[Studyplan] SBI PO Reasoning (High Level): Topicwise Approach, booklist, strategy, Cutoffs

IBPS, Studyplan383 Comments

  1. The structure of SBI PO Exam 2013
  2. Reasoning: Topicwise breakup SBI  papers
  3. Reasoning: SSC vs SBI
  4. Reasoning approach: Higher Level
  5. 3 Statement Syllogism
  6. Reasoning Approach: Usual topics
    1. Eligibility Test
    2. Math Operations+Inequality
    3. Sitting arrangement
    4. Non verbal
    5. Data Sufficiency
    6. Input Output
  7. Reasoning: Peripheral Topics
    1. DBT: Direction Based Test
    2. Coding Decoding
    3. Dictionary (Alphabet) tests
  8. How people dig their grave in Bank PO/Clerk exams?
  9. So, How to avoid  your grave?
  10. Cutoffs of SBI PO 2011 Exam
    1. Phase 1: sectional cutoffs (2010, 11)
    2. Phase 1: Marks of last candidate

The structure of SBI PO Exam 2013

Phase 1
Data Interpretation (DI)50
English grammar, vocab and Comprehension50
(1 hr)
Essay, précis, letter writing50
Phase 2GDPIGroup Discussion (GD)20
Personal Interview (PI)30
  • Phase 1 (250m) marks are are converted to out of 75
  • marks secured in Phase 2 (50m) are converted to out of 25.
  • Final Merit list of 75+25=100 marks.

Reasoning: Topicwise breakup SBI  papers

Direction based tests021
Dictionary (Alphabet) test023
Maths operations, inequalities366
Sitting arrangement1355
Eligibility Test055
Odd pair300
Data Sufficiency500
Input output300
Subtotal: Reasoning (Usual)332525
High Level
Course of Action060
Cause effect120
Strong/weak argument305
3 statement Syllogism655
Subtotal: Reasoning (Higher level)122020
Non Verbalnon-verbal (image based)555
Total: Verbal Reasoning (usual+higher)+Non verbal505050
  • 2008’s SBI  PO paper doesn’t follow this pattern of “High level reasoning” (or tougher data interpretation Qs like those of 2010’s papers). Hence 2008 is ignored from the analysis.

Reasoning: SSC vs SBI PO



Non verbal reasoning involves usual image-series+ paper-folding, mirror reflection test, dice/cubes.paper-folding, mirror test, dice/cubes= not asked.
2 statement syllogism x at most 2 questions.3 statement syllogism, minimum 5 questions.
Lot of Qs. From Analogy, series, and odd pairs.Hardly.
Barely any question on higher level reasoning.(assumption, inference etc.)Lots of.

Anyways, let’s start.For the purpose of efficient preparation, I classify reasoning topics into two categories.

Core topicsMajority of the reasoning is asked from these topics. Often in a set of “5 Questions.”
So Cost:Benefit ratio is quite good, if you master these topics.
Chillar (peripheral)Barely 2-3 questions from each topic.

Observe this chart:

SBI PO Reasoning Strategy

Reasoning approach: Higher Level

Based on the previous papers of SBI, we can see that higher level reasoning is made up of following topics

  1. Fact-assumption-inference-conclusion
  2. Course of Action
  3. Cause effect
  4. Strong/weak argument
  5. Three Statement Syllogism
  • While both R.S.Agarwal and BS Sijwali’s books have covered these topics,
  • but problem with both of those books= they merely give you a few solved exams and then give a big list of practice questions.
  • But the basic concepts/ theory /underlying principles are not covered in depth.
  • Then You often face the doubt “why option A is the answer and why not “B” option?” OR  “why is this an inference and not an assumption?”
  • So, for SBI PO’s higher level reasoning questions (assumption, inference, strong/weak argument etc), refer to “Analytical Reasoning by MK Pandey (BSC publication)
  • MK Pandey not only helps you for Higher level reasoning, but also for provides some speed-techniques for usual reasoning topics (such as input output, arrangement, eligibility test, coded inequalities etc.)

