SSC CGL Tier-I Strategy

In fact this exam strategy (how to prepare for the Combined Graduate Level (CGL) Exam or any other exam) is for every competitive exam like the Combined Higher Secondary (10+2) Level (CHSL) Exam,STENO, CPO, SI Delhi Police, IBPS, Grade -II DASS, etc.


[How to prepare for the Combined Graduate Level (CGL) TIER-I Exam]


The Combined Graduate Level (CGL) Exam is conducted in 4 Tiers

1. Tier-I 200 marks for all posts —- online mode

2. Tier-II 400 marks & additional 200 marks for the posts of Jr Statistical Officer, Compiler; and Assistant Audit Officer (AAO) — online mode

3. Tier-III 100 marks (descriptive paper)

4. Tier-IV Computer Proficiency Test (CPT) is to be passed for the following posts

a) Assistants Section Officer (CSS)
b) Assistant Section Officer (MEA)
c) Assistant in Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) under M/o Corporate affairs
d) Assistant (GSI) in M/o Mines
e) Excise Inspector
f) Preventive Officer
g) Examiner

NOTE: For the post of TA both in CBDT & CBIC/CBEC there is Data Entry Skill Test (DEST). Both CPT and DEST are qualifying in nature.

Tier-I (200 Marks) —- 60 minutes

1. Reasoning 25 questions
2. General Knowledge 25 questions
3. Mathematics 25 questions
4. English 25 questions

Tier-II (400 Marks) —- 2 papers on Maths and English

1. Mathematics 100 questions 2 hours
2. English 200 questions 2 hours

NOTE: Also there is an additional paper of 200 marks for the posts of ‘Jr Statistical Officer’, ‘Compiler’ and ‘Assistant Audit Officer/Assistant Accounts Officer (AAO) in the following manner:

1. Statistics 100 questions 2 hours
2. Finance & Economics 100 questions 2 hours

Tier-III Descriptive Paper

It consists of 2 questions of 100 marks to be attempted in 1 hour

  1. Essay/Precis (250 words)
  2. Letter/Application (150 words)

Tier-IV Skill Test



The biggest question is how to START preparation for a Combined Graduate Level (CGL) Exam. I would say just one thing—-do one question paper of tier-I and both the papers of tier-II of any of the last year’s exam (not any model paper as exam paper is always a standard) at home in exam conditions. The reason is simple—-the best thing for an aspirant is to know his actual status of understanding of the various topics of each subject. By doing so he can easily find his weaker areas; and thus will have better chances to frame the best strategy to overcome them.

Candidates are to remember here that they don’t have to give even a minute time extra for solving the paper/s. Now I come to the approximate time that one should spend on doing each subject component of Tier-I. Here it is:

1. Reasoning 18 minutes
2. General Knowledge 7 minutes
3. Mathematics 25 minutes
4. English 10 minutes

And better (according to me) if these components are done in the order given in the above table. Though the exam now is in online mode, you can do practice of a first few papers by writing your answers in the rough copy.

The practice of doing past/practice papers should be kept followed all through. But if one wishes it could also be done once in two weeks in initial stages of preparation; say the first 1-2 months.



i) ON GK
I think you should read GK for 3 good hours a day at least. One hour for GK books, one for a good monthly magazine and one for good daily newspaper. PRATIYOGITA DARPAN is really a very beautiful magazine and THE HINDU the newspaper.

Now the books, I think you should read Lucent’s GK book thoroughly. In addition NCERT Science books from class 6th to 10th as well are a must if time allows as GK can really be made very strong then, but if you don’t have that much of time the descriptive GK book of LUCENT will do beautifully. If this is done with utmost sincerity it will also help in building one’s vocabulary part of the CGL English i.e. antonyms/synonyms/idioms & phrases/one word substitution etc  stronger if his or her medium of studies is English.

For reasoning practice of previous SSC papers and model/practice papers is sufficient in general. Also don’t forget to consult any good book if you find a question not under your control. One should also take help of a book on reasoning for the type of questions which are not in practice sets while they fall into a topic of the syllabus provided.

But, no matter if you don’t find a topic or two of REASONING in any of the book/s you have; better to leave it cause dealing many a book at a time could really spoil the things. Whatever you do; do it with mastery. That way you could score better marks as I personally feel. Yeah if you happen to get time after; try to find a proper book for those left out topics.

I’d advise you that you should not spend much time on antonyms and synonyms. The reason is that they are endless in number and therefore you can’t learn them much. Any word could be there in the question paper, so it will be better if you utilize that precious time in making your other areas of the paper stronger.

Dear friends, word power can’t be made strong just by cramming words for a few months; rather it’s a long term process that starts from one’s school days itself. I mean only to say if you are behind words more than the actual requirement, output won’t be that good.

The same thing applies to IDIOMS/PHRASES and ONE WORD SUBSTITUTION, but here you can spare some of your time for going through them from a good source/study material.



In my opinion a person who is not in job should devote at least 8 hours time each day to his preparation according to the time shown against each component of the syllabus for CGLE though it’s purely suggestive.

1. Reasoning 30 minutes
2. General Knowledge 3 hours
3. Mathematics 2 hours 30 minutes
4. English 2 hours

In addition to this if an hour or so is spent on some activities of sports and some time on programmes of entertainment on TV etc; will really be nice for maintaining mental state in good condition. But not more than it.

NOTE: A person already in job too should try to spare more and more time for the preparation; I think almost 4 hours a day in addition to the full day timetable for the days of holidays.


Do Tier-I, Tier-II & Tier-III Simultaneously

Guys plz note that Tier-I is of 200 marks as compared to 400 for Tier-II. Means the weight of marks becomes double at the next stage. Importantly subjects in Tier-II i. e. English & Maths are also the parts of Tier-I. For Tier-II we get roughly 2 & a half month time for preparation after Tier-I.

And as I believe that time may not be well sufficient to master both English and Maths. So it’s my advice that we should also prepare for Tier-II right from this very moment and not leave it to practise at the later stage i. e. after the exam for Tier-I.

Now SSC has also introduced Tier-III in addition to above. In Tier-III a descriptive paper of 100 marks on English or Hindi language will be given in which one’s essay and letter/application writing skills will be tested. You cannot learn it all just in a month or two well, better if you start building this from the very beginning, though in the beginning you can’t afford to give much focus on that.



It’s my sincere advice that you should prepare for the exam by books only. The net can’t ever compete with a real book. Several reasons are there! A book is always very convenient in use as compared to the net. You can take a book anywhere in the house or to any other location also whereas it’s not applicable to a computer. A laptop even can’t help all the time.

Sometimes one has to go to a certain page for referring to any other topic which can’t be so comfortable while using that book on the computer. Also books (specially those for SSC exams) not so expensive that a person can’t afford. Sitting on computer screen for long also is a big cause of one’s tiredness.; the eyes especially. Many more reasons in addition.

Yes the net is important but mainly when a book is not easily available or when one wants to see some particular topic/s as to purchase so many books of a kind is certainly not advisable.



Do not use FB much. FB can’t ever be a good source of doing studies. These groups, in my view, are only to ask a query, and see other queries. For this one should open FB twice a day, half an hour in the morning to post your queries/doubts, and half an hour in the evening to see replies to those queries and queries asked by other persons. Instead of using FB as a means to prepare for an exam you are advised to use books/study material that will give you sufficient number of practice questions.


SSC CGL: Importance of Coaching Centers

If you are able to grab the things of your own, nothing can be better than this in my opinion. I don’t think visiting a coaching center is necessary at all. There are many factors on the basis of which I’m saying that one needs to avoid going to a coaching center. A few of them are here.:

1. Loss of time as the time spent going to and fro could be utilized in self study or what.

2. Physical tiredness

3. Monetary loss

4. Difficulty in finding good coaching institute.

In my opinion there is no such good centre for an SSC exam in Delhi or outside. They all are like SHOPS only. There are instances we need to know the basics of some things; but no coaching centre is concerned about that, because they have their own limitations too I just mean to say jahan tak possible ho self study karo ya phir kisi achchhe friend ya relative ki help lo. But again it’s not necessary that everyone is able to find such help; in such a circumstance going to a coaching center perhaps becomes a necessity.




1. Maha English Grammar for Competitive Exams (Written by Maha Gupta)

2. Maha English Practice Sets for Competitive Exams (Written by Maha Gupta)


1. Quick Arithmetic of Aashish Aggarwaal

2. Elementary & Advanced Mathematics of Kiran Prakashan (Very good book for GEO and TRIGO indeed)

3. Quantum CAT of Sarvesh K Verma (You’ll need to be a little selective while doing this book. Do only EXAMPLES & EXERCISES LEVEL one only; and in those only that is in CGL course.)

