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Tips to prepare English section for SBI PO

Updated On -

Mar 26, 2020

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Anam Shams

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Scheduled from June 8, 2020 to June 16, 2020, the prelims of SBI PO 2020 is a crucial determinant of your banking career. The paper-1 comprises questions related to quantitative analysis, reasoning and English language. Despite being easy in general, the English language section proves to be the main culprit behind disqualification for many students.

A few highlights on the syllabus of SBI PO English language:

  • Both paper-1 and paper-2 comprises of English comprehension, error finding, paragraph completion, and cloze test, essence of a paragraph, para jumbles, and spellings.

  • This section proves difficult for an average banking student in India as the questions are unique every year and require basic understanding of English grammar and good vocabulary which most students’ lack.

A proper study plan for each topic and having a clear conception on them, however, can make this part a major strength.

SBI PO English Language Syllabus at a Glance

You need to understand the different topics in the syllabus and the number of questions in an average that you will be getting from them to prepare accordingly.

The total number of questions that you get from English is 30 and the section is of 30 marks. For mains there are 35 questions and 40 marks. There are negative marks of 0.25 per wrong question in both papers. Every year, the questions are divided in the following manner for every topic-

Topic Name Number of Questions
Reading comprehension 7-10
Cloze test 5-6
Match the column 4-5
Fillers 5-6
Error Spotting/ Sentence correction/ Sentence Improvement 5-6
Phrase replacement 5-6
Sentence connector 3-4
Sentence completion 3-4
Sentence formation 3-4
Para jumble 5-6
  • All three sections have separate cut-offs which you have to meet in order to qualify the whole paper.

  • The question level of English is moderate to difficult in SBI PO.

  • The average cut-off for English language in paper-1 for general category is 8.75 and for reserved category it is 5.75.

How to Prepare English for SBI PO 2020

The English section for SBI PO prelims and mains can be broadly classified into four categories- comprehension, vocabulary, grammar and verbal ability.

Preparing for Reading Comprehension

The maximum number of questions come from this section. The questions are easy to moderately difficult, depending on the passage provided.

  • The questions are usually fact-based or vocabulary-based though occasionally questions that are theme-based are also asked.

  • It is quicker to take a look at the questions first and then read through the passage to find the relevant answers.

  • Practice at least 2 articles and related comprehensive questions every day when you have dedicated the time slot to English language.

  • Keep the topics you practice diverse as there is no way to predict the exact passages you might be given in SBI PO 2020.

  • Try to minimize the time needed to complete reading through the passage and answering all the questions accurately as you have specific allotted time for every section in the exam.

  • Try answering vocabulary-type questions first if it is your strength as they do not require skimming through the entire passage to be answered.

Pro tip 1: Usually the passages in SBI PO are related to economy, banking, social issues, business and any trending news or situation- hence, you can pick up the mock-practice passages accordingly.

Preparing for Cloze Test

The Cloze test is like “Fill in the blanks” but usually the standard set in SBI PO is moderate to difficult and very confusing. An entire passage is provided with missing phrases and words which need to be filled. This is a new category of question-type that has been recently introduced in SBI PO.

  • This part tests the candidates reading skill, vocabulary and overall understanding of English language altogether.

  • Since all the missing phrases are linked, one error at any point of the passage can lead to continuous error in the consecutive portion which makes this section harder.

  • Like reading comprehension, this section calls for regular practice. Also make it a habit to skip the blanks you cannot figure out instead of marking an answer you are unsure about. This saves time and also reduces the chance of error.

  • Read each word given as an option for a specific blank and try to fit them in to determine the best match when you are not too sure about the grammatical technicalities.

Preparing for Para jumble questions

A few sentences are given which you have to rearrange so they are coherent as a wholesome paragraph. These questions are moderate to difficult but it is advantageous and scoring. If you correctly determine the sequence of one sentence, you can easily sort out the rest.

  • Carefully look at the sentences provided to decipher the topic it is about. This will help you to quickly detect the sequence.

  • Look for connective words like “instead”, “however”, “furthermore” and similar terms at the beginning of the sentences. This means these sentences will come in the middle order.

  • There will be one or two sentences in the set which will sound like an introduction to the subject and hence will be the first sentence of the sequence.

  • Look for independent sentences in the jumble and it is usually the first sentence of the set. If you can quickly detect the first sentence, determining the sequence becomes easier.

Preparing for grammar questions

Questions related to error spotting, vocabulary, double fillers and sentence improvement are altogether considered grammatical questions as they are designed to test your grasp on English grammar. You will get two to three questions at most from each of these categories and together there will be 12-14 questions.

  • For double fillers, follow the same technique as solving the cloze test. This is easier than a cloze test as you are provided with single sentences and not an entire paragraph that will be coherent only if you fill up the right options in the right blanks.

  • In case of error spotting, read the entire sentence provided and understand whether it makes sense. If you are unable to detect the error, check the options and determine which is most sensible.

  • The grammatical sections is the area where candidates face a negative marking. However, if you are able to complete the reading comprehension, cloze test and para jumble sections perfectly, the minimum cut-off will be achieved.

  • Practice the error spotting section more as this is comparatively scoring among the grammar questions.

  • Do not attempt questions related to vocabulary unless you are absolutely sure about the answer.

Preparation for vocabulary

Vocabulary questions are mainly related to antonyms, synonyms, and spellings, idioms, meaning of the word or selecting a word for a given phrase.

  • There is no specific formula to prepare these sections and if you are weak in English vocabulary, there is little you can do in a limited time to drastically improve it.

  • However, you can make a habit of reading at least a couple of months before the exam which will familiarize you with the different phrases and words used in spoken and written English.

  • Write 20 words with confusing spelling every day to memorize their spellings. This makes you familiar with these words.

Pro tip 2: Choose words which are unusual and have confusing spelling. Go through previous year questions to find out the type of words that are usually given.

5 Best Books to Prepare for English Language in SBI PO 2020

We have listed some of the best books you can use for preparing each and every topic that is elemental to qualify SBI PO English language.

Name of Book Publisher
High School English Grammar & Composition- Wren and Martin S.Chand Publication
Objective General English- S.P. Bakshi Arihant Publication
Objective English for Competitive Examinations (5th Edition)- Hari Mohan Prasad, Uma Rani Sinha Mcgraw Hill Education
Word Power Made Easy- Norman Lewis Goyal Publishers
English for General Competitions: from Plinth to Paramount (Volume - 1)- Neetu Singh Paramount Reader Publications

7 Great Practices to Ace SBI Clerk English Preparation

The section-wise approach to SBI PO English preparation will be fruitful only when you follow certain study habits and patterns. These general practices and exercises for studying English are essential to make the maximum use of your time.

  1. Reading habit- Read anything and everything you get in English with a dictionary by your side. Make reading your hobby and materials from newspapers, magazines to storybooks- all are equally effective.

  2. Subscribe to national newspapers- Newspapers like “The Hindu” and “Times of India” keep you updated with the current affairs as well as help to improve your vocabulary in English.

  3. Make notes of unknown words- When you are reading any material and come across an unfamiliar word, note it down and look up its meaning. Go through these notes now and then before the exam.

  4. Attempt English at the beginning- As reading the comprehension needs focus and time, make sure you attempt it right at the beginning before doing any other section in the paper.

  5. Do not guesswork- Unless you are absolutely sure about the answer, do not attempt a question. If you have already qualified the subject-wise cut-off in this section, avoid such guess works.

  6. Practice with a time limit- While you practice the different sections in English language, set a timer and do so to improve your speed at the same time.

  7. Practice from CAT books- English language section at CAT/MAT/XAT level examination is the toughest and hence, practicing and able to accurately solve these questions will make SBI PO easier.

English language preparation for SBI PO 2020 gets easier when you follow a specific routine regarding your studies. Many banking students fail to qualify the prelims because they are unable to meet the subject-wise cut-off for English. But regular practice and reading habits can help you overcome your weak spots in this subject.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.