Anyways the study approach for Higher level Reasoning (for SBI PO) should be like following:

Higher Reasoning TopicChapter Number
MK PandeyRS Agarwal
  1. Statement-Assumption
  1. Inference, conclusion
55, 6
  1. Strong/ Weak argument
4, 92
  1. Cause effect
  1. Course of Action

For example, pickup the topic “Assumptions”.

  1. First understand theory from MK Pandey’s Chapter #3, solve all sums given in MK Pandey.
  2. Then move to RS Agarwal’s Chapter #3 for extra practice. (or if you’ve BS Sijwali, go to Chapter #23).

To solve the last three categories of questions (Strengthen / Weaken arguments, cause-effect, course of action), you must know what’re the facts, assumptions, inferences and conclusions in the given statements. Therefore, preparation sequence should be: assumption topic–>inference–>strengthen  / weaken arguments and so on…

3 Statement Syllogism

All cats are dogs…..

To master 3 statement syllogism, first you’ve to master the 2-statement.Understand the UPUN method explain in these two articles articles:

  1. Two Statement Syllogism Click ME
  2. Three Statement Syllogism Click ME

Then do all sums given in Chapter 11 of MK Pandey and finally Chapter 1 of RS Agarwal (under Logic portion).

Reasoning Approach: Usual topics

In Decreasing priority order.Chapter Number
MK PandeyRS Agarwal
  1. Eligibility Tests
  1. Math Operations
  1. Sitting Arrangement
206 (Puzzle Test)
  1. Data Sufficiency
  1. Input Output
13 to 167

Eligibility Test

First you’re given a passage with conditions like,

“Applications are invited for xyz post. If candidate has graduation with 50% marks and 3 years work experience…. then forward letter to Deputy manager, else …. forward letter to….”

  • Then five questions are given, each has a unique case like “If Rahul Gandhi has **% in graduation and ** years of work ex and….then what to do?”
  • This is known as “eligibility test”- very commonly asked in BankPO exams. Advantage=If you get the question, it’s a set of 4-5 questions. (helps you clear sectional cutoff).
  • Problem=can be time consuming, if not practiced @home.
  • First understand the techniques and tips given in Chapter 12 of MK Pandey. Then practice all the  sums given in Chapter 18 of RS Agarwal.

Math Operations+Inequality

They’re usually of three types

+ means x,
x means – and..
  1. Inequality
[email protected] means “P is not smaller than Q”
P%Q means “P is neither smaller not equal to Q”
  1. Relationship
P#Q means P is brother of Q
P^Q means P is sister of Q
  • Again, math operation questions are pretty common in BankPO exams
  • Problem= you may get wrong answer or waste lot of time.=need maximum practice at home.
  • Approach: All theory and all sums of Chapter 17,18,19 of MK Pandey.
  • Then practice all the sums given in Chapter 18 of RS Agarwal.

Sitting arrangement

Can be of following types

  1. Circular table
  2. Rectangular table
  3. Blood relations (A is mother of B who is sister of C and…)
  4. Appointment (Arranging lectures from Mon. to Sat., name of professors vs subjects)
  5. Complex (Person, building floor, occupation etc.)
  • Advantage=Minimum 1 set (=5 questions) always asked in BankPO exam. (=helps clearing the sectional cutoffs).
  • Problem= can be “sitters” (=very time consuming), If not practiced @home.
  • Approach: Understand the techniques explained in Chapter 20 of MK Pandey.
  • Then practice all the sums given in Chapter 6 (Puzzle Test) of RS Agarwal.

Non verbal

  • Usually five questions.
  • Practice is “must”. Try to solve the question by eliminating the “unfit” cases first.
  • Solve all the questions in RS Agarwal==> Non Verbal portion ==>Series, Analogy and Classification.
  • You may ignore mirrors and paper folding, because usually they’re usually not asked in BankPO exams. (However they’re important for SSC-CGL exam).

Data Sufficiency (DS)

  • It is very easy to make mistakes in these question.
  • Theoretical part must be absolutely clear in your mind.
  • So first clear the theory from Chapter 7 of MK Pandey. Practice all exercises.
  • Then practice all sums given in Chapter 17 of RS Agarwal.