4. NCERT & R D Sharma (IX & X standard–Editions of 2004 or before) for Geometry, Trigonometry & Graphs of linear equations. As they are only descriptive in nature you must practise objective questions on these topics from Ashish Aggarwal or/and any other good books available in the market. But remember you can’t be a master in ‘Maths Objective’ unless you are good in descriptive.

Also read these, they are all prepared/solved by me.

S. No. Name of the Topic Link
1. Numbers, LCM/HCF, Finding of Unit digit, Sum of Series, etc. download
2. Remainders & Divisibility download
3. Simplification download
4. Allegation or Mixture download
5. Average/Ratio & Proportion download
6. Partnership download
7. Percentage/Profit & Loss download
8. Interest & Installments download
9. Time & Work download
10. Time, Distance & Speed download


Graphs of Linear Equations download


1. Frustum download
2. Pyramid & Prism download
3. Area & Volume (other topics than above) download


1. Geometry (except Circle) download
2. Circle download


1. Trigonometric Ratios & Identities download
2. Heights & Distances download
3. Minimum & Maximum Values of Trigonometric Expressions download


Calendar download


NOTE: SSC CGL/CHSL: Important Properties/Concepts of Geometry 

Geometry is extremely important in SSC or other exams today. I have seen people good in Maths as a whole but not so good in Geometry. Hence I have compiled some important properties/concepts which are integral part of Geometry. If one understands and memorizes them well, I’m sure he will definitely do very good in it. Highly advisable it is that friends take the print-out of the matter and keep it along while practising questions on Geometry.

English Medium download Hindi Medium download


1. GK of Lucent (descriptive)

2. NCERT books for Science from 6th to 10th (If time allows they are really fantastic)

3. Monthly Magazine ‘Pratiyogita Darpan

4. Some good quality English newspaper like ‘The Hindu’

Also read these, they are all prepared by a good hand

1. GK (History) download 5. GK (Science download
2. GK (Political Science) download 6. Gk (Computer Science) download
3. GK (Geography) download 7. GK (Miscellaneous) download
4. GK (Economics) download


Practicing of past papers and the model papers should be enough or you can refer to a good book on Verbal and Non Verbal. But never forget to practise previous papers and model papers to master it all. Papers of Kiran Prakashan are better than others in my opinion.

Also read the contents of the following link on Reasoning 

NOTE: For Combined Higher Secondary Exam (CHSL Exam) the books/study material are the same as above, the level of questions in the CHSL exam becomes a little easier.


How to do sentence arrangement in less time?

There are four jumbled sentences in each question; try to link any two of them in proper order. Then see that order (PQ, PS, RP, or any that you find right) in the answer options. That answer option will be the correct one. However, if such pairs are more than one in the options, see all others to know whether their order is sensible.

Once you are successful in doing that you are also advised to check the order of all the choices in the option you selected.


How to do Comprehension Passage & Cloze Test

For both comprehension passages and cloze tests your basic understanding of English language should be right. Without this, things are going to be really difficult. For comprehension you should have sharp and quick mind. If you want your comprehension of a passage improved you should read the passage very carefully once only, or at the most twice, and keep in mind the content of the passage so that while answering questions you do not need to go back to it time and again. In an objective exam the speed is very important. So read sufficient number of passages and cloze tests from a good source well in time.

Comprehension Passage

1. Read the passage first; not the questions. If we’ll read the questions first our whole concentration then will divert on finding the answers of those questions, and thus we’ll be unable to understand the passage, which is so important. Without understanding the passage well we can’t answer the questions well.

2. Students normally think that reading the passage 1-2 times is a sheer wastage of time and won’t fetch them desired results. But in my experience – and when I say experience it comes from thousands of students and a decade of time that I have been in this profession – reading the passage first is the best strategy as it not only will save your time but also will help you get more and more marks.

3. When you are through with the passage and its contents you are ready to read the questions and answer them without ambiguity and with complete clarity of what the examiner is asking. That read between the lines concept works very well in comprehension while answering the questions, and that can only be developed by investing a couple of extra minutes by going through the same passage at-least 1-2 times.

