IBPS PO 2020 Exam Guide: All You Need To Know - Study24x7
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IBPS PO 2020 Exam Guide: All You Need To Know

Updated on 30 September 2020
6 min read 2 views
Updated on 30 September 2020

Are you keen on stepping into the banking or financial services sector? When it comes to employment in this stable sector, one of the best jobs is of IBPS PO. The Institute of Banking Personnel Selection Probationary Officer or the IBPS PO is the entry-level position for any banking officer, with a probationary tenure of 1-2 years. In this article, we have covered entire IBPS PO Exam guide i.e. syllabus, pattern, preparation strategy and much, much more.

IBPS PO Exam Overview:

From SBI to public sector banks, the LIC and many corporation banks rely on the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection to assess, shortlist and select banking personnel for them. The autonomous body does this by organising and conducting simultaneous, mass-level testing exercises in over 200 cities and other locations. 

Need to know how big they can get? In 2018-19, the Institute saw an enormous scale of 1.01 crore registered candidates queue up for the test. From August, and we will see a similar number of registrations, especially after it would announce the IBPS PO exam date. 

The IBPS PO exam is a multiple-choice examination, which allows the Institute to recruit entry-level officers for 17 affiliated public sector banks and regional rural banks. With IBPS PO 2020, the exam completes a decade of its existence. 

The exam in itself occurs in three stages - prelims, mains and a qualifying interview.

IBPS PO Exam Date:

Usually, the Bank PO exam maintains a cycle of August to November, wherein IBPS announces the exam date for November, in August. According to the IBPS official website, the exam date schedule would be as follows:

IBPS PO/MT-X Prelims Exam 2020 - 3, 4 and 10 October 2020

IBPS PO Mains Exam Date - November 28, 2020

Interview call for qualifying candidates - To be announced

IBPS PO Eligibility Criteria:

Remember, the IBPS PO 2020 Exam is not open for everyone - there are restrictions for age, language and education levels. To check whether you qualify as a candidate for the examination, we recommend going through the eligibility criteria enlisted here -

i) Age: Candidates need to be between 20-30 years at the time when they register for the exam.


  1. Candidates who come from SC/ST backgrounds or ex-Army, Kashmiri Pandits or survivors of the 1984 riots, will now get an age relaxation of 5 years (can apply at 35).
  2. OBC (Other Backward Classes) candidates get a relaxation of 3 years.
  3. Disabled candidates can receive a relaxation of 10 years.
  4. Widowed and divorced women can apply for the post with a relaxation of 9 years.

ii) Education: Bank probationary officers need to hold a minimum graduation degree to apply for the exam. You can fill an application form as a graduate in Arts, Commerce, Science or Technology from any government recognised university in India.

iii) Language criteria: Remember, the Bank PO exam recruits candidates who can do people-facing jobs. So, candidates for this recruitment examination should be proficient (that is, fluency in reading, writing and speaking) in the official language of their state.

iv) Citizenship: The IBPS PO Exam is open to all Indian citizens. Citizens from Nepal and Bhutan, Tibetan refugees (from before January 1, 1962) and persons of Indian origin from Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and specific East African countries may also apply, provided they hold a certificate of eligibility from the Indian government.

IBPS PO Total vacancies available:

The reasons why banking jobs remain so lucrative even today are the inherent promises of stability, career progression, government positions and the number of vacancies available. 

The Institute releases a list of total IBPS Bank PO 2020 vacancies with the official notice (right now there has only been a tentative notice). The vacancies for the 2019-2020 bank PO exam totalled to 4336 positions in different banks and financial institutions.  

This year too, we expect about 5000-odd vacancies for this position.

IBPS Bank PO Application Process:

First, there is a single registration which happens for both the prelims and mains examination, the window for which opens after the official declaration. In this registration, candidates must submit these documents to the official IBPS website (ibps.in):

i) Candidate photo

ii) Candidate signature

iii) Thumb impression

iv) A scanned copy of a handwritten declaration of intent

Candidates should also keep an eye on the official IBPS PO Exam Notification for more details on the same.

IBPS PO Admit Card:

Next, candidates must collect an admit card which would allow them entry into the examination centre. The Institute issues this admit card in hard copy as well as a digital copy about 10-15 days ahead of the IBPS PO 2020 exam date.

The admit card is unique to each of the qualifying stages - one each for the online preliminary and mains examinations and a third for the interview.

In case you wish to download the digital copy of your IBPS PO exam admit card, simply login to the official website with your registration number or roll number.

Salary Structure:

As we had shared earlier, one of the core reasons behind the popularity of the bank PO jobs is the steady career graph and a stable salary. An average government bank PO earns upwards of an approx Rs 23,000, after the revisions under the 10th Bipartite settlement in Nov 2012 (which came into effect from 2016).

So, a probationary officer or PO's basic salary structure becomes:

Basic pay - Rs 23700

Annual Increment - Rs 980 (applicable for seven years)

HRA, DA and other additions - Based on your employer

The IBPS PO Selection Process:

Now, let's look at the bank PO selection process, which will bring candidates to their coveted job role. There are three phases in this process, which we had listed earlier - the preliminary examination, the mains examination and the personal interview. Under mass testing, the candidates attempt the two written exams online.

i) Preliminary examination (Prelims):

From the entire list of registered candidates, the IBPS shortlists those which clear parameters of age, education, language and citizenship (alongside any other shortlisting criteria it may choose).

