IBPS Clerk Prelims: Topic-Wise Preparation Strategy 2020

Updated On -

Jun 15, 2020

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Abanti Pramanik

Exams Prepmaster

One of the most popular entrance exams for the banking service is IBPS Clerk. It is conducted once every year to recruit candidates for the clerical position in 17 central and state banks of India. The selection is done based on their performance in prelims and the mains exam. To qualify for mains, the candidates should have the minimum cut-off marks required in prelims. This means, it is not only important for elevating your overall score, but also determines whether you qualify to the next level. To ace the prelims, one must have accuracy as well as speed in solving numerical and reasoning questions as there are sectional limits as well. There is no limit to the number of attempts you can take for the exam till the age of 28. We are going to share a few effective tips and suggestions so that you can ace the test in the first attempt.

Important Updates: 

  • IBPS Clerk prelims 2020 is tentatively expected to be scheduled for December 12, 13 and 19, 2020.
  • The IBPS Mains 2020 is tentatively predicted to be scheduled for January 24, 2021.
  • The exam notification is likely to be published on the official website for IBPS around October 2020.

Download IBPS Clerk 2020 Notification

IBPS Clerk Exam Pattern

One should note the exam pattern thoroughly in order to make an effective preparation strategy where you need the least effort and can make the maximum utility of the time. The exam is conducted in two tiers and is online. The pattern of prelims and mains is significantly different from each other. There is no interview round and the candidate is selected on a probationary basis.

IBPS Clerk Prelims Exam Pattern

IBPS Clerk Prelims is the entry-level stage of the exam. There are 1 mark for every correct answer and 0.25 negative marks for every wrong answer. There are sectional cut-off marks as well which you have to qualify. It varies from state to state and also different for general and reversed categories. The following table gives a gist of the marks weightage and section wise division of the questions-

Topic No. of Questions Marks weightage Duration
Quantitative Aptitude 35 35 20 minutes
Reasoning Ability 35 35 20 minutes
English 30 30 20 minutes
Total 100 100 60 minutes
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IBPS Clerk Prelims Marks Weightage

To ace the exam in your first attempt, you have to be familiar with the syllabus and the different marks weightage for each topic and section. This will help you to determine the more important topics and you can do your preparation strategically. The exam is all about accuracy and speed at the same time and hence, objective study method and preparation strategy is the smartest way to go.

  • There are 30 questions in English section that have to be attempted in 20 minutes which means you have 40 seconds per question.
Important Topics Maximum number of questions Probable Time to be dedicated
Reading Comprehension 7-10 5-7 minute
Spotting Errors 5 3 minute
Cloze Test 5-10 4 minute
Fillers 5 4 minute
Vocabulary 1-2 2 minute
  • For numerical ability there are 20 minutes allotted for 35 questions which means you can spare 34 seconds per question at most.
Important Topics Maximum Number of Questions Probable Time to be dedicated 
Data Interpretation 8-10 5-7 minute
Simplification & Approximation 5-10 5 minute
Number Series 5 3-4 minute
Miscellaneous (Average, P&L, Time & work, Ratio proportion, Percentage etc.) 10-12 5-7 minute
  • The time limit for reasoning ability is the same as that for numerical ability and there are 35 questions- per question 34 seconds is all you have.
Important Topics Maximum Number of Questions Probable Time to be dedicated
Puzzles and Sitting Arrangement 10-15 7-10 minute
Syllogism 3-5 3 minute
Inequality 3-5 2-3 minute
Blood Relation 2-4 3 minute
Coding-Decoding 1-2 2 minute

IBPS Clerk Generic Tips for Preparation

As you can see that time is the main trouble for the aspirants in IBPS Prelims. Reasoning ability and numerical questions are the most time consuming and your aim should be finishing enough questions correctly from each of these sections so that you are well above the sectional cut-off and also accumulate the majority of the prelims cut-off marks. Here are a few generic tips which you must keep in mind while preparing for the exam so that you are able to crack it-

