IBPS PO Mains 2019 : Strategy for Data Analysis

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    16 November at 10:46 AM

IBPS PO mains consists of Objective Tests of 200 marks and Descriptive Test of 25 marks. Both the Objective and Descriptive Tests are conducted online. The Descriptive Test of 30 minutes duration with 25 marks is a Test of English Language (Letter Writing & Essay). Here is the IBPS PO Mains exam pattern 2019:


Name of Tests(Objective)

No. of Questions

Time in Mins

Maximum Marks


Reasoning & Computer Aptitude





English Language





Data Analysis & Interpretation





General/ Economy/ Banking Awareness












English Language 

11 to 16

Reasoning & Computer Aptitude 

15 to 18

Data Analysis and Interpretation 

8 to 12

General Awareness

23 to 25


69 to 74

In the last article, we looked at the Reasoning section. In this article, we will look at how to attempt the Data Analysis section. The breakup of questions in 2018 for IBPS Mains is as given below.

Topic No. of Questions Level Probable Good Marks to Obtain
Line Graph 4 Difficult 14-16
Radial Graph 4 Moderate-Difficult
Caselet 9 Moderate
Number Series(Latest Pattern) 3 Moderate-Difficult
Data Sufficiency( Comparision between 3 quantities 5 Difficult
Arithmetic Word Problems 8 Moderate-Difficult
Mensuration 1 Moderate
Miscellaneous 1 Difficult
Total 35 Difficult

The overall total cut-off was 4.5 for your paper to be considered. But to get to the merit list, I guess it was more. Since the difficulty level was higher as compared to the Reasoning section, I guess the overall good score out of 60 has to be around the 13-14 mark. The marks allotted were 60. Hence Mathematically there would be 25 2-markers and 10 1-marker questions.

Let's devise a strategy to get this 13-14.

The General Strategy remains the same as what was discussed in the Reasoning section. The Topic-specific Strategy and the Mathematical Strategy would Change.

Topic Strategy

The Section should be divided into 2 attempt blocks of 30 mins and 15 mins respectively.

Let's take each type of questions

  1. Set-Based questions other than DI: Contains questions on  Number Series, Quantitative Comparision, Equations and Data Sufficiency. You just know what to do and have to find the solution straight away after seeing the question. So these should be attempted in the 1st block. Practice 5 questions of each type daily and take note of the time you take to solve and then set preferences. 70% of these questions would be 2- markers. The Pattern also changes with 3- statement DS and 3 Statement Quantitative Comparision. Attempt these questions but be a little careful while doing the 2-markers as the options might be close. Between Number series and others, the others should be preferred.
  2. DATA INTERPRETATION: In this type, you have to answer 4-5 questions based on some data given. You have to understand the data clearly and then answer all the questions. If you know the basics of Percentage, Ratio and Proportion, Average and Profit and loss very well, then you can do these questions in less time. So key to DI is understanding the basics of these questions clearly. Among the Data types in order of Preference, Caselet type of DIs should be given 2nd Preference, as they need to be calculated entirely before you start solving the questions. But for figure based DI, the understanding time is less and you can go straightaway to the question. Be Careful of the 2-markers. Don't look to solve the entire set and try to identify the speed breakers. These must be Omitted.
  3. ARITHMETIC: The important topics are Applications of Percentage, Ratio, and Proportion, and Average, Time and Work, Pipes and Cisterns and Boats and Streams. Applications of these topics are found in the DI section. These questions must be equally distributed between 1st attempt Block and 2nd Attempt Block.

The order of attempts hence should be

Attempt Block-1

a. Set-Based Questions ( First Quantitative Comparision, Then DS, Then Equations, Then Number Series)...... Not all of them should be attempted

b. 1-2 questions from Arithmetic(Only if they are easy)

c. Data Interpretation( First Single Graph, then 2- Graph type and then Caselet)

Attempt Block-2(Risk Taking Block)

a. 1-2 questions of Arithmetic

b. Number Series (Only If they are easy, else stop)

Mathematical Strategy

Here are the various Scenarios to get some sample scores in the DI section. The negative marking is 1/4th of the maximum marks. Also, I have assumed that the mind remains fresh at the beginning, hence you attempt more in the 1st block and less in the 2nd Block of attempts. I have considered 3 cases of 75,80 and 90% accuracy.

    Block-1 of 30 mins Block-2 of 15 mins
Scenario 1 at 80% Accuracy Total questions to Attempt 11 5
Accuracy at(80%) 9 4
2 mark questions 5(Maximum 1 Wrong) 3(1 Wrong)
Net Marks in Each block 11.25 4.5
Total Score in Data Analysis section 15.75
    Block-1 of 30 mins Block-2 of 15 mins
Scenario 2 at 90% Accuracy Total questions to Attempt 11 5
Accuracy at 90% 9 4
2 mark questions 5(Maximum 1 Wrong) 3(No wrongs)
Net Marks in Each Block 11.25 6.75
Total Score in Data Analysis section 18
    Block-1 of 30 mins Block-2 of 15 mins
Scenario 3 at 75% Accuracy Total questions to Attempt 12 5
Accuracy at(75%) 9 3 to 4
2 mark questions 5(Maximum 2 wrong) 2(No Wrongs)
Net Marks in Each block 7.75 4.75
Total Score in Data Analysis section 12.5


Probable strategy to clear the cut-off is as given below

    Block-1 of 30 mins Block-2 of 15 mins
Scenario to clear the cut-off at 90% Accuracy Total questions to Attempt 5 2
Accuracy at 90% 3 1
2 mark questions( No Wrongs) 1 0
Net Marks in Each Block 4.5 0.75
Total Score in Data Analysis section 5.25


1. Since the 2 markers are more, Attempts have to be made in such a way that the 1 markers are attempted without committing any mistake.

2. For 2 markers, If you go for Higher Accuracy, Your attempts have to be around a total of 14 questions of which around 9-10 have to be 2-markers, so that even if you get a max of 2-3 wrong the net marks are at 11.5-12.5. For the next 4 questions, even if you get 1 wrong, you get a net score of 2.75, thus getting a minimum total score of 14.25. 

3. Due to the high difference between Minimum Cut-off score of 4.5 and a probable score of around 13-14 ( to be in the Merit list, mainly because of 2 markers), The 2 markers have to be attempted at 80-85% accuracy. Don't have this strategy of attempting all 1 markers correctly, as more often than not, this strategy to be in safe zone backfires. You have to take risks but take calculated risks. For e.g.

  a. Never invest time on an entire DI set as there are bound to be speed breakers.

  b. Pick low-risk questions at the beginning. ( Comparision, Data Sufficiency, etc)

  c. Processing time for a DI should be Fast. This will come by Practice.

 In no way, I am encouraging you to make mistakes. Its human nature to make them, as long you have the wits to move ahead in spite of making them. More strategies in my next Article for English.