IBPS PO Mains 2017: Tips for the descriptive writing test

Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) will hold its Main exam to select probationary officers in public sector banks (IBPS PO mains 2017) on November 26, 2017

education Updated: Nov 17, 2017 18:09 IST
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One of the sections in the IBPS PO mains paper is a descriptive writing section.(Getty Images)

Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) will hold its Main exam to select probationary officers in public sector banks (IBPS PO mains 2017) on November 26, 2017. Since it’s just round the corner it’s time you mastered every section of the paper thoroughly. One of the sections in the PO mains paper is a descriptive writing section.

In this post we will be covering all the aspects: Question types, how to prepare, the evaluation criteria and some dos and dont’s for the section.

Let us first take a look at the exam pattern.

IBPS PO 2017: Main exam pattern

Sr. No.Name of TestsNo. of QuestsMax. MarksMedium of ExamTime allotted for each test (Separately timed)
1Reasoning & Computer Aptitude4560English & Hindi60 minutes
2General/ Economy/ Banking Awareness4040English & Hindi35 minutes
3English Language3540English40 minutes
4Data Analysis & Inter pretation3560English & Hindi45 minutes
Total1552003 hours

The main exam also consists of an English language descriptive writing test.

•Questions: One on essay writing; one on letter writing ( Total: Two )

•Maximum marks: 25

•Time allotted: 30 minutes

Questions asked

It is important to note that the descriptive exam will be only qualifying in nature and marks secured in it will not be included for the final merit list. It will have two sections: Essay writing and letter writing

It’s important to address the time allocation for the sections mentioned above. Since the essay requires time and is longer than a letter, divide time accordingly. Also, it’s comparatively easier to write a letter because it has to be short and crisp whereas in an essay one has to put up various points and explain or analyse them. It has to be structured.

Evaluation criteria

Although there is no set criteria according to which the descriptive section paper is evaluated, there are some common things that are taken into consideration for marking. These are listed below.

Content: Address the topic from differing viewpoints and cover various aspects. Also provide details, examples and explanations. These should cogently support your point of view.

Formal requirement: Especially for letters, strictly adhere to the prescribed format. Not doing so might lead to your marks being deducted. For essays, make sure you don’t exceed the mentioned word limit. Also, structure the essay in multiple paragraphs.

Development, structure and coherence: How well the topic has been understood and explained is the main criteria of evaluating any piece of descriptive writing. Make sure you address each of the following while developing an essay.

•Does each paragraph contain just one idea or concept?

•Does the evidence presented support the writer’s argument?

•Does the paper have a beginning (introduction), a middle (body), and an end (conclusion)?

Grammar: An essay may be logically presented, it may have a variety of interesting points, but if the grammar is bad then all effort to be creative will be wasted. Create simple but correct sentence structures and convey your thoughts effectively. Take care of the following:

•proper punctuation

•full and complete sentences

•consistent verb tense, voice, and third-person usage (essays are normally written in third person).

Vocabulary and spelling: Don’t worry too much if you don’t have a good command of English. It will be fine if you can communicate your thoughts and arguments simply and effectively to the examiner. Some advice:

•Make it short and impactful: If you want to say “very good”, say “excellent”.

Also, avoid spelling mistakes.

Preparation tips

•Read: Take out time to read a variety of text from newspapers, magazines, novels, etc, every day. While reading, notice the structure of the narrative and the tone used for different articles by the authors. If you don’t understand a particular word, look it up immediately in the dictionary. This exercise will help you get an idea of different writing styles and structures and improve your vocabulary.

•Write: Start writing! Pick a topic at random and write whatever you know about it. The Staff Selection Commission has introduced the descriptive paper in order to test the writing abilities of their candidates, since they will be required to write official communiqués once they’re selected for a post. So, start writing essays on current topics.

•Edit: Once you’re done writing, edit the copy and give it a proper structure. Editing essentially means discarding words or paragraphs from your essay that don’t support the main idea, putting it in a proper structure and checking for grammatical mistakes. Once you have structured your writing, discard unwanted details and check to ensure there are no grammatical mistakes.It’s now time to get your writing analysed by another person.

•Analyse and evaluate: It’s a good idea to let another person (preferably one who is good at writing) analyse and evaluate your writing. Feedback is essential to know what your writing is lacking and to make it better. Take the feedback in a positive spirit, improvise your writing and avoid making the same mistakes again.

•Practice: Continue this cycle of writing, editing, analysing and evaluating till you’re satisfied with your essay or précis. Practice reading every day and writing as many essays and précis as possible.

Important dos and don’ts

•Get the timing right. For example: If the essay takes 15 minutes, then have a 5 -7- 3 plan where you spend 5 minutes planning, 8 minutes typing and then 2 minutes to read through the final essay to eliminate any grammatical or spelling errors. Make sure you do get the time to read and check for any errors. You can tweak the time break up and choose one that works for you.

•Stick to the word limit provided. If no word limit is provided, try to limit your essay to around 250-300 words.

•Avoid using colloquial, slang, SMS ‘lingo’ while you type. No using of “I’m”, “wat”, “thx”,”ASAP”, “gr8” etc, or use informal language such as ‘veggies’ instead of vegetables, ‘kids’ instead of children, ‘anyway’ instead of nevertheless etc.

•Use simple language. Even if your vocabulary is very strong, use words and sentences that you believe most of the readers will understand. No extra points are given for using difficult words that very few understand. In fact, it could go against you - such as “The deleterious effects of smoking…. ” v/s “The harmful effects of smoking…”

•Do not use “I think…”, “I feel… ”, “In my opinion” etc. Avoid the use of first person and second person pronouns throughout the essay.

•Do not make broad generalisations such as “Everyone knows that Narendra Modi is a good prime minister”. Instead you could say that: “Several people believe that Narendra Modi is a good prime minister” and this statement can be supported by text in the essay.

IBPS PO Mains|Descriptive writing: Sample topics for practice

1.Consequences of Brexit

2.Merger of SBI with its associates

3.Resentment over 7th Pay Commission

4.MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) formation

5.Rising NPAs of Indian Banks

6.India’s NSG debacle

7.What to expect from the new RBI Governor

8. 7% Growth in Indian Economy : Figures and realities

9.Make In India : Where we have reached

10.Modi government : Achievements and challenges

Hope this helps you with your preparation.

The author is the CEO and co-founder at Oliveboard, a leading online preparation portal for MBA, banking and government exams.

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 17:56 IST