4. Read the passage 1-2 times to grasp it well; only then you’ll be able to answer the question comfortably.

5. Read the questions one at a time and answer it immediately after. If you are not getting the answer, leave it to attempt it at a later stage, and go on the next question. As you have read the passage already you will get some idea of the location of material in the passage that answers the questions.

6. After doing all the questions of a particular passage read the left out questions carefully, they might be analytical in nature which requires the analysis of a certain part of the passage, and you might need to use your logical mind.

Cloze Test

1. In a question on CLOZE TEST we are given a text passage with some words missing; and we have to replace the missing words from the given options. For this one needs to have a strong command of grammar along with good vocabulary.

2. In order to fill in the missing words, we should read it slowly 1-2 times first without filling up the blanks. Certainly this will help us to develop an idea about the topic and figure out what the text is about.

3. Once we are known with that we should fill in only those blanks we are 100% sure of. This process will enable us to fill in the remaining blanks well.

4. A Cloze Test is a passage with sentences that are logically connected to each other, so we should keep it in mind that we must not treat each sentence individually while filling in the blanks. Instead we should think of logical connections that link up the sentences together.



1. QUERY: Ronnie how can we be fast in calculation?

Heena one has to learn quick Maths for increasing the speed. But every technique of doing questions fast is not given in a book; we too have to devise our own formulas of solving a question with speed. Learning tables of multiplication, squares, cubes help a lot. While solving a question one must keep his eyes on the answer options as sometimes this help in solving a question with speed (sometimes in seconds). There is actually many a thing which helps.


1. Minimize the use of pen and paper while doing a sum.

2. Devise your own techniques as every quick trick isn’t there in a book.

3. Understand a question by its basics/concept-wise. If the concept is clear you can really do the sum in possible quickest time.

4. Some questions can be solved with answer options given in no time; so
always try to do this while practising, and always keep your eyes on them.

5. More and more sincere/dedicated practice from a good book/study material.

2. QUERY: Say something about note-making for the CGL.

REPLY: I disagree with you in one thing. Note making is so time consuming; it can work if it’s a descriptive paper; that too other than Maths. In Maths we should prepare notes only of limited things like multiplication tables (Up to 25 is more than sufficient), square tables (up to 25 again), cube tables (up to 10 or so), some useful identities, theorems and sub-theorems, important formulas etc. Otherwise I think it’s total time waste. Better if you spend that time in learning the things. After a time everything will be on your tips I’m of the opinion.

3. QUERY: Thanks sir, I will amend my procedure of note making a bit, in order to make it less time consuming & more productive. I am currently full time preparing for this exam. So I try to devote a minimum of 10 hours each day. I have just completed my engineering this year and placed in an IT firm but waiting for my joining. So till then I plan to cover as much as I can because I think its very difficult to study with a job. 

REPLY: Remember one thing EXCESS OF EVERYTHING IS BAD. To much of studying too may backfire. 10 hours a day is perhaps too much. I’ll suggest you should bring it to 8 hours or so. I’m not saying you must not read for 10 hours a day; I just to mean if you think you are not feeling fresh at anytime you could be at a loss. THINK OVER IT.

Doing geometry from the start is very very important. This is not the topic that you can start from any chapter. Geometry is well understood if it’s practised from the first chapter itself—The POINT. Stop worrying about the things that might happen after your joining; just enjoy your learning. If you do like this you’ll succeed surely you’ll see.

4. QUERY:  Should Tier-I & II be prepared simultaneously or separately?

Sir I have got another query..Do i need to adopt different strategies for Tier-1 and Tier-2 Maths? Though the syllabus is same, is the difference between the level of questions too big between Tier-1 and Tier-2. If some extra preparation is required for tier-2 Maths? Thanks!

REPLY: You can’t draw a line between Tier-I & Tier-II for Maths and English both. So it becomes important to prepare these two subjects simultaneously for both tiers. Just read the past papers and see the difference it’s my advice.

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
2. Maha English Practice Sets (for Competitive Exams)


  1. December 17, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    Sir,I am in my final year of graduation,so am I eligible for cgl which is to be held in June 2015?plz reply sir I can’t find solution to my query on SSC website.

    • Maha Gupta
      December 18, 2014 at 7:47 AM

      Sorry you certainly are not eligible for the CGL-15 Nupur.