These candidates can then appear for the prelims exam.

ii) Mains examination:

The IBPS shortlists a specific number of candidates who have given the prelims to appear for the mains. These are chosen via a cutoff as per availability for each category.

These will then qualify for the interview round.

iii) Interview round:

Here, candidates who clear the sectional and overall cutoff of the mains examination become eligible for the interview session. Here, the interviewers are from the individual banks (though IBPS continues to support them).

Final result:

This step is the last stage of the IBPS PO selection process. Here, a candidate gets selected on their overall performance in IBPS PO mains and interview rounds.

The IBPS PO Syllabus:

Now, we look at what a candidate needs to pick up for the IBPS PO exam. The exam syllabus is a mix of three distinct areas in the prelims stage and four subjects for the mains exam - all of which assess your ability to analyse, reason and communicate effectively.

For the preliminary stage, the exam syllabus covers the following subjects - English, Numerical Ability and Reasoning ability for a 20-minute duration each. In this time, they attempt 30 questions for English and 35 each for numerical and reasoning skills and try to clear the minimum cutoff for all sections. That's essential as it will give you access to a mains attempt.

For the mains examination, there is an objective and a descriptive segment. The objective segment of the exam syllabus covers these subjects -

i) Reasoning and computer aptitude


iii) Data analysis and interpretation

iv) General / Economy and banking awareness

Meanwhile, the descriptive segment assesses a candidate's written skills, by how they work on two compositions - an essay and a letter.  

The IBPS PO Exam Pattern:

By most accounts, the Institute's assessments are usually strict, with negative marks and time bound papers. Here is a brief outline of the exam pattern for this assessment.

i) IBPS PO prelims exam pattern

The IBPS PO Prelims examination is a 60-minute assessment for in three subject areas - English, Numerical Ability and Reasoning Ability. Candidates attempt a total of 100 questions here, for a maximum 100 marks.

There is a penalty of 0.25 negative marks for each wrong answer and a time duration of 20 minutes for each section. The candidates who make it past a minimum cutoff for each section are eligible for the mains examination.

ii) IBPS PO mains exam pattern

The IBPS PO mains exam has four objective elements and one descriptive paper in English. Candidates can attempt three out of these four in either English or Hindi over 180 minutes. The English language descriptive paper is set for an additional 30 minutes.

Let's do a deep-dive into the exam pattern for this set:

i) Reasoning and Computer Ability:

A combined multiple-choice assessment, this section covers logical reasoning and necessary computer abilities for all candidates. It includes 45 questions worth 60 marks. Candidates can attempt these in 60 minutes.

ii) English language:

The English language exam is a 40-minute assessment of 45 questions worth 60 marks. 

iii) Data Analysis and Interpretation:

The data analysis and interpretation segment, on the other hand, requires interpretative choices. It holds 35 questions worth 60 marks, spread over 45 minutes.

iv) General, Economy and Banking awareness:

This section is the closest check to on-the-job abilities for a probationary officer. Like the previous section, it holds 35 questions worth 60 marks, to be attempted in 35 minutes.

The IBPS PO Cutoff:

To know the cutoff for the IBPS PO examination, candidates need to wait till the release of their respective scorecards and marks. That's because the Institute may vary the cutoff each year, based on how tough or easy the paper had been, the number of aspiring candidates or vacant positions. However, we can take an estimate of the cutoff based on the ones for earlier years.

Remember, the cutoff itself will vary for each section of candidates (with a relaxation for those with economically or socially underprivileged backgrounds).

So, the IBPS PO cutoff 2020 would be near to the ones for the last two years - 2018 and 2019.  

The 2019 cutoff (overall) ranged around 59.75 for candidates from the general category, economically weaker sections and the OBC category. SC/ST candidates could clear it if they scored higher than 53.5 and 46.25 per cent. 

Preparation Strategy:

The IBPS PO exam is no cakewalk and requires a systematic approach. As each of the three phases acts as filters for the next, all of them require equal attention. Here, we discuss a strategy that will help you adequately prepare for the assessment.

i) Collate syllabus, exam patterns and study materials

Remember, there are three subjects to contend with at the prelims stage and three additional areas (if we don't count English) at the mains stage. Bring these together in a casual reading before you deep-dive into them.

ii) Divide equal time slots

Count down to the number of weeks and months till the exams, so that you can then allot slices of time to each of the six subjects - English, numerical ability, reasoning ability, computer awareness, data awareness and general awareness (in respect of the banking industry).

iii) Leave ample revision time

Allow enough time to revise possible problem areas like numerical ability or English composition. Both of these areas require adequate practice, so pitch in with sample question banks.

iv) Opt for mock tests

Mock test assessments are an excellent way to pace your preparation and see how you're faring with the study material. Do this by trying out a test on a weekly or a bi-monthly basis.

IBPS PO exam results:

After the examination, the wait for the results could be a nerve-wracking ride. To make it easier, here are some result dates which candidates can block on their calendars:

IBPS PO Pre-Exam result - October / November 2020

IBPS PO Mains result - December 2020

IBPS PO provisional allotment - January / February 2020

This was the entire IBPS PO Exam Guide. We hope that our analysis of the IBPS PO exam has been a useful exercise and provided you with clarity over the assessment. For more information, do check the necessary posts on the Study24x7 platform. Good luck to all the aspirants!

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