SBI PO Exam PO syllabus and Exam Pattern

The post of a PO or a Probationary Officer is a managerial level post offered by both private and public sector banks in India. It is considered a highly sought-after post in the country and one has to appear for an exam as a part of the recruitment process. A probationary officer has to oversee the working of the bank as a whole and the companies associated with it. The PO has to work on probation and complete 2 years of training after they are selected by the respective bank. The career growth of a PO is considerably more in comparison to other banking jobs as one can attain promotions and higher promotions based on their qualifications and skills.

SBI PO job is a highly coveted job because of the SBI name-brand value, a lucrative pay scale, and ample growth opportunities for the officers that other banks in the sector might not be able to offer. Millions of applicants apply each year and go through the tough selection process but only a handful are selected by SBI. It is considered a dream banking job by many. 


A lot of candidates apply for the exam every year. The exam is monitored by SBI and only a few candidates are selected from a massive pool of applicants. The SBI PO exam notification is released each year giving details about the exam like dates, exam pattern, syllabus, and essential points about the recruitment for the prospective candidates. This notification is on the bank’s official website. The exam and selection process consists of 3 phases i.e. prelims, mains, and a GD interview round. One needs to clear the exam stage to get to the next stage. The final selection is made on the basis of both the mains exam result and the merit of the applicant. The exam is considered to be tough and requires one to have ample preparation in order to clear it. It is considered tougher than the IBPS PO exam and the cut-off for clearing is also higher. 

The candidate must be an Indian citizen to be eligible to give the exam. The candidate should also have an undergraduate degree or a degree of equal value from any university or an institution recognised by the Central Government of India. There are vacancies for the candidates to apply in categories besides the general categories as well. Each category has a number of vacancies specified in the information released by SBI before the exam. The number of chances allowed per candidate to attempt the exam is also specified and different for each category. Once the candidate has exhausted all the chances, he/she is not eligible to apply anymore for the SBI PO exam. The applicants have to be really well prepared and wise in using their chances to give the exam and give it their best.


The syllabus for the SBI exam is usually issued in broad terms but can be categorised in more specific terms looking at exams and questions asked in the previous years. The syllabus for the prelims and the main exam is largely the same with slight differences. Knowing the syllabus and the pattern of the exam helps the candidate make a proper schedule for their preparation and helps one know what areas of the syllabus might need more focus than the other.

The prelims syllabus consists of an English language, reasoning ability, and numerical ability section. The English language section consists of reading comprehension questions, para jumbles, finding the errors, cloze test, sentence completion, and improvement questions. The numerical ability section asks a wide range of general math-related questions ranging from quadratic equations to data interpretation, profit and loss, ratio and proportion, and number series. Reasoning ability consists of blood relation problems, order and ranking, puzzles, coding and decoding, and other data interpretation questions. 

In addition to the sections above, the mains exam test has two more sections that consist of general knowledge and a descriptive English language test. It has four objective questions sections and one subjective section that has the English language descriptive question. The descriptive section has one essay writing question and a letter-writing question. The general knowledge section tests the candidate’s political, financial, and current affairs awareness. It may also have some questions about the banking system and insurance.

It is helpful if the preparing candidates practice the free SBI mock test which can be found online and also practice questions from the previous year’s exams as the pattern has not changed much. Going through the previous years’ papers can help the candidates in becoming well versed with the kind of questions that might be asked in the paper and also time management. 


The selection process has 3 stages. A prelims exam that the candidate needs to pass to move to the next stage which is the mains exam and finally a group discussion/personal interview round.

Prelims exam- It is an online objective exam consisting of 3 sections and is of 100 marks.

Mains exam- This exam consists of objective and subjective questions. It is an online exam consisting of questions worth 155 questions that need to be answered within 3 hours. 

Group discussion and interview- This is the final stage of the selection process where the selected candidates who have cleared the previous two rounds come for a face-to-face interview with officials from the bank.

Another thing to be kept in mind regarding the pattern and marking of the exam is that there is a negative marking. 1/4th mark is cut for every wrongly answered question. There is no section-wise cut-off in the exam, only an overall marks cut-off. The prelims exam marks are calculated only to select candidates that qualify for the mains round. These marks are not considered in the final selection of the applicant. The final selection is made on the basis of aggregate marks from the mains exam and the performance of the candidate in the group discussion and interview.

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