  • Stay up to date with your study plan. If you create a study time table make sure you are following it thoroughly. Have a separate planner to note your daily progress and see if you have managed to cover all the topics you were supposed to on a specific day.
  • Do not leave out any topic thinking it is unimportant. Questions come from all the topics in the syllabus. While some topics have more share in the questions, none of them are left out. The maximum you can do is lay less stress on unconventional topics. Follow the previous years’ question papers to determine the pattern in the questions and which topics can be skimmed over and do not call for in-depth study.
  • Stick to your time management schedule. If you have trouble with specific topics, go through the solved examples related to them and try practising them. Also, always begin your preparation with a topic that you are confident about. When you will have a good start of your study routine, you will feel motivated to attempt the more difficult sections that you are apprehensive about.
  • Numerical ability and the reasoning section calls for rigorous practice. It is the only way to make sure that you have enough conceptual understanding to solve these questions fast and accurately. Practice mock tests and previous year questions on a daily basis. Also subscribe for different online mock tests to get familiar with the actual exam set-up.
  • Make notes on the go for all the sections- especially, English and numerical ability. When you come across any unusual English word or phrase, make a note along with the meaning and for numerical, make notes of different formulas so that you can easily revise from here at the last minute.
  • Make a habit of using sticky notes in your notebooks. When you need to skim through them in the last minutes, these sticky notes can be exceptionally handy for finding the right page or notes that you need.
  • At a time, focus on only 2-3 topics and make sure they are thoroughly completed before you move on to the next.
  • Divide your study time on the basis of short term and long term plans. The short term plans should comprise weekly goals or daily goals for sections from each topic. The long term goals should be focused more on covering enough sections and topics so that you can attempt a mock test.

Check IBPS Clerk Pattern & Syllabus

IBPS Clerk Prelims Topic-Wise Preparation Strategy

There are three sections in IBPS Clerk Prelims- quantitative aptitude, reasoning ability and English. Each topic is equally important and you will have to dedicate enough time to each of them to improve your ability to quickly solve the relevant questions. Students with natural flair in English definitely have an edge over others as they may not have to dedicate too much time to the topic as it has very basic topics which are easy enough for anyone with good grammatical knowledge and vocabulary. The following are topic-wise preparation strategies that you must follow to make the most of the time and also finish your preparation quickly to dedicate more time for revisions and preparations for IBPS Clerk Mains.

IBPS Clerk Prelims Preparation Strategy for English

For many IBPS aspirants, the English section appears to be the toughest of all but if you prepare thoroughly, it can be very scoring and also time-efficient. Since there is no calculation involved, you can finish the entire section in less than twenty minutes. However, accuracy is the primary problem as there is no way to verify your mistakes and often the questions can be very confusing.

  • In grammar, some of the important sections are idioms and phrases, error spotting, direct and indirect speech, active and passive voice and arrangement and rearrangement of sentences.
  • Your concept should be very clear when it comes to attempting the grammar section. Practice as many relevant exercises as you can from Wren and Martin and also topic-wise question papers to overcome any problem you have with grammar.
  • The vocabulary section comprises cloze test, synonyms and antonyms, spellings and homonyms.
  • The questions are tricky and can be both direct and indirect from this section. For example, in the reading comprehension section, you may get a question about a specific difficult term used in the passage and what is its meaning. On the other hand, a direct question will simply ask the meaning of a random word or give a phrase and ask for the one-word depiction of it.
  • Read newspapers, magazines and any kind of English reading materials at least 30 minutes daily with a dictionary at your side so that you are able to make notes on the go. This practice will also help in reading comprehension practice.
  • Reading comprehension is either theme-based or conclusion-based. It has the maximum number of questions and marks weightage and also the most scoring section if you know how to solve it.
  • Make a habit of simultaneously reading and answering the questions related to the passage. This will save time in the long run. Read the question first and spot keywords and phrases and search it out in the passage to find the related sentences and the probable answer.
  • Solve previous year reading comprehension sections. While the same passage is rarely repeated, there is a certain pattern in the theme of the passages for the banking exam and you can easily get a grip on reading and understanding such topics by solving previous years’ papers.

Read Detailed IBPS Clerk 2020 - English Language Preparation Strategy

IBPS Clerk Reasoning Ability Preparation strategy

The reasoning ability section does not require too many calculations but it definitely has tricky questions which calls for complex reasoning in limited time. This requires strong mental ability which can be acquired by practising such puzzles and questions on a regular basis. The section can be very time consuming if you do not practice it thoroughly. You must not leave out any of the sections while practicing. On the brighter side, the reasoning ability section is very scoring when you are familiar with the tricks to solve all types of puzzles, codes and other such questions.

