Study smart or Study hard- Which Strategy to choose while preparing for SBI PO Mains Exam?

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By Smartkeeda
24 Nov 2023

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


There is always a huge, widespread and equivocal debate on “Smart Work and Hard work” and competitive exams is an arena which is not an exception to this debate. I have met a lot of aspirants who have done an incredible job over the years and they have worked tirelessly hard to crack this examination. Yet, they find themselves short of the finishing line. They narrate their dedication to me, they proclaim their right approach to me and still they could not make the cut. The conversations have always prompted me to ask this question again and again- Which strategy is better, working hard or Working Smart?

When you love doing things conventional way, you are bound to choose hard work as your modus operandi. If you prefer breaking the shackles and wrapping up things as earliest as possible, smart work would be your propagation. Let’s take an example here: I may not be excellent in aptitude, in fact I am pathetic in Arithmetic Questions. I face a lot of difficulties while solving a simple question from this part of syllabus. What can I do when I only have 2-months to the exam?

Can I pick up a text book and go bottom-up from basics to advanced, especially when I have four subjects to take care of within a limited time period? No, I simply can’t. So what do I do? I simply infused a single thought in my mind: I need not prove it to anybody that I am good at something, I just need to make my way out of some difficult questions. I need not to prove someone that I am next to Aryabhatta in Mathematics, I just need to practice few short tricks and manage things out for 3-hours. Once I am out of that room, passed with flying colors, nobody is going to ask me how much Aptitude I know.

This simply is smart work:

I have often been asked this question: How to improve English language? And I could not help them out because of the scarcity of time available to them. People ask me this question when things are out of their control because English needs hard work, it needs proper time to be given, it needs patience and persistence. It is a language and language is learned hard way, there is no smart way or shortcut to that.

That simply is a product of hard work.

Now, which strategy is apt for SBI PO Mains: Smart work or hard work?

Obviously, my sole preference would be smart work. Why? Because no one has the time to work hard since exam is very near. Now what does smart work means? Let’s see it in detail:

  • It means recognizing your already built strengths and consistently striving to master them by practicing them.
  • It means picking up the right question at the right time. If you have 5 minutes left in exam and you have picked up a fresh puzzle, you have lost an opportunity to score extra marks. Why? Because you were not smart to utilize that 5 minutes efficiently.
  • It means having one’s own strategy and way of doing things. Give me a profit & loss question, I have my way to solve them which won’t be understandable to you but ultimately end result matters.
  • It means being aware of your shortcomings in the exam and not make a naïve attempt at anything to waste your own time. Example: I did not study Probability during my SBI PO preparation days and the questions asked in exam were sub-standard. Still, I preferred to stay away from them because I knew they are not my cup of tea as of now.
  • It means revising general awareness more and more rather than wasting time in reading static GK.
  • It means picking up the simplest bet first and securing the sectional cut-off in order to remove any further hindrances.
  • It means covering a long distance by travelling the shortest way which simply brings us to a plain conclusion “minimum time, maximum output.”

Remember, a smart worker may be a hard worker but a hard worker may or may not be a smart worker.

Be smart, because it is the need of the hour.

All the best!

Smartkeeda (author)

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