Bank exams are competitive, and candidates must be well-prepared to tackle various mathematical problems. One common problem frequently appearing in these exams is the “Boat and Stream” problem. These issues assess a candidate’s ability to solve complex mathematical equations involving relative speeds and distances travelled by boats and streams. This article will explore essential strategies to excel in these problems to increase your chances of success in bank exams.

Ace the Basics

In these problems, you are typically given information about the speed of a vessel in still water and the speed of a stream (river or current). The ship can either move upstream (against the current) or downstream (with the present). You aim to find the vessel’s speed and calculate its time to cover a certain distance.

Visualise the Situation

To effectively solve these questions, start by visualising the scenario. Imagine a vessel travelling on a river with a current. Try to picture the vessel moving against the current and with the current. This visualisation will help you grasp the relationship between its speed, stream speed, and its combined effect on the vessel’s speed.

Use the Relative Speed Concept

One key concept in such problems is relative speed. When a vessel moves against the current, its effective speed is reduced because it works against the stream’s flow. Conversely, when moving with the current, its effective speed increases. To calculate these adequate speeds, use the formula:

Speed against the current = boat’s speed – Stream’s speed 

Speed with the current = Boat’s speed + stream’s speed

Understanding this concept is essential for solving problems where the vessel’s speed is affected by the stream’s flow.

Calculate Time and Distance

Once you’ve established the vessel’s relative speed when moving against or with the current, you can then compute the amount of time required to traverse a particular distance. The formula for time is:

Time = Distance / Speed

When solving these problems, remember that time and distance are inversely proportional. If you know the time it takes to travel a certain distance, you can calculate its speed. Similarly, if you have the speed and the time taken, you can find the distance travelled.

Work with Equations

In many Bank exams, these problems are presented as equations. To solve them, write down the equations based on the information provided and then solve for the unknown variables. For example, if you are given the vessel’s speed in still water and the stream’s speed, you can set up equations for its speed against and with the current, respectively:

Boat’s speed against current = boat’s speed – Stream’s speed 

Boat’s speed with current = Boat’s speed + stream’s speed

Utilising these equations, you can ascertain the vessel’s velocity, subsequently enabling you to determine both the time taken and the distance covered.

Practice Regularly

Like any mathematical skill, mastering these problems requires practice. The greater the number of problems you solve, the more proficient you’ll become in handling the diverse challenges and intricacies that may arise in bank exams. Practice helps you apply the strategies and boosts your confidence in tackling these problems during the exam.

Work on Speed and Accuracy

Bank exams are time-bound, so it’s essential to be both accurate and efficient in your calculations. Practice mental math techniques to speed up your calculations. Additionally, pay attention to units (e.g., kilometres per hour) and ensure consistency in your units throughout the problem-solving process.


Such problems revolving around boats and streams are common in bank exams, and mastering them is crucial for success. You can significantly enhance your problem-solving skills by understanding the basics, using the relative speed concept, calculating time and distance, working with equations, practising regularly, improving speed and accuracy, and identifying patterns and shortcuts. 

By Grace