Exam Pattern and Strategy to Crack IBPS PO

Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) conducts the IBPS PO exam every year to recruit eligible candidates for the post of Probationary Officers in various public sector banks in India. The Exam pattern of the  IBPS PO exam is discussed in this article.

Every year,  IBPS PO exam is conducted at various locations throughout India in online mode. It is conducted in three stages, the prelims, mains and the interview.

Preliminary Exam

The Preliminary exam is conducted in online mode. It has a total duration of 1 hour, with 20 minutes for each section. The exam consists of three sections namely English Language, Numerical Ability and Reasoning Ability. The English Language section consists of 30 questions with a maximum of 30 marks. Numerical Ability and Reasoning Ability sections consist of 35 questions each with a maximum of 35 marks for each section. A negative marking of 0.25 marks is marked for each wrong answer. No marks are deducted if a question is unanswered. Candidates must clear minimum cutoff marks in all three sections.

Name of the Subject No. of Questions Maximum Marks Duration
English Language 30 30 20 mins
Numerical Ability 35 35 20 mins
Reasoning Ability 35 35 20 mins
Total 100 100 60 mins

The candidates have to clear the cut-off in order to qualify for mains. IBPS decides the shortlists the number of candidates in each category for the mains exam.

Mains Exam

The Mains exam is also conducted online. The IBPS PO Mains exam is again MCQs at a slightly higher difficulty level. There are 4 sections with 155 questions in the Mains exam, with a total of 200 marks plus 2 questions in the English Language for 25 marks. The candidates are given a time duration of 3 hours and 30 minutes.  A negative marking of 0.25 marks is marked for each wrong answer. No marks are deducted if a question is unanswered.

Name of the Subject No. of Questions Maximum Marks Duration
Reasoning & Computer Aptitude 45 60 60 mins
English Language 35 40 40 mins
Data Analysis & Interpretation 35 60 45 mins
General Economy & Banking Awareness 40 40 35 mins
Total 155 200 180 mins(3 hours)

The 5th section is English Language (Letter Writing & Essay) with 2 questions and maximum marks of 25. This section has to be completed within 30 minutes. The candidate has to score minimum cut-off marks both in prelims and mains to qualify for the interview.


It is the final stage of the IBPS PO Exam. Candidates qualifying with good marks in Prelims and Mains are called for an interview, which carries a maximum of 100 marks. The minimum qualifying mark in the interview is 40% for general category candidates and 35% for SC, ST, OBC and PWD candidates. The final score of candidates is calculated by the weightage of marks scored in the main examination and interview at a ratio of 80:20 respectively. Marks scored in prelims are not considered in the final score.

Strategy to Crack IBPS PO

IBPS PO exam demands rigorous preparation but in the right direction. The following five points must be kept in mind while we prepare for the IBPS PO exam.

Knowledge of exam pattern and syllabus

Every exam has a different exam pattern and syllabus. The Candidate must be aware of the IBPS PO exam pattern and syllabus. This gives the candidate a holistic view of the exam.

Make a study plan

A serious candidate must have a Unique customised study plan that covers the topics given in the syllabus. The study plan should include the revision of topics periodically and analysis of the previous year’s bank exam question papers webtoon.

Regular sectional and mock test practice

The exam has a time limit. So, it is necessary to follow strict time management and practise with the same time limit. Practise as many mock tests as possible. It gives an idea of the question format, improves the speed and accuracy required for each stage of the exam and helps increase the score.

Refer Previous Year’s Question Paper

Referring to the previous year’s question papers helps the candidate to get an exact idea of the exam pattern, analyse the type of questions that are frequently asked and which ones are less important.

Increase Reading Speed

Give at least one hour each day to reading newspapers, magazines etc. It improves English comprehension, builds vocabulary and general awareness/banking section. The topics that we read must be related to current affairs, economy, business and banking. It shapes our opinion on current events and helps in the Interview phase.

The selection process of the IBPS PO exam requires qualification in each stage to get finally selected into the IBPS PO exam. IBPS PO Notification of 2021 is expected soon,to fill up the vacant posts of Probationary Officers in various PSBs. Hence candidates must plan a proper strategy and prepare accordingly to crack the exam.

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