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Preparing for Bank Examinations, Part 1

Bank-ExamIndia growth story is mainly driven by the services sector which accounts for 67.4 per cent of the GDP in 2013-14. Within the sector, banking sector assumes a predominant place. The sector has diversified and has penetrated into various products, regions and segments. The adoption of technology, liberalization and globalization has benefited the sector and now employs professionals in large numbers. The sector attracts professionals in various specialties, ranging from general bankers, economists, statisticians, risk management experts, IT specialists, lawyers, investment bankers, agriculture graduates, etc.

The industry provides tremendous scope for skill building, and career opportunities across the world. Thus, the younger generation can positively look for an exciting and rewarding career in banks. An officer, starting at the entry level can aspire to become the Chairman and Managing Director of the bank. Further, as experience gained and acquiring professional certificates (which are many on the basis of the area/s specialization) career prospects open up not only in India, but also in advanced financial markets across the world. Many Indian are working in top-notch financial institutions in the world.

For the last year and two years ahead, the banking sector is likely recruit large number of professionals in the context of large retirements and expansion. The recruitments in the banking sector have been taking place at various levels. The basic entry point is at the level of clerical and probationary officers and management trainees. While the qualifications are basic graduation, youngsters even with professional qualifications join at both the cadres directly.

Apart from these basic entry points, where youngsters with basic graduation and professional degrees can join in these general cadres, banks do recruit directly at basic entry level and/or in higher grades in specialist cadres, such as agriculture, IT, economics, statistics, law, finance, risk management, foreign exchange, investment banking, marketing, etc. While some of these positions require specific previous experience, other areas do not mandate previous experience. The Reserve Bank of India has also been recruiting Assistants and Managers (in Grade B) annually.

The recruitment to the industry is very transparent, and provides equal opportunities to all. The recruitment to the public sector banks also follows the reservation policy of the Government of India. Most of the banks outsourced the recruitment process to external agencies, particularly to the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), which was set up at the behest of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Public Sector banks. The objective of setting up such a national institute of repute is to develop an unbiased and efficient system for recruitment, promotion and placement services to the Public Sector banks.

Some of the private sector banks also engage the services of IBPS for recruitment. IBPS is envisioned as a self-governed academic and research oriented institute, with a mission of providing Personnel Selection and Human Resource Management services to the banking industry in the country. IBPS follows robust and rigorous processes and procedures, which are highly scientific and time-tested. It conducts all its operations by applying various new technologies/methodologies and systems prevalent in the area of psychometrics all over the world. The institute has been helping many organizations by providing its expertise to them right from issuing notification for inviting applications to conduct of final interviews with all its intermediary and associate processes. Based on the specific needs of the client organizations and as per the specific nature of the project i.e. Recruitment, Admission, Promotion, etc., specialized tests/selection tools are developed by the Institute.

The exams generally include Ability and Aptitude Tests, Group Exercises, etc. The recruitment exams are conducted for a variety of organizations like PSB, Co-op Banks, Private Banks, Gramin banks, etc. IBPS conducts regularly on-line tests for clerical and PO/Management Trainees, at pan India level. IBPS provides valuable inputs, including model reading materials and on-line mock tests. Candidates can gain enough ground and practice on-line in preparing for the tests. IBPS materials can be accessed through their website:

The Bankers Training Centre (BTC) is an initiative by 4 private practitioners who aim at transferring their knowledge accumulated from their experience in the financial sector to aspirants and employees on the learning curve. It hopes to ‘Put India’s Youth into Effective Work’, by enabling them with the necessary finance related skills. BTC can be accessed through or

Preparing for Bank Examinations, Part 2

Bank tests are designed to assess the prospective candidate’s ability to analyze, to evaluate written material and to interpret or logically conclude on the strength of given relevant information. One crucial element is that the candidate (already under duress in his job search) has to complete a series within a short time- frame. So our first suggestion is the need to train to keep calm nerves. Students need to prepare for both objective and descriptive tests. Students are expected to be conversant with:

Test of English Language (Grammar, Vocabulary, Comprehension etc.)
Test of General Awareness
Test of Data Analysis and Interpretation
Test of Reasoning

Prospective candidates need to understand that there are four elements in a bank recruitment examination. Student preparation must focus on a General Knowledge (GK) component, a General English (GE) component, Numerical Aptitude (NA) and an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) component – also called Test of Reasoning. Once having cleared the test hurdle, candidates have to prepare for group discussion and interviews.

