(Article) SSC CGL Preparation Strategy - by Topper Amit Jain (AIR-1)
Amit Jain is an IIT Delhi alumni from the batch of 2013. He is a textile engineer who is also preparing for his UPSC Civil Services. Meanwhile, he has cleared the prestigious CAT exam with a 99.6 percentile, and scored a very impressive 600/700 in his very first SSC CGL attempt in 2016, securing him an all-India rank 1 in the examination. He has been able to secure the post of Assistant Section Officer in the Ministry of External Affairs by the virtue of his rank.
This is 200 marks paper with 4 subjects –
- English Language,
- Quantitative Aptitude,
- Logical Reasoning, and
- General Awareness.
This paper has to be solved within a timeframe of 60 minutes and there are 100 questions and each section has 25 questions and 50 marks.
Mathematics is integral to both tier-I and tier-II. Pick up any standard book and focus on practicing. Never rely on blind guessing because for maths, as long as you have solved it correctly, you will pick the right answer. Stick to the syllabus. Know the short tricks because there is limited time. Focus on a test series in a proper online environment.
Again, for English, concentrate on combined preparation for tier-I and tier-II. Start with mock tests to understand the demand of the exam. Identify the weak and strong points. Lookup a basic school-level grammar book for the weaker areas. Books such as Wren N Martin, Arihant Publications, and websites like sscportal.in are very useful.
Remember that General Awareness is only a part of tier-I. Start with NCERT Books for classes 6 to 10. It will be enough to prepare your base. Use Lucent Publication’s General Knowledge book for revising the static portion. For current affairs, read a newspaper daily. And use monthly compilations pdf to revise. This portion is very aligned with the UPSC preparation.
Reasoning has as limited a contribution to your scores as General Knowledge. Practice previous years' papers and look up the patterns based on those questions. Practice Mock Tests well. RS Aggarwal’s Verbal And Non-Verbal Reasoning is a good book to use as a referral point.
How To Attempt the CGL Paper?
Amit suggests you start with General Awareness as you either know the answer or don’t; it should not take more than 5-7 minutes to solve them. Next, move on to English. Try and solve it within 10 minutes. Follow it up with Quants and try and solve the 25 questions properly in 20 minutes. Take another 10 minutes for reasoning. In the end, you will be left with another 10 minutes to ensure you did not leave any questions unattended.
There are 2 papers in tier-II –
- The first is mathematic with 100 questions and 200 marks,
- the next is English with 200 questions in 200 marks.
The strategy here is important. In the first attempt, only attempt questions that you are 100% sure you can solve. Try and finish these off in 15-20 minutes. On the second iteration solve those you are slightly confused about and mark them down in another 30-40 minutes. At the end of it, you should be left with another hour of your total allotted 2 hours to run through the paper and see if you can solve more. Attempting 85+ questions should be good enough to get you selected.
Because there are 200 questions to solve in 120 minutes, start with your strong section. Navigate through the whole paper marking the strong questions in 10-15 minutes. Now that you have marked all questions a 100% certain to help you score, take your time solving the rest.
Here you get 1 hour to write 400-450 words. Before starting to write, make a plan because there is a limited number of boxes available. The word limit for the essay and the letter is 200-250 words each. If you exceed the word limit, your answer will not be evaluated. Keep the copy clean, and keep the format well. They are judging you for accuracy and grammar, so keep that in mind.
Message To Aspirants
Government exam preparation is a phase of life, it is just a part of it.
Your exam result doesn’t define you. Give it your 100 percent, be with your friends and families, and keep your hopes up. Success has many forms.
BEST OF LUCK.