SBI PO exam pattern changed: How will it affect you?


SBI PO is a dream job for lakhs of banking aspirants across the country. This is a question which has to trouble a lot of candidates for the last few days. As per the latest SBI PO recruitment notification, the exam pattern has been revised. To understand the impact of the change in pattern, let us see what all has changed.

SBI PO exam pattern changed:


The old SBI PO exam pattern was:

S. No. Subject No. of Qs Max. Marks Duration
1 Reasoning 50 50 Composite times of 120 minutes
2 Data Analysis & Interpretation 50 50
3 English Language 50 50
4 General Awareness / Computers / Marketing 50 50
Total 200 200 2 hours


The new SBI PO pattern is:

S. No. Subject No. of Qs Max. Marks Duration
1 Reasoning & Computer Aptitude 45 60 60 minutes
2 Data Analysis & Interpretation 35 60 45 minutes
3 English Language 35 40 40 minutes
4 General Awareness about Economy / Banking 40 40 35 minutes
Total 155 200 3 hours


Now, let us jot down, what all are the changes:

It can be clearly seen that sectional time limit has been introduced for each subject, which means the time allotted to each section will be fixed and if you have some spare time in one section, you cannot utilize it for some other section.

  1. The number of questions in each section has been reduced. The total number of questions has been brought down to 155 from 200.
  1. The maximum marks for each section have been also changed. Also, the number of questions and the maximum marks are no more the same figure. It simply means that this time, there will be differential marking may be like a few questions of 1 mark each and a few of 2 marks each or any other such combination.
  1. Marketing section which used to be a part of General Awareness section has been discontinued.
  1. Computers section has been removed from General Awareness section and is now part of reasoning section.
  1. The total time for the objective examination has been increased from 120 minutes to 180 minutes.

Ahhh!!! too many changes. To know how it impacts an aspirant and also the cut offs

The standard break-up of the time spent on each section, until last year used to be:

15 minutes for General Awareness – This is good enough to go through all the 50 questions and answer whatever a candidate knows.

20-25 minutes for the English Language “If someone attempts this section smartly, then targeting 40 questions in 20 minutes shouldn’t b a big deal in the English Language.

Remaining 80 minutes for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning – Most of the candidates used to divide these 80 minutes equally among Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning and their target is to touch 80 questions in these 80 minutes.

Now, let’s look at the time limits for the new pattern:

  1. 35 minutes for 40 questions in General Awareness

Isn’t it too much? Until last year, we were doing 50 questions in 15 minutes and now the 40 questions in 35 minutes. I feel it won’t affect any candidate’s performance in this section as the number of questions has reduced and the time has increased. In fact, even if I consider that the length of the question will increase following the suite of UPSC Paper II or any other such pattern, then also the time is more than double. In fact, the biggest pain would be to sit idle once you are done with it.

  1. 40 minutes for 35 questions in the English Language

Again, the time has increased and the number of questions has decreased, significantly. So, does that affect the performance of a candidate in English Language section?

I don’t think so. It should remain the same or rather improve as a candidate gets enough time to go through the reading comprehensions thoroughly.

Again, the challenge here will be to sit idle for at least 15 minutes or more.

A lot of candidates have been a victim of one common mistake – If they have spare time in the examination, they try to relook at the questions and change their answers. I strongly recommend candidates not to do any such thing. Believe in yourself and your first instinct unless you are more than 100% sure about your second answer.

  1. 45 minutes for 35 questions in Data Analysis & Interpretation

As per last year scenario, if a candidate attempted 38-40 questions in 40 minutes with 98% accuracy or more, it would have been considered a great attempt.

Now, the total number of questions is 35, which means no excuses will be acceptable.

“Mujhe aata tha magar time kam pad gaya” is a common excuse presented by most of the candidates. Sorry to say, but this time it won’t help you. Secondly, even if I assume that there will be an increase in the level of difficulty of questions then also the time is enough. Remember, it is now 45 minutes for 35 questions.

This can prove to be a game changer as the above two sections won’t affect any candidates performance but in this section, the only reason that good candidates had had now been snatched away.

  1. 60 minutes for 45 questions in Reasoning and Computer Aptitude

Reasoning and Computer Aptitude? Until last year, it used to be Logical reasoning as one section and Computer Knowledge a different section, as a part of General Awareness.

What could Computer Aptitude mean?  I believe it could be Boolean Algebra or may be the same which they used to ask till last year.

The second thing is the break-up of reasoning and computer questions in the section.

A possibility which can be seen is 30 questions of reasoning of 1.5 marks each and 15 questions on Computer Aptitude of 1 mark each. You can come up with your own calculation as various permutations are possible.

Again, the next question is “how many attempts?”

I believe the answer remains the same, what I gave in the case of Data Analysis & Interpretation.

Previously, it used to 40 questions in 40 minutes in reasoning and now it is 45 questions in 60 minutes, that it includes Computer Aptitude for which the average time should be much lower than 60 seconds, which we are currently assuming for Reasoning.

Again, the winner will be the one who attempts all questions with close to 100% accuracy.

I wish all the best to the readers. Let me know if you have any queries regarding the pattern change or exam preparation.



  1. sir, please suggest some good books for reasoning and quant plus DI section.. I followed r.s agarwal for quant and logical reasoning by r.s agarwal for reasoning while preparing for ibps po.. but are these books sufficient for sbi po as well?

  2. Dear Astha,

    First of apologies for delay in response as I was traveling.

    I believe RS Agarwal is a book which is good for a fresher to start his/her preparation.
    But the questions in book does not match at all with the BANK PO / Clerk or SBI examinations.
    For practice of SBI examinations, I suggest you to practice through Mock Tests which gives you the real feel of the examination.
    Also, you can refer the books available at the following links –

  3. Sir
    Can you please explain what will be the general awareness paper look like. Previously there were questions from every section like sports, politics, banking and economy, science and technology.. But this time can we ignore other sections and concentrate more on economy and banking?
    Should we go through fundamentals of economy or to emphasize only on current economic affairs… Please reply I am totally perplexed.

    • If you see the video on this blog, I believe a lot of queries will get clarified. Still, I would explain you –
      First, you know that there will not be any marketing or computers in GA section.
      Second, GA would be totally focused on Indian Banking System, Indian Economy, RBI, Fiscal Policy, etc. Besides that you may expect a 4-5 questions from general current affairs like you mentioned sports, awards, politics, books n authors, etc. but 80-90% of the question paper will focus only on Banking and economy.
      Another important thing is, last year there were a lot of questions from International Banking, International economy. So i would suggest you to keep a check on the international news as well.
      For example, happenings in the federal bank, Euro zone, SAARC, etc.