My Strategy To Crack RBI Grade B Phase II: Pushkar Pahwa

RBI Grade B Success Story

Previously I had written an article on Approach and Strategy for the RBI Grade B Phase I Exam. If you missed that, here’s the link: RBI Grade B Phase I Preparation Strategy.

Following is the Strategy for Phase II of RBI Gr B Examination:

Phase II demands a totally different strategy from Phase I. Although the success ratio is quite high in comparison to Phase I, here you are competing with the best minds of the country. As in all the papers of Phase II, you have more than adequate time, the speed per se is not very important. You have enough time to think and recall. So your focus should be on wide coverage of the topics and revise them multiple times rather than practicing mocks.


My attempt in F&M Paper:-

ESI – Total 54/65 – 25/35 in Section I & 29/30 in Section II

F&M – Total 52/65 – 23/35 in Section I & 29/30 in Section II

English – Essay 210 words including heading

Precis – 168 words (Passage was approximately 510 words)

My Marks in Phase II and Interview:-

Grade B phase II Marks

Grade B phase II cut off

Paper I – Economic and Social Issues

The pattern for this paper in 2016 was 30 questions of 1 mark each and 35 questions of 2 marks each. You should aim to score 70 in this paper.

First of all, go through the sample paper given by RBI to get an idea of what kind of questions will be asked in the examination. From that, you will get an idea as to how deep you need to go into the topics while preparing.

This paper can be divided into two parts. One is the static part i.e. conceptual which includes basic knowledge of different concepts of macroeconomics like national income, the repo rate, bank rate, fiscal deficit, revenue deficit, budget, inflation, banking sector in India, etc. The other part of this paper is the dynamic part i.e. the factual part which is current affairs based and this comprised of the majority of questions in the 2016 paper.


1. Preparing for the static part:

The preparation will depend on your background. If you are a category 1 candidate, i.e. either you have an academic background in finance/economics or you are a civil services aspirant, this part won’t be much of a problem for you. Just revise your old notes or economics books which you have already studied a couple of times and that will do.

If you are in category 2 i.e. you are new to economics, you should start by reading economics NCERT textbooks of Class 10, 11, 12 to get an idea of basic concepts of macroeconomics. For detailed reading after this, you can refer to Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh or by Uma Kapila. Another option which I personally would prefer is to go through the General Studies notes of Economics by Sriram IAS coaching institute as the syllabus for this paper is a subset of economics syllabus for General Studies paper of Civil services. Moreover, these notes are very lucid, easy to understand, to the point cover important current events of economic significance which gives a better understanding of the concepts.

You can refer to the FAQ section of the RBI website – which covers various topics such as banking, currency, foreign exchange, government securities market, etc.

For social issues, the questions asked are of a very generic nature and you need not go through any book for that. Just google search the various topics mentioned in the syllabus and read any relevant documents. Apart from this, you should go through a summary of the socio-economic and caste census and census 2011.


2. Preparing the dynamic part:

Make sure you go through all the social sector schemes, welfare programs, current affairs related to the economics of at least the last 6 months thoroughly.

Go through the budget and economic survey. For this, you can refer to the special booklets on budget and an economic survey by coaching institutes like Vajiram and Vision IAS. Remember that you need to read only the summary of the economic survey and not go through the complete survey unless you have ample free time. You will easily get all these notes free of cost online very easily.

After you’re done with this, you can do a selective topic wise study from IGNOU B.A. economy booklets, if time permits. You can also go through the RBI’s Annual Report very selectively only if time permits.

This will suffice for the dynamic/ current affairs related part.

Note: Please ensure that you pay enough attention to the minute details and facts as the questions asked are sometimes very factual in nature. For illustration, a question related to voting percentage in the Brexit referendum was asked in the 2016 examination with options varying closely.

Paper-II – English

This paper can be the deciding factor in your selection if you choose to act complacent and do not prepare for this exam. The range of marks awarded in English for 2016 was from 55 to 82. That is huge. Since you will be in a position to answer all the questions in this paper (unlike ESI & FM), your target should be to maximize your marks in English. And the key to that will be practicing. You should aim to score a minimum of 65-70 in this paper.

Keep in mind the following three important points while attempting this paper:-

  1. Ensure the correct usage of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  2. Stick to the word limit (+/- 5 words).
  3. Use simple English. Avoid using difficult and fancy words.

This paper comprises 3 questions:-

  1. Essay – In 2016, it was a small essay of 200 words. Since the word limit is less, you need not worry about the matter if you are a regular reader of any standard newspaper. If not, start reading the newspaper from today itself. Your focus should be editorial page and social issues and economics-related news. Just make short notes of important facts and figures as mentioning some of the relevant facts in your essay can fetch you more marks.