General Knowledge: Students are best advised to read at least one national level English newspaper and if possible one of the financial newspapers. It is advisable to read a good, standard year book which should constitute the base for examination. We recommend India Yearbook of the Ministry of Information which is very comprehensive.

General English: The focus has to be on vocabulary, grammar usage and comprehension. The best way to start is to collect vocabulary from diverse sources very consciously. We also suggest practicing with a standard grammar book with a focus on usage and idiomatic expressions. We suggest a thorough review of plus 2 English. We recommend reading the editorial of at least two major newspapers. Candidates must attempt to make a summary of the editorials. This will help them understand issues and also improve language. We feel students must maintain a diary of new words that increases the word power.

In verbal reasoning, it is important that students analytically comprehend relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships between words and words and words and concepts.

Numerical Aptitude / Test of Reasoning: In test of quantitative skills, understanding of elementary mathematical concepts and the ability to think logically in quantitative terms are important for success. The Quantitative Reasoning questions are based on standards at the high school level. We feel that numerical aptitude is the stepping stone to the test of reasoning. NA and IQ testing largely going under the garb of test of reasoning are interconnected. The important thing is to understand the pattern of the question. The objective of the examiner here is to appreciate the logical capabilities of the examinee. Once the candidate breaks the pattern in a step by step, similar questions are easy to comprehend. Similar questions/ patterns can only be asked. To get to the pattern, however, there is no escape from practicing the model papers on these. One has to sit down and solve the problems.

10. Practice them without reference to any answer key. The students can check for the answer later. As many times you do the same problem, the many times you become conversant. In the examination hall, the same pattern question will take little time as the student has practiced. Preparing for Test of reasoning and NA is also important for arriving at logical conclusions and data interpretation. The examiner is looking for problem solving skills.

11. Once the prospective candidate clears the written test, the next focus should be on facing the interview and GD in effective manner. The interviews and GDs are designed to assess the communication skills, logical thinking and awareness. It is necessary to prepare detailed brief of the candidate’s profile, general information on the banking sector, current events, specific inputs on banking terms and products, GK, etc. Weight is normally being given on opinions with firm footings and consistency. It is therefore necessary to prepare short answers on these areas, so as present the answers directly and specially. No attempt should be made to give answers, which the candidates are not sure of. Transparency and credibility of the candidates are specifically evaluated. There is no harm in passing some questions than giving obviously wrong answers. It is also necessary to keep calm and maintain a smiling face across the interview. Humility is one of the positive attitudes to be nurtured and maintained.

12. The Group discussion is an opportunity to listen and interact with diverse points of view. GD is a mix of ideas and listening to various streams of thoughts. It is communicating with others that matters. One must be fair and democratic to all participants in the Group. At the same time, one must be appropriately assertive to contribute. Take the initiative but be sure of the subject before you pilot. Be serious and alert throughout. When, any participant is wrong and deviating from the topic, intervenes to bring the discussion on the right track. Always try to build adequate knowledge, which makes you confident. Try to be compact and concise in your observations and discussions. Do not try to impress, expect with the back of knowledge. Never use slangs or abusive-like words. Also do not interrupt others. Always be positive, supportive and team oriented in interactions. Be focused and never digress from the topic. Keep eye contacts.

About the Author

The Bankers Training Centre (BTC) is an initiative by 4 private practitioners who aim at transferring their knowledge accumulated from their experience in the financial sector to aspirants and employees on the learning curve. It hopes to ‘Put India’s Youth into Effective Work’, by enabling them with the necessary finance related skills. BTC can be accessed through or