How to Prepare for SSC CGL Exams


Name of the exam: Staff Selection Commission-Combined Graduate Level (SSC-CGL) Exam
Stages of Examination: 3 stages of exam Tier I, II and III
Held in the month of: Usually in the month of June-July
Educational qualification: Graduate from any recognized university

What is SSC-CGL exam?

SSC-CGL is an exam conducted by Staff Selection Commission (SSC). This is considered to be one of the biggest exams to be conducted for graduate students. Candidates who clear this exam will be recruited for various posts in the ministries of government of India and in subordinate offices.

Career after one clears SSC-CGL exam

A lucrative career awaits those who clear the SSC-CGL exam. No wonder then that in 2013, about 12 lakh candidates took the exam for a vacancy of 20,000 posts. The competition is high. Once you clear the SSC-CGL exam, depending on the post that you have applied for, you can steadily climb the career ladder. Some of the posts are quite sought after because of the high salary and the power that it offers in government organizations.

A little bit about Staff Selection Commission (SSC)

SSC was established in 1975 and is an organization that is responsible for recruiting staff for various posts in the ministries of government of India and in subordinate offices. SSC recruits people for Group C (non-technical) & Group B (non-gazetted both technical & non-technical) posts in departments of Government of India, its attached & subordinate offices, except those for which recruitment is made by the Railway Recruitment Boards & Industrial Establishments.

Age criteria for SSC-CGL exam (As on 1 January)
  • 18-27 for the below mentioned posts
Inspector of Income Tax, Inspector (Central Excise), Inspector (Preventive Officer), Inspector (Examiner), Inspector of Posts, Assistant Enforcement Officer, Inspector (CBN), Compiler Divisional Accountant, Auditors/ UDCs /Tax Assistants, Junior Accountant & Accountant, Sub Inspector (CBN)
  • Statistical Investigator Gr II Not to exceed 26 years
  • Assistant / Sub Inspector in CBI Between 20 27 years
SSC - CGL Exam

As mentioned, the examination is held in three phases: Tier I (200 marks) Tier II (400 marks) Tier - III ( 100 marks)
  • Tier I
    • Subjects: General Intelligence & Reasoning, General Awareness, Quantitative Aptitude, English
    • Full marks: 200
    • Time: 2 hours
  • Tier II (Only those who have cleared Tier I can appear for Tier II exam)
    • Type: Objective
    • Subjects: Quantitative Abilities & English
    • Full marks: 200
    • Time: 2 hours
    • Negative marking: Yes (.25 for every wrong answer)
  • Tier III (Only those who have cleared Tier II can appear for Tier III exam)
  • Tier - III is an interview round and one may have to take a Computer Proficiency and skill test along with it.
Posts that one can opt for:

There are a variety of posts that one can opt for as per one's preference. Please note that while filing up the application, your preference for a post will be considered as final and any request for change of post will not be entertained later. Whether you get through the post that you applied for or not, will depend on your performance in Tier I and Tier II exams and the Interview/ Computer Proficiency / Skill Test that follows if you successfully clear the Tier I and II exams. Some of the posts that you can apply for are:
  • Assistant in Central Vigilance Commission, Intelligence Bureau Group, Ministry of Railway, Ministry of External Affairs, AFHQ Group, Other Ministries/ Departments/Organisations.
  • Inspector of Income, Tax CBDT
  • Inspector (Central Excise) CBEC
  • Inspector (Preventive Officer) CBEC
  • Inspector (Examiner) CBEC
  • Assistant Enforcement Officer, Directorate of Enforcement, Department of Revenue
  • Sub Inspectors, Central Bureau of Investigation
  • Inspector of Posts, Department of Post
  • Divisional Accountant, Offices under CAG
  • Divisional Accountant, Offices under CAG
  • Statistical Investigator, Gr.II M/Statistics & Prog Implementation
  • Inspector, Central Bureau of Narcotics Group B
  • Auditor, Offices under C&AG
  • Auditor, Offices under CGDA
  • Auditor, Offices under CGA & others
  • Accountant/ Junior Accountant, Offices under C&AG
  • Accountant/ Junior Accountant, Offices under CGA & others
  • Upper Division Clerk, Central Govt. Offices/Ministries other than CSCS cadres
  • Tax Assistant, CBDT
  • Tax Assistant, CBEC
  • Compiler, Registrar General of India
  • Sub-Inspector, Central Bureau of Narcotics
Preparing for SSC-CGL exam

