Let us take a look at the Selection Process of the coming SBI PO Test and see how it is different from that of the recent IBPS PO Test.

IBPS Selection Process


SBI Selection Process

A. Online Test (2 Hours)
Test No. of Qns / Max Marks  







Test No. of Qns / Max Marks
Reasoning 50 Reasoning (High Level) 50
English Language 40 English Language (Grammar, Vocabulary, Comprehension etc.) 50
Quantitative Aptitude 50 Data Analysis & Interpretation 50
General Awareness

(with special reference to Banking Industry)

40 General Awareness, Marketing & Computers


Computer Knowledge 20
Total 200  Total 200
B. Offline Descriptive Test (1 Hour)
None   English Language (comprehension, short précis, letter writing & essay). 50
C. Group Discussion
None   Group Discussion 20
D. Interview
Personal Interview 100   Personal Interview 30
Grand Total 300   Grand Total 300

The Main Differences are :

  • For the two hour Online Test, IBPS had five sections with varying maximums; but SBI has only four sections, all with equal maximums of 50 marks each.

  • For SBI, Test of Reasoning will be at a higher level than what is normally asked by IBPS.

  • IBPS Test of Quantitative Aptitude is mainly Arithmetic. For SBI, the corresponding Test is Data Analysis & Interpretation with emphasis on Analysis and Interpretation of data (Tables, charts, Graphs, Reports etc.), using applications of the Arithmetical principles of Averages, Ratios, Proportions, Percentages etc.

  • For IBPS, General Awareness and Computer Knowledge are separate sections and the Test of General Awareness is mainly on Banking. SBI has a single  combined section of General Awareness, Computers and (additionally), Marketing. SBI does not require any special knowledge of Banking.

  • IBPS did not have any offline Descriptive Test, SBI has an offline pen & paper Descriptive Test paper of one-hour duration on English Language comprising of (a) comprehension, (b) short précis, ((c) letter writing and (d) essay writing.

  • After the Tests, SBI puts the short-listed candidates, through a Group Discussion exercise before personally interviewing them.

  • Having seen how the SBI Test differs from that of IBPS, let us now try to understand SBI’s Rationale for being Different. Understanding these rationales will help us in preparing our Strategies for the Tests.

  • The Probationary Officers being recruited by SBI are not to be mere officers in the Bank, performing routine functions. It is from among this group, that the Leaders and Senior Executives of the Bank have to emerge. SBI therefore wants these entry-level officers to be the best in all respects; hence the rigorous Selection Process.

  • An Executive is very often required to take decisions within a limited time, objectively, rationally and fully analysing and understanding the issue at hand, and being fully aware of all the pros and cons of his decisions. This is all the more important in the Customer-oriented Banking Industry. The requirement calls for an intellectual capacity of the highest order, with sharp analytical powers and Reasoning. Hence SBI’s High Level Reasoning Test which also tests other qualities an Executive requires – Observation, Understanding, Patience, Time Management, Prioritisation, Stress Management etc.

  • More than Arithmetic, it is the large volume of Data that a Bank Executive has to deal with. Ability to Read, Interpret, Analyse, Consolidate, Surmise etc. the large volume of data in the form of Reports, Tables, Charts, and Graphs is an important attribute. Hence the stress on Data Analysis and Data Interpretation, in preference to a Quantitative Aptitude Test. Of course, a minimum number of Arithmetic questions can be expected.

  • All banks have several schemes / products under Deposits, loans, services, IT enabled services, cross-selling, etc. The banks compete among themselves to sell their products in the market & to attract the best customers. These products require to be marketed to the right target groups projecting the USPs of the products. Knowledge of the sound principles of Marketing will be a great advantage here. Hence, this knowledge is sought to be tested. 

  • A person just entering the Banking Industry does not have any worthwhile knowledge of Banking, except to the extent expected of a lay person keenly interested in the day to day Banking and Financial matters. So, Banking is part of General Awareness, including Current Affairs. The Test of General Awareness thus comprises of Current Affairs including Banking, Marketing and Computers.

  • Effective Communication is an essential quality of any Leader or Executive. Mere knowledge of Grammar will not suffice. Hence, in addition to the objective Test on Grammar, a Descriptive paper on English Language is also included - Comprehension tests your ability to grasp and understand the given passage; Short Precise tests your ability to prepare short summaries for your superiors; Letter Writing tests your ability to precisely and effectively communicate a matter to the addressee and, Essay writing reveals how systematic your thought process is, and tests your ability to present your thoughts in a coherent manner.

  • While the Descriptive paper tests the writing ability, oral capability, another essential requirement for a Leader / Senior Executive, is tested in the Group Discussion exercise. The Group Discussion tests Leadership capabilities, Listening skills, Ability of working in a Team, Interpersonal & Communication skills, Expressing views & opinions, Organising thoughts,  Command of language & Fluency, Tact & skill in dealing with others, Body language, Analytical and Rational Thought Process, Behaviour under stress, Receptivity to others’ views, Flexibility & adaptability in GD Dynamics, Thought leadership, etc.

Having understood the Test Pattern and its Objectives, let us now prepare ourselves for the Test. ..... About the Test Preparation etc., in the next article.

“I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it   "Thomas Jefferson"

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