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Guide to crack Descriptive Paper of SBI Associate PO

Published on Thursday, November 06, 2014
An invaluable lesson that I got to learn during a lecture about examinations which I would like to share here is that –
“Examined” must always contain what the “examiner” expects of it.
And that normally is the secret of success in every competitive examinations. Which means we, the entire community of exam-goers must learn the knack of delivering what they expect from us and what we have in us.


Let me be more explicit, let’s say I am going to attempt an examination for the probationary officer post in any nationalised bank. What do the banks recruiting expect from me?

Hmmm… nothing much in fact,

  1. Good observation skills
  2. The skill to respond reasonably to challenges and pit falls.
  3. Excellent communication skills.
  4. A basic idea about banking system.
  5. An uncanny ability to interpret and analyse data.

Please observe closely, don’t these indicate the areas we are examined in a Bank PO exam?

Apart from these, of course, there are a set of golden qualities which are most sought after for, in the prospective Probationary Officers.
  • Leadership qualities 
  • Positive approach 
  • Confidence 
  • Professionalism 

The candidates applying are examined repeatedly for these qualities. First through the descriptive test, then through group discussion and interview sessions.

The irony is that, Indian youth do have these qualities, only they don’t exactly project them in their examination.

The spot where we are first tested for the above mentioned qualities is the descriptive paper.

(I got this information from a gentleman who has an enriching experience in descriptive paper correction for nationalised banks. So consider this authentic)

While the objective paper deals and filters our basic intelligence, the descriptive paper analyses our personality.

Golden rules to succeed in descriptive:

  1. The descriptive paper generally asks for essays in generic topics like corruption, terrorism, prohibition of alcohol, women empowerment, inflation, etc. the scope is thus broadened for us to express our individual views about such topics. 
  2. One thumb rule is to analyse whether the topic asked is universally or legally accepted or not. For example terrorism is a universally abhorred social evil, while alcoholism is legally allowed social evil, internet is a globally accepted phenomena, while corruption is legally a crime. 
  3. For the legally accepted issues, make sure to raise a positive opinion and express two complete paragraphs of positive points (irrespective of your personal feelings about it). Also add a paragraph of negative impact or aspects of the same. 
  4. For universally unaccepted or legally criminal issues, make sure to use a negative (strongly condemning tone). Express a paragraph or so about the evils of the issue…and most importantly dwell upon the remedies or measures to overcome the same. 
  5. The approach of a person is judged positive or otherwise by observing whether the person is able to accept the negatives about a positive issue and is able to understand and rectify or remedy the negative issue. 
  6. The problem however arises with the legally accepted but humanely unacceptable issues, example alcoholism, make sure to pursue a conditional positive tone here. Accept that it is legally allowed and project the positive or useful aspects of the issue. Also draw some lines for the issue. “Anything in excess is essentially bad”.

Important Tips

  • Yet again here, the examiner here would like to see a diplomatic and sensitive person. Hence we have to sure to use just the right tone for the situation.
  • For example, for positively oriented paragraphs, use a strong tone. By “tone” here I mean, the expressions.
  • Avoid, if you must, some generally used terms like ‘good’, ‘nice’ , etc. because, even they do present a positive picture the “tone” is weak.
  • You can say, “the administrator here isa good person”
  • But if you say, “the administrator here is a very capable and organised person”, it conveys your conviction.
  • Not that we should use burly (often misplaced) adjectives everywhere. But the idea is to express what exactly makes the person good in your opinion.
  • Try researching your opinions about some of these generic topics. And also try finding specific vocabulary to suit the topic.
  • On the flipside, try maintaining a low tone for negative paragraphs (for non-negative issues).
  • Avoid superlative degrees of negativity. Avoid slander and wistful adjectives.
  • For example, instead of “MNCs are completely degrading the Indian culture,” you could say, “to some extent, MNCs have brought in a degrading influence to the Indian culture”.                                 

  • Got the point? 
    Use balanced approach towards negative paragraphs. Phrases like “it might be ...”, “to certain extent…” etc. While for negative issues use a strongly condemning tone.
Finally, be creative in expressing because from the examiners’ point of view, they must have seen it all before and would like a departure from the clichés, nothing extravagant just a pleasant change.

Must check Descriptive Paper preparation series for real examples and topics for preparations


This article has been written by Sri Lasya Kannepalli

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