IBPS SO Exam Pattern – Marking Scheme, Question Distribution, Syllabus

IBPS SO exam pattern comprises information on the mode of exam, test language, type of questions, marks allotted to each question or section, negative marking etc. This year, IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel Selection) is expected to conduct the IBPS SO Prelims exam on 18th and 26th December 2021

This exam will be held in the CBT or Computer Based Test mode in more than 93 cities in India. As per the IBPS SO exam pattern, the question paper in the Prelims exam shall contain 150 questions which have to be attempted in 120 minutes. In case of IBPS SO Mains exam, 60 minutes will be allotted to answer 60 questions (for Rajsabha Adhikari Scale 1 Officer and Law Officer) and 45 minutes to answer 45 questions (IT Officer Scale 1, Marketing Officer (Scale 1), Agriculture Field Officer, HR/Personnel Officer).

IBPS SO is a national level recruitment exam, which is held annually. This year, this exam will be conducted to fill 647 Specialist Officer vacancies in the Indian Banking Sector (Government).

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In this article, Buddy4Study has compiled all the information related to IBPS SO exam pattern that will benefit all the aspiring candidates waiting for the upcoming exam. 

IBPS SO Tentative Exam Dates: 18th and 26th December 2021

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – Key Highlights

Candidates who have registered and applied for the IBPS SO exam should go through the exam pattern thoroughly before attempting the exam. Here are a few key points that they should keep in mind:

IBPS SO Key Highlights

Exam nameInstitute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) Specialist Officer (SO) (CRP SPL-XI 2021-22)
Exam Conducting BodyInstitute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS)
Official Websitehttp://www.ibps.in/ 
Duration of ExamPrelims – 2 hours (120 minutes)

Mains – 

IT Officer Scale 1, Marketing Officer (Scale 1), Agriculture Field Officer, HR/Personnel Officer – 45 minutes

Rajsabha Adhikari Scale 1 Officer and Law Officer – 60 minutes

Examination ModeCBT/ Computer Based Test (Online)
Medium of ExamEnglish or Hindi
Type of QuestionsObjective/Multiple-Choice (MCQ)
Number of Questions150 questions (Prelims)

47 questions (Mains – Rajbhasha Adhikari)

60 questions (Mains – Law Officer, IT Officer, Agriculture Field Officer, HR/Personnel Officer and Marketing Officer)

Total MarksPrelims – 125 marks

Mains – 60 marks

Marking Scheme+1 for every correct answer (objective)

– 0.25 for every incorrect answer

PostsIT Officer Scale 1, Marketing Officer (Scale 1), Agriculture Field Officer, HR/Personnel Officer, Rajsabha Adhikari Scale 1 Officer and Law Officer
Age Limit for CandidatesBetween 20 to 30 years

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – Section-wise Distribution of Questions (Prelims)

As per IBPS’s official announcement and official IBPS SO exam pattern, there will be 3 stages of the IBPS SO exam. All candidates will receive common questions in IBPS SO Prelims exam. In the case of Mains, the questions will be as per the post. The questions asked in the IBPS SO Mains exam will be of Graduation level. 

The Prelims paper will have 150 questions, and Mains will have 60 questions. Candidates will have the freedom to attempt or move onto the next question anytime they want. 

The questions asked in the Prelims exam will be presented to candidates as objective-type questions (MCQ). Each question will have 4 options. Among the 4, candidates will have to select one option that they consider as the most appropriate answer.

Candidates can know more about the IBPS SO exam pattern in the table below, and check the sectional distribution of questions and marks for both Prelims and Mains.

IBPS SO Exam Pattern for IT/Agriculture Field/HR/Personnel and Marketing Officer (Prelims)

SectionNo. of QuestionsTotal MarksDuration
Reasoning505040 min
English Language502540 min
Quantitative Aptitude505040 min
Total150125120 min

IBPS SO Exam Pattern for Law Officer and Rajbhasha Adhikari (Prelims)

SectionNo. of QuestionsTotal MarksDuration
Reasoning505040 min
English Language502540 min
General Awareness with Special Reference to Banking Industry505040 min
Total150125120 min

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – Section-wise Distribution of Questions (Mains)

Candidates selected in the IBPS SO Mains exam will have to attempt both objective type questions as well as descriptive questions. However, this is only limited to the exam set for the post of Rajsabha Adhikari Scale 1 Officer. Question paper set for the exam for IT Officer Scale 1, Marketing Officer (Scale 1), Agriculture Field Officer, HR/Personnel Officer, and Law Officer will only have MCQ type questions. 

