This is the second article in the series that looks at options for those who have not been able to make it to their target MBA institutes and are trying to figure out the way forward.
Some students are looking at options other than MBA, some have started working for CAT’14 and some are planning to compromise and join MBA institutes that follow the principle that even trespassers will be admitted.

The reality is that out of the over 4000 approved MBA institutes in the country, not more than 200 are worth joining. It is only these top 200 that will provide you with a decent education that will be valued in the industry and will help you get an acceptable job. The remaining 95% institutes will give you an MBA degree/PGDM that will not be worth the paper it is printed on.

In many lower end MBA institutes, you will have to invest over Rs. 10 lakhs and two years of your time and then, if you are fortunate, you will get a job offer of Rs. 3 lakhs per annum. The fact is that an MBA from a lower end institute will only reduce your market value.

For those of you who do not have a good job (or job offer) and also have no chance of admission to a decent MBA institute this year let me offer another option – SBI Probationary Officer Recruitment test. State Bank of India is India’s largest bank and Probationary Officers (PO) in SBI are equivalent to Management Trainees in private sector companies or MNCs. This is the entry level to the Management Cadre of SBI. The recruitment test for filling these 1837 vacancies will be conducted in June 2014.

Starting salary of Rs 8.4 lakh pa in Mumbai and slightly lower in other cities is, in and of itself, a good enough reason. This is significantly higher than what you can expect from jobs through most of the MBA institutes and is likely to increase as the salary gets revised through the next pay commission. The other benefits that are available include medical support for self and family, LTC and subsidized loan facility.

A PO is trained in all aspects of running a bank and, on successful completion of the two-year probation or training, the PO will be confirmed in the middle management or the junior management grade. SBI provides significant growth opportunities (domestic and overseas) and almost the entire top management (including the Directors) of SBI started their career as Probationary Officers.

Selection Procedure
The selection procedure of SBI PO is similar to that of MBA institutes. It is a two-phase process with an online objective test plus a descriptive test (to check your writing skills) in Phase I followed by a group discussion and interview for shortlisted candidates in Phase II.

Phase –I of the selection procedure consists of an online Objective Test of 200 marks and a Descriptive Test of 50 marks.

The Objective Test is a 120-minute, 200 question MCQ test with 1 mark for every correct answer and -1/4 for every incorrect answer. The test has four sections, of 50 questions each, as given below:

  • English Language comprising Grammar, Vocabulary, Comprehension, etc.
  • General Awareness, Marketing and Computers
  • Data analysis and Interpretation
  • Reasoning

English Language: This section consists of two easy RC passages (around 500-600 words) with 10 questions each, 5 questions each of parajumbles, sentence correction, fill in the blanks and vocabulary questions. A set of cloze test of 10 questions completes this section.

General Awareness, Marketing and Computers: The 25 questions of General Awareness are usually from current affairs and include a few banking related questions. The 15 marketing and 10 Computers questions are elementary in nature and are unlikely to worry anyone who uses computers or is willing to apply common sense.

Data Analysis and Interpretation: This section has 9 DI sets of 5 questions each and the remaining 5 questions are usually from probability or ratios or percentages. While a couple of DI sets may have multiple graphs or tables, typically each set has only one graph or table. The graphs and tables are easy to understand and questions are also not difficult. Mental calculations, elimination of choices and SQC techniques are useful in this section.

Reasoning: This is considered to be the difficult section of the SBI PO paper but your preparation for MBA entrances will be especially helpful here. Almost all types of reasoning questions are asked. Specifically, the question types covered in this section include analytical reasoning (mainly arrangements), input-output, blood relations, coding, symbols, syllogism, critical reasoning and reasoning-based data sufficiency. IBPS has removed visual reasoning from all online Bank recruitment tests so there is a good chance that this question type will not appear in SBI PO test.

Anyone who has prepared for MBA entrance is unlikely to be troubled by any of the question types asked in this paper. Those of you who took the Maharashtra CET will find the English section and the Reasoning section of SBI PO familiar because IBPS creates the question papers for both the tests.

The Descriptive Test is a 1-hour paper that has to be attempted immediately after the Objective Test. Your writing skills are checked in this paper and you will be asked to write letters, essay and précis. This test is evaluated only for those candidates who have a high score in the Objective Test.

Phase –II of the selection procedure is of 50 marks and comprises a Group Discussion of 20 marks and a Personal Interview of 30 marks.

Cutoffs: Phase I of this paper has sectional and overall cutoffs. The cutoffs are not very high. A minimum score in GD and Interview is also required to make it to the final list. Selection is based on composite score that has 75% weight for the score in Phase I and 25% weight for Phase II.

For the cutoffs of the SBI PO paper conducted on 28th April 2013, please click here

Eligibility for SBI PO
Graduates in any discipline (no minimum marks) between the age of 21 and 30 (as on 1st April 2014) can apply for this test. Final year students who will complete their graduation by 10th Aug 2014 can also apply for the test. Age relaxation is available for candidates from various categories, the details of which are available in the notification.

Online registration of application has started on 7th April and the last date of application is 25th April, for the online mode and 28th April, for the offline mode. The fee for the test is only Rs 100 for SC, ST and PWD candidates and Rs 500 for others.

Important Dates
Payment of fee – online 7th April to 25th April 2014
Payment of fee – offline 10th April to 28th April 2014
Date of recruitment test to be announced later, tentatively in June 2014.

Downloads and Links
SBI PO test paper held on 28th April 2013 : Click Here
Cutoffs of SBI PO test held on 28th April 2013 : Click Here
Link to advertisement for the test : Click Here
Link to online application : Click Here

All the best