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IBPS RRB exams 2021: Preparation strategy to ace the exam

There are four types of IBPS RRB exams, The first three for the selection of officers (Scale I, II, and III), and the last one for office assistants (clerks). However, here we shall be focussing on the exam for the selection of the scale I officers (probationary), i.e., IBPS RRB PO.

By: Education Desk | New Delhi I |
Updated: July 9, 2021 11:22:49 am
IBPS RRB tips, RRB exam, bank po examsThe third round is the interview round, but this is only conducted in officers’ exams and not in the clerical exams. (Representational image)

– Anuj Jindal

IBPS conducts various clerical and officer-level exams for public sector banks in the country. If an aspirant desires the coveted post of a bank officer, she/he is required to go through exams conducted by IBPS. Although the preparation for the IBPS RRB is comprehensive and exhaustive, yet with the right strategy, an applicant can prepare for the exam and crack it with relative ease. 

The one good thing about banking exams is a similarity in their syllabus. No matter what exam you wish to take, the syllabus remains the same. However, beware because the level of questions asked in these exams varies by a huge margin. To give you a perspective, if a question asked in RRB PO is to the level of “27+28”, a question asked in SBI PO would be equivalent to “27X28”. Thus, the complexity of questions and the time required to solve them differ.  


There are four types of IBPS RRB exams, The first three for the selection of officers (Scale I, II, and III), and the last one for office assistants (clerks). However, here we shall be focussing on the exam for the selection of the scale I officers (probationary), i.e., IBPS RRB PO.

As far as prelims paper of all the four exams is concerned, the allotment of marks and the exam syllabus is nearly the same, but the level of questions asked in officers’ exams is higher than the one asked in clerical exams. 

The exam pattern of the IBPS officer scale -I, II & III and office assistant (prelims) are:

  1. Reasoning ability (40 marks)
  2. Quantitative aptitude (40 marks)

Coming to the mains paper of IBPS RRB PO, there are 5 subjects:

  1. Reasoning ability (50 marks)
  2. Quantitative aptitude (50 marks)
  3. English/ Hindi language [we’ll discuss English here] (40 marks)
  4. General awareness (40 marks)
  5. Computer knowledge (20 marks)

The third round is the interview round, but this is only conducted in officers’ exams and not in the clerical exams. 

IBPS RRB PO Preparation tips

As you must have noticed above, the most important subjects as far as marks are concerned are reasoning ability (reasoning), and quantitative ability (quant). So, let us begin with the first, and then get on with the rest of the subjects.

Quantitative Ability Preparation Strategy:

Topics under the quant section are number systems, ratio, proportion and variation, time and work, time, speed and distance, profit and loss, averages, mixtures and alligations, partnership, permutations and combinations, probability, quadratic equations, mensuration, data interpretation (DI)- Pie charts, line graphs, bar graphs.

Sources for self-Study (Free)


  • Magical Book series on Quicker Maths by M. Tyra
  • Kiran’s Quantitative Aptitude Numerical Ability
  • Rakesh Yadav SSC Books (For shortcuts only)
  • BSC Practice booklet


In my 5 years of experience with students of RBI & UPSC exams, I have often come across students who are lured into “short-tricks” to such an extent that they get into rote learning math with these tricks. The examiner is smart enough to filter out such students through conceptual questions. If you wish to be successful, divide your Quant prep into 3 parts with the following sequence conceptual clarity, practicing questions with a timer, short tricks to increase speed.

Now, let us have a look at some other preparation tips:

  1. Practice a lot of questions from different sources so that you get familiar with all the possible types of questions.
  2. Polish your calculations. You should be quick and accurate with your calculations, especially with DI.
  3. Go through the previous year’s question papers and be ready for types that are being repeated.
  4. Take multiple mocks to get yourself in the zone of the exam. See where you are faltering in each mock and slowly build on those areas.

Reasoning Ability Preparation Strategy

Topics under the Reasoning section are puzzles: Linear/circular arrangement, coding-decoding, blood relations, inequality, ordering and ranking related puzzles, direction, syllogism, input-Output, statement Assumption, statement Conclusion, statement Course of Action

Sources for self-Study (Free)

Books- Magical Book Series – Analytical Reasoning by M. Tyra, magical book series on puzzles by K. Kundan, BSC Practice booklet


Do not start with puzzles and arrangements. They seem attractive because they carry a huge weightage in the exam but they are often full of traps, meant to waste your time in the exam and throw you off. The examiner is not only checking your ability to answer the questions, he is also checking your decision-making and time management skills. 