IBPS SO Exam Pattern for the Post of Rajbhasha Adhikari

Test NameNumber of QuestionsMaximum MarksMedium of ExamDuration
Professional Knowledge(Objective)4560English & Hindi30 min
Professional Knowledge(Descriptive)2English & Hindi30 min

*+1 mark is for objective type questions and the descriptive questions will carry 15 marks. 

IBPS SO Exam Pattern for the Post of Law Officer, IT Officer, Agriculture Field Officer, HR/Personnel Officer, and Marketing Officer

Test NameNumber of QuestionsMaximum MarksMedium of ExamDuration
Professional Knowledge6060English & Hindi45 min

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – Interview Round

Shortlisted candidates in the IBPS SO Mains exam (CRP SPL-XI) under the latest IBPS SO exam pattern will be called for the Interview round. The total marks allotted for the Interview round is 100 marks. The minimum qualifying marks in the Interview round will not be less than 40% for General candidates and 35% for SC/ ST/ OBC/ PWD candidates.

Candidates will be shortlisted for subsequent provisional allotment process only if they qualify in the Online CWE (Main Examination) and Interview round. 

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – Syllabus in Brief

IBPS has released the IBPS SO syllabus 2021 along with the IBPS SO notification. Candidates can find the syllabus by visiting the official website

As per the IBPS SO notification, IBPS SO syllabus (Prelims) is divided into 4 sections:

  1. Reasoning Ability
  2. Quantitative Aptitude
  3. English
  4. General Awareness

Candidates can find below all the topics related to each subject covered in the prescribed syllabus of IBPS SO Prelims exam.

IBPS SO 2021 Prelims Syllabus

Reasoning AbilityQuantitative AptitudeEnglish LanguageGeneral Awareness
Analytical Decision MakingPercentage & Ratio ProportionClosed TestGeneral Knowledge
Coding & DecodingSimplificationFill in the BlanksCurrent Affairs
Directions & DistancesLinear EquationsError SpottingFinancial Awareness
Data SufficiencyAverageReading Comprehension
SchedulingData InterpretationPhrase Replacement
SyllogismsInterestSentence completion
Coded InequalitiesProfit & LossPara Jumbles
Ordering & RankingSpeed, Time & Distance
Blood RelationsTime & Work
Input OutputData Sufficiency
Seating ArrangementsProbability
Verbal ReasoningQuadratic Equations
Mensuration & Geometry
Number Series
Permutation & Combination
Number Systems

IBPS SO 2021 Main Syllabus

The standard of IBPS SO syllabus will be of graduation level. Candidates will be judged based on the professional knowledge in their respective fields. 

HR/Personnel Officer (Scale-I)Business policy and strategic analysis

Transnational Analysis

Recruitment and Selection

Business Policy and Strategic Analysis

Performance Management and Appraisal

Human Resource Development

Training and Development

Grievance and Conflict Management

Rewards and Recognition

Industrial Relations

Law Officer (Scale-I)Compliance and Legal Aspects


Consumer Protection Act

Laws and Actions with a direct link to Banking Sector


Banking Regulations

Prevention of Money laundering, Limitation Act

Bankers Book Evidence Act

Banking Ombudsman Scheme

Relevant Law and Orders related to negotiable instruments, securities, foreign exchange

Marketing Officer (Scale-I)Basics of Marketing Management


Business Ethics


Market research and forecasting demand

Corporate Social Responsibility

Marketing Strategies


Market Segmentation

Service Marketing

Product Life Cycle

Brand Management


Agricultural Field Officer (Scale-I)Basics of Crop production

Seed Science

Agronomy and Irrigation

Agricultural Practices


Government Schemes


Agricultural Economics


Animal Husbandry

Soil resources

IT Officer (Scale-I)Operating System

Database Management System

Object-Oriented Programming

Software Engineering

Data Structure

Computer Organization and Microprocessor

Data Communication and Networking

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – Marking Scheme

Candidates will get 4 options for every question. For every correct answer, they will be awarded 1 mark. However, ¼ (0.25) mark will be deducted for every wrong answer. 

IBPS SO Marking Scheme

Type of AnswersMarks Allotted
Correct Answer+1
Wrong Answer1/4 mark deducted for every wrong answer  (-0.25)

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – Previous Years’ Question Papers

Buddy4Study has compiled previous years’ question papers in the below table. Candidates can download these to understand the IBPS SO exam pattern thoroughly and prepare for the upcoming examination accordingly.

