How to Master the English Section in IBPS Exams: A Complete Guide from HashLearn


All entrance exams and aptitude tests have a section dedicated to the English language. And tests conducted by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) are no exception. They have a solid section on English. Why is English important in these exams? English is the world’s major lingua franca today. To express your ideas properly and to understand ideas from others, you need a handle on your language abilities.

In a country like India, English is learned from a textbook and we don’t use it much outside our work spheres. But, learning English can give you wings to fly. You can crack the IBPS with ease and make your work life easier!

Now, from the IBPS exam perspective, English is the most scoring section in IBPS exams.

While the other sections require specific preparation, the English section can be dealt with some quality reading and practice.


What to expect from this article?

We are going to talk about how English can be easily dealt with in bank exams. This article will also remind you of the gaining popularity we see today in the industry, so much that even working professionals are eyeing this path for a worthwhile career in banking.


Facts about the English section in IBPS that no one talks about

  • English section in IBPS is ideally the easiest one to score
  • Preparing for the English section does not require you to spend as much time as other sections (Quantitative and Reasoning)
  • The 2017 IBPS prelims witnessed a last minute change in pattern for the English section. So be prepared to expect the unexpected.


Now that we have got all this out of the way, let’s take a deep dive and understand what to expect in the English section for 2018 IBPS exams.


Topics in IBPS English section

S no: Topics  Marks in Prelims   Marks in Mains 
1  Reading Comprehension 10 10
2  Error Spotting/Detection 5 5
3  Fill in the blanks  –  5
4  Cloze Test 5 10
5  Para Jumble 5 5
6  Sentence Correction 5 5



The questions are no major shockers and are found in most other aptitude test patterns. So, how do you start off with preparation? Practice with 4 core skills:

  • Reading,
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Listening

When you practice with mock papers, learn to manage your time. For example, pick the vocabulary questions first and complete them first. Of course, you need the prerequisite diction skills to do so. But, they take the most minimal time to complete. So, move your chessmen right and gather as much score as possible, within your 20 minutes. Save the para jumbles for the last because they take a lot of time. In every question, try to eliminate the options and arrive at the right answer than go the other way round.

When you practice with mock papers, learn to manage your time. For example, pick the vocabulary questions first and complete them first. Of course, you need the prerequisite diction skills to do so. But, they take the most minimal time to complete. So, move your chessmen right and gather as much score as possible, within your 20 minutes. Save the para jumbles for the last because they take a lot of time. In every question, try to eliminate the options and arrive at the right answer than go the other way round.

To help you with thorough preparation, invest your time in reading quality content. Your vocabulary will improve tremendously and your comprehension will get better. Familiarise yourself with reading so that passages and questions do not intimidate you. It should come naturally!

When you read, do the following:

  • Choose a couple of passages that interest you. And then, choose to read a couple of passages you have no intention of reading; go right out of your comfort zone. Get used to reading things you are unfamiliar with.
  • Make a mental note of words that are unfamiliar. Try to puzzle out the meaning of such words from the context. Find the meaning, learn it with the context/s. and then, try making use of these words in your own sentences.
  • Learn the origin of the word. If you can break it into the root word it comes from, familiarise yourself with other words the same root word has given rise to.


Tips to Improve Vocabulary

  • Widening your vocabulary needs a bit to effort from your side. By effort, we mean every time you see new word make it a point to learn it. Keep a notebook/journal of all the new words you learn. Try and use them in sentences when you speak and write
  • Figure out how you wish to learn. It can be by memorizing, reading, speaking, summarising or other methods. Find out which method suits you best.
  • Here is another simple tip – Engage in conversations. For this, you need to surround yourself with people who speak the language. Simply talking with other people can help you learn to discover new words
  • Another easy hack is to check out the vocabulary section in the previous year’s paper. This is easily a gold mine for learning new words and you can also test where you stand as of date.


These are tips to help you improve your vocabulary. But, a language is much more than your vocabulary. Grammar is extremely important. When you write a word document, scrutinize all the red squiggly lines that appear on screen, informing you about the mistakes you have committed. Understand why they are mistakes in the first place and work on correcting them. And when you start off with your grammar prep, start from the very basics. Learn what nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions are.

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Tips to Improve Grammar

  • Grammar can be a little tricky. The best way to master grammar is to first understand the different parts of speech. They are:
  • Noun: Elements that usually perform the action in a sentence
  • Adjective: Element that describes the characteristics of the noun
  • Pronouns: Examples: There are personal subject pronouns such as (I, she, and they)
  • Verbs: Indicates action. Which basically means the word indicates what the noun is doing
  • Propositions: Words like in, to, over, of, across etc. These words indicate relationships
  • Conjunctions: Words like for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. These words connect with the noun, clauses or phrases
  • Adverbs: They are basically the modifier to a verb, noun, proposition etc. Eg. Words like Slowly, Quietly, Gently etc.
  • Understanding the point of view: The language English has three points of view
    a. First person view: e.g.: I (singular), We (plural)
    b. Second person view: e.g. You (singular & plural)
    c. Third person view: e.g. He/she (singular), They (plural)
  • Get into the habit of reading books from different genres. i.e if you are someone who reads a lot of fiction novels then try a hand at Classics, biographies, science fictions, literature novels etc. Once you diversify your reading you expose yourself to different styles of writing, sentence structuring, creative variations etc.
  • Find good online resources. The internet is flooding with information on how to improve grammar. There are many online applications you can use that will test your grammar skills in a fun way. Since these applications are educational, they’ll often provide explanations for wrong answers so you can learn from your mistakes.