  • The reasoning ability section comprises coding-decoding, inequalities, syllogism, blood relation, direction sense, puzzles, and seating arrangement.
  • Series completion, alphabets/dictionary, direction based, time sequence classification and odd pairs are some of the simplest topics from this section and have a fair share in the question weightage. Hence, you can quickly prepare it.
  • Blood relations, data sufficiency, syllogism, coding decoding are comparatively difficult and 15-17 questions come from this section. This means, you have to dedicate a major amount of time to preparing these topics specifically.
  • Seating arrangement, input-output machines, and puzzles are the most complicated and time-consuming of all the topics. There are usually 10-15 questions related to these topics.
  • The best way to prepare for reasoning ability is to emphasize mostly on the topics of medium level difficulty. If you can confidently solve all of them and all the simple topics too, you will have more than enough marks to cross the sectional cut-off.
  • Practice previous year question papers as often questions are repeated in this section. Even if it is not an exact match, the pattern of the question will be the same. Also solve, solve examples and study them carefully to understand the logic behind the method so that you are able to implement it while doing so.
  • In certain questions like sequence based ones, you can apply a reverse thinking method. This means, choose a random answer from the options given to fill the blank and calculate to check whether it is fitting the sequence.
  • In case you get stuck on one question, do not waste time trying to solve it and move on to the next. You can always come back later to attempt it after you are done with the ones you know.

Download IBPS Clerk 2020 Sample Papers

IBPS Clerk Quantitative Aptitude Preparation tips

Quantitative aptitude has 35 questions and 20 minutes. This means your calculation should be very fast and accurate so that all the questions can be covered. More than manually doing the sums, mental maths is elemental to ace this section and many candidates get stuck in prelims because their mental maths is not strong enough.

  • The easiest and scoring topics in quantitative aptitude are simplification, problems related to arithmetic like percentage, age, simple and compound interest, ratio and proportion etc. You can roughly expect 15-17 questions based on these topics.
  • Probability, quadratic equation, time and work, mixture and allegations, time, speed and distance are time, number series etc. are time consuming questions and there are approximately 12-15 of them.
  • To ace the easy as well as the difficult questions, you must learn a few basic numerical calculation strategies. Memorize multiplication tables up to 25, the list of squares and cubes of 1 to 25, and the common percentage and their fractional as well as decimal equivalents.
  • Pay more attention to the time consuming sections and their preparation so that you are able to reduce the calculation time required for them.
  • Look up shortcut calculation methods for different types of sums so that you can reduce the overall time needed to solve them.
  • While practising the sums, do not keep a calculator at hand and try to solve the calculations mentally. Also practice doing calculations by jumping steps as this will be very helpful in reducing the time required.
  • Make notes of all the formulas related to the sums in a separate notebook. While you can easily remember the formulas as you practice the sums, you can also keep this copy handy for last minute revision.
  • Lastly, during the exam skim through all the questions before you start attempting to recognize the ones you can quickly solve or are sure about. Attempt these first and then go for the ones which are comparatively more time consuming and difficult for you.

Direct Link to fill IBPS Clerk 2020 Application Form

IBPS Clerk Reference Books

Proper reference books are elemental for good preparation. But make sure that you keep the references limited to avoid confusion during preparation. A couple of books that cover all the topics for each section and have a lot of exercises and examples to practice are enough for prelims preparation. The following are some of the best books that you can follow:

  1. High School English Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin
  2. English grammar by SP Bakshi
  3. Objective General English by Arihant Publications
  4. Quantitative Aptitude Test by N.K. Singh
  5. Important Quant Formulae Flash Cards
  6. Quantitative Ability Daily Quiz
  7. Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by Dr. R.S. Agarwal
  8. Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Exams by R.S. Agarwal
  9. Kiran’s Textbook of Quickest Mathematics
  10. Analytical Reasoning by M.K. Pandey
  11. Magical Book of Puzzles by K Kundan
  12. Watch YouTube concept videos
  13. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
  14. Objective English- Edgar Thorpe
  15. Essential Grammar in Use- 3rd edition- Raymond Murphy
  16. Objective English for Competitive Exams- 5th edition- Hari Mohan Prasad, Uma Rani Singha

Acing the IBPS Clerk Prelims in the first attempt is all about the practice and accuracy you have for each of the topics. If you are sure about your preparation, you can easily ace the paper and qualify to the mains round. With the exams notification for IBPS Clerk 2020 yet to be published, you have more than enough time to start the preparation right now. We hope you can crack it this year and wish you all the best!

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

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