Nitty Gritty of Reasoning Ability Section  for last year Bank Exams

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

SBI PO 2017 notification is already out. We hope you all have started your preparations by now. Some major changes were introduced in the pattern and level of exams conducted last year. Where the pattern of Preliminary Exam remained almost same with no major changes, Mains phase of many exams threw many surprises and left the students in a quandary.

In this article, we will discuss about the Reasoning Ability section, how it’s level has varied over the year and what or what not to expect this year.

Reasoning Ability Section

This section comprises of 35 questions in the Preliminary Exam for almost all the exams. The number of questions in this section vary in the Mains phase of many exams, usually ranging from 40 to 50.

Now let us have a look at the topics that were asked under Reasoning Ability Section, both in the Preliminary and the Mains exam in various exams last year.


  • This was one of the topics that remained constant throughout, with no pattern change, either in Prelims or Mains Exam.
  • 5 questions from direct Inequality were asked in almost all the Prelims exam conducted last year.
  • Questions from coded inequality were also included in SBI PO Mains exam last year.
  • Overall level of these questions ranged from Easy to moderate.

Coding – Decoding

  • Pattern of Coding – Decoding questions was changed last year with IBPS PO Mains exam. It was basically a modified version of sentence coding that is normally asked. If one had thorough practice of this topic, attempting the new pattern questions was comparatively easy.
  • However, questions based on old pattern coding, mostly sentence coding was also asked in few prelims exam like India Post Payment Bank, Indian Bank etc.
  • You can expect further variations in this topic, some of which we covered in the study notes of Coding – Decoding based on New Pattern.

Input – Output

  • There were no major changes in the pattern of these questions as well.
  • Input – Output questions were not asked in any Prelims exam last year, it was covered in only mains phase.
  • Try to cover questions based on double side shifting with relationship between words and numbers as well i.e. instead of simply shifting the word, it may be coded as the number of letters present in it and then shifted.  For instance –
    Input: replace digits mod seven gang chart firm.
    Step1: chart replace digits mod seven gang firm.
    Step2: chart digits replace mod seven gang firm.
    Step3: chart digits firm replace mod seven gang.
    Step4: chart digits firm gang replace mod seven.
    Step5: chart digits firm gang mod replace seven.
    Step6: 5   6   4   4   3   7   5
    Step7: 10  13   13   15   16   22   22

Data Sufficiency

  • Data Sufficiency questions were basically asked in the Mains phase of different exams.
  • The complexity of these questions was raised by providing 3 statements instead of 2 in the question.
  • However, if one has the approach right and practiced well, attempting these questions wasn’t too difficult.
  • The number of statements may be increased but that does not change the basic approach to the question.


  • This was one of the major change that the students faced last year.
  • Questions with a new pattern of Syllogism was introduced in IBPS PO Mains exam last year, where the conclusions were given in the questions and you had to identify the statements which are followed by the given conclusions most logically.
  • We will publish Study notes for Syllogism based on new pattern shortly.

Puzzles and Seating Arrangement

  • Overall level of these questions increased last year.
  • Seating arrangements, be it linear, square or circular were asked in combination with blood relations making them more tricky.
  • Puzzles with 2-3 parameters, involving various possibility cases troubled many students.
  • Major chunk of SBI PO Prelims exam last year consisted of Seating Arrangement and Puzzles (4 sets i.e. 20 questions).
  • It is advisable to have a thorough practice of some common patterns, for instance, linear puzzles with 2 parameters (example – people in a row,  facing north as well as south along with blood relation as another parameter), floor or box based puzzles etc.

Verbal/ Logical Reasoning

  • This is a troublesome area for many students.
  • Verbal reasoning questions were mainly asked in the mains phase of different exams.
  • SBI PO and IBPS PO Mains exam consisted of almost 10-15 questions from these topics.
  • A lot of questions based on selection criteria were also asked.
  • Overall level of these questions ranged from moderate to difficult since these questions were generally lengthy and the language was at times difficult to comprehend.
  • For instance, consider the questions below –
    There’s a lot of outrage on the Internet about migrants coming ashore and immediately taking selfies. You seriously do not want to read the comments in the Daily Express after the site ran a story under a photo of smiling Syrian refugees with phones on selfie sticks. This particular tweet, showing a woman taking a selfie when she reaches land, is doing the rounds of anti-immigrant websites, and is considered proof that these are rich people, “economic migrants” rather than real victims of tragedy.
    Personally, I think the first thing I would do if I got off an inflatable dinghy after a long trip like that is take a selfie of myself and my kid to prove that I’d made it. I suspect that the happy Syrians are doing much the same thing. In fact, according to Middle East Online, many migrants consider their smartphones to be more important than food. “Our phones and power banks are more important for our journey than anything, even more important than food,” said Wael, a 32-year-old from the devastated Syrian city Homs who reached the Greek resort island of Kos on Thursday morning.
    Which of the above statements would most weaken the author’s argument as presented in the final paragraph of the passage: “I suspect that the happy Syrians are doing much the same thing.”?
    A. It was found that for refugees, taking selfies and posting them on the internet was the only way of telling their families back home that they have made it across the borders.
    B. Research done on earlier instances of the mass migrations of the past have proved that the first instinct of a refugee on reaching his destination is the hunt for a suitable shelter, with little regard for exhaustion and communication with leftovers back home.
    C. Migrants are motivated by the love of travel and seeking new places rather than food and shelter.
    D. A profile study done upon the latest batch of migrants reaching the shores of Europe prove that most of them are erstwhile businessmen, small time industrialists and traders who are looking to set up shop in European countries.
    E. Middle Eastern immigrants are more concerned with the safety of their cell phone devices than with arranging food and shelter.
  • Now, if such a question is provided in the exam, the first instinct would be to leave the question and move on to the next, which in a way is a nice move but when you have 10-15 such questions in the exam out of 40 then you’ll have to attempt them unless you are 100% confident about the remaining questions.


  • Questions from Blood Relations, Direction sense, Alphanumeric series, order and ranking are included in this category.
  • Questions from these topics were mostly asked in Prelims phase of many exams and the overall level was moderate.
  • Level of Direction based and blood relation questions has increased last year especially direction based questions which have turned trickier.

Key Takeaways

  • The main aim of this analysis is to help you understand how the overall level of Reasoning Ability section has varied over the year.
  • As already mentioned above, there were no significant changes in the Prelims phase of almost all the exams. So, plan accordingly. Work on your speed and accuracy more as of now because that is what will help you get through the prelims phase.
  • Given the level of exam and competition , your goal should be scoring 65 plus questions in this phase.
  • Clearly, new varieties of questions were introduced last year but people with a thorough practice did attempt them. Yes, the pattern was new but the questions were doable, if you have the right approach and that my friends, comes with practice.
  • Don’t let the length or the language of the question scare you, because this fear will only deter you from going forward.
  • This section can be a game changer for you if you are not very comfortable with English and calculations. So, practice well.

Thomas Edison once said,

‘If we did all the things that we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves’

So, push yourselves, explore your potential and most importantly, believe that you can.

All the best for your exams..

Team Gradeup..!!


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