The security of a government job remains a huge lure in India. Lakhs of young aspirants appear for competitive exams held for jobs in different government sectors every year, and one such sought-after examination is the SSC (Staff Selection Commission) exam conducted for Group B and C posts such as Assistant Accounts Officer, Assistant Audit Officer, Assistant/ Superintendent, Assistant Section Officer, Assistant Enforcement Officer, Inspector (Central Excise), Inspector of Income Tax, Inspector (Examiner), Inspector (Preventive Officer) and Junior Statistical Officer in various government departments and ministries.
Given that these are all fairly cushy appointments, the SSC Combined Graduate Level (CGL) exam draws a huge number of applicants each year. An estimated 30 lakh aspirants register for this four-tier examination every year and almost 15 lakh appear in the Teir-I exam. That’s no meagre competition by any measure, and manifestly, calls for some rigorous preparation in order to succeed. If you are aiming for the SSC exam, these crucial tips will help kickstart your preparation in the right direction:
The SSC Exam Pattern
As with any examination, the first step of preparation for your SSC exam is to understand the pattern fully well. The SSC CGL comprises four tiers of examination. The Tier I and II exams entail computer-based multiple choice questions, Tier-III follows the traditional pen and paper model, and Tier IV is a computer proficiency test. This year onwards there will be no interview for SSC selection.
Tier I of the examination comprises General Intelligence and Reasoning, General Awareness, Quantitative Aptitude and English Comprehension, each carrying 50 marks and 25 questions. For Tier II, you have Quantitative Ability, English Language and Comprehension, Statistics and General Studies. Each of these sections comprises 100 questions each and carries 200 marks. The Tier III exam is a 100-mark test lasting one hour and is more descriptive in nature than the previous two levels. It entails writing applications, précis, essays, letters and so on. Tier IV is a computer-based exam designed to test candidates’ computer proficiency and skills. Of course, moving from Tier I to IV follows the course of natural progression, and candidates who clear one level are eligible to appear for the next.
Both Tier I and II exams have a concept of negative marking. In Tier I, the negative marking is a straight 0.50 for every wrong answer. In Tier II, 0.25 marks are deducted for every wrong answer in the English Language & Comprehension section and 0.50 marks in the remaining three. This makes thorough preparation and strategic approach for attempting the examination even more imperative.
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How To Approach Different Subjects for Your SSC Exam
Having understood the breakdown of examination, you now need to strategise how you intend to approach the subjects included in this competitive test, especially for Tier I and II. These outlines on how to approach different subjects will help steer your preparation in the right direction from the very beginning:
- General Intelligence and Reasoning: The section is solely focused on testing your factual and conceptual knowledge more than your intellect, and your preparation must be aligned as such. The focus should be on getting the basic concepts right and then practicing and testing them with as many diverse set of questions as possible. This section is notorious for being extremely time-consuming if you do not know the ropes well. So, you should dedicate a sizeable chunk of your preparation process to it, giving special attentions to shortcuts and smart hacks for cracking trick questions.
- Quantitative Aptitude: The quantitative aptitude section is meant to test how well-versed you are with numbers. Preparing for this section is a lot like revisiting your school maths lessons. The topics are fairly simple – whole number, fractions, decimals, percentage, square roots, ratio and proportion, profit and loss, interest and so on, basically, stuff school children below Class 8 deal with. However, if you have been out of touch with these concepts – which most likely is the case with most aspirants – you’ll need a fair deal of practice to brush up these concepts all over again, memorise the formulae, and most importantly, learn smart methods to crack the question in the minimum time possible.
- English Comprehension: This section of the exam with basic grammar-related questions may seem like a child’s play to many, especially those who are fluent in the language. For this reason, a lot of candidates neglect this portion of the syllabus in favour of the seemingly more difficult portions. However, this often turns out to be grave mistake that can cost one dearly. Spoken English is a lot far removed from the finer intricacies of this complex language, and it is prudent to invest at least an hour of your day, learning or revising basics of English grammar with a special focus on improving sentence structure, learning synonyms and antonyms, spotting errors and practising Fill in the Blanks. In addition to this, you must try to read as much as you can and learn new words.
- General Awareness: The General Awareness section of the exam can be the easiest or trickiest, depending on your level of preparation. The questions are related to important events and happenings from around the world and the best way to prepare for it is reading the newspapers thoroughly every day. You must also prepare notes as you go along, to help you revise and brush up on facts and information ahead of the exam.
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Other Important Tips for Your SSC Exam Preparation
Your success in the SSC exam rests on how thorough you are with your preparation and exam strategy. Here are some additional tips to help you in the endeavour:
- The questions in the SSC exam are essentially from the prescribed syllabus given out by the Commission, so it important to stick to the syllabus and familiarise yourself with it inside and out instead of preparing additional topics ‘just in case’
- Practice is one of the key strategies for success in this competitive exam. Practice as many questions as you can for every section of the examination to be ready in the true sense.
- If you find yourself struggling with certain subjects or topics, sign up for online tutorials for a clearer understanding of concepts.
- You don’t need to have a 10-hour study schedule to crack the SSC. But being consistent with your preparation is crucial. You must dedicate at least one hour everyday for each subject to be well-prepared to take this exam head-on.
- Once you have completed the syllabus for your SSC exam, include at least two to three mock tests in your schedule every week. These not only help you get comfortable with the exam pattern but also serve as a great tool for testing your preparation levels.
The different tiers of the SSC exam are spread out over a period of months, so you have enough time to take this one step at a time.