English for IBPS RRB PO/Clerk Mains- Expert Preparation Tips

English is one of the most important section in the mains exam for both IBPS RRB PO and IBPS RRB Clerk if hindi language is not selected by the candidate. Let’s look at the patterns, strategy, and tips to prepare for both the examination, just to put things in perspective and acknowledge the importance of the English for IBPS RRB , in particular, not just in acing the exam, but also in boosting the overall marks and subsequently the rank in the final selection process.

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Exam Pattern of IBPS RRB PO and Clerk Mains

Let’s look at the pattern of IBPS RRB PO and Clerk Mains exam one after the other. This will give us a clear picture of where does ‘English’ as a section stands in the big picture of the overall exam.


Section Number of Questions Marks Time Allotted
Reasoning Ability 40 50 A cumulative time of 2 hours
Quantitative Aptitude 40 50
General Awareness 40 40
English/Hindi Language 40 40
Computer Knowledge 40 20
200 200


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IBPS RRB Clerk Mains

Section Number of Questions Marks Time Allotted
Reasoning Ability 40 50 A cumulative time of 2 hours
Quantitative Aptitude 40 50
General Awareness 40 40
English/Hindi Language 40 40
Computer Knowledge 40 20
200 200

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As we can clearly see the weightage of English for IBPS RRB PO and IBPS RRB Clerk is as equal to the other sections so we can easily say without an iota of doubt, that the English section can be a high scoring section for aspirants if prepared and strategized properly. There are a lot of sitters in the section, which consumes minimal amount of time and fetches solid marks.

Topics for English for IBPS RRB

Let’s have a look at the syllabus or the topics asked in the English section of the IBPS RRB PO and IBPS RRB Clerk examination (Mains examination, in particular). Broadly, the entire syllabus of IBPS RRB PO and Clerk (both Mains level) can be categorized under the following:

  • Reading Comprehension (RCs)
  • Cloze Test
  • Miscellaneous (Error Spotting, Phrase Replacement, Para jumbles, Fill in the blanks (FIBs), Synonyms/Antonyms, Idioms/Phrases, One-word substitution, Spelling Errors)

Let’s look at the distribution of questions in English section across topics in last year’s (2019) paper.

Topic/Sub-topic Total Number of Questions
Reading Comprehension (RCs) 14
Cloze Test 10
Miscellaneous 16


Keeping in mind the above distribution, which, by and large, is likely to be repeated, one can easily conclude that acing RCs is key to scoring good marks in this section, as it is the highest weighted topic among the given list of topics asked in the exam. So, the preparation should ideally revolve around RCs (which will also help in solving the Cloze Test).

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Preparation Strategy of English for IBPS RRB

Let’s analyze each sub-topic of the English section and how to go about preparing for it.

Reading Comprehension (RCs):

Reading articles, particularly from a good source, like The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Economist etc. not only helps one broadens his/her knowledge base but also one gets used to reading long articles and passages from diverse domains and not feel bored about it. It also increases the reading speed, but only if, done on a regular basis for a considerable period of time, which will significantly reduce the reading time of the passage and one can quickly jump to the questions asked in the passage. Practicing passages that cover almost all types of questions (Specific detail, Tone, Inference, Main idea etc.) go a long way in preparing this sub-section in the right way.

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Cloze Test:

Acing this sub-section requires a good mix of knowledge of RCs and grammar concepts as the blank(s) to be filled in the given passage (in case of a normal Cloze Test) may require the knowledge of context and grammar depending on the situation at hand. The knowledge of grammar can be used to eliminate some of the options in the first round of elimination, while the knowledge of context can be used to confirm or pinpoint the correct answer option among the remaining option after the first round of elimination.

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This majorly includes topics related to grammar for which grammar rules can be revised on a regular basis. More than the grammar rules, their application in various situations helps keep those rules afresh in one’s mind. For solving the vocabulary-based question, be it synonym/antonym, idiom/phrases, one-word substitution, spelling errors, a stronghold on vocabulary is a must which requires constant practice and noting down of all the difficult words encountered from any source (for instance, while reading an article from a newspaper) and revising in on a daily basis. This will significantly improve one’s vocabulary in a short period of time (within a month or two).

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Point here to be noted is that since it’s a Mains level examination, one can expect questions to be of moderate to difficult levels, so the preparation, too, has to be on a similar level. To conclude, one can keep reading, revising, practicing, and attempting mocks in order to ace this section of IBPS RRB PO and Clerk Mains.


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