What ‘not to do’ While Preparing for Competitive Exams Like SBI PO?

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By Smartkeeda
24 Nov 2023

Experience shared by Ankit Vani, one of the successful candidates of SBI PO 2016,
Currently working as an Assistant Manager, State Bank of India.


Since my selection into SBI as Probationary Officer, I have come across a lot of people who are still embroiled into their preparation phase and could not jump the hurdle since a long time. There are many people who are preparing since a long time, they have witnessed all the paradigm shifts that has taken place in terms of toughness of exam, escalating competition and changing patterns and yet they find themselves finishing last every time.

While conversing with them and analyzing their preparation strategies, I have come across numerous examples where in these candidates knew things that they need to do but a major chunk of them doesn’t know things which one must not do. If competitive exams is all about doing certain things in “right” manner, it is also about “avoiding doing” few things in order to place yourself amongst the best brains in the country.

Let’s look at them one by one:

  • Over reliance on few subject: To play a blitzkrieg, Sachin Tendulkar can’t always rely on “straight drive” to score all runs. He will have to play an assortment of shots from his armory to produce a magical innings. The same applies with preparation for competitive exams. If you are relying on few subjects to crack this exam, you are bound to face difficulties. Diversify your strengths, spread your wings to gain grip on all the subjects and success will come soon.
  • Trying to replicate someone else’s strategy:“What was your strategy while preparation?” This is one of the common question that I come across and though I can go at length while answering this, it may be of very little use to you since strategies can never be replicated. Every individual is different and so do his/her grasping power, temperament and other characteristics. You can pick few nuggets out of it but trying to replicate the strategy may be disastrous.
  • Mugging up the static GK: The opportunity cost involved in cramming those facts about ancient history, polity and geography is very high when it comes to banking exams. The paper covers questions majorly from General Awareness and it needs to be given proper time in order to score high. Static GK, though may sound very important, is not worth the time and effort.
  • Ignoring the mocks: If you want to be a good driver, you can’t become one by reading a “driver’s manual”. You will have to sweat it out in the open, you will have to steer your way out of difficult times to make yourself conversant with this art. Similarly, ignoring the mocks could be a major disaster because mocks allow you to ascertain your reactions to certain challenges that you might face during the real examination.
  • Announcing it out in the open: Though it may sound weird to you but it is very important to move furtively and let your success make the noise. When you blurt out your plans in the open, it loses its powers and you might get pulled down by certain people who have a wide catalogue of “unsuccessful stories” of aspirants who are preparing for competitive exams since so long. Just keep it with your closely-knit people and you will gain a lot of focus in your preparation.
  • Not preparing for Mains: I have always been vocal about one simple strategy: Prepare for Mains and prelims will be taken care of. Since Mains is an extension of syllabus asked in Prelims, one can straight away focus on preparing for Mains rather than waiting for the Prelims results to be out and then ending up muddled into a sea of questions.
  • Undermining oneself: I am a firm believer in the fact that competitive exams are not a battle of “knowledge and skills”, it is a battle of “mindsets”. The one who see himself/herself with suspicion, the one who undermines himself/herself, the one who is brimmed with lack of self-belief will have a tough time in the real battle. Stop doing that right away, right now.

Love …

Smartkeeda (author)

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