In an earlier article, we saw how Suresh, a rural boy became an All India debating champion and an IAS officer, through sheer determination. We saw, that his main strategy was “Reading” – reading daily, a good English newspaper. He did not merely read; using a good English Dictionary, he also sharpened the knowledge he gained by the reading.

Notwithstanding all the technological advancement that we have seen during the past forty years since Suresh realised his IAS dream, Reading still continues to be the King of hobbies, the ultimate weapon for anyone wanting to succeed in competitive examinations. Reading expands your horizon of knowledge and sharpens the power of your imagination. As Will Rogers says – “A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.”

Now, coming to the SBI PO Test, let us see what type of reading we need.

  • Pre-requisites to keep accessible on your study table – (a) a good English dictionary (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is a good one for students) (b) a standard book on grammar (Wren & Martin is suggested).

  • Refer to these two whenever you are in doubt about the meaning / usage of any word / idiom / phrase or any new grammatical usage that you come across during any reading you do. Also learn Synonyms. Antonyms, different usages etc. Doing so, will help you immensely in the objective English Test.

  • Practice making several sentences using the new word / phrase / idiom you just learnt, its synonyms and antonyms. This will help you in Comprehension, Essay writing and Letter-writing.

  • Read a good English national newspaper every day, thoroughly. In the newspaper, focus on Major Headlines, National, International, Sports and Business news. This will help you in English language, as well as help you in General Awareness / Current Affairs.

  • Make a daily note of important news / items you come across. For this, take a 200 pages notebook and assign a page a day. This will serve as a reference on Current Affairs periodically, as well as, just before the Test.

  • Make a note of, Books & Authors, Winners of major awards / prizes / sports competitions, Committees – Purpose & Chairmen, Abbreviations, World Leaders, Important persons, Major dates / developments in History, Science etc., in fact, anything you find interesting.

  • Read every day, the Editorials and other analyses and reports on the centre-spread of the newspaper. This will, apart from helping you in English language required for the written test, also help you during Group Discussion, where ability to analyze issues and communicate your views, is important.

  • A good regional / local newspaper – even vernacular (local language) will do. It will tell you local happenings and help you in local / social awareness, which may be tested during interviews.

  • A good English newsmagazine like India Today, Outlook, The Week, etc. This will give you an in-depth understanding of happenings and social issues and help you during Essay-writing, GD & Interview.

  • Some people suggest News Digests published for competitive exams. Do not rely on them completely. Use them only to complement your more substantial readings of newspapers and magazines.

  • Identify a couple of good English authors and read their novels; will help in developing language, creativity and imagination, useful for descriptive paper. You can then state Reading as a serious hobby, during interview. (Remember, the interview board consists of persons one generation ahead of you. For most of them, their main hobby was, and is even now, Reading. At the Interview, they will greatly appreciate a well-read person.)

  • Regularly listen to, every day, a few good TV news broadcasts – DD, NDTV 24X7, CNN-IBN, BBC – and practise pronunciation, voice modulation, articulation etc.; will help you during Group discussion.

Schedule for a serious SBI PO Aspirant

1. Warning:- The broad schedule suggested below is for a serious person determined to join State Bank of India as a Probationary Officer. It is not for those who are casual about the exam.

2. It is presumed you will spend 8-12 hours (Average 10 hours) a day focused on the goal. This should not be difficult; this is the average time you will be required to put in, on the job. Better get used to it now.

3. Anything & Everything you do & think, should get you FIRMLY closer to GOAL.

4. Allot the daily time as under:-

Daily Activity

Time (Hrs & Minutes)

Data Interpretation & Data Analysis – Study


Data Interpretation & Data Analysis  - Model Test Paper – 100 Qns


Reasoning - Study


Reasoning –  Model Test Paper - 100 Qns.


English Objective – Model Test Paper 100 Qns (Once in 3 days)


English Descriptive Paper - (Once in 3 days)


Marketing & Computers –  Model Test Paper - 100 Qns (Once in 3 days)


Review of & Learning from the Test papers of the day


Newspaper Reading & Making notes thereon


Listening to English news (Prime Time 9 pm to 9.30 pm)


Preparation for Activities





5. For Study materials & Model Test papers, rely on a good portal -

6. In the objective test, 200 questions have to be attempted in 2 hours or 120 minutes; hence effort should be to do 100 qns. In one hour.

7. Data Interpretation & Reasoning require acquiring skills and honing them; hence, they need to be practised daily. Considering two months or sixty days before the exam, you should practice on at least 6,000 questions under each subject.

8. English, Computers & Marketing are purely knowledge based. Considering the periodicity suggested, you will have 2000 qns in English, 1000 qns on Computers and 1000 qns on Marketing to practice on. Besides, you will also have 20 each of Essays, Letters, Comprehension passages and Precise writing.

9. When you do a Test Paper – allow no distractions; Switch off mobile, lock your room and do the test in the stipulated time.

10. After the Test, evaluate your paper with one mark for correct answer and minus 0.25 (- 0,25) for every wrong answer. Tabulate the Marks Subject-wise as under:









Test No.






Total No of Qns / Max Marks (C)

No. of Qns Attempted



No. of Correct Answers



No. of Wrong Answers



Test Marks

{E*1 – F*0.25}


% Score





















































  • The evaluation sheet should be one for each subject – Data Interpretation, Reasoning, English, Marketing, Computers.

  • For each test, check D=E + F.

  • Watch how the values move from Test to Test.

  • If C is 100, D, E, G & H should improve and F should decrease from Test to Test. If this happens, be happy.

  • Otherwise, take necessary corrective steps.

11. After all the Tests of the day are taken and your performance evaluated, go back to the wrong answers and from your study materials, find out the correct answer / method and where you went wrong. Work on this problem till you are sure you will never repeat the mistake.

12. Along with the above Schedule working on the Test subjects, you will have to work on yourself from within as well. A calm, non-agitated mind is important for concentration. Ensure that nothing distracts you and that you are not upset by unimportant developments in your environment. Meditation, Prayers and Blessings of your Parents and Gurus will take you a long way here.

13. Physical Health is also very important here. Imagine, after having prepared well, you catch a simple cold on the day of Test; it will be a disaster. Eat healthy, natural, home-made (Mom knows best.) food. Avoid junk food. Do light exercises & yoga (under an able guide.)

14. Go for a walk all alone, when you can reflect on your level of preparation and strategies required further.

Keep in mind – This Test is all about SMARTNESS, and SBI wants only the SMART ones. With Determination and Discipline, YOU CAN be among the SMARTEST.

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. - John C. Maxwell

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