Buckle up for the English Section in SBI Clerk Prelims (1)
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English is considered to be one of the toughest sections by a number of SBI Clerk aspirants. This is probably because there isn’t any straightforward rule to be applied in this section unlike reasoning ability and quantitative aptitude. Mastering this section depends on consistent practice and this is the right time to start with your revision since there are a handful of days left. Banking exams have introduced a number of new types of questions in the past and this is the exact reason why your preparation should not be limited to some particular sets of questions. It should rather be a holistic preparation, which would help you regardless of the format of the questions. 

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On a basic level, the English section tries to assess three aspects:

  1. Grammar
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Comprehension

So, whatever the format of the question is, be it new or old, it will broadly check only these three aspects or any combination of these aspects. Let’s have a look at the sections which are generally asked, and the tips and tricks to ace those sections.

Reading Comprehension

A favourite of all the exams, this section tends to check vocabulary and grammar aspects. The kinds of questions that can be asked in this section are given below:

  1. Questions related to the main idea of the passage
  2. Direct questions
  3. Questions related to inference
  4. Questions related to the logical structure
  5. Questions based on tone or attitude
  6. Questions related to the contextual usage of a word

To ace reading comprehension, it all boils down to your reading speed. One way to increase the reading speed is to improve your attitude towards the passage you are reading. In the initial phase, even if you don’t like the passage, continue reading it. If you get stuck and don’t understand the meaning of a given sentence, continue re-reading it until you understand it. As you read more, your reading and comprehension speed will definitely increase. However, in the actual exam, take a quick glance at all the passages to get to what they are all about. This will help you in shortlisting the passages which you need to attempt.

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Approaches to tackle the passage

Once shortlisted, you can have two approaches for answering questions related to RC. Either you can read the passage once and then try answering the questions or you can check the questions and try getting their answers by reading the passage. Try both strategies while attempting mock tests and use the one in the actual exam, with which you are able to attain maximum marks. Remember it’s all about enough practice beforehand and now is the perfect time to start.

Cloze Test

In a cloze test, your command over English grammar and vocabulary is measured. You will be given a passage with certain words missing and 4-5 options to fill in those blanks. You need to understand the flow and the context of the passage, and then select the right option. Once again your reading habits will come in handy over here. You need to read the passage thoroughly, understand the preceding and subsequent sentences to understand the context better and then come up with an answer.

Phrase replacement

These questions judge your grammatical skills and vocabulary. A statement is given with a highlighted part and there are 4-5 options. You are asked whether the given statement is correct or whether the highlighted part should be replaced with any of the options. Once again your knowledge of grammar gets tested here. The highlighted part can be an idiom as well. So prepare on that front too. If there are two options that are very close, check the tone of the sentence to get a hint of which option would go better with that sentence. Also, check the subject-verb agreement of each sentence.

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Sentence Rearrangement & Odd One Out

Introducing questions that check more than one concept is one of the favourite tasks of examiners. After all, they get to check whether the aspirants can maintain their cool after seeing new questions. At the same time, a single question checks more than one concept. In these types of questions, a sentence is given, which is broken into 4-5 parts jumbled up in any random order. There is one extra part which is out of context. So you will have two jobs now:

  1. To figure out the odd fragment
  2. To come up with the correct sequence of parts that make up a coherent sentence

There are generally four options given with the fourth option being ‘None of these’ and the fifth option being ‘No correction required’. Since there are only 3 options given, you should start by checking the options if arranging the sentence in that way makes sense. During the course of checking the options, keep in mind that the phrase which is not included is actually the “odd one out”. If none of the 3 options makes sense, select “None of these” and if the original statement sounds coherently structured, select “No correction required”.

Strategy to take on a new type of question

If you face an entirely new type of question, don’t get dismayed; instead, stay calm. The question is new for others as well. Your approach to the question is the only thing which is going to make a difference in handling such a situation. Whatever the form of the question might be, it only intends to check your skills in grammar, vocabulary and comprehension. The question may involve more than one concept and that is what you need to solve. However, if other questions are familiar, solve them first before proceeding to solve the new type ones. 

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Some questions for you to have a look at

We have come up with the following question types, which haven’t been asked very frequently in exams. Their answers are given with explanations. You can find more new types of questions in our mock tests.

Question 1

Directions: In the question below, 3 statements are given with a phrase/ idiom highlighted in bold. From the options, select the combination of statements that have correctly used the phrase/ idiom.

1. Governments everywhere tend to look for quick-fixes, overlooking complexities and ignoring the big picture.

2. The need of the hour for Delhi is to follow in Maharashtra’s footsteps and put out a strong message against casteism.

3. As rather to the theoretical approach, the practical is quite easy to understand.

a) Only 1

b) Only 1 and 2

c) Only 1 and 3

d) Only 2 and 3

e) All 1, 2 and 3

Ans: B

Solution: The big picture – the situation as a whole. 1 correctly uses the idiom to convey how it is the tendency of governments to look for shortcuts and fail to see the situation from a broader perspective.

