How to Prepare Reasoning for IBPS SO

Updated On -

Jun 23, 2020

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IBPS SO is one of the most popular banking exams in the country and is the entrance for aspiring specialist officers. There are seventeen central and state banks which take part in this exam to recruit bank SO every year. The exam consists of prelims, and mains and the selection is done based on the total marks achieved in both the stages. This means, the prelims is not only a determinant to qualify for the mains but it will also play a crucial role in the final selection. Like any other banking exams in India, IBPS SO prelims shares the same syllabus where Reasoning ability plays a vital role. You have to be accurate and fast with solving the problems on reasoning to ace the exam. The best part is, the reasoning ability syllabus overlaps for all the banking service prelims exams and hence you do not have to put in exclusive efforts for IBPS SO.

Latest updates

  • IBPS SO 2020 exam is scheduled for December 28, 29, 2020.
  • The application procedure will begin from October 2020.

Importance of reasoning section and syllabus

The reasoning section is only there in the prelims of IBPS SO. The result of your prelims will determine whether you are eligible for Mains. The reasoning ability section comprises 50 questions that carry 50 marks and have to be completed within 40 minutes which is the sectional time limit. The total marks of prelims is 150 marks and the total time limit is 120 minutes. There is a negative marking of 0.25 marks for every wrong answer. Here’s why you cannot skip practising reasoning-

  • Reasoning ability is a vital part of almost every government exam including banking services.
  • It always has a major share in the total marks and if you practice it thoroughly, it is very scoring and straightforward. This means, there is no scope for confusion regarding the answer to a certain question and you can be either wrong or right.
  • If your reasoning ability is good and you can solve such problems fast, the majority of the required cut-off marks can be accumulated and maximized through this one section.
  • The reasoning section is designed to check your ability to take impromptu decisions, management skills, and accuracy with data analysis.
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Some of the important topics in reasoning ability syllabus-

  • Non-verbal reasoning
  • Seating arrangement
  • Blood relation
  • Inequality
  • Input-output
  • Data sufficiency
  • Coding decoding
  • Logical reasoning
  • Puzzles
  • Syllogism
  • Distance and direction
  • Diagram based questions
  • Analogy

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Weightage per topic in the reasoning ability section- IBPS SO

In order to smartly strategize your preparation, you should be familiar with the average topic-wise weightage in the prelims exams. You can get an idea by going through all the previous year question papers. Based on our analysis of the past question papers, we have created the following average topic-wise weightage table for your reference-

Topic  Number of Questions
Verbal reasoning  5-8
Scheduling  0-5
Double line-up 0-5
Syllogism  3-5
Seating arrangement  5-7
Linear seating arrangement 5-10
Input-output 0-5
Blood relations 2-5
Analytical decision making 0-5
Inequality 5
Data sufficiency 3-5
Order and ranking 2-6
Direction and distance 2-5

Questions based on puzzles, blood relation, seating arrangement, data analysis are consistent every year and hence are very important topics that you must prepare to improve your accuracy and overall speed. In the next sections, we are going to share some generic tips to make the preparation effortless as well as tips for quickly finishing the preparation on specific topics.

Generic preparation strategies for Reasoning Ability in IBPS SO

The key to ace the section is mastering the methods to quickly solve the questions with maximum accuracy. The following are a few things which you can do to improve your speed as well as accuracy in solving these types of questions-

  • The section is entirely based on your logical reasoning ability and you have to enhance it through the regular practice of the questions from this section.
  • Get familiar with the exam pattern thoroughly so that you are able to make a realistic study plan and follow it dedicatedly.
  • If you are appearing for other banking exams as well, you will find the reasoning ability section is a common factor in every syllabus. Plan your study time accordingly so that you can maximize your learning through minimum effort and time.
  • The study plan should be dedicatedly followed until the day before the exam. Create a plan that is realistic and can be followed tirelessly for months. Only when you are making the most of the available time, you will be able to thoroughly complete the syllabus and attain maximum accuracy through repeated practice.
  • Solve previous year question papers as well as mock tests so that everything that you are studying is absorbed well and there is no scope of forgetting the things you learn.
  • Constantly revise the sections you are completing as this section can only make the exam more difficult when you lack practice or slow.

Check IBPS SO Pattern & Syllabus

Time management tips for reasoning ability in IBPS SO

Time management plays an important role in determining how well you are going to perform in the exam. Especially for reasoning ability, the capacity of the candidate to make the most of the allotted forty minutes can make your break their dream. Here are some tips which you should always keep in mind whether you are attempting a mock test or the actual prelims so that you do not fail because of insufficient time-

  • Never try to attempt all 50 questions- instead focus on solving the questions with accuracy so that there is no mistake at all. Moreover, when you shortlist 30-40 questions to answer, you will automatically have more time to solve them. However, make sure that your practice and confidence is such that you can crack all these 30-40 questions correctly.
  • Skim through all the questions in a couple of minutes first and mark the ones which you are sure of. Attempt these first and finish them as fast as you can.
  • Always start the paper with easier questions. This will make sure you are motivated and you will also be able to solve them fast and reserve most of the time for the more complex questions.
  • Do not panic under any circumstances while doing the reasoning ability section. It will simply cloud your logical ability and make you slower.
  • Make a habit of skipping questions that you find difficult or time-consuming. Instead of sparing too long on such questions, focus more on questions that can be solved quickly.

