An option you can bank upon

Randeep was good at economics and wanted to pursue a career in banking. The moment he entered a university for his degree in economics, he started preparing for banking exams to realise his dream.

An option you can bank upon

Ivninder Pal Singh

Randeep was good at economics and wanted to pursue a career in banking. The moment he entered a university for his degree in economics, he started preparing for banking exams to realise his dream. At the first instance, he learnt about two inlets to join any public sector bank — as a clerk or a probationary officer, the recruitment of which is done by Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS). A few banks, however, conduct their own recruitment tests.

After a detailed research, he found out that a person joining in clerical cadre can grow professionally to a senior officer in the bank and candidates entering in a bank as a probationary officer can go on to become General Manager or even Managing Director and Chairman of the organisation. However, our ambitious Randeep was looking for more.

What caught his eye was  an advertisement for the recruitment of officers for the banker of the banks — the RBI Grade-B Officers Examination. This exam is conducted annually by the Reserve Bank of India and the Grade B Officers in the RBI serve as foot-soldiers working through the day-to-day activities in the bank maintaining cash inflow and order in the bank. They also are responsible for the overlook of swift functioning of the member banks under the RBI in the country.

Grade B comprises three different grades of employees — General, DEPR (Department of Economic and Policy Research) and DSIM (Department of Statistics and Information Management). 

However, among this trio, Grade B General has the maximum number of seats every year. In 2019 test, 199 posts have been advertised by the RBI, of which General has 156 vacancies. 

The RBI holds a common recruitment examination for the post of Grade B officers almost every year. The RBI Grade exam has a a three-phase selection process like other banking exams. 

However, unlike the other banking entrance exams, it conserves a virtuous level of difficulty and has a different procedure in phase-II.

Examination scheme

All three types of posts filled under the Grade B exam have different syllabus though all have same three-step selection procedure. 

Grade B General: All written exams both in Phase I and Phase II, are conducted online. Here the Phase I exam comprises a single paper of 200 marks (200 questions of one mark each) and is divided into four sections: general awareness (80 questions), English language (30), quantitative aptitude (30) and reasoning (60) and is of two-hour duration. However, separate time is allotted for each section and the candidates need to secure minimum marks in every section. Candidates must be careful while guessing answers as 1/4th mark is deducted for every wrong answer.

The shortlisted candidates are asked to appear in Phase II of the exam, which consists of three papers and are of 100 marks each and 90-minute duration  — Paper I tests a candidate’s knowledge on economic and social issues. It has 65 questions and is objective in nature; Paper II is all about your English writing skills. It is descriptive in nature though a candidate has type answers with the help of a keyboard; and in Paper III, your finance and management skills are under scanner. It is also objective in nature like first paper and has 65 questions. 

Grade B (DEPR): The job requirement for this post is to undertake economic analysis & research and contribute to policy formation, apart from compilation of data related to select sectors. Here there are only three papers (100 marks each) instead of four - Phase I comprises Paper I, which is objective and the questions are exclusively from economics. It is of two-hour duration. 

The shortlisted candidates are asked to appear in Phase II, which comprises  remaining two papers. 

Paper II is a descriptive exam on economics and is of three-hour duration. Here the question paper is displayed on the computer and the answers are to be written on paper. Paper II tests your English writing skills and is also descriptive in nature. But it needs to be typed with the help of a keyboard. 

Grade B (DSIM): The job requirement for DSIM officers is to undertake collection, compilation, analysis and interpretation of data on banking, corporate and external sectors, forecasting of inflation, growth and other macroeconomic indicators, analytical studies in the operational areas of interest to the Reserve Bank etc. The selection of DSIM officers has the same examination pattern as we have for DEPR except that here subject for both Papers I and II is statistics instead of economics.

Candidates who qualify both the phases with minimum aggregate cut off marks are shortlisted for the interview. The interview is of 50 marks and final selection is done after adding Phase II and interview marks in selection for General officers and in other two, marks scored in all three papers are added in the interview marks for final merit list.

Way to go

Though the Civil Services Exam is considered top exam of the country, the RBI Grade B is not far behind. Rather it needs better time management than the former to excel. In UPSC exam, there is over two-month time for the candidates to appear in the stage II Main exam, but in this case, the candidates have just about two-week time. 

In 2019, the first phase of the RBI exam was held on November 9 and the result was declared in just nine days (November 18). The second phase of exam begins this Sunday (December 1), which means that the qualified candidates have just 12 days to prepare themselves for the next stage. 

Another word of caution for aspirants is that they need to be extra careful while attempting a question as in this exam, they have to choose one answer from five options instead of four (in Civil Services Prelims every question has four options). So if you are making a guess here, there are only 20 per cent chances that it will be correct.  

So all those who are aiming to serve the RBI must plan from today for the next year exam and it needs a holistic preparation. Moreover, the candidates belonging to general category must think twice before taking the exam as there are only six attempts for them. So one must be ready from all aspects before taking the plunge. However, there is no cap on number of attempts for the reserved categories.

All aspirants are advised to have a proper and meticulously designed study plan and it must be complemented by strong willpower and focused approach to crack this prestigious examination. For better outcome, don’t forget to give time to physical and mental rejuvenation after long hours of study. All the best!