Preparation Tips:

  1. Be very clear with the basic methods of solving all these topics and puzzles.
  2. Practice these topics with a timer at hand. Most of the students do not face problems in logical reasoning in solving the questions. It is the speed that ultimately leads to their downfall. If you will make it a habit of solving questions with a timer, you’ll not lag anywhere in the exam.
  3. Practice as many mock tests as you can and analyse them. Learn from your mistakes and make sure that you do not falter in those topics.
  4. Avoid questions that are too difficult, random or time-consuming. You must also know what to skip in the exam

English Language Preparation Strategy

Topics under the English language section are reading comprehension, error spotting, cloze test, fill in the blanks, para jumbles, vocabulary based questions (synonyms – antonyms)

Sources for self-Study (Free)

    • Barkha Aggarwal on YouTube is a good source for learning the basics of the English language.
    • If you are weak in Grammar, start with “wren & martin”
    • If you are weak in vocabulary, prepare & practice at least 5 words every day. You can use the newspaper for this exercise.

If you lack in speed and sentence making- read any novel for at least 1 hour every day. If you don’t know how to find the right book, you can search for “New York Times bestsellers” to start reading. 

Preparation Tips: 

  1. Build a reading habit. It is not necessarily what you read but rather how fast can you read and understand. 
  2. Practice a lot of mocks. It’s easy to answer questions individually but as a section under time pressure, it can be a daunting task. 
  3. Build up your vocabulary. Instead of learning from a list of difficult words, try to read a newspaper every day. 
  4. Use options to eliminate answers. 
  5. The best ways to improve English are to “think in English, read in English and write in English”. Follow the above three religiously.

General Awareness Preparation Strategy

Topics under the GK section can be divided into two categories, static GK, and current affairs

Static GK Includes international organizations – facts (like HQ, members, presidents etc.), functioning of important organisations like IMF (in IBPS RRB PO mains 2021, there was a question on special drawing rights of IMF), banks- headquarters, taglines and background, thermal, hydropower and nuclear power plants in India, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and biosphere reserves, joint military exercises, capital, currencies and parliament of countries around the world, international awards and honours, international stock exchanges. 

Current affairs include:

  • National news
    • Example- Government policies, guidelines, notifications 
    • Government schemes & portals – (for ex MGNREGA, Champions portal, aspirational districts, PM Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, MUDRA Tarun limit)
    • Yearly Union Budget
    • Economic Survey
    • Latest FDI limits
  • International news
    • Example- International Summits
    • Global targets by international organizations
  • Banking and economics related news
    • Banking related guidelines – (for ex. minimum capital limit to set up SFB)
    • Individual Bank related news – (for ex. Mergers and consolidation of Indian Banks)
  • Sports
  • Books
  • Obituary
  • Important Days (dates and theme)
  • Defence news
  • Science & Tech- (example- new app by IIT, new space launches, space discoveries)
  • Reports and Indices

Sources for self-Study (Free)

  • For government related news – Press Information Bureau (PIB). You can also use “Free PIB Daily Analysis” on the YouTube channel “AnujJindal”
  • Monthly Free Magazines like “Banker’s adda, GK Today and Spotlight” are considered the most comprehensive sources for Bank exams.
  • Newspapers – Indian Express, Economic Times, Livemint. You can follow any 1. Financial newspapers are better for bank exam aspirants. 
  • Static GK book by “Lucent”

Preparation Tips:

  1. Make sure that you cover Concepts and Facts together. Merely focusing on the facts is not enough anymore. In the Interview round, Interviewers look for conceptual clarity and rationality of thought & expression.
  2. Cover current affairs of at least 6 months leading up to the exam. Some students tend to take short cuts by covering only 3 or 4 months of Current affairs and then regret later. 
  3. Make sure to cover all the topics thoroughly but remember to put extra emphasis on news related to banking, its guidelines and policies released by the RBI/SEBI, government schemes, important reports and indices, and GDP forecasts.
  4. To ensure proper memorization of the topics you can make concise notes, take the help of visual cues, as in relating each topic to a picture of your choice, and brush up your conceptual understanding of the same.

Computer Knowledge Preparation Strategy

Topics under the Computer Knowledge section are basics of hardware and software, Windows operating system basics, internet terms and services, basic functionalities of MS-office, history of computers, networking and communication, database basics, basics of hacking, security tools and viruses.

Sources to Study: 

Objective Computer Knowledge & Literacy” by Kiran Prakashan, and objective computer awareness by Arihant publication.

Preparation Tips:

Remember to go through the topics of computer abbreviations, computer shortcuts, and MS office very thoroughly. You should also place enough emphasis on topics of History of Computers, and the fundamentals of the same. Learning these topics, in particular, should do the trick. However, do not skip the other topics. Go through them at least once.

The author is an edtech expert, CEO,

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