I, Sujit Randhawa, completed my Engineering from Punjab in the year 2012. Only 2–3 companies came for placements in my college. I couldn’t clear the interviews. On recommendation of my father I started preparing for banking exams. I had appeared for IBPS-PO casually in 2013 and scored just 11.25 marks in the English section and could't clear the written exam. The pressure of finding a job was building up. I started to seriously prepare for IBPS PO again.
And out of all the sections, I started to focus on English as it was my weakest area. I also had problems in verbal English while appearing for interviews previously. I was pretty good in Quants and Reasoning and so I felt that I do not need much practice in these sections. English was a hard nut to crack for me. Hence, I built a well planned strategy to crack English section.
English does not have a fixed syllabus. It don’t have formulae to memorize like quants. Maybe this is why I always ignored it.
I wanted to focus on improving my RC skills and basic grammar. Besides consulting and reading from wren & martin thoroughly I practiced and solved previous year’s papers.
My strategy to improve English score:
I used to set aside 2 hours daily exclusively for English. And I was completely dedicated in these two hours focusing on every bit of English language. I could not sit for more than 2 hours at a stretch as English is really not my favorite subject :P
I did not consult too many books for studying English as I thought it would get confusing.
I wanted to get my basics Right in English –To be grammatically sound, I brushed up basic grammar like basics of nouns, prepositions, tenses, sentence construction, etc. Once I had a good hold on basics of English section it seemed to look relatively easier to me. Spotting the errors questions are based on basic grammar. It helped me solve sentence completion problems as well. For English section one needs to get the basics right.
Extensive reading helped me to crack Reading Comprehension questions with ease – I tried minimum 1 passage everyday and answered the questions in a regulated time frame. I first read the questions to get an idea about the passage. Then I read the passage as a whole and tried understanding the theme. I made notes in the margins and underlined important points while reading the passage. Finally I reviewed the questions below the passage and started answering.
There was a major issue with this strategy when I took an online test!
There was no option to underline or write as there was no sheet. That is when I realized that I need to regularly practice IBPS-PO tests online. My friend recommended PrepLadder and I joined :)
It is of no use mugging up the vocabulary- For vocabulary, antonyms and synonyms - it is of no use mugging up different words from books rather one should focus on reading from different sources, especially newspapers, the editorial and different articles sections in a newspaper to get acquainted with commonly used words. I found many commonly used words here. I kept searching meanings of works on my phone while reading. I installed some news apps on my phone to stay updated for General Awareness section.
This helped me in not only learning the meaning but also the context in which the word is used. I tried using these words actively and appropriately (sometimes incorrectly) in my conversations with others. This way I was able to memorize the word along with its meaning.
I started preparing well in advance – Starting to prepare 1 week before the exam is of not much help. I tried being consistent in reading good books and speaking in English. An ideal way of learning English is to gradually pick it up. Although learning a language like English requires much patience, but once mastered it is there with you for life.
Practice to be perfect – To be able to ace any exam, you need consistent practice. I solved at least 2 papers in a week, specifically concentrated and worked on my weak areas. Solving test papers helped me to get comfortable with the pattern of the exam.
Taking Online tests is beneficial- Not to forget mentioning an important aspect of my preparation is, I took numerous online tests to improve my speed and check my accuracy. I took both full length tests and subject wise tests (when time was less). Every time I took a test, I checked how they solved questions and tried to see how I was wasting time with long calculations that were not required. You MUST do that too!
I completely logged out from all sorts of social media like facebook, whatsapp to better concentrate when I was studying. Well in time I realized how distracting it can prove to be.
My message for all the Bank-PO aspirants:
Clearing English section is not a big deal. My score did not improve from 11 to 27 in 1 week; it took me 2 months! A lot of reading along with clearing Grammar basics will help you in a big way to score high marks. Make use of online IBPS-PO tests, online communities, read newspapers, solve previous years question papers and practice hard and get good marks in English section.
I am now working at Punjab National Bank and all the hardwork seems worth it :)
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