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Special Content

Issue no 12, 17 - 23 June 2023

Acing RBI Grade B Exam

Arti S

The Reserve Bank of India, the central bank of our country, was established on April 1, 1935. Over the course of 88 years, the bank has played a pivotal role in shaping our country's economy. It has successfully guided India through global economic turmoil, to the extent that many other countries consider it a guiding beacon. The preamble of the RBI outlines its basic functions as follows: "to regulate the issuance of banknotes and maintain reserves, with the aim of ensuring monetary stability in India and effectively managing the currency and credit system to our advantage; to establish a modern monetary policy framework that can meet the challenges of an increasingly complex economy while maintaining price stability and promoting growth." RBI serves as the monetary authority, currency issuer, regulator and supervisor of the financial system, as well as the payment and settlement systems, and controller of foreign exchange inflows and outflows. In addition to these responsibilities, the bank also has a developmental role in supporting national objectives. The position of RBI Governor is occupied by esteemed individuals who lead a team of talented officers responsible for studying and analysing economic, monetary, and other trends, and formulating appropriate interventions and policies. When joining the RBI as an officer, recruitment is done at the grade 'B' level. Vacancies for grade 'B' officers are announced annually, similar to the recruitment of Probationary Officers in public sector banks. However, the eligibility criteria may vary. It's important to note that the work at the RBI differs from that in commercial banks, as most of its functions are regulatory in nature and it does not directly provide services to customers. For generalist positions in Grade 'B', first-class graduates or postgraduates in any subject are considered eligible. To work in the Department of Economic and Policy Research (DEPR), candidates for Grade 'B' officers must hold a master's degree in Economics or in any other related subject. For the Department of Statistics and Information Management (DSIM), the requirement is a master's degree in Mathematics or in any other related subject. A postgraduate diploma in Business Analytics is also considered. Engineering graduates specialising in Data Science, AI, ML, or Big Data Analytics may also apply. All qualifications must meet the required percentage of marks. Selection Process/ Exam Scheme: The selection process consists of three stages: Phase I and Phase II examinations, and a Personal Interview. For Grade 'B' (General). Phase I includes four sections: English, General Awareness, Quantitative Aptitude, and Reasoning, with a total of 200 marks to be completed in 120 minutes. Phase II comprises three sections: Economic & Social Issues, English (writing skills), and General and Financial Management. The coverage of each test in Phase I and II is described below.

English: This section includes a variety of questions. In reading comprehension, you need to answer questions based on paragraphs. Your answers should not be influenced by personal opinions or biases. When arranging jumbled sentences, consider the connectedness and flow, as there is only one correct order. You may also need to identify redundant parts of a sentence. When filling in the blanks, consider the reference and context of the sentence, as a word may have different meanings. In cloze tests, choose carefully to fill in the missing words. For error spotting, determine if there is an error and identify the specific part of the sentence. Having a strong vocabulary is beneficial for this section. Understanding how to use articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and other grammar elements is important. Knowing when to use "although" or "however" can improve your score. Additionally, understanding the meanings and usage of idioms and phrases is crucial.

General Awareness: This segment includes two types of questions. The standard type covers topics such as books and authors, sports tournaments and championships, sports personalities, currencies of different countries, government social and economic schemes (e.g., sovereign gold bond scheme), national and international organisations, and more. The second set of questions focuses on banking, finance, monetary policy, and related topics.

Quantitative Aptitude: This section includes questions on data interpretation, data sufficiency/insufficiency, number series, arithmetic, and quadratic equations. Data interpretation questions may involve graphs, caselets, or pie charts that require analysis to answer. Data sufficiency/insufficiency questions present a set of data with a conclusion to be drawn. You must determine if all or part of the data is needed to reach the given conclusion. Arithmetic questions cover topics such as profit and loss, average, simple and compound interest, ratio and proportion, time and work, permutation and combination, probability, sequence and series, number systems, simplification, and mensuration (cylinder, cone, sphere). Other topics may include questions related to vessel filling, boat and stream, and partnership.

Reasoning: This section includes questions on seating arrangement, blood relations, direction and distance, alphanumeric series, machine input/output, coding decoding, syllogism, and word formation from alphabets. In verbal reasoning, you need to derive conclusions from given statements. When approaching non-verbal reasoning, it is recommended to spend some time understanding solving techniques, which can be found in reliable guidebooks. In verbal reasoning, pay close attention to the affirmativeness or negativeness of the statements/options before finalising your answer.

