Let’s normalize talking about failures

I saw this wonderful Bollywood movie recently which conveys that we always plan about what we’ll do after we succeed but never give a thought about what if we fail. Can you guess the movie I am talking about?

Last year in October I gave my IBPS PO exam. For those who don’t know about it, IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel Selection) is an organisation which conducts a common recruitment exam for various government banks every year and for various posts in India. I gave the exam for the post of PO (Probationary Officer) which in layman terms means assistant manager of scale 1 for a government bank.

The exam is conducted in 3 steps : Preliminary, Mains and Interview. So spoiler first, I gave the exam last year, made it through the 3 steps but not in the final merit list. The cut off marks for the final merit list were 44.44 and I scored 40.67.

Yes, I still feel bad for myself sometimes for reaching this close and not making it to the final list. I feel bad that I’ll have to start from step 1 again but I read a beautiful quote recently which was on the lines that the next time you are starting a thing again, you are not starting from the scratch, you are starting with experience. (Also I was motivated by my near and dear ones that maybe this didn’t work out because something even better is waiting for me. Okay so “something even better”, where are you?)

I’d love to share my experience of how I made it through the 3 steps and what according to me was not sufficient that I did not make it in the final merit list. (now that I sit back and analyse.) I would feel happy and content if my blog helps even one person who is preparing for this or any competitive exam.

IBPS PO was not the first exam I gave last year. I had given 5-6 other exams like LIC AAO, SBI PO and Clerk before it and I was not even able to clear their first step i.e. the preliminary exam. But, I did not give them just for the sake of giving, I was constantly preparing and I could see my marks were eventually a few marks less than the cut off marks for the first step.

So how did I prepare for the exam? Well the preliminary exam consists of English, Quantitative Aptitude and Logical Reasoning. The mains exam consists of all subjects of preliminary and include Computer Aptitude, General, Economic and Banking Awareness and a descriptive English paper. The preliminary is just a screening exam and you need to clear a certain cut-off to be eligible for the mains exam. The mains exam is where you need to clear the cut-off to be eligible for interview and score good because 80% of the mains marks and 20% of the interview marks are used to make the final merit list.

The most important thing if someone is preparing for banking exams is to give a good number of mock tests. I gave my mock tests on the site Oliveboard (There are many other sites such as Testbook, Adda247, you can browse and opt for whichever you find convincing.) Mock tests are important because they give you a dress rehearsal for the exam, let you know the type of questions which are currently being asked, properly analyse your tests and let you know the areas you need to work on. I genuinely recommend Oliveboard since it helped me a lot in my preparation.

Also, these mock tests are slightly harder than the actual exam you are going to give and I think this is because they want the candidate to be ready for the worst. One should not be terribly affected by the marks he is getting in mock tests. They should not demoralize or over-boost you. They are just a medium to let you prepare for the big day.

For the English section, I didn’t refer to any book, I found mock tests sufficient for it. I was preparing for administrative exams and was taking coaching from Samkalp Institute, Chandigarh in 2017-18. I had attended aptitude classes there which helped me immensely for the Quantitative Aptitude and Logical Reasoning section.

Apart from that, I practised from the book Quantitative Aptitude by R.S Aggarwal for Maths and Magical Book on Puzzle by K Kundan for Reasoning. Since I was already preparing for some time, I had made my own notes for Maths having formulas, list of squares and cubes which I kept on revising frequently.

I was preparing the General Awareness part from Oliveboard’s daily current affairs and monthly pdfs. However, since there is just a month gap between the preliminary and mains exam, I was not completely able to cover the recent current affairs and this is the area I think I could have worked on. If you are preparing for this exam, it’s better to prepare a little for mains along with the preliminary exam as you do not have much time between them.

I found some static GK, Economic and Banking Awareness topics which I thoroughly prepared by making my own notes. They included list of various international organisations India is a part of, their headquarters, the different public and private sector banks in India with their headquarters, names of any recently changed or appointed Chairman or MD of banks, the summary of economic survey and budget of that year and many other topics. Computer Awareness I prepared through an Oliveboard pdf and found it completely sufficient.

The joy of clearing the preliminary and mains exam is still in my heart, how happy I was in those particular moments. I think I would have made it in the final merit list had I given little more attention to the current affairs part and practiced the maths part a bit more instead of running from it.

I sincerely thank my family and friends who constantly kept me boosted and pushed me hard on days I felt low and felt like giving up. The process made me learn a lot, not only about the subjects but also on how to manage my time and where to put my energy. And as the saying goes, the sun will rise and we will try again. 🙂

I would share my complete interview experience in the next blog. Feel free to drop any queries about the exam in the comments section or any story you want to share about your exam preparation.

Link to oliveboard : https://www.oliveboard.in/

3 thoughts on “Let’s normalize talking about failures

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