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How to become an IBPS clerk? A Beginner’s Guide

Banking jobs become tougher every year, but the consistency of practice and dedication for the exam can make a candidate succeed in the exam. Clerical posts are meant for customer service, checking on the accounts and transactions, updating customer records and service details. Many government and private banks link up with IBPS, this acts as a recruiting agency or exam conducting website for banks.  Many students apply for this exam every year and only 10% get qualified for the job in the end. It is because of the vacancy number in hundreds and applicants in lakhs, which is because of its work culture, pay and the perks of the job. 

Exam Pattern:

This has two stages of exam, Preliminary and Mains, students will be qualified for Mains exam only after passing the preliminary exam. Interview is not needed and the candidates are finalised with Mains marks. Both Prelims and Mains exams are conducted through online mode, a Computer-based test.

Preliminary exam:

It consists of three subjects or topics, English, Reasoning and Numerical Ability with each having equal marks for each question. There will be a hundred questions that should be answered in twenty minutes and a negative marking of 0.25 marks for one wrong answer.


Candidates with Indian Nationality, or the citizens of Nepal, or Bhutan or Tibetan refugees can also apply. Candidates with a minimum age of 21 and an upper age limit of 28 can apply for the exam. Age Relaxation is applied for reserved candidates such as 5 years for SC/ST and 3 years for OBC and 10 years for Persons with Disabilities. They should have completed any Bachelor’s degree from recognized universities, with valid mark certifications and any certificate in computer language.


This exam consists of Preliminary and Mains, two phases of examinations which are conducted in different time slots, 

Preliminary stage:

It consists of three sections, each has equal marks and one wrong answer will be deducted by 0.25 marks and no marks will be deducted for empty answers.

English paper has 30 questions, each question carries one mark and is to be answered in 20 minutes.

Numerical Ability and Reasoning Ability has 35 questions which each section carries 35 marks and twenty minutes.

The syllabus can be through ibps clerk syllabus 2021 in brief.

Mains phase:

It consists of five subjects, each having 40 questions with a variation of marks and time.

Reasoning and Quantitative aptitude carry 50 marks each with 30 minutes duration for the exam.

The English language has 40 marks with 30 minutes and General Awareness has 40 marks with 25 minutes.

Computer Knowledge has 20 marks for 40 questions, each question carries a 0.5 mark with a time duration of 20 minutes.

How to apply for the exam:

IBPS website releases the notification and posts a link to apply for the exam. Only Online applications are accepted, and with an application fee which is different for reserved and unreserved candidates. A valid email ID, Photographs, Education details with percentage and work experience if any and all the related documents of education, Aadhar Identity card, Reservation certificates for reserved candidates are needed for the application. For the application fee, online banking is needed. 

Preparation Strategy :

Start with knowing the syllabus thoroughly, and examine the previous papers, to know the important topics and weightage. Mathematical knowledge of Aptitude, Reasoning and Basic English language is common in both phases of the exam. As the syllabus is familiar and the competition is heavy candidates needs to have good analysis and better time management.


  • For English, learn synonyms and antonyms for answering vocabulary questions.
  • Reading Comprehension carries more marks, so it is important to study and practice reading and analysing the mistakes.
  • Spotting errors, Blanks with appropriate words, correcting the sentences, and jumbled sentences which are to be framed properly.
  • Idioms and Phrases, one-word substitutes, Cloze test are also important to study for the exam.
  • Reading English Newspapers daily will help to enhance candidates’ English speaking and writing abilities.


  • The alphanumeric series and Alphabet series carries fewer marks but are easy to score.
  • Seating arrangement questions carry more marks and can be a scoring topic if solved appropriately, but if one answer quotes wrong all the others will go wrong. So one has to be careful while answering them. There will be Linear and circular arrangemn=ents with direction based.
  • Direction tests are quite simple and the questions will be like, a person walking from west turns left, and reaches some point etc. 
  •  Coding and Decoding, words will be given in a coded format, and have to understand the format and answer in a similar format.
  • Syllogism, puzzles, ranking, Coded Inequalities, etc are given in the exam which is like 2 to 3 questions that need observation as well as analysing skills. 
  • One should have logical thinking and analytical skills to ace good marks in the Reasoning section. Smart work is much needed than hard work for this element.

Quantitative Aptitude:

General Mathematics below the Class 12 standard of CBSE is enough to get qualified. For Preliminary and Mains phases, it generally has less time and negative marking is applicable. Without the thorough practice of problems, one cannot ace this section. 

Problems based on Algebra, Number systems, Profit and Loss, Simple Interest and Compound Interest, Data Interpretation, Quadratic equations, surds and Indices etc. are asked in the exam.

Students need to have good time management and time-bounded practice of model papers or previous papers will help in the exam.

As it is a computer-based exam, try solving online exams more, with shortcuts, formulas, tricks, it saves more time for the student.

General/ Banking Awareness:

General Awareness paper consists of static general knowledge of Indian History, Geography, Social and Science concepts, basic knowledge on diseases or plants. Current affairs knowledge of national and international events, awards and appointments.

Banking or Financial awareness is of banking history, new appointments or old bank governors and their policies. RBI policies, Interest rates, Indian banking system, Repo rate, Some banks and their slogans etc.

Computer Knowledge:

Basic knowledge of computer, Operating systems, hardware components, memory units, Internet, web browser knowledge, computer networking etc.  All these topics are known and studied from school standards and those who are unfamiliar can revise from the banking exam online portals and applications. They have good material with regular updates and mock tests.

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