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SBI PO Exam Pattern 2021- Prelims, Mains and Interview

Updated On -

Feb 26, 2021

The official announcement of SBI PO exam 2021 will be released by the State Bank Of India on their official website: or SBI PO (Probationary Officer) 2021 Exams have three stages: SBI PO Prelims, SBI PO Mains, and SBI PO Interview. To be precise, the SBI PO Prelims exam is held for shortlisting the aspirants for the SBI PO Mains exam, whereas the final merit list is depending upon the marks in Mains and interview stages.

Before starting the preparation, it is important to have complete knowledge about the type of questions and topics that are frequently asked in the exam. SBI PO Exam Pattern helps the aspirants to understand about the scheme, mode of exam, weightage of each topic etc. Even though the SBI PO exam pattern is similar to the other banking exams, it focuses more on Quantitative Ability Section and Computer Aptitude. Preparing according to the pattern of the exam will help candidates to score good marks in the exam.

For Previous year question paper, click here

PO Highlights

SBI PO Exam Pattern 2021 Highlights

SBI PO 2021 Stages of Exam Prelims, Mains and Interview
Mode of SBI PO 2021 Prelims- CBT (Objective type)
Mains- CBT (Objective type and descriptive type)
*CBT -Computer Based Test
Number of Sections Prelims- 3
Mains- 4
Duration of Exam Prelims- 1 hour
Mains- 3 hours 30 minutes
Number of Questions Prelims- 100 questions
Mains- 156 questions
Value of Each Question 1 mark
Penalty For the Wrong Answer -0.25
Medium of Paper English and Hindi
Sectional Time Limit Prelims: 20 minutes for each section
Mains: 60+45+35+40+30 minutes
PO Prelims Pattern

SBI PO 2021 Exam Pattern – Prelims (Phase I)

SBI PO Preliminary exam is the primary stage for the process of recruiting Probationary Officers. The test is conducted in online mode and consists of 3 sections- English Language, Quantitative Aptitude, and Reasoning Ability. Candidates after qualifying for SBI PO Preliminary will be able to appear for SBI Main. The marks secured in the first phase will not be considered for final selection or in total marks. During the Exam, Candidates appearing for SBI PO Recruitment Exam will be given a desktop per head, where all the instructions and guidelines will be given that need to be followed by them.

  • The aspirants will get 1 mark for every correct answer, while for every incorrect answer, the candidates will be deducted 0.25 marks.
  • They have to answer them one by one. For the English section, candidates have to answer in English Language only, whereas, for the Quants and Reasoning Section, the Paper will be set in English and Hindi.
  • There is no provision of sectional cut off. A candidate need not clear the minimum qualifying marks in each section of the test, but overall cut off to get selected for the subsequent rounds. Click here for previous year prelims question papers of SBI PO.

Sectional Value in SBI PO Prelims

The following tabular is about what every section of SBI PO Prelims 2021 contains how many marks and the duration of the exam:

Section Name No. of Questions Total Marks Duration
English Language 30 30 20 minutes
Quantitative Ability 35 35 20 minutes
Reasoning Ability 35 35 20 minutes
Total 100 100 1 Hour
PO Mains pattern

SBI PO Exam Pattern– Main (Phase II)

Only if the candidate qualifies for the SBI PO Prelims, can appear for SBI PO Main Exams. This exam has 2 levels which are held on the same day as declared on their official website:

  1. Objective test
  2. Descriptive test

Things we should keep in mind before jumping into the Exam Sections or SBI PO Syllabus:

  1. Both objective and Descriptive Test will be Online.
  2. SBI, the conducting body of SBI PO has specified a time to attempt each section in the Main exam.
  3. After SBI PO Main Exam 2021, the Merit List will be released on their official website or
  4. Candidates with a higher score will be given priority for GD and Interview Round as well. Click here for cutoff trends of past few years.

The Exam pattern of the objective Part is quite easy to understand. There are a total of 4 sections, namely Reasoning & Computer Aptitude, Data Analysis & Interpretation, General Awareness about Economy & Banking, and English Language.