Regarding the structure of the essay, you can divide the essay into 4-5 paragraphs. For illustration, I wrote an essay on ‘Economic and social impact of farmer suicides’. I divided my essay into 4 paragraphs:-

  1. Introduction – Why farmer suicides should be our concern, why are farmers committing suicide, and some facts about farmer suicides in India.
  2. Economic Impacts – Food shortage leading to inflation, high food imports, and thus BoP deficit, rupee depreciation, etc.
  3. Social Impacts – Poverty, Exploitation of widows, pursuing agriculture is seen as a poor livelihood option by the rural youth leading to migration, etc.
  1. Conclusion – What is being done and what should be done to tackle this problem.
  1. Precis Writing – Go through some sample precis writing and practice a few questions before the exam. Apart from the three points, I mentioned above, just google the rules of precis writing – writing 1/3rd words, use your own words, giving a suitable title, not changing the tone of the passage, etc. But remember that the key to scoring good marks will be practice.
  1. Comprehension – Again ensure that you follow the three points mentioned above and practice. Some of the questions demand giving your own suggestions and here you have a chance to get an edge over others. Mostly, the nature of the suggestions asked would be of ‘economic’ nature, so make sure your knowledge of current issues is updated.

Warning: Please keep in mind that in the case of English paper you need to type on the keyboard and for those who type slowly, do not take the time limit for granted. Even those who can type fast, remember that the keyboard will be of the old type that comes with a desktop and you might have to press the keys really hard (unlike laptop keyboards) which will again increase the number of errors you make and the number of times you need to press backspace. Although all of you will complete the paper in time, again I would say that do not take the time limit for granted.

Paper III– Finance and Management

This is the most difficult paper because of its technical nature. Most of you will not have a background in finance and management, so this is the paper you need to work upon the most. The difficulty level of the 2016 paper was very high with the finance portion comprising of 6-8 numerical. You should aim to score 60 in this paper. Though I did not score very well in this paper, I would still share some pointers on how to prepare for this exam based on my preparation strategy and my experience.

  1. Finance: The syllabus of the finance portion is divided into three heads. My strategy was to prepare topic-wise by studying the relevant documents from the internet. 

1.a Financial System – The best source to cover regulatory and financial institutions like SIDBI, EXIM, NABARD, etc. would be to visit their website and read the FAQs. It would cover the static part of the topic. For the dynamic part, which includes current affairs/news related to these Institutions, you will have to rely on the current affair capsules. Alternatively, you can google search the news related to these institutions and go through them selectively.

1.b Financial Markets – The basics of this topic are covered in Sriram’s Economy Notes. For a detailed study, again google and find a relevant and updated pdf.

1.c General Topics – Many of these topics like Inflation, Banking Sector, Budget, etc. overlap with the Economics paper. For specific topics like Derivatives, Corporate Governance, PPP, Portfolio investment, again you can rely on topic-specific up-to-date documents from the internet.

Regarding Numericals in Finance paper: With no background in finance, this was the most difficult part for me to grasp. The numerals are mostly based on topics like Bond pricing, YTM, P&L Statement, Cash Flow Statement, Accounting Ratios. But remember that once you have mastered the concepts, these will be the sure-shot marks you cannot afford to lose. So practice a lot of numerical before the exam. The resources you can refer to for numerals are:-

1. Financial Management by Prasanna Chandra (not referred by me. But I would suggest you to refer it as it will help you to cover maximum topics from a single source).

2. Corporate Finance by Ross Westerfield Jaffe.

3. Accounting Ratios from NCERT 12th Accounts Book

4. Investopedia for concepts

5. Youtube videos on numerical

Note: A couple of questions asked in the finance part were from the circulars of the RBI. So you need to update yourself regularly about these from RBI’s website.

  1. Management: 25-30 questions in the paper are asked from the Management Section. You will have to learn about a lot of thinkers and their theories for this topic.

Since I have been a student of Public Administration during my civil services examination preparation, I relied on my Pub Ad notes for the overlapping topics like Leadership, Human Resource Development, Motivation, and Communication.

For Planning, Organisation, Directing, and Controlling, I referred to Principles of Management.

For the rest of the topics, I referred to IGNOU Management Notes and a management capsule by

Note: Many of my fellow aspirants referred to Organisational Behaviour by S P Robbins for Management and I would highly recommend you to refer it for many of you might not have the advantage of studying public administration or management as a part of your academics.

Wish you all the very best!

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