IBPS SO Exam Preparation Tips for Candidates

The IBPS SO Examination is conducted in order to recruit candidates for various disciplines such as Law, Agriculture, Human Resources, Marketing etc. The Prelims Examination is scheduled in the Month of December followed by the Mains Examination and the Interview. Now that you have around 2 months left for the examination, it is high time that you start preparing for this examination. This is different from IBPS PO Examination since you get to pursue career in your academic discipline such as Law or HR. In this blog, we are going to discuss the important tips necessary for your success in this highly competitive examination.

IBPS SO 2018-19: What is the Exam Pattern?

The IBPS Specialist Officer Examination is going to be held in three phases – Prelims, Mains and Interview. However, your marks in the Prelims Examination will not be counted for the final selection. Your combined marks in the Mains Examination and Personal Interview will be considered for final selection.

Preliminary Examination:

For the Preliminary Examination, there will be an Objective Test of 125 marks. There will be negative marking of 0.25 marks for each wrong answer. The pattern of the test will be as follows:

For the Post of Law Officer and Rajbhasha Officer (Scale I):

Name of Tests Max. no. of Question Max. Marks Allotted Time
English Language 50 25 Composite Time of 2 hours
Reasoning 50 50
General Awareness with Special Focus on Banking Industry 50 50
Total 150 125


For the other posts under IBPS SO 2018-19 recruitment process, the pattern of Prelims Examination will be as follows:

Name of Tests Max. No. of Questions Max. Marks Allotted Time
English Language 50 25 Composite Time of 2 hours
Quantitative Aptitude 50 50
Reasoning Ability 50 50
Total 150 125


Mains Examination:

The Prelims Examination will be followed by the IBPS SO Mains Examination. You need to study only Professional Knowledge for this round. There will be negative mark 0.25 marks for each wrong answer in case of the Objective questions. Please note that your marks in this examination will be considered for final selection. The pattern of the Exam will be as follows:

Name of Tests No. of Questions Marks Allotted Time
Professional Knowledge 60 60 45 Minutes


However, for the Post of Rajbhasha Officer, the pattern will be as follows:

Name of Tests No of Questions Marks Allotted Time Allotted
Professional Knowledge (Objective Type) 45 60 30 minutes
Professional Knowledge (Descriptive Type) 2 30 minutes
Total 47 60 60 minutes


Personal Interview:

This is the final round in the selection process. Once you qualify in the Mains Examination, you will have to face the interview. The Personal Interview is of 100 marks and qualifying marks will not be less than 40% for UR and 35% for other categories.

Selection and Provisional Allotment:

IBPS will publish the final result after combining the scores obtained in the Mains Examination and the Personal Interview. You will be provisionally allotted to one of the participating organizations according to the merit list and your preference given at the time of applying for IBPS Specialist Officer Examination.

IBPS SO 2018-19: How to Prepare for the Exam?

Now that we have gone through the exam pattern, we are well aware of the subjects relevant to this exam. The following subjects are required to be studied for the examination:

  • English Language
  • Quantitative Aptitude / General Awareness
  • Reasoning Ability
  • Professional Knowledge

English Language:

English Language section will be there in the Prelims Examination only. This section is going to be the trickiest in the examination. The syllabus of this section will include:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Error Detection / Error Correction
  • Cloze Test
  • Fill in the Blanks
  • Sentence Replacement / Sentence Correction
  • Word Replacement
  • Word Usage
  • Phrases and Idioms
  • Connect the Sentences

The following tips will come in handy for scoring well in this section:

  • Focus on the basics of Grammar: Yes, that is the most important thing to prepare for English for any examination. Any language is based on its grammar and English is no exception. If you can master it, you master the language. Go through standard grammar books first.
  • Focus on the Exceptions: It is more important to remember the exceptions rather than the rules. In most of the cases, questions are based on such exceptions of any rule.
  • Focus on application: If you want to succeed in any competitive examination that has English, this is your best bet. You have to learn to apply your knowledge properly so that you can face anything and everything.
  • Don’t attempt questions blindly: This is especially important for English since this section often contains questions that are deceptive. You will end up losing marks if you attempt such questions.
  • Keep your calm at all times: Please make sure that questions may not be very easy at the first glance in this section, but answers may be easy. A question on Error Detection may be presented in several manners but an error in one type will be an error in all the types. ‘I am’ will always be correct and ‘I is’ will be wrong.
  • Don’t always think Reading Comprehension is time-consuming: It is often said that RC is a time consuming item and students often leave it. However, it is not always true. It may seem long but questions may not be that difficult. Go through the questions first and then go through the passage. It will help you trace the exact paragraph you need to refer to for answering a question.