Economic & Social Issues: This section tests your awareness of economic and social issues in India. To perform well, you should have a clear understanding of different forms of unemployment (seasonal, disguised, etc.), reasons for poverty in India, government measures for poverty eradication, trends in gross domestic product and national income, micro and macroeconomics concepts and definitions, different forms of economies (e.g., mixed economy), green economy, taxes and subsidies, Fintech and emerging trends, Basel norms, regulatory bodies (e.g., SEBI), financial inclusion, the role of banks in the economy, economic reforms, urbanisation, migration, the role of organisations like IMF and World Bank, among others. To prepare effectively for this segment, read the editorial pages of national newspapers and journals like Yojana, Kurukshetra, and Economic and Political Weekly.

General and Financial Management: This section covers topics related to the Indian banking system (commercial, cooperative, development banks, etc.), digital payments ecosystem, primary and secondary markets for bonds, forex, equity, money, financial instruments, non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs), global financial markets, risk management, and corporate governance in banking. It also includes accounting basics, balance sheets, the union budget, leadership concepts, workplace ethics, communication forms and roles, and organisational behavior and development. To study these topics effectively, utilise books on general, financial, and human resource management. In both papers, there will be 30 objective questions and 6 descriptive questions. Among the descriptive questions, you must attempt any 4 out of the 6.

English (writing skills): This section differs from the English test in Phase I. It is a descriptive paper where you will be given essay topics. Essay writing is an art that can be practiced, and having a deep understanding of contemporary subjects will be beneficial. Read good articles to learn about structuring your thoughts in an essay and how to progress from the beginning to the end. Practice précis writing, as it may be included in this section. For Grade 'B' officers in DR and DSIM, the subjects of the test are different. Grade 'B' officer (DR) aspirants will have to appear for two papers in Phase I examination. One paper will consist of objective questions on Economics, while the other will be a descriptive paper on English. In Phase II, these aspirants will attempt two descriptive papers (Paper I and Paper II) on Economics. Answers to the descriptive questions must be typed on a computer. Those who qualify in Phase I are required to appear in Phase II. A merit list is prepared based on Phase II results for the interview stage. Prior to the interview, a personality test is conducted, but it does not carry any marks.

Preparation Sources: To prepare for the sections on Economic & Social Issues and General and Financial Management, refer to textbooks used in undergraduate/ postgraduate courses. Many reference books are available for general awareness, so obtain one or two of them. A recent yearbook will also be helpful. Additionally, regularly read one or more financial newspapers or business magasines. Refer to the websites of RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, IDRBT, SIDBI, NITI Ayog, CII, IBEF, and various ministries of the Government of India for further information. RBI provides an indicative syllabus and a list of recommended books for some papers. Take these into account during your preparation.

The Role of Practice: While you may have taken many academic examinations as a student, a competitive examination like this is different. The test is designed to put candidates under pressure due to the number of questions and the perceived lack of time. Therefore, every minute counts, and you should be mentally prepared to start attempting questions as soon as the time begins. Read the questions attentively to avoid the need for a second reading whenever possible. However, if you don't understand a question, read it again to avoid answering incorrectly. Practice is essential to improve your test-taking skills. Find mock tests to practice and identify areas where you need improvement. For instance, if you have many unanswered questions within the allocated time, it indicates a need for better time management. If a significant number of your answers in a particular section are incorrect, it means you require more intensive preparation in that area. Practice will help you stay grounded, as overconfidence can lead to casual or relaxed attitudes. Many websites offer free resources such as reading materials, videos, mock papers, and previous years' papers, which you should utilise to enhance your preparation. During practice, it is important to minimise the time between deciding on an answer and clicking the button. Additionally, ensure there is no delay when moving from one question to another. Success in the RBI Grade 'B' examination relies on a thorough understanding of the syllabus, systematic and intense preparation, and sufficient practice. Speed and accuracy play a vital role in achieving success. This examination evaluates knowledge and skills rather than chance. You will realise the value of your hard work when you have the opportunity to work with an organisation that plays a crucial role in strengthening our country's economy. Every year, NABARD also announces vacancies for Grade 'B' officers, and SEBI directly recruits officers in Grade 'A'. Your preparations for the Grade 'B' officer in RBI will also be useful for these examinations. As a Grade 'B' officer, you will have the chance to work in various functions/ departments of RBI, including financial market operations or regulation, foreign exchange, external operations and investment, internal debt management, payment and settlement, monetary policy, research and financial stability, consumer education and protection, information technology, corporate strategy, and budget. It is possible to be transferred between departments and be stationed at either the bank's headquarters or one of its regional offices. RBI provides training for its officers at the College of Supervisors, Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning (both located in Mumbai), as well as the College of Agricultural Banking in Pune and other institutes.

(The author is a Mumbaibased career consultant. She can be reached at artmumb98@gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal.