In his own words,
“I am Mohammed Abutalib from Jaipur, Rajasthan. I did my graduation in Mathematics from Rajasthan University. After graduation, I did my MBA -Marketing from ICFAI Mumbai. During campus placements, I got selected in a private bank as a relationship manager. I worked with that bank for 1.5 years before opting to open my own financial advisory firm. After working as a financial advisor for 4 years, I was concerned as my career was not going to the direction I wanted. I also lost my sister during this time and I really wanted a change. I craved for something more permanent and more enduring. My father at that time told me about the notification for SBI exam going to be held in July. I was skeptical at first as I was 29 years old and it was the only chance I had. A little nudge from my wife and my father who is retired from Rajasthan Administrative Services worked wonders. Half-heartedly I decided to give it a chance as I knew that I would regret for not trying it for even once.
I started preparing for SBI exams in 2016 around June. Going through the old papers I thought it was quite easy as I had already given CAT exam, I also cleared the prelims exam without any preparation. My overconfidence backfired as I failed the Mains exam by 3 marks. I was quite outraged but finally I accepted my defeat. Seriously introspecting over my choices, I changed my strategy for the upcoming exams drastically. I took these exams much more seriously than I had taken them before, you can say I took my failure to my heart. I was insulted and I wanted to show, not my family or my relatives or anyone else, but myself that I can conquer this hurdle and be victorious.
Here is how I prepared:
Nothing matters in Quant more than your calculation speed. If you can calculate amid pressure with top speed and accuracy, believe me you have tamed the monster. I increased my calculation speed with several tactics and methods, two books really helped me in that – Sarvesh K. Verma Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT and Arun Sharma. I strengthened my concepts in selected topics only. I knew that I cannot master each and every topic, so I selected few and practiced rigorously for them so that I would be able to attempt them no matter what the question is. But first and foremost, I did everything with a timer, even while solving the exercises from books, I kept a clock nearby. It’s not enough that you can solve the questions, what is more important is whether you can solve them in a stipulated time with pressure. You can invest all the time in solving one Data Interpretation question, but it won’t be of any use. So do everything with a timer, whether you are doing from a pdf or a book or a website.
Before delving into Reasoning, I started from scratch. I learned the basic concepts of Syllogism, ranking, direction from numerous sources and websites. For questions, again mock tests are your best bet as I never found a suitable book for reasoning. In books, the puzzles given are seldom challenging and then there is a problem of solving within time. So I only prepared reasoning from mocks, I purchased 4-5 mock test series, the best of which was Oliveboard. The questions were at par with the exam level and quite challenging. It used to be my constant endeavor to build a simulated exam environment. So I used to search for puzzles and questions online, on websites that can match the difficulty of exam combining them with the puzzles and other questions of Oliveboard Mocks, that I was not able to solve during mock tests, I created my own little tests and used to solve them with timer. This exercise helped me in building speed and enormously helped me during exams as I was quite accustomed to solving within time.
Like calculation speed in Quant, the thing that is most important in English is your comprehending prowess and speed. People would tell you to read newspaper, for a moment that advice seemed reasonable but to me it was a cliché. I was never quite fond of newspapers or editorials. I devised a new strategy as the level was getting quite tough, you would get topics that you are unfamiliar of, even mock tests were giving questions that were quite easy as compared to the exam. The only mock test I saw that was closer to exam was Oliveboard Mocks, but what’s the point of attempting those questions when you can’t comprehend fast. I chose one topic every other day and searched on the internet for it extensively. My topics ranged from ‘Banking problems in Africa’ to ‘Water shortage in Indonesia’ or topics related to psychology or something I have no knowledge about. Reading about things that I was unaware of increased my comprehending skills. I not only read these articles but scrutinized them for various English topics like how the conjunctions were used, how prepositions were applied, what could be the summary of the article or tone of the passage. I applied each and every rule of English in my excursions to these topics. I also improved my vocab substantially through listing all the words I came across in a website called vocabulary.com as the website generates automatic quizzes based on the words you feed. So my advice, read each article from the point of exam, remember every question that came in the exams till now can be created from one article. Reading for the sake of reading is unproductive, ask questions, be curious, ask yourself what the examiner asks you in the exam.
I followed many websites for General Knowledge. As the questions can sometimes be unpredictable, I kept the purpose of each website I followed separate. There was only one website I followed everyday for General knowledge and I followed it daily. I used to read everyday news from it to keep myself updated and then go through the pdf’s it offered. Another site I used for quizzes, after every week I tested myself through its quizzes, making sure I remember while making notes of anything new I came across. Doing quizzes from one website can make you acquainted with the language of the question and the answer, while in the exam the same question can be asked in a different form and you might not be able to answer that. So before exams, I used to do quizzes from other websites than those I mentioned, creating layers and layers of information. Besides, GK section in mock tests always presented some unexpected questions especially the Oliveboard mocks, so I always made sure to do the GK section from OB diligently. For banking awareness, my source of information was GKtoday and none other than RBI website. I also searched for every topic on internet so that I can extract a little bit extra information. I also want to mention the online newspaper ‘Livemint’ here, from where I got excellent explanations and viewpoints for some of the burning topics. I always tried not to do GK from quizzes only, whenever the need arises I used to search the news on internet and read from the original article.
Mock Test Strategy:
One strategy I want to share that I tried with mock tests. I was always quite innovative with my study methods so that it does not get monotonous. One thing I did to re-enact the examination environment was giving mock tests one after another. In exams, one variable we often forget to take into account is nervousness and pressure, the constant passing of time and with it increasing anxiety and the buildup of pressure. Before exams, at least a week before, I used to attempt 5-6 mock tests at a stretch, that’s 5-6 hours of solving in one sitting. It did not matter how many marks I got, how much I got correct or incorrect, but just attempting mocks without interruption. Once you get to the 3rd or 4th you would start feeling that same pressure you felt in exams, with your head throbbing, your fingers tired, your patience giving away but at that time if you can concentrate, if you can resist the urge to leave, then mind me you have perfected the stress. For Mains, attempting 2-3 mock tests are sufficient in one sitting. Besides, I implore you to take Oliveboard’s method of analysis seriously, it shows you which topics you are weak at and which needs more working, it’s an excellent way to judge and improve yourself.
With God’s grace, my parent’s blessing, my wife’s continuous encouragement and my sister’s oversight, I cleared IBPS PO, RRB PO and IBPS SO. I am currently working with Canara Bank as a Marketing Officer. I also cleared IPPB Mains exam but did not go for interview. I wish my sister was here to see me succeed but I hope she is right now looking at me feeling proud. At the end I want to say that believe in yourself, I cleared these exams not only in my first attempt but technically in my last attempt. Prepare like it’s your last attempt; take every failure to your heart. Just give everything you got, it’s a matter of months, the hard work you put in today will give you fruit tomorrow and that fruit is much more delicious than anything you have tasted before, it’s called taste of success. Give each and every exam, whether you want to opt for it later or not, as it strengthens your practice. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, especially yourself, because the biggest motivator you have is the one looking at you from the mirror.”
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