Tips to maximize your score in IBPS SO Prelims through Reasoning Ability section

If you are good at reasoning ability, then this section can easily maximize your prelims marks and make sure you get the necessary marks to qualify for mains. Here are a few tips and suggestions to bear in mind so that you can maximize your score through IBPS SO-

  • Puzzles carry the highest marks weightage and hence you have to practice all types of puzzles as much as you can so that you do not have to leave any of these questions in the exam.
  • Often questions on blood relations and similar topics are asked in the form of puzzles. Hence, practice such trick questions more. You can find such questions in previous year papers.
  • Play up your strength while attempting the paper. Go for the sections which you are more comfortable with. This is especially helpful if you are good at processing data and information fast which will mean you can solve the data analysis based questions which often come as a set based on one data chart that can be solved quickly.
  • When you are preparing for the exam, focus more on topics that usually have maximum marks weightage in the exam. If you are confident about your accuracy and speed regarding solving these sections, you will be able to cover a majority of the questions fast and accurately.
  • Never make random guesses in the reasoning ability section as it will lead to more wrong answers and marks lost in negative marking.
  • Odd pair, analogy, direction, alphabet series are considered the easiest and less time consuming hence focus on practicing them more and attempting them all.

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Topic-wise tips for reasoning ability section in IBPS SO Prelims

Each topic is different and you must have a different approach for them to understand them and prepare them better. The following are a few tips based on the topics individually which will help you make the most of your preparation time with minimum effort-

Puzzle and seating arrangement

  • Check the solved examples from a good reference book and solve them repeatedly to understand the pattern of the puzzles that are being asked in the exam generally.
  • Seating arrangement questions are asked in various forms and they are always there in the paper hence practice as many types and variations you can for this particular topic.
  • Puzzles also include diagram based questions which you must practice.

Non-verbal and verbal reasoning

  • In verbal reasoning, you must practice identifying the keyword of the question so that you can grasp the meaning faster and determine the answer accordingly.
  • In the non-verbal reasoning questions, pay attention to the patterns that are given precisely.
  • Both non-verbal and verbal topics are best mastered when you keep solving previous year question papers and solved examples from the best books.

Blood relations

  • This is a very easy section if your basic concept is clear. Hence, more than just practicing, learn about the family tree thoroughly.
  • The topic is mainly asked to test the candidates’ cognitive ability. They can be in the form of puzzles and get very complex. But if your concept of relationship is clear, you can easily solve them mentally.
  • Lay more emphasis on questions related to mixed-blood relation, coded, blood relation, and amalgamation of puzzles with blood relation.


  • This section can fetch good marks when your concept is clear.
  • When you are practising questions related to syllogism, avoid using pen and paper, and focus more on solving them mentally. This will help you complete these questions in seconds.
  • Usually, there are 5 questions from this section and you can easily solve all of them correctly when you have the basic conception right.
  • Even if your mental solving is not at par, you can always rely on drawing Venn diagrams to solve these questions.
  • Read the questions very carefully so that you do not miss out on any data as that can lead to incorrect solutions.

Direction and distance

  • While solving these questions, consider all the eight directions and not just the four.
  • Always assume you are facing north to simplify the solving procedure.
  • In questions which are rotation based, always imagine rotating the person clockwise or anti-clockwise, relative to the direction in which they are facing according to the question.
  • There are usually 4-5 questions based on the direction and if you have a good sense of the topic, you can quickly and accurately solve all of them.

Machine input-output

  • This is a very important topic that is asked every year and there are at least 5 questions from this section.
  • This is specifically important in banking exams.

Data sufficiency

  • Understand and analyze the question thoroughly before you start attempting it.
  • These questions are time-consuming and only rigorous practice can make sure that you need less time.
  • If mentally solving the question feels too complicated, then write down the gist to solve it.
  • However, this question comes in the form of a set which means if you have a good understanding of the data provided, you can easily solve 3-4 questions related to it. This means it can prove to be rather scoring.

Coding decoding

  • Carefully observe the alphabets and numbers given for the coding.
  • Recognize whether the coding is given in ascending or descending sequence.
  • Also recognize if there is any pattern or rule for the elements that are mentioned in the questions.
  • Practice different types of code-based questions so that you are able to solve them quickly.
  • Usually, the patterns are rather easy and hence very scoring too.

Logical reasoning

  • Usually, there are 5-6 questions that are based on logical reasoning in the prelims paper.
  • Specifically lay emphasis on practicing questions based on cause and action, assumptions, the strength of arguments, and inference.
  • Again, try and practice verbal reasoning to increase your speed and accuracy rather than relying on pen and paper.

Read IBPS SO News

Best reference books for reasoning ability in IBPS SO Prelims

The following are some of the best books which you can invest in for the IBPS SO Prelims reasoning ability section. Choose a couple among the following which have many solved examples and number of sample questions and mock tests-

  1. Ace Reasoning
  2. A complete Book on Puzzles and Seating Arrangement
  3. The cracker Mains Exam Book
  4. Bank Publications Prime(Puzzle+DI) Combo
  5. Analytical Reasoning (BSC Publication) by M K Pandey
  6. The Hand on Guide to Analytical Reasoning and Logical Reasoning- Peeyush Bhardwaj
  7. A Modern Approach To Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning Revised Edition- R. S. Aggarwal
  8. A New Approach to Reasoning Verbal and Non-Verbal 1st Edition- BS Sijwali, Indu Sijwali

When your preparation for reasoning ability is up to the mark, you will be able to ace the IBPS SO prelims confidently. Keeping the tips and suggestions we have shared above in mind, you should start your preparation at the earliest. The exam dates have already been announced and this means you have only a few more months to finish practice and revision. Give your best and we wish you the brightest future!

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