO recruitment consists of 100 questions spread across three tests of English Language, Quantitative Aptitude and Reasoning Ability, with a composite time of 1 hour. Each question is of 1 mark and a negative marking of 0.25 marks is applied for each incorrect answer. There are five answer choices of which only one is correct.

Specifically for the English Language test, there will be 30 questions of a total of 30 marks. There will not be a separate timing for this. However, you should be able to complete the English Language section in about 15 – 18 minutes, so that you get about 20 – 25 minutes each for the rest of the two sections.


SBI PO Prelims free mock test 2017


Expected Cut off of English Language section in SBI PO Preliminary Exam

To clear the Prelims exam of SBI PO recruitment, you need to clear the cut off in each section test , as well as, on the marks in total. These cut-offs are calculated category wise. The overall marks to be secured in SBI PO Preliminary exam, out of a total of 100 is as below:

Total Cut off 38.75 29.25 44.5 47.5 36 37 15.5

The expected cut off for English Language section of the SBI Probationary Officer prelims exam is as below:

Subject Total Marks Cut-off for Reserved categories Cut-off for General Category
English Language 30 6 8.75

It is also important to note that marks of the prelims exam are not added to get the final result. Thus, the current focus should only be on clearing the cut offs and not so much on topping the exam.


Trend Analysis of previous year papers of SBI PO Prelims examination’s English Language

It is important to have an idea of the kind and number of questions that come in or are expected to come in the exam. This helps in focussing your preparation towards those questions. However, it is also important to note that if your basics are strong, the type of questions will not affect your peformance. Having said this, you should first prepare the expected kind of questions and then, time permiting; attempt other kinds of questions for higher confidence. The table below provides the type of questions and the number of these that have come in previous years. We have noted that the pattern has been the same for 2015 and 2016 for the prelims exam, and expect it to continue for this year’s exam as well.

S.No. Type of Question Number of Questions per paper
1 Parajumble Questions 5
2 Passages & Comprehension 10
3 Find error in Sentence 5
4 Fill in 2 blanks of a sentence with different words 5
5 Cloze Test 5

The above type of questions can be divided into three categories:

  1. English Comprehension: where the understanding of sentences and paragraphs and making logical connections is more important than grammar or vocabulary. Eg. Parajumble and Passages & Comprehension. Total number of questions from this are 15.
  2. English Grammar: where the understanding of rules of English Grammar is most important. Eg. Find error in Sentence. Total number of questions from this are 5.
  3. Composite: where all the skills of comprehension and grammar and vocabulary are tested. Eg. Fill in the blanks and Cloze Test. Total number of questions from this are 10.

Having stated the above, vocabulary plays a very important role in each of the above three categories of question types. To understand more about the actual content that you need to learn that will help you answer the questions, let us look at some of the most important chapters.


Most important Chapters to crack the English Language section of SBI PO Prelims exam

This section will elaborate on the content and skills you need to answer any type of related questions. The main areas in which these have been divided, their relative importance and what to focus on is as below:

S.No. Content / Skills Time per question Relative Importance What to study
1 Passages & Comprehension High Highest The main skills you need are related to drawing inferences from the passage. You should be able to summarize, understand the meaning of words in context of the passage and provide their antonyms and synonyms, and provide a title or theme of the passage. The types of passage are mostly related to management/ industry/ banking/ economics/ social issues.
2 Words & Vocabulary High Vocabulary is important for all types of questions. You should have a good knowledge of verbs and adjectives. Sometimes, nouns, adverbs and idioms are also tested.
3 Parajumbles Medium Medium It does not take much to master parajumbles, and 5 marks are there for the taking. If you are good at identifying Statements and elaboration and presence of pronouns, introductory sentence, and words of addition and contrast, you will be able to score full marks in this.
4 Sentences & Grammar Low Medium Grammar is required in solving both the grammar and composite types of questions. Mastery in Use of Verbs, Prepositions, Tenses, Nouns and Pronouns will help you solve 70% questions.
5 Sentences and Comprehension Low Medium Solving these composite questions requires a logical understanding of type of sentence (mainly Cause and Effect and Statement and Elaboration) and grammar and vocabulary.


Strategy to prepare for the English Language of Prelims exam of SBI PO recruitment

Before we develop a strategy, we need to set our goals depending upon our status of preparation. To check your status, you can take a free online practice test for SBI PO Prelims exam by loging in here. The step by step goals for this test are:

  1. Get over cut off of 9 marks: To first get to a cut-off of 9 marks, the easiest would be to attempt 9 of 10 questions of English Comprehension in a total of 15 minutes, giving you 1.5 minutes per question, with 100% accuracy. However, if you are good with vocabulary and grammar, you could try attempting all 15 questions including Find the error, Fill in the Blanks and Cloze test in 15 minutes with a maximum of 4 incorrect.
  2. Get to a score of 18 marks: As the overall cut off is approximately double of the sum of individual cut offs of the three tests, to be at par, you would need to score 18 marks in English Language section. For this, you will need to attempt 20 questions with 95% accuracy. The distribution of questions and respective time should be 10 minutes for 10 questions of Comprehension, 4 minutes for 5 questions of parajumbles and 4 minutes for 5 questions from any of Find the errors/ Fill in the Blanks/ Cloze test. To get to this, completing chapters/ topics stated in the what to study section provided in table above should be sufficient.
  3. Get about 23 marks: This level can only be achieved if you are very good with Grammar and Vocabulary. As the questions dependent upon these can be solved very quickly, you will need to solve all 15 of these in about 7 minutes, 5 questions of parajumbles in 3 minutes and 5 questions of Comprehension in 5 minutes with 96% accuracy.

Follow the above goals and prepare step by step to achieve maximum efficiency in improvement. While this is a generic strategy, you can find a unique study plan aimed for your maximum improvement, on the basis of tests you take at After each test, you get a unique set of 5 most important chapters, from each subject, to prepare. Keep preparing these 15 chapters and taking new tests. You will automatically be on the path of maximum improvement. SBI PO syllabus for English language subject is available hereAlso, check out SBI PO Prelims Free Study Materials (100+videos & pdfs)

Good Luck!!

Vinay Kumar


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