Value and Weightage of SBI PO Main (Objective test)

The following tabular is about what every section of the Objective test of SBI PO 2021 Mains contains how many marks for which section and the duration of the exam:

Section Number of Questions Total Marks of Each Section Duration of Section
Reasoning & Computer Aptitude 45 60 marks 60 minutes
Data Analysis & Interpretation 35 60 marks 45 minutes
General Awareness (Economy & Banking) 40 40 marks 35 minutes
English Language 35 40 marks 40 minutes
Total 155 Questions 200 Marks 3 hours

Value and Weightage of SBI PO Main (Descriptive Test)

In SBI PO Main Exam, the second level is the Descriptive Test. It will be taken immediately after the Objective test. The mode of the exam is online.

  • Candidates will be allotted one Computer system where the candidates write down answers as per their choice.
  • Candidates are given 30 minutes to complete a descriptive paper
  • There are a total of 2 questions in this section namely Letter writing and Essay Writing.
  • Each question is of 25 marks.

Note: The Descriptive Paper of a candidate will be checked only after the candidate qualifies for the Objective test.

PO Interview

SBI PO Personal Interview Pattern – (Phase III)

Candidates who will qualify for both the Objective test and Description Test of SBI PO will be eligible to appear for Group Exercise and Personal Interview. – Group Discussions consists of 20 marks.

  • The Personal Interview is of 30 marks.
  • The final score will be the sum of SBI PO Main and Group Discussion and Interview.
  • The OBC aspirants, who will qualify the Group Exercise and interview under the ‘OBC’ category, will need to submit the OBC certificate, containing the ‘Non Creamy Layer’ clause. Check eligibility criteria for OBC category.
  • The result will be published on SBI official website
PO Selection Process

SBI PO Final Selection Process 2021

  • The exam conducting authorities will not consider the obtainable scores in the SBI PO Prelims exam to prepare the final SBI PO Merit list.
  • For preparing the final merit list, the scores obtained from the SBI PO Mains exam (both in the objective and descriptive test) and in Group Exercise and Interview will be included.
  • Nonetheless, the aspirants have to qualify both the SBI PO Prelims and SBI PO Mains exam separately.
  • 75% weightage marks of the SBI PO Mains exam (out of 250 marks) and 25% weightage marks of Group Exercise and Interview (out of 50 marks) will be considered. To compile the final merit list the aggregate scores (out of 100) will be calculated.

To complete the final selection process, the top merit ranked aspirants of each category will be considered.



Ques. Is the SBI PO Exam Bilingual?

Ans. Except for the Descriptive Test for the English Language, all the other tests are bilingual, i.e. available in both English and Hindi.

Ques. Is there a Negative Marking in SBI PO Exam?

Ans. Yes, there is negative marking for the wrong answers in the objective tests of both Preliminary and Mains Exam of SBI PO 2021. One-fourth of the total marks allotted for that question will be deducted for marking a wrong answer.

Ques. Are there fixed timings for different sections?

Ans. Yes, the conducting body has limited the duration for each section of both SBI PO Prelims and Main.

Ques. How many marks have been allotted for PI and GD?

Ans. The maximum marks for Group Discussions (GD) and Personal Interview (PI) are 50 marks.

Ques. Is there a sectional cut-off in the SBI PO exam?

Ans. No, it has been removed and only overall cut-off marks will be considered to select the candidates.

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

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


sunny pandey
how to prepare for descriptive paper in sbi po?
kavita rani

Hi Sunny. Candidates are given 30 minutes to complete Descriptive paper. There are a total of 2 questions in this section namely Letter writing and Essay Writing, so it is important for the candidates to prepare their studies accordingly. Refer here for more details. 

fauzia shahid
how to prepare for banking awareness for sbi po?
kavita rani

Hi Fauzia. Reading papers, informatory magazines, and keeping an eye on the day to day news can help candidates remember important details of general knowledge.
Refer here to get more details.

rakhisree chatterjee


How to Prepare Banking Awareness?

  1. Prepare topics like History of banking, banking terminologies, latest technologies in banking thoroughly.
  2. On a daily basis prepare a topic from the banking awareness syllabus.
  3. Also give importance to current affairs with reference to banking awareness.
  4. Give importance to financial awareness also.

For more information, please refer, SBI PO Exam.

utkarsha khatri
Will the descriptive test be conducted offline?
kavita rani

Hi Utkarsha. Both objective and Descriptive Test will be taken online.