Follow in someone’s footsteps – to learn from someone. 2 correctly uses this idiom to convey how Mumbai has put forth a strong message against casteism, and how Delhi should learn from it. Thus, B is the right answer.

AS RATHER TO is grammatically incorrect; AS OPPOSED TO would have been correct as the sentence is comparing the theoretical and practical approaches.

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Question 2

Directions: In the question below, a sentence with four words (A), (B), (C) and (D) in bold is given. Out of these four words, replace one word from the words given in the options, so that the sentence renders an opposite meaning. In the case that none of the words can be replaced to render an opposite meaning to the sentence, choose ‘None of the above’.

The need for a specialised (A) regime to cope with large financial firms on the (B) verge of going bust is (C) well-understood especially since the global financial (D) crisis of 2008.

a) phenomenon

b) ongoing

c) uncertain

d) celebration

e) None of the above

Ans: C

Solution: Replace WELL-UNDERSTOOD with UNCERTAIN, as the former means well-known and accepted while the latter means something that one is unsure about. Here, the sentence seeks to convey that a regime to cope with financial firms that are about to close is needed, and this need is well-known. So, the opposite of that would be if the sentence conveys that this need is not well-understood or recognised, which would be conveyed by replacing C. Thus, C is the right answer.

In D, CELEBRATION is also the opposite of CRISIS, but that would not render much meaning, as there is no such thing as a financial celebration.

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Question 3

Directions: In the question below, a word is given, followed by 4 pairs of words. From the options, select the one that provides the combination of pairs in which the first word is a synonym and the second is an antonym.


1. Resolute: unsure

2. Blatant: indecisive

3. Anxious: frail

4. Firm: undecided

a) 1 and 3

b) 2 and 3

c) 2 and 4

d) 1 and 4

e) 3 and 4

Ans: D

Solution:  ADAMANT means firm or decided; unwavering from one’s decision or opinion. In 1, RESOLUTE is a synonym, and UNSURE is its antonym. In 4, FIRM is a synonym, and UNDECIDED is the antonym. Thus, D is the right answer.

In 2, BLATANT means obvious, and it is unrelated to the given word. INDECISIVE is an antonym of the given word.

In 3, ANXIOUS means worried and FRAIL means weak. Both are unrelated to the given word.

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Question 4

Directions: In the question below, a pair of words is given. From the options, select the word for which the given pair of words are synonyms, or for which the first of the given words is a synonym and the second is an antonym.

Apostate: fanatic

a) enthusiast

b) reformer

c) capital

d) maniac

e) heretic

Ans: E

Solution: APOSTATE and FANATIC antonyms. The former refers to one who violates or speaks against religious beliefs. The latter refers to one who is passionate about and devoted to a religious cause. HERETIC refers to one who disrespects religious beliefs. It is a synonym for APOSTATE and an antonym to FANATIC. Thus, E will be the right answer.

Enthusiast – one who takes an interest in something. Maniac – a mad person.

Question 5

Directions: In the question below, a short paragraph is given with 3 blanks, followed by six words. From the options, choose the one that provides the correct combination of 3 of the given words which fit in the blanks in the right order.

When critical care gets far too critical and patients can’t endure it any no longer, families are caught on the horns of a __________. They can neither exercise the moral right to suspend treatment nor afford the __________cost of health care. Aside from such expenses, the patient is subject to unending __________ from a plethora of medical instruments to keep him alive.

A. dilemma

B. conundrum

C. mounting

D. decreasing

E. anxious

F. torment

a) ABC

b) BCE

c) ACF

d) CDE

e) BDF

Ans: C

Solution: 1st blank – We need a noun here, as denoted by the use of article A (articles are used to modify only nouns). The sentence is talking about a situation where medical care is important to save the life of a loved one, and where this medical care is too painful for the patient to bear. DILEMMA and CONUNDRUM are synonyms, meaning a situation where it is hard to make a decision. Both will fit in this blank.

2nd blank – We need an adjective here to modify the noun COST. The sentence talks about the rising cost of healthcare in the event that a patient’s condition is critical. Both MOUNTING (increasing) and DECREASING fit grammatically, but the latter conveys a meaning opposite to that implied by the context.

3rd blank – The last blank will be filled with a noun which is being modified by the adjective UNENDING. The sentence talks about how medical instruments can subject the patient to a lot of pain and suffering. ANXIOUS is an adjective, so it will not fit here. TORMENT (suffering) is a noun and fits here.

The possible combinations are ACF and BCF; only the former is given in options. Thus, option C 

is the right answer.

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We hope this article will help you in your preparation. Let us know in the comment box below if you have any suggestions for us.

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