Educational qualifications

This exam provides an excellent opportunity to graduates looking to serve the banker of the banks. However, unlike the Civil Services exam, here all graduates are not eligible to appear. For Grade B General, candidates need a minimum of 60 per cent marks (50 per cent in case of SC/ST/PWD) or an equivalent grade in bachelor’s degree as well as in Class XII (or Diploma or equivalent) and Class X examinations.

For Grade B (DEPR), a master’s degree in economics/econometrics/ quantitative economics/mathematical economics/integrated economics course/finance, with a minimum of 55 per cent marks or an equivalent grade in aggregate of all semesters/ years are required. 

For Grade B (DSIM), a master’s degree in statistics/mathematical statistics/ mathematical economics/econometrics/ statistics and informatics from IIT-Kharagpur/ applied statistics and informatics from IIT-Bombay with a minimum of 55 per cent marks or equivalent grade in aggregate of all semesters/years is the minimum qualification to appear in these examinations.

Free pre-examination training

The RBI arranges free pre-examination training for Phase I and Phase II examinations at some of the centres where the bank has its offices. Candidates belonging to SC/ST/OBC/PwBD category, who desire to avail of the training, may apply (by email only) separately to the Regional Director/General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, at any one of the convenient centres given by the bank. However, this facility is available only for those candidates who are appearing in Grade B General.

Tips to excel

  • Keep date with newspapers: Candidates must read newspapers and magazines daily to be acquainted with the latest updates in all sectors with special emphasis on economic developments. Any business newspaper and magazine must be on your platter everyday.
  • Memorise facts: Memorising facts and lists can build the foundations for problem solving and it does not necessarily mean learning by ‘rote’. Information must be memorised using specific techniques in order to learn long lists of numbers, dates, names and any amount of other things.
  • Practice, practice & practice: Undertaking mock tests is the perfect way to sharpen the skills. Timed quizzes and mock tests help one to strengthen his/her knowledge. Try to create exam-like conditions with sword of time hanging over head. Performing under test conditions is a better way to fine performance.
  • Follow mantra of three Rs: Revise, rework and recover is the best mantra to improvise and perform well. Revision will let you know about your weak points and will motivate you to rework on the same topic thoroughly, which will ultimately enable you to recover from the weak points.
  • Need for speed: Knowledge, learning and practice go in vain if there is no speed. Attempting RBI Grade B examination would require intelligent hard work of speed, accuracy and knowledge. So, work on your speed to come out in flying colours.

Suggested readings


  • Indian Economy: Uma Kapila (Series of books) 
  • Indian Economy: Mishra Puri (Latest edition)
  • Growth and Development: Devraj Ray
  • Sociology: CN Shankar Rao
  • Financial Management: Prasanna Chandra


  • Economic and Political Weekly
  • Southern Economist
  • Yojana 
  • Business India
  • RBI Bulletins


  • World Development Report
  • Economic Survey of India

Sample questions 

General awareness

1. The 'RTGS' is the fastest mode of money transfer in the Indian financial system. The alphabet 'T' in the abbreviation RTGS stands for…

A. Transfer B. Turnover C. Total D. Time E. Term 

2. Which of the following is an independent commodity exchange based in Mumbai, India? 


3. The currency of Tajikistan is: 

A. Somoni B. Kuna C. Krone D. Peso E. Rial

4. Which of the following is a pension scheme focused on workers in the unorganised sector? 


5. The 'Kaziranga National Park' is situated in the Indian state of: 

A. Sikkim B. Andhra Pradesh, C. Arunachal D. Assam  E. Tamil Nadu

Quantitative aptitude

6. Mithu bhai sells rasgulla at Rs 15 per kg. A rasgulla is madeup of flour and sugar in the ratio of quantity 5:3. The ratio of price per kg of sugar and flour is 7:3. Thus, he earns 200/3 % profit. What is the cost price of sugar per kg? 

A. Rs 10/kg B. Rs 9/kg C. Rs 18/kg D. Rs 14/kg E. Rs 12/kg 

7. A mango and a orange costs Rs 200 & Rs 100 respectively. If the price of mango and orange is increased by 20% and 25 %. If a person wants to buy 10 mangoes and 5 oranges then what is percentage change in the total amount spent by him after increase in the price. 

A. 22 B. 25 C. 21 D. 26 E. None of the above

8. A train Pawan express of length 380 m running with the speed of 108 km/h crosses a platform of certain length in 37 seconds. Another train, Toofan express of certain length running with a speed of 90 km/h crosses the platform in 42.6 seconds. What will be the time taken by both trains to cross each other if they run in opposite directions. 

A. 12 seconds B. 10 seconds C. 9 seconds D. 14 seconds E. 13 seconds

9. Find the wrong term in the given series: 

10, 4.5, 3.5, 5, 16, 122, 1904 

A. 3.5 B. 5 C. 10 D. 75 E. 122

10. Area of a rectangle is 150 sq m. When the breadth of the same rectangle is increased by 2 m and the length decreased by 5 m, the area of the rectangle decreases by 30 sq m. What is the perimeter of the square whose sides are equal to the length of the rectangle? 

A. 76 m B. 72 m C. 120 m D. 80 m E. 60 m

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