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SSC CGL Preparation Tips 2024, Recommended Books, Do’s and Don’ts

SSC CGL Preparation

Since 1977, the Combined Graduate Level (CGL) exam conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) has been one of the most sought-after competitive exams in India. For more than 5 decades, it has been responsible for the recruitment of lakhs of Group B & C employees in various departments of the government of India.

The notification for the SSC CGL Exam 2024 is scheduled to be released on 11th June and the Tier 1 exam is going to be held in September-October 2024. This leaves the candidates roughly six months to prepare for the exam. In this article, we have discussed a one-stop strategy to help the candidates throughout the entire recruitment process.

SSC CGL Preparation Tips 2024

The CGL exam is conducted in two stages i.e. Tier 1 and Tier 2. The Tier 1 stage of the exam is qualifying in nature and the final merit list will be determined on the basis of the candidate’s performance in the Tier 2 exam. The subjects asked in both stages have a lot in common and the preparation can be done in an integrated manner.

The SSC CGL exam is highly competitive and the candidates require a well-thought-out strategy in order to maximise their chances of securing a prestigious government job. The preparation for the exam should be done in a way that makes the most efficient use of the time available. The candidates will have to ensure both the quality and quantity of their preparation to excel in the exam.

SSC CGL Selection Process 2024
SSC CGL Tier Type of Examination Mode of examination
SSC CGL Tier-I Objective Multiple Choice CBT (Online)
SSC CGL Tier-II Paper I (Compulsory for all posts),
Paper II for candidates who apply for the posts of Junior Statistical Officer (JSO) in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation and
Paper III for candidates who apply for the posts of Assistant Audit Officer/ Assistant Accounts Officer.
Objective Type, Multiple choice questions, except for Module-II of Section-III of Paper-I
CBT (Online)

SSC CGL Preparation Strategy for Tier 1

The Tier 1 stage of the SSC CGL Exam consists of 100 objective-type questions worth 200 marks. These questions will be distributed equally among four sections i.e. General Intelligence and Reasoning, General Awareness, Quantitative Aptitude and English Comprehension. The candidates should have a specific strategy for each component of the exam.

In the points below we have provided some preparation tips specific to the SSC Tier 1 exam. The candidates can integrate these into their preparation strategies to see improved results.

Analyzing the Exam Pattern, Syllabus and Previous Year Papers

This is the very first step of the preparation journey of every SSC CGL aspirant. This provides them with the overall idea of the latest trend and difficulty level of the exam. This will also help the candidates determine the order of priority of subjects and topics according to their weightage in the exam. Candidates can click on the links below for more information.

Click Here to Check the SSC CGL Exam Pattern 2024 

Click Here for the Detailed Syllabus and Subject-Wise Weightage of SSC CGL Exam

Make a Time-Bound Preparation Plan

As the SSC CGL Exam is a long-term process and takes almost 6 months from the release of the notification, the candidates should have a weekly and monthly plan to finish their preparations in time. Let us assume that a candidate has 6 months to prepare for the Tier 1 exam. This time can be utilized in the following manner.

Timeline  Target
1st Month Learning Basic Concepts and analyzing previous year’s questions
2nd and 3rd Month Practicing questions and attempting sectional mock tests
4th and 5th Month Strengthening weak areas and Revision
6th Month Revision and Mock Tests

Implement a Daily Schedule

A daily routine is important to inculcate discipline while undertaking any task of high importance. The candidates preparing for the SSC CGL exam are generally of two types i.e. Full-Time Aspirants and Aspirants who are already in a job. The time available for preparation varies widely in both cases. The table below will give an idea regarding how much time they should allocate to which activity in a day to prepare for the SSC CGL Exam.

Activity Full-Time Aspirants  Part-Time Aspirants
Preparation Time per Day 10 Hours 5 Hours
Learning New Concepts 3 Hours 2 Hours
Practicing Questions 2 Hours 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Revision 3 Hours 1 Hour
Current Affairs 30 Minutes 30 Minutes
Mock Tests 1 Hour 30 Minutes To be done on weekends
  • The candidates should keep in mind that the proportion of these activities should be adapted according to the phase of preparation and their individual needs.

Make Hand Written Notes

The candidates can easily find different types of online and offline collections of material for the SSC CGL Exam. However, the process of preparing the handwritten notes of each topic/subject helps the candidates develop a better understanding of the topic and retain the concepts for a longer period of time. The handwritten notes are also a great source of revision and practice.

Start Attempting Mocks As Soon As Possible

Mock tests are generally seen as the final stage of the preparation process however they can have an immense impact on the preparation if utilised properly. The candidates should attempt mock tests while keeping the following points in mind.

  • The sectional tests attempted in the subject-wise and chapter-wise manner help the candidates identify the areas that require more work.
  • Attempting full-length mock tests helps in learning time management for the actual paper.
  • Mock tests help the candidates be aware of the negative marking and avoid silly mistakes on exam day.
  • The candidates can enhance their speed and accuracy in the exam by practicing mock tests.

Make a Special Strategy for the General Awareness Section

The General Awareness section of the SSC CGL Tier 1 Exam is a highly unpredictable section but can be highly scoring if prepared in a structured manner. The topics asked in this section can be broadly divided into three categories i.e. Basic Subjects, Static GK and Current Affairs. The points below will give the candidates a better idea regarding the preparation of this section.