 Tenses are fundamental in establishing effective communication. Mastering the concept of tenses will enable you to raise the readability of your writing and also help the readers comprehend accurately what you have written. So these were some of the few basic tips to improve English grammar. If you follow this routine then you are one step closer to mastering the language.  

Let’s now get specific to the English section in IBPS. We have managed to put together some individual strategies for each section that can help you crack the English in IBPS




Strategy for the Reading Comprehension section

For those who are not sure what to expect in this section, the reading comprehension section in IBPS English consists of a passage followed by a list of questions based on that passage.  This is one of the most important section in English and the number of questions can vary between 10- 20.

  • Read the passages in one go. It is ok if you have some comprehension issues in the reading session.
  • Go to the questions. You can read the bits of the passage that pertains to the question once again.
  • Emphasize on getting the premise, introduction, conclusion and the author’s opinion from the passage. The other information can wait!
  • Answer the direct, data match questions. They are, as the name suggests, direct!


Strategy for Error Spotting/Detection section

In this section, a given sentence or a phrase may present an error in the form of articles, tenses, noun, pronoun, adjective, verb or adverb. You have to figure out the error. This is where improving Grammar plays a big role.

  •  Since topics in ‘Error Spotting’ will revolve around, tenses, noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, and adverb, learning what they are is the only way out. You will need to understand what they mean in a sentence/phrase and how they are used in a sentence/phrase. Do that and you can spot the difference quickly when there is an error
  • Read the complete sentence carefully, this is absolutely vital. Do not make assumptions before finishing reading the sentence.
  • Positives in Error Spotting section: This section should ideally take the least time in solving, which also means this section has a high potential for you to score.
  • Sometimes eliminating the options work. Try and discard options that seem way to off.
  • If in case you are not able to spot an error in the given sentence then revisit that sentence again but this time dissect it carefully word by word. Sometimes all you need to do is read the same thing over and over again.



Strategy for Fill in the Blanks section

In this section, candidates are required to fill in the correct word that makes up a correct sentence.

  • A strong vocabulary can help a great deal in this section. Refer to the tips I have mentioned above on how to improve your Vocabulary and begin your preparation for this section from there
  • The tricky part about this section is that all the options provided to fill in the blanks will look similar. So you need to apply two logical approaches, one is to use the elimination method wherein you will discard options that make no sense whatsoever
  • The second logical approach to be implemented here is to ensure that you do not change the theme or topic of the sentence. Discard options that may sound right but changes the theme entirely.
  • When there are two blanks to be filed in a sentence follow the same logical approaches where you eliminate and arrive and options which does not change the theme of the sentence.
  • This tip is obvious but needs a mention nevertheless. Read the entire sentence before even looking at the sentence. This is important because one thorough reading of the sentence will help you understand the theme or premise of the sentence.


Strategy for Cloze Test section

In this section, candidates are required to fill in the correct word that makes up a correct sentence/paragraph/passage. Vocabulary will help you in this section. Eliminate the ones that do not fit in. arrive at the right answer.

  • For every missing word or blank, you will be given 5 options. So needless to say, apply the elimination method and read the entire text to understand the tone or theme of the passage
  • This section requires practice since you need to rely on accuracy. There will be 5 to 10 questions from this section and you cannot waste time trying to figure out one answer.
  • Reading habits helps because understanding the context of the passage is important. If you do read often then you can finish the passage fast along with understanding the whole theme of the passage
  • Confusion is inevitable so stay calm and rely on understanding the context of the passage. Keep applying the elimination method to arrive at an answer.


Strategy for Para Jumble section

You are given a set of jumbled sentences that you will have to rearrange the parts of a sentence to form a meaningful one. Save this for the last as it requires a lot of time. Look at the pronouns, conjunctions, introductions, articles to help you figure the order. For example, you cannot start a paragraph with ‘It was found in India’. The ‘it’ here needs to be defined first. So, look for such clues and arrange sentences in order.

  • This is a tricky section which again requires a bit of practice. There will be about 6 questions para jumbles phrases for you to attempt. Though tricky this is also one of the easiest section if prepared right
  • Understanding the premise of the phrase is important. Once you have accomplished that you are one step closer to finding the correct answer. So always remember the overall story behind the passage before you answer
  • You should first arrange phrases and then add those phrases in a meaningful manner.
  • Earlier I had mentioned that the best way to master grammar is to first understand the different parts of speech. This is important because they contribute to sentence forming. Master that and this section can be easy.



Strategy for Sentence Correction/Improvement section

This section will test your fundamental knowledge of English language. Remember, they are also similar to the error spotting section.

  • Check for grammatical error when you read the sentence for the first time. Eliminate options that may not seem right when you read it out in your mind.
  • The original sentence will seem fine at first glance but pay attention to grammar and check the options provided and see if it makes the sentence better
  • Apply all the available choices in the given sentence and check which fits best. This is another form of elimination method

Recommended books for English Section in IBPS

  • Objective General English by RS Aggarwal
  • English Grammar: Wren & Martin
  • Objective English for Competitive Examinations: 5th Edition
  • The Hindu Newspaper
  • S.P Bakshi’s Book on English: Arihant Publication
  • English Grammar by Murphy by Cambridge University Press


That’s it, these are some of the individual strategies we recommend for the English section in Bank Examinations.  

Good luck!


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