IBPS SO Prelims Question Paper 1IBPS SO Prelims Paper 2
IBPS SO Prelims Question Paper 3IBPS SO Prelims Question Paper 4

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – General Instructions for Online Test

Candidates must follow the online test instructions and guidelines set by the IBPS SO authority. The test instructions will help the candidates to attempt the computer-based exam without any hassles. Given below is a list of online test instructions set by the IBPS panel:

  1. The candidate/s must report at the examination centre at least an hour before the allotted exam time
  2. Candidates reporting 30 minutes after the reporting time mentioned in the hall ticket, will not be allowed to enter the examination hall
  3. The candidate/s must compulsorily bring the admit card (hard copy). The test centre officials will verify it and then allow the candidate to sit for the examination
  4. The candidate must show, on-demand, the Admit Card downloaded/printed from the IBPS’s website
  5. Admit cards must be in good condition. Dismantled, disfigured or mutilated admit cards compromising the details of the candidate will not be accepted
  6. A seat with Roll Number will be allotted to each candidate. They should find and sit on their allocated seats only
  7. No baggage is allowed inside the examination hall
  8. Candidates will be allowed to carry only a photo ID proof and hard copy of admit card inside the examination hall
  9. Candidates will not be allowed to carry mathematical/log tables, electronic watches, calculator, slide rules, pager, pen, bits of papers and cell phone inside the examination hall

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – COVID-19 Guidelines 

Candidates must check out these general COVID-19 related guidelines (new normal) and follow them at all the IBPS SO exam centres:

  • Social distancing would be maintained strictly at the exam centres. Candidates have to maintain at least 6 feet or 2-metre distance from other candidates.
  • Exam authority will ensure that monitor, keyboard, mouse, webcam, desk, chair, etc. are thoroughly sanitised.
  • A significant gap has to be present between two seats inside the exam hall.
  • Hand sanitizers would be present at the entrance door and various places inside the exam centre for both candidates and the staff.
  • Invigilators will distribute rough sheets to candidates wearing gloves.
  • To avoid crowding, exam room numbers would not be displayed outside the centre.
  • Candidates violating COVID-19 directives/advisories would not be allowed to sit for the exam
  • Candidates would be allowed to leave the test centre one at a time to avoid the rush and maintain social distancing.

IBPS SO Exam Pattern – Recommended Books

Candidates need to prepare well from the topics highlighted as per the IBPS SO syllabus to score well in the upcoming entrance test. Buddy4Study advises candidates to prepare well for their upcoming exam with the help of the below-mentioned books that are recommended by candidates who cracked the exam successfully in the previous years.

IBPS SO Books on Reasoning Ability

Book NamePublication/Author
Verbal ReasoningMK Pandey
Analytical ReasoningRS Agarwal
A Modern approach Verbal and Non-Verbal ReasoningBS Sijwali

IBPS SO Books on Quantitative Aptitude

Book NamePublication/Author
Rapid Quantitative Aptitude with Shortcuts & TricksDisha Publication
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive ExaminationThe Pearson Guide
Quantitative Aptitude BookWiley’s Publication

IBPS SO Books on English

Book NamePublication/Author
Objective English for Competitive ExaminationsHari Mohan Prasad, Uma Rani Sinha, Mcgraw Hill Education Publication
English Grammar & CompositionWren and Martin
Descriptive General EnglishS P Bakshi and Richa Sharma
Word Power Made EasyNormal Lewis

IBPS SO Books on General Awareness

Book NamePublication/ Author
Manorama YearbookThe Malayala Manorama (Mammen Mathew)
Guide to Banking General AwarenessR Gupta

Candidates will find the list of books for IBPS SO Mains exams here.

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IBPS SO Exam Pattern – FAQs

In which format are the questions asked in the IBPS SO 2021 exam?

As per the IBPS SO exam pattern, candidates will have to attempt the paper as per the Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) format.

What is the duration of the IBPS SO exam?

According to the IBPS SO exam pattern, the duration of the Prelims exam is 2 hours. For the Mains exam, candidates appearing for the following exams (IT Officer Scale 1, Marketing Officer (Scale 1), Agriculture Field Officer, HR/Personnel Officer) will be given 45 minutes. On the other hand, 60 minutes will be allotted to candidates appearing for Rajsabha Adhikari Scale 1 Officer and Law Officer exam.

Is there any negative marking in the IBPS SO exam?

Yes. For every incorrect answer in both preliminary and mains exam of IBPS SO 2021-22, 1/4th mark will be deducted.

What is the age limit for IBPS SO?

The lower age limit for IBPS SO is 20 years and the upper limit is 30 years. Besides this, candidates are also provided with age relaxation benefits, which is highlighted in the IBPS SO syllabus article.

How many times is IBPS SO conducted in a year?

IBPS SO recruitment test is conducted once every year.

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