  • The basic subjects of the General Awareness syllabus are History, Polity, Geography, Economics and General Science. The ultimate source of preparing these subjects is the NCERT books in combination with the Previous Year’s Questions.
  • Static GK consists of various facts and figures regarding various topics of India and the world. Preparing these requires a lot of revision of concepts and practice of questions.
  • Current Affairs comprise daily events of national and international importance and require a lot of revision on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Strategy for Current Affairs

Even though many candidates follow the monthly and yearly compilation of news to prepare for this part, it can be tough to cover all the important topics if only a little time is left for the exam. To score well in this part of the General Awareness paper, the candidates should inculcate the habit of dedicating at least half an hour daily to reading the newspaper or watching the news.

  • Generally, the current affairs questions in the exam are asked from the events of the six months to a year before the exam.
  • Unlike the common belief that current affairs can only be prepared by memorizing, the candidates can prepare by doing repeated revisions and solving a lot of questions.
  • The candidates should avoid the mentality of covering every single news item. They should first analyze the previous year’s questions and narrow down what kind of questions are asked and prepare accordingly.

SSC CGL Preparation Strategy for Tier 2

The Tier 2 stage of the SSC CGL Exam is the most important stage of the recruitment process as the performance of the candidates in this stage determines the final merit list. The Tier 2 exam consists of 3 papers i.e. Paper I (Compulsory for all posts), Paper II for candidates who apply for the posts of Junior Statistical Officer (JSO) and Paper III for candidates who apply for the posts of Assistant Audit Officer/ Assistant Accounts Officer.

SSC CGL Tier 2 Exam Pattern
S. No. Papers Exam Duration
1 Paper-I: (Compulsory for all posts) 2 hours 30 minutes
2 Paper-II: Junior Statistical Officer (JSO) 2 hours
3 Paper-III: Assistant Audit Officer/ Assistant Accounts Officer 2 hours

For more details regarding the SSC CGL Tier 2 Exam, the candidates can click on the links provided above. The tips mentioned above for the SSC CGL Tier 1 preparation are also applicable to the preparation for Tier 2. However, given below are some tips specific to this stage of the selection process that can help the candidates maximize their performance in the exam.

Focus the most on Reasoning

The syllabus for the General Intelligence and Reasoning, General Awareness, Quantitative Aptitude and English Comprehension subjects in both the stages of the exam is almost the same. However, the questions asked in the Tier 2 exam in all four subjects require the candidates to apply their reasoning skills to arrive at the correct answer.

Different Approach to General Awareness

A total of 25 questions are asked in the General Awareness section of the Tier 2 exam. Most of these questions contain more than one correct option and the candidates have to apply their knowledge, reasoning ability, elimination techniques and language skills to pick the proper response.

Full-length Mock Tests are the Key

To prepare for the Tier 2 exam, it is most important to get used to the structure of the paper. The candidates should start attempting the full-length Tier 2 mock tests right after the Tier 1 exam. With a lot of practice, the candidates can be ready for all kinds of surprises the examiner may throw their way.

Negative Marking takes a Heavy Toll

In this stage of the exam, there is one-third negative marking. As each question carries 3 marks then each incorrect answer will result in a deduction of one mark from the score. This means that every mistake costs a potential 4 marks to the candidates which can make a huge difference in the merit list.

Dedicate 30 Minutes for Typing Practice

The Data Entry Speed Test is qualifying in nature but mandatory for all the candidates. The candidates need to have a very good typing speed in order to qualify for this test. The candidates who have not prepared this section of the exam are always fearful of it which affects their preparation for other sections of the paper as well.

The candidates should practice typing for at least 30 minutes every day to build up their speed in such a way that if  35 words per minute are enough to finish the test in time, they should prepare their speed up to 40 words per minute. This helps them when a very difficult passage is given in the exam with complicated terminologies which affects their speed.

SSC CGL Preparation Recommended Books

The mode of preparation has undergone a dramatic change in the past few years as every kind of resource can now be found on the Internet. However, the use of textbooks and question banks are still one of the best resources of SSC CGL Preparation. The table below gives a subject-wise list of books that can prove valuable for preparation.

Subject Books Author
Previous Year Papers Kiran Publication
General Intelligence and Reasoning Verbal & Non Verbal Reasoning R.S Aggarwal
Analytical Reasoning M.K Pandey
General Awareness 6th to 12th Textbooks NCERT
General Knowledge Lucent
Current Affairs AIR, PIB and a Standard Newspaper
Quantitative Aptitude Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations R.S Aggarwal
Quicker Maths M Tyra
English Comprehension Objective General English S.P Bakshi
Word Power Made Easy Norman Lewis
High School English Grammar & Composition Wren & Martin

SSC CGL Preparation Do’s and Don’ts for Exam

The SSC CGL Preparation is a long process and the candidates need to be aware of what to do and what not to do to ensure selection in their dream posts. These factors are different for each individual candidate and should be given utmost importance. The table below provides a list of commonly observed do’s and don’ts regarding the preparation for SSC CGL.

Do’s Don’ts
Regular assessment of strategy Don’t follow others’ strategies blindly
Taking care of one’s mental and physical health Don’t get discouraged by low scores in marks
Taking regular breaks from study Avoid getting involved in too much speculation and predictions about the exam
Being consistent in learning and practice Limit the use of social media
Setting realistic targets Don’t be too hard on yourself


What is the pattern of the SSC CGL Tier 1 Exam?

The SSC CGL Tier 1 Exam consists of 100 questions worth 200 marks and is conducted for 1 Hour. The questions will be asked from General Intelligence and Reasoning, General Awareness, Quantitative Aptitude and English Comprehension.

What is the negative marking in the Paper 1 of SSC CGL Tier 2 Exam?

There will be one-third negative malrking in the SSC CGL Tier 2 Exam. As each question carries 3 marks then each incorrect answer will result in a deduction of one mark from the score.

When will the SSC CGL Tier 1 Exam be held?

The SSC CGL Tier 1 Exam is scheduled to be held in September-October 2024.