IBPS Clerk 2020 - English Language Preparation Strategy

Updated On -

Jun 10, 2020

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IBPS clerk is a national level exam for hiring candidates for the clerical positions for seventeen national banks of India. The competitive exam is held once a year and comprises the prelims and the mains. Any graduate or its equivalent can apply within the age of 20 and 28 years. The English language is a vital topic for both prelims and mains. For the IBPS Clerk Prelims, there are 30 questions from the English language, and there are sectional cut-off marks as well which means you have to prepare the section thoroughly and cannot skip it. Candidates with a natural flair for the language have an extra edge over those who find it difficult. However, the syllabus is easy enough to perfect with practice and if you dedicate enough time and effort to the subject, you can ace it.

IBPS Clerk 2020: English language Syllabus

In order to begin your preparation for any section, it is elemental to familiarise yourself with the syllabus. The IBPS Clerk syllabus for English prelims and mains is similar and you can simultaneously do it. If you consider the questions that usually come in IBPS Clerk for the English language, you will know that they are mostly based on basic grammar and vocabulary to judge the comprehensive ability of the candidate. The following are the primary topics from which you will get all the questions in both prelims and mains.

  • Grammar
    • error spotting
    • idioms and phrases
    • direct and indirect speech
    • active and passive voice
    • arrangement of sentences
  • Vocabulary
    • Synonyms
    • Antonyms
    • Spellings
    • Cloze test
    • Homonyms
  • Comprehension
    • Usually theme-based or conclusion based
  • Verbal ability
    • Para jumbles
Prepp Test Series

Download IBPS Clerk 2020 Sample Papers

Marks weightage distribution

The number of questions from each genre is the marks weightage distribution for the topic. This means, by getting familiar with the question pattern from previous years, you will know which sections and topics should be dedicated the maximum time for preparation as the maximum marks weightage are from these sections. The following table gives a topic-wise breakdown of the marks for IBPS Clerk Prelims.

Topics  Probable number of questions Marks weightage
Reading Comprehension 10 10
Spot the errors 5 5
Fill in the banks 5 5
Para jumbles 5 5
Sentence correction 5 5
Cloze test 5 5

As you can see, the maximum number of questions comes from reading comprehension which calls for practising this section thoroughly. The other sections have equal marks weightage in most cases. While few sections may be omitted from the question in certain years, reading comprehension is a constant and hence will never be left out.

IBPS Clerk 2020: General Preparation Tips for English

Depending on your natural proficiency in the subject you have to determine the maximum time that you are going to dedicate for the section from your study table. If English is your weak spot, it is recommended that you spare at least 10 hours a week to prepare each and every topic from English. The following are few general practices that you should imbibe in order to ace the IBPS Clerk English language for both prelims and mains.

  • Strengthen your basic grammar through rigorous practice. Take up a good basic grammar book like wren and martin and practice all the exercises on tense, synonyms, phrases and idioms, active and passive voice from this book. There are many such exercises and if you solve at least twenty per day from a specific topic, you will notice improvement.
  • If you already have a moderate to good command of the language, start with practicing the questions from the previous ten years. Try to complete each paper in 20 minutes which is the time limit allotted for English language section in IBPS Clerk Prelims.
  • Para jumbles are confusing and unless you have a strong vocabulary and a habit of reading English books, newspapers, and any kind of reading materials, it is difficult to get them right in the first attempt. Hence, start your preparation strategy with easier topics like fill in the blanks and sentence correction. This will motivate you as you can solve them faster and more accurately.
  • Reading comprehension is a compulsory part of the English language section. Make a habit of practicing at least one comprehension daily. While the comprehension paragraphs are not repeated the theme is recurrent. Hence practicing the previous year’s comprehensions will also be helpful.
  • Give as many mock tests as you can to acquire both speed and accuracy.
  • When you are doing the cloze test or sentence correction, repeatedly speak the sentence in your mind with the option you choose to see if it sounds right. Even when you are not excellent in the grammatical technicalities of the language, the sound of the sentence can still be useful.
  • Once you are done with a specific topic, attempt a sectional test immediately to check your progress. Also, do not shelve a topic entirely once you complete it. Revise it every 2-3 days so that you do not go out of practice.
  • For synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, and spelling, developing your reading habit is the best thing to do. Apart from that, whenever you come across an unconventional word, check the dictionary for its meaning and synonyms and antonyms. Make a notebook of such words and also check the previous year’s questions to understand the pattern of the words that are usually asked in IBPS.
  • Last but not the least, make a habit of reading rapidly and loudly. When you are able to hear what you are reading, you are likely to spot errors better and also understand the topic well.

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IBPS Clerk 2020: Topic Wise Preparation Tips for English

The best approach to the preparation of the English language is to pick each topic at a time. Here we are going to share some tips that are specifically for the topics that are included in the English language syllabus for IBPS Clerk.

  • Reading comprehension

This is the most crucial topic of the English language section as it comes every year and has ten questions. In fact, if you are able to get all the answers correct from this topic alone, you can get the sectional cut-off marks required for the general category. However, it is not as easy as it sounds as the topics are tricky and one has to read through the lines many times to determine the right answers. The entire process can be time-consuming. The trick to ace the section is mastering how to attempt all the questions correctly without spending too long on reading comprehension alone. Here are a few things that you can do-

  • Practice reading comprehension as fast as you can. Alternately, practice reading the questions first and then skim the passage for the relevant answer.
  • Often a question will have key phrases and words which exactly match with the ones used in the passage. Hence, look for these key phrases while skimming the passage and you can easily spot the right answer too.
  • Understand the central theme of the passage to answer the questions better. Often there are indirect questions that are more based on the concept than directly on facts stated in the passage. By simultaneously answering and reading the passage, you can easily figure out the theme without going through the entire paragraph.
  • Grammar

Grammar questions also cannot be neglected as they are never left out. It is included primarily to check the candidates’ grasp on the subject which is also the official language used in India. A few things that will help you improve your grammar are-

  • The only way to improve this section is through regular practice. There are 5-7 questions at most from this section and they are mostly based on parts of speech, active and passive voice, tenses, adverbs, etc.
  • Going through the concepts and understanding the reasons behind the different sentence structures and words may help in your understanding of the topic but before IBPS, you will not have enough time. Hence, follow a book with many solved examples so practice and grasp the grammatical pattern which will be sufficient to ace the exams.
  • Develop your habit of reading. It is equally useful for your grammar as well as vocabulary. Read a national level English newspaper daily which will help with your English as well as current affairs and general knowledge.
  • Vocabulary

The vocabulary improvement will help the candidate to use the language for official purposes more eloquently. This capacity is judged through a series of cloze tests, fill in the blanks and error spotting questions asked in IBPS Clerk Prelims and Mains.

  • Practice conversing in English on a daily basis. While you converse, use the words that you learn from your reading habit.
  • Practice the mock tests for this section rigorously. Also, go through solved examples from any reference book for the English language in IBPS Clerk.
  • Keep a dictionary handy while you are reading so that you are able to refer to it whenever you come across a new word. Also, you will be able to understand the contextual usage of the word when you know the exact meaning and this will be helpful while solving the cloze test in particular.
  • Verbal ability

Verbal ability is subtly different from the vocabulary- it is the means to judge a candidates’ understanding of conversational English. Para jumbles are the main focus of this section.

  • While reading the sentences, understand the theme or the topic based on which it is given. Once you figure that out, you can easily determine which should be the beginning of the paragraph.
  • Observe the sentences for connecting words like the conjunctions so that you are able to spot the sequence better. Usually, the introductory sentence is a simple sentence while the middle sentences have more conjunctions or begin with words like “however”, “hence”, “therefore”, “if” etc.

Download IBPS Clerk 2020 Notification

Recommended reference books for English in IBPS Clerk

The following are a few good reference books for English in IBPS Clerk-

  • High School English Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin
  • English grammar by SP Bakshi
  • Objective General English by Arihant Publications
  • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
  • Objective English- Edgar Thorpe
  • Essential Grammar in Use- 3rd edition- Raymond Murphy
  • Objective English for Competitive Exams- 5th edition- Hari Mohan Prasad, Uma Rani Singha

English language is a scoring and easy section if your grammatical base is strong. By dedicating at least 1-2hours daily for English preparation, you can achieve this confidence in the subject. We hope the tips shared by us also help you in the long run and make your IBPS Clerk 2020 Prelims and Mains Preparation for English language easier. Best of luck with the upcoming exams!


Ques. Is there any sectional time limit for IBPS Clerk English?

Ans. Yes, there is a sectional time limit in the IBPS Clerk exam. The time limit is there for both prelims and mains. For English, in prelims, the number of questions Is 30 and the time limit is 20 minutes. For the mains, there are 40 questions and the time limit is 35 minutes for English.

Ques. Is English compulsory in IBPS Clerk Mains?

Ans. Yes, English language is a compulsory section that has to be attempted in IBPS Clerk Mains as there are sectional cut-off marks as well that you have to qualify.

Ques. How many reference books should I follow for English language preparation for IBPS Clerk?

Ans. Try to limit your reference books and notes to a minimum possible number so that your preparation does not get too confusing. Choose at most two good grammar books with many examples and exercises and a mock test paper series for English only.

Ques. Can I leave out the English grammar topics for IBPS Clerk 2020 Preparation?

Ans. There are 5-7 questions at least from English grammar topics and the necessity of a standard grammatical conception is felt while attempting the entire section. Hence, it is advised against leaving out an entire topic as it can be very risky and adversely influence the sectional cut-off. Do remember that even if you are able to meet the overall cut-off marks, if you fail to meet the sectional cut-off, you will not be qualified to the mains.

Ques. What sectional cut-off for English in IBPS Clerk exam?

Ans. The sectional cut-off for English language in IBPS Clerk exam is generally around 9-7.75 for the general category. For the reserved categories, it can go as low as 4.25. The overall cut-off, as well as sectional cut-off, varies from one state to another.

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