Input Output

  • Chapter 13 to 16 of MK Pandey then practice Chapter 7 of RS Agarwal.

This ends the core topics. Now, Moving to the peripheral topics (i.e. “Chillar” topics).

Reasoning: Peripheral Topics

Peripheral TopicsChap.# in RS Agarwal
  1. Coding Decoding
  1. Direction Based Tests
  1. Dictionary (alphabet) arrangement

DBT: Direction Based Test

E.g. A man walks 1 km towards East and then he turns to South and walks for 5 kms. Then he………Now how far is he from the starting point?

This is a “no-excuse” topic. Practice all sums given in Chapter 8 of RS Agarwal.

Coding Decoding

Can be of two types

Health is written as GSKZDG then North will be written as453945 means “decide” then 8978 means…

Sometimes you’re given a “matrix table” and you’ve to decode the words accordingly. Do all the sums given in Chapter #4 of RS Agarwal.

Dictionary (Alphabet) tests

Chapter #10 of RS Agarwal.


  • Once ^all of above is done, get an overview of the misc. topics such as sequence, series, odd pair, dice, cubes, clocks, calendars, Venn Diagrams etc. from RS Agarwal’s/BS Sijwali’s book.
  • This concludes the preparation of reasoning section for SBI PO.
  • How to approach  GA+Marking+Computer, explained in separate article: click me (with free study material for computer, IT, economy etc.)

How people dig their own graves in Bank PO/Clerk exams?

  1. They underestimate the level of competition.
  2. They buy the books, magazines, download PDF files from internet and so on. But they only “gather” material. They never “process” the gathered material.
  3. They just spend time in day dreaming and facebook, TV, SMS, PC/mobile games, cricket, loitering around etc.
  4. They start serious preparation only AFTER receiving the exam call letter.
  5. During the exam, they think, “ya ya ya the marketing and English section is “pappu” so I’m going to solve all questions here. And after that, I’ll go to maths and reasoning section.”
  6. They get stuck in lengthy calculations of Data interpretation (because they’ve never practiced multiplication and division @home). And often make silly mistakes in calculation =negative marking.
  7. They waste lots of minutes in sitting arrangement/eligibility test/non-verbal reasoning type questions.

Ultimately they cannot even cross the sectional cutoffs.( Getting in the final merit list is a far cry.)

So, How to avoid  your grave?

  • Maximum revision + Maximum practice @home.
  • Mind will always find excuses (my cousin’s wedding, workload @office, I’m not in the mood….) but while you’re making those excuses, someone somewhere is busy reading books and doing sums.
  • The train of success doesnot show mercy on anyone, no matter how good the excuse is, this train will not wait for you.
  • So always remember Anil Kapoor from Tezaab: “time hotaa nahi hai, time nikaalnaa padtaa hai”. (There is no time as such, but you’ve to take out time (to study)).”
  • Donot “HATE” reasoning. In fact, Syllogism, sitting arrangement, eligibility test etc. reasoning questions can be solved with maximum accuracy in short time (once you’ve mastered them). So don’t consider them your enemies, make them your weapons. They’ll be immensely helpful in scoring high marks.
  • When you get the question paper, you don’t have to solve all questions in a continuous sequence i.e. Reasoning question from 1 to 50. Then English 1 to 50 then DI from 1 to 50…
  • Instead, first try to tick minimum 10-15 in each section first, and then come back and solve remaining questions.

MK RS Sijwali

Cutoffs of SBI PO 2011 Exam

Phase 1: sectional cutoffs (2010, 11)

English Language501010135510
General Awareness507711669

Phase 1: Marks of last candidate

Now the marks scored by last candidate from Phase 1 to GDPI (Phase 2), in each category.

Phase 1(2011)250

Courtesy: Mr.csl80 of pagalguy forum, for providing the cut off data and other essential inputs regarding this exam.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

So far 383 Comments posted

  1. Kamlesh kumar

    Respected sir , I know how to prepare puzzle type questions and give me solution.whose reasoning book good for me. I am preparing bank po .i am student of Hindi mediam

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