English Section Strategy for IBPS SO Prelims 2020

Updated On -

Jun 20, 2020

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Abanti Pramanik

Exams Prepmaster

IBPS conducts recruitment exams for 17 central and state banks in the country for filling up vacancies of clerks, Bank PO and Bank SO. The IBPS SO is in charge of specific departments in the bank which are not directly related to the services provided by banks but it is essential to ensure the organization runs smoothly. Several positions are fulfilled and hired through IBPS SO like the HR, IT Officer, Law officers, and Rajbhasha Adhikari. The selection procedure comprises the prelims, mains, and followed by provincial recruitment. To some extent, IBPS SO preparation will overlap with IBPS PO and clerk but it is largely different. The English language is a common section for both IBPS PO and SO. We have shared some valuable tips which will help you quickly step up your preparation for IBPS SO Prelims.

IBPS SO Prelims- English Syllabus

When you know the prelims syllabus by heart, you can easily determine where to begin the preparations. There are several segments in the English language section and they all call for good command over grammar and spoken English. This is perhaps the primary reason behind many aspirants finding it difficult to handle. As many candidates do not have English as their first language in school, their basis of the language is weak. This also means someone with a natural flair for the language and understanding of its grammatical technicalities will have an extra edge in the exam. If you have these skills, English can be very scoring and also easy enough to complete within the time frame. The following are important topics that are covered by the IBPS SO prelims English syllabus-

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Cloze Test
  • One Word Substitution
  • Para jumbles
  • Paragraph Completion
  • Error Spotting
  • Odd One Out
  • Correct Usage
  • Fillers – Single, Double
  • Idioms and Phrases
  • Synonyms/ Antonyms
  • Vocabulary based questions
  • Sentence Improvement
  • Word/Phrase Replacement

Check IBPS SO Application & Registration

IBPS SO Prelims- Exam pattern and marks weightage for English

The IBPS SO Prelims comprise one paper that has three sections namely- English language, reasoning ability, and general awareness with special attention to the banking industry. From the English language, you will get 50 questions carrying 50 marks. The time limit is 40 minutes. There is a negative marking of 0.25 marks for every wrong answer. No marks will be deducted if a question is left un-attempted. Let’s see the probable number of questions or marks weightage that you can expect from each topic-

Topics Probable number of questions
Reading Comprehension 10
Fill in the blanks 0-5
Paragraph Complete/ Sentence Correction 5
Cloze Test 10
Error spotting 0-5
Multiple meaning/error solving 0-5
Synonyms/antonyms 6-10
Para Jumbles 5
Miscellaneous 5
Prepp Test Series


If you closely study the previous years’ question papers, you will find out that some topics are constant and they always come like the reading comprehension section and cloze test. Hence, they are definitely the most important parts to be prepared as there are 20 questions alone from these sections. If you have enough practice, you can correctly answer all of them. In the next section, we will share some tips on how to prepare the English language for IBPS SO prelims with minimum effort and time.

IBPS SO Prelims- general tips to prepare English

If you dedicate 10 hours a week, you can complete the syllabus in two weeks’ time and rest depends on your revision and continuous practice. The time length can vary based on your natural fluency in the language- 10 hours is the maximum anyone whose weak spot is English will require. The following are some generic tips regarding the subject which will help you to improve your understanding further-

  • Develop a habit of reading. It can be from books or simply an English newspaper. But make sure when you are reading it, you read every word aloud and move on to the next paragraph only if you understand the one you were reading completely. Keep a dictionary, notepad, and pen handy so that you can look up meanings of unusual words and even their synonyms and antonyms if they are there. This habit will help your practice in reading comprehension and vocabulary at the same time.
  • The passages for reading comprehension are usually related to finance, economics, and banking hence, develop a habit of reading the relevant columns in the newspaper. This will make it easier for you to understand such passages quickly and also develop your current affairs’ knowledge.
  • Practice one reading comprehension and one cloze test exercise daily besides the topics you have scheduled for the day. Both these topics have a major share in the questions and can only be perfected through practice.
  • Solve previous year question papers as much as you can. While there are rarely exact common questions, it will familiarize you with the pattern of the questions in the English language section.
  • This may sound strange, but while solving the entire mock test or practice paper, follow the English questions rather than the Hindi ones. This will also improve your understanding of the language and at the same time assist in your preparation for the other sections as well.
  • Even if you are proficient in English, do not entirely skip practicing and studying for this section as questions in IBPS SO prelims are rather tricky and often candidates have confusion in determining the right answer for several questions. This problem can also be avoided with constant practice.
  • In questions on error spotting and cloze test and para jumbles, the questions are interrelated. This means if you get even one wrong, chances are that the rest of the answers will also be wrong. To avoid this, practice such questions on a daily basis. Specifically for para jumbles, remember that a sentence starting with connecting words is most likely to be in the middle of the paragraph, and sentences that begin with a conclusive tone is likely to be the last line.

Check IBPS SO Pattern & Syllabus

IBPS SO Prelims- Topic-wise Preparation tips for English

The topics of prime importance in IBPS SO Prelims English language is definitely reading comprehension, cloze test, and several sub-topics of grammar. Hence, understanding the requirements of each topic is important so that you are able to plan the preparation strategy accordingly. Hence, we have shared the following topic-wise tips so that you require less effort regarding preparation for IBPS SO Prelims-

  • Reading comprehension

There are ten questions every year from the reading comprehension section and it cannot be left out during your preparation. Here are a few things that you can do to make the preparation easier-

  • The questions related to the reading comprehension are usually directly from the passage or grammatical questions based on words and phrases quoted from the passage. Hence, develop a habit of understanding the meanings of words based on how they are being used in the sentence.
  • Practice reading the questions first and skimming through the passage later to find the relevant answer may sound difficult but when you have the habit, it will make solving reading comprehension a much faster process.
  • Grammar

The grammar section includes questions from tenses, prepositions, fill in the blanks, error spotting, and sentence correction. Without an adequate understanding of English grammar, this section can be tricky.

  • Practice grammar exercises that are relevant to a good reference book.
  • Develop your reading habits as much as you can, especially through novels and newspapers.
  • Practice previous year questions repeatedly. Even if you do not understand the reason behind why a specific word is being used in a particular sentence, you will get familiar with different sentence structure and hence can predict the right answer.
  • Try the reverse answering method- pick a random option that seems the most befitting in the blank or in sentence correction and see if it sounds right.
  • Vocabulary

Synonyms, antonyms, and spelling checker are several important topics related to vocabulary which you will get in the IBPS SO Prelims.

  • The reading habit will help you best in this case.
  • Always keep a dictionary handy and use it for checking up any unknown word immediately.
  • Check the types of words that are usually asked in the prelims exam so that you are able to determine which words are more important for this exam specifically.

Check IBPS SO Result & Counselling

Recommended books for the English language

The following are some reference books which you can consider for IBPS SO Prelims English language-

Name of the book Author
Objective English for Competitive Examinations Hari Mohan Prasad, Uma Rani Sinha
Objective English 4 Edition Edgar Thorpe
Objective General English S P Bakshi
Word Power Made Easy Norman Lewis
Objective English Hari Mohan Prasad and U.R.Sinha
Objective General English 22nd Edition R. S. Aggarwal, Vikas Aggarwal

The English language is a common section for all banking service exams. This means you will find the syllabuses overlapping and do not have to put extra efforts into the separate exams that you are attempting. By keeping in mind the tips and suggestions we have put forward in the article, we hope you are able to implement them thoroughly and benefit as well.

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

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