Pather Panchali: My Journey to SBI PO

(Click here to view the Infographic)

By: Soumyojit Sarkar, Probationary Officer (2016), State Bank of India (Mumbai Circle)

Hi Friends,

I feel delighted to share my journey to one of the toughest government recruitment exams of India: SBI PO. So, here goes my story.


  • School: Delhi Public School Bhilai, Chhattisgarh.

      -Marks in Class 10 – 91.00%

      -Marks in Class 12 – 84.60%

      -College: B. Tech (IT) West Bengal University of Technology (Previously IIIT Kolkata)

      -Graduation Marks – 72.00%

  • Work Experience: Infosys Bhubaneswar, India, Duration – 12+ months


  • I always dreamt of living a corporate life with a hefty pay package after an MBA. And it’s a no brainer that I was an ardent CAT aspirant. I had my preparations going on in full swing for CAT 2016. But then life has its own set of surprises for you.
  • In May, 2016 the advertisement for SBI PO 2016 was out. I was sceptical about joining the government sector as it was nowhere close to the kind of life I had imagined for myself but on persuasion by my family I went ahead and filled the form for SBI PO 2016.

And then began all the hard work.

  • Managing office and preparing for SBI was a tightrope walk. I had to balance both my professional and personal life. At times I would be back from work only when the clock had strayed into the next calendar day.
  • My day would usually start at 8:30 AM. I utilised my lunch time for brushing up on my GK.
  • If I was lucky enough to reach home by 10:00PM I would quickly have dinner and take a 20 min power nap. This would refill me with enough energy to last for the next 4 hours. I’d be back to bed by 3:00AM to again start my day at 8:30.


  • An important part of the preparation was analysing mocks thoroughly. I took 2 Oliveboard mocks over the weekends and analysed the scores.
  • My scores were in the range of 40 – 60. I marked out topics for which I couldn’t attempt any questions. My accuracy had always been good so I concentrated on my weaker topics. So, I spent the entire month of June in mastering all topics.
  • I preferred videos over forms, for preparation as I find them more engaging and impactful.
  • I had my Prelims on 9th July. PagalGuy discussions, of the four slots that had been held prior to mine, implied that the paper was going to be very difficult. Various other sites had predicted the extremely low cut offs for SBI prelims for this year.
  • I gathered up all my courage and in the week before 9th I didn’t let these predictions hamper my preparation.
  • During the exam was moving from one section to the other trying to figure out where to start.
  • If anything, one thing was certain that I would not spend more than 30 seconds on one question.
  • After all that turbulence in my mind for 1 hour I went out of the exam hall with 51 attempts. I was disappointed, and lamented at the dismal number of attempts. Considering the accuracy at Oliveboard mocks, I was sure that wouldn’t be able to clear the cut-offs.
  • But as fate would have it, I had cleared the Prelims with a score of 47.75 (the cut off score was 47.50). I was happy but I also made sure that I leave no stone unturned for Mains preparation.

4. SBI PO 2016: MAINS

  • After the prelims results, I had only 14 days left for the mains exam. I decided to focus on my weak area, which was General Knowledge.
  • The Mains paper was loaded with 1 mark, 1.5 mark and 2 mark questions. One had to attempt more questions to fetch maximum scores. I focussed on finding the right questions. I solved the easy ones among the 2 mark questions first, then 1.5 mark questions and at last the 1 mark questions.
  • In LR, though there were many new question types, they were pretty easy ones. I had attempted about 75+ questions in the paper.
  • If speculations were to be believed, someone with less than 80 attempts could not have cleared the MAINS paper.
  • For the essay I hadn’t practiced much, but since my English basics were in place, I fared well. For letter writing, I just revised the formats of formal and informal letters.

Verdict: I was one of the 4,767 students selected from a pool of 20 lakh aspirants!

5. The Next Stage: GD/PI

  • The interviews started earlier than expected. People on PagalGuy complained of changed pattern of the GD/PI process.
  • There were 2 rounds of GD- one was a normal GD and the second contained a Quality Sequencing exercise.
  • In both cases we had to arrive at a consensus. It was not compulsory to do so, but would fetch higher marks.
  • The two GD Topics were:

         GD-1:  Should Professional Premiere Leagues Be Allowed in India?

         GD-2: There are 8 Qualities of a Professional Banker Listed Below.

          A) Discuss on the most important quality.

          B) Discuss on the least important quality.

  • One mistake I made during the GDs was that I became a bit too assertive. The panellist had to remind me that I don’t have to force my opinion on others. Nonetheless, I scored 19/20.
  • For the interview, I was quite tensed. I went inside with a smile on my face and they asked me a few GK questions (and easy ones at that!). The interview for me was mostly HR. I felt that they were gauging my confidence and my eagerness to join the Bank. I scored a decent 23/30.

6. SBI PO 2016: Moment of Truth

After around 3 weeks of heart-pounding tensed days finally the result day arrived.

I had cleared the Finals. My scores were:

Finals:   55.20/100 (Cut off 49.75)

Mains:  114/250    (Cut off 90/250)

7. Piece of Advice

Do read the package offered by the bank and compare it to what you are earning right now. Also, read about the career growth of an SBI PO, the life he leads, associated perks and the promotion opportunities. These are a few things which were not known to me at the start of the preparation but enough to provide the necessary kick for preparation.

free mock tests online

Wish you guys all the best for SBI PO 2017!

Disclaimer: This article is extracted from the write up ‘Pather Panchali’, submitted to Oliveboard by Soumyajit. The views and insights are solely based on his experience.

Click here to take a Free Mock Test for SBI PObank exam government exam