Tier I: General Intelligence & Reasoning, General Awareness, Quantitative Aptitude, English General Intelligence & Reasoning This section will cover topics like Directions, Analogies, Odd Man Out, Ranking, Coding and de-coding, Blood Relations, Relationship concepts, Venn Diagram, etc. The degree of toughness of this exam is considered to be moderate. With good amount of practice, one can score good marks in this section. There are books available as well as tests online, which you can refer to to prepare for this section.

General Awareness

This section will test the general awareness of the candidate. At the same time, it will also test the candidate's knowledge about national and international current affairs and also matters that occur in everyday life. It will judge the candidate for his basic knowledge in these areas. The subjects would include History, Culture, Science, Economics, General Policy and Scientific Research. While, preparing the person has to take into consideration all the topics and ensure that he has a fair amount of knowledge about all of them.

Quantitative Aptitude

This section will test the candidate for his ability of using and understanding the numbers. The topics would involve Whole Numbers, Decimals, Fractions, Relationship between numbers, Percentage, Ratio, Profit and Loss, Discount, Partnership, Time and Distance, School Algebra, Trigonometric ratio, Heights and distances, Histogram, etc. Practice as many sums as possible to excel in this section. Learn short-cuts and tricks that will allow you to solve the problems easily and in less time. Time yourself while practicing these sums.


This section will test candidates on their basic understanding of the English language. Topics would include comprehension and writing ability. To prepare for this test, you can refer to basic English books. Try practicing different comprehension so that you have an idea of what to expect in the exam. Learn few new words every day, and also refer to Grammar books so that you can brush up the basics of grammar. If you can build a habit of reading the newspaper regularly, it can act to your advantage.

Tier II Quantitative Abilities & English

This test will be objective in nature and will have multiple choices. There will be negative markings too - .25 per wrong answer. So, you will have to choose the answers wisely. In fact, it is recommended that you choose the answer only if you are 100 percent sure that you have the correct answer.

Quantitative Abilities will have topics covering Number System, Percentage, Time and Work, Profit and Loss account, Average, Time, speed and distance, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Statistics. Candidates must have a fair knowledge on all these topics. So, practice accordingly.

English will have topics like Finding errors, Fill in the blanks, Synonyms and Antonyms, Wrongly spelt words, Idioms and phrases, Para jumbos, One-word substitution, Active and passive voice, direct and indirect narration, reading comprehension. The degree of toughness is considered from easy to moderate. To prepare for this section, take as many tests as possible. There are numerous tests that you can take online too.

(Statistics: Those applying for Statistical Investigator Officers will have to take this test.)

Tier III Interview/ skill test round

All those who clear Tier II will be called for the interview and skill test round. In this round, you will be tested for your personality, your computer efficiency and skill test. Groom yourself accordingly. Prepare mentally on the basic questions that will be asked during your interview round like your educational background, your future plans, general awareness questions, etc. Also be thorough about the post that you have applied for. Learn all about it and the responsibilities it carries. In this round, you should come across as a very confident and intelligent person who is simply suitable for the job.

General tips

Some generic tips would be:
  • Always keep yourself abreast with the syllabus as soon as it is announced. Be thorough about the syllabus and do not leave out any topic.
  • Have a plan as to how to answer the maximum number of questions in the stipulated time. While, preparing, solve the problems by timing yourself. This way, you can be rest assured that you will manage time very effectively in the examination hall.
  • Solve as many question papers, mock tests and online tests as you can. The more you solve, the more confident you get.
  • Learn tricks, maths short-cuts, memory methods, so as to solve the tests papers in an easy and efficient manner on the day of the exam.
  • Take the help of a coaching institute if need be.
  • Last but not the least, be confident of yourself that you are going to clear the exam. Once you are confident, then no exam will be too difficult for you to clear.

Best of luck.

Useful link

Useful books
  • SSC (Maths solved papers from 1997)
  • SSC CGL Exam Guide (with solved papers)

Last Updated on : March 10, 2016

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