Banking is considered one of the most prestigious sectors to work in, the world over. It is not a job for everyone; it needs the right attitude, the ability to deal with various kinds of people, and a love for numbers. Banking is also a very dynamic sector as it intersects with every industry, making the banking experience unmatched. In India, a job in the banking sector assures a competent salary, prestige, and a great prospect for growth. Even if you start as a probationary Officer (PO), you can rise up all the way to become the branch manager.
Taking the IBPS RRB Officer & RRB Assistant exams is one way to make inroads into the banking sector. Held once a year, the exams are conducted by the Institute for Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), to find eligible candidates for posts in Regional Rural Banks in states and districts. The recruitment process for RRB Officer (scale I, II & III) and RRB Assistant posts for all categories is done through a common written entrance exam conducted by the IBPS. To work in an RRB, it is also essential to know the language of the concerned state, as the job entails interacting with locals.
The official website of IBPS claims that a total of 1.27 crore applicants sat for the exam in 2015-16, making this one of the most competitive public examinations in India with major potential for growth. As per their detailed ad, the department had a total of 16,560 posts, including Officers and Multipurpose Office Assistant posts. For more information on eligibility and requirements for different posts in 2017, see here.
Prepping for the exam
This month, the IBPS released the IBPS RRB recruitment notification, which means candidates need to get cracking on the exam. The exams are divided into prelims and mains, however, the IBPS RRB Officer exams have an additional interview round after the main exam. The prelims and mains will be held in September and November, respectively. The prelim exam is an objective type paper including 80 questions of one mark each, divided into two sections – Quantitative Aptitude and Reasoning Ability, which are to be done in 45 minutes. The main exam is usually divided into Reasoning, General Awareness, Quantitative Aptitude, English or Hindi Language and Computer Knowledge.
For those who have been preparing for a while, this time will be crucial as all your hard work will culminate into the final phase. There’s no denying that public examinations in India are complex and can seem particularly daunting especially to those of us who have been out of school and college for a while. To help release some of the pressure and ensure retentive learning, it’s best to make use of all resources at hand, including the wide availability of e-learning tools to complement your prep schedule.
Here are some tips which can help with your preparations –
1. Aim for the mains
It is advisable to keep your eye on the mains while making a study plan, and not just think of clearing the prelims. Preparing with the mains in mind, you would have covered more than 70 percent of the prelim syllabus, and it will also mean you will not have to scramble for time if you make it through the prelims. The mains are much more rigorous and you will need to dedicate more time for preparations.
2. Be organised
It is essential to have a plan, which should give you time to study and revise the syllabus, as well as practice with mock tests. You don’t want to be in a situation where you studied everything and cannot recall anything while writing the exam.
It can be really helpful to use an app to get organized. You can use Oliveboard, available on PC and mobile, to organise your preparation. It has mock tests, video lessons, and tests divided by topics and sections. A personalized online learning portal, Oliveboard preps the students, preparing for Banking and Government exams, using Video lectures, comprehensive course material, Live Group Practice Sessions, Customized Study Planners, All-India Test Series, Practice Tests, GK Supplements and Analytics for instant feedback. Their online preparation module gives access to its multiple course and preparation materials on both desktops, laptops as well as, through their android app on smartphones and tablets. Thus, it will help you focus your energy on the preparation, while the app takes care of the tracking and organizing. It can also assist in organising your study and navigating the preparation process efficiently.
3. Practice, practice practice
Remember practice makes perfect! It is very helpful to take diagnostic tests to keep your memory fresh and gauge your shortcomings. Taking practice and mock tests also helps you track and build your speed. These tests help you diagnose your weak areas and provide personalized practice on those topics. It also provides useful information on your performance to assist you in improving your speed, accuracy and overall efficiency.
Oliveboard’s mock tests have a range of question pertaining to all the topics for both prelims and the mains examination. Their IBPS RRB tutorials comprise a set of 30 Mock tests for both Prelims and Mains exams, which are available in both English and Hindi.
4. Keep a tab on the news
General awareness is an important part of the exam, and to ace that you will have to keep abreast with all that is happening around the world. You can read the newspaper every day, listen to the bulletin on TV once a day, and scour banking and economy related websites. Reading a magazine once a week or fortnight will also help you work on your comprehension and language skills.
Preparing by subject
If we look at the exam subject wise, there are five key areas to focus on:
The focus of the English preparations should be on comprehension and grammar, as the questions usually involve – phrases and idioms, spelling, grammar, and passages.
It’s good practice to devote some time to read, and understand grammar rules. Oliveboard mock tests can help you compare yourself to your peers across the country and identify your all India standing. And if you are falling short, it can help you catch up, by giving you instant feedback and remedial practice sessions.
Reasoning questions can be confusing and time-consuming if the candidate doesn’t have practice or isn’t prepared, but they can also be very scoring with the right amount of practice.
You need to focus on logical and analytical reasoning, blood relations, syllogisms, circular seating arrangement, linear seating arrangement, coded inequalities/mathematical inequalities etc. The reasoning questions are also tricky because of the negative marking. So practice, and stipulate a certain amount of time for these questions during the exam, and don’t waste too much time on one question.
3. General knowledge
For IBPS RRB exam, your general knowledge prep should focus on Indian history, agriculture, awards, politics, finance and insurance, Indian economy, taxes, budget, currencies, sports, agriculture and geography.
4. Quantitative aptitude
The quantitative section tests your calculation skills and school level mathematics. This section is complex and you should be prepared with formulas, concepts and practice extensively to keep your timing in check. The section includes problems on concepts like – percentage, average, simple interest and profit and loss, so practice those as much as you can. Studying from NCERT class 8, 9 and 10 is recommended for this section.
5. Computer knowledge
For this section, you should have the basic knowledge of computers, and understand – hardware, software, Internet, networking, operating system, Microsoft applications, and keyboard shortcuts.
Like any competitive exam, the IBPS RRB requires lots of hard work, practice, devotion and extensive preparations. There can be times when you are feeling demoralized, or just exhausted. It helps to do group studies once in a while and keep talking to fellow students. Oliveboard also has fun and engaging group study and practice session options, you can use them to collaborate and compete with friends in live sessions.
And while all of this is great, don’t forget to take a break and some time to rejuvenate. You need to keep calm and focus, so indulging a little in some exercise, or a sport so that you don’t have any fatigue before the exam is important.