Reasoning Ability:

The Reasoning Ability section is a time-consuming section in any IBPS Examination. IBPS SO is not different. This section will contain questions based on the following chapters:

  • Coding-Decoding
  • Seating Arrangement (Linear and Circular)
  • Puzzles
  • Blood Relations
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • Number Series
  • Order and Ranking
  • Direction Test
  • Syllogism
  • Machine Input and Output

The following tips will be useful for scoring well in this section:

  • Don’t waste too much time on one question: It is very common that candidates end up attempting very few questions in this section. The main reason is that they waste too much time on any one question. If a question is taking too much time, it is better to leave it. You need to score well and it does not matter from which question you score.
  • Practice is very important in this section: This is especially true for this section since you must be at home with the questions. If you practise well, you will find it a cakewalk to attempt questions in the exam. Practise questions of varying levels of difficulty so that you don’t get stumped in the exam, no matter what question comes in the exam.
  • Choosing the right questions holds the key: You are not a superhuman and that is why you have to be smart. There are questions which will take more time whereas some will take less time, Make sure that you identify proper questions. If you waste time on one question, you will end up losing marks. But if you select the right questions, you will end up scoring more.
  • Keep your mind open: It may be the case that you find something new in the exam. The trick is to maintain your calm. If you have practised well, there is no need to be afraid. Don’t think before entering the exam hall that you will attempt these many questions. Such an assumption will lead to disappointment if you fail to attempt the desired number of questions. It will then affect your performance in other sections also.

Quantitative Aptitude:

This section is also very important for your success in the IBPS SO Examination. The syllabus of this section will include the following chapters:

  • Profit and Loss
  • Simple and Compound Interest
  • Mixture and Alligation
  • Time and Distance / Time and Work / Pipe and Cistern
  • Simplification
  • Quadratic Equation
  • Number Series
  • Data Sufficiency
  • Data Interpretation

The following tips will become useful for your preparation in this section:

    • Start with the basics of each chapter: To start with QA preparation, pick up any standard book and go through the basic rules. Please understand the rules. Don’t just mug up the rules. This way you will not forget them easily.
    • Don’t go with shortcuts if you are not comfortable: This is very important as many will say that shortcuts are indispensable. They are not. If something is indispensable, that is your knowledge. Don’t ever think of going for shortcuts if it involves too much memorization.
    • Focus on application: Nobody is asking you how you calculate time if you are given the distance to be covered and the speed. But you will be given a question in which you have to apply this formula. The point is that you need to be able to apply what you have learnt.


  • Practise properly: QA is all about practice as much as possible. If you just know a rule and have never practised it at home, you will find it very difficult to apply it in the exam. It looks different when you are asked a question based on any rule. You won’t get enough time to think and apply in the examination. Practice will help you reduce thinking and apply rules as and where required.
  • Choose the right questions: Since you are required to do a lot of calculation, it is very important that you choose the right question. It will help you attempt more and score more in this section.
  • Don’t get stuck in a question: Please make sure that you manage your time properly. If you are finding a question difficult, just leave it. Don’t make it your purpose of life to solve it. You can still make it if you are not able to solve that particular question.


General Awareness:

This section can give you easy marks if you prepare well. Being less time consuming, it will help you score with the minimum effort in the exam. The syllabus of this section will include the following:

  • Static GK
  • Current Events of National and International importance
  • Banking and Financial Awareness

There is one thing that you should do for preparation of this section – Revision. You go through something and you revise it time and again till the time it is not registered in your brain. Cover current affairs of last 6 months at least and apart from that, get any standard book for Static GK and Banking Awareness. But focus on revising what you study. Don’t read too many books but read one standard book many times.

Professional Knowledge:

IBPS has made sure that candidates with sound professional knowledge can only succeed in the IBPS SOExamination. The IBPS Notification regarding the examination says that the Mains Examination will be based on professional knowledge only. There is no escape for candidates now from the technical subject. The following tips will come in handy for this section:

  • Please make sure that you learn the basics of your subject carefully. Don’t mug up things rather read and understand.
  • Focus on application of knowledge so that you can face any question without any problem.
  • Make sure that you focus on the relevant chapters in your technical subject. For example, in Law, don’t focus much on criminal law, rather study the laws related to the financial sector such as Banking Regulation Act 1949, RBI Act 1934 etc.
  • Focus on case studies since it is expected that as specialist officers, you will be able to solve an issue in the real-life scenario. IBPS will ask you related questions to test your problem-solving ability in your area of expertise.

Apart from the above subject-specific tips, there are some general tips that will be useful overall:

  • Take as many mocks as possible from any IBPS SO Mock Test Series. It will help you understand your preparation and devise your strategy accordingly. You can attempt IBPS SO IT Officer and HR Officer mocks of Eduwhere  from here.
  • Don’t run after speed only. Speed with accuracy will help you succeed in the IBPS Specialist Officer Exam.
  • Follow a routine on regular basis in order to stay in the rhythm of preparation. However, make sure that you are comfortable in this routine. It should be your own routine and not copied from others.
  • Don’t go after the notion that you have to study for 12-14 hours every day. You have to make sure that you finish everything as planned. Rather keep a target that you will finish certain chapters in a day and try to finish them.

IBPS SO 2018 is going to open a door of opportunities for all of you. You get to compete for a job in a Public Sector Bank. But without proper preparation, success will always be elusive. Follow these tips by heart and you will definitely succeed in the examination. For more preparation tips and awesome IBPS SO Mock Tests, stay tuned to Eduwhere.

All the Best!!