Toppers Speak

Preethi Vijayan 

Selected for MTS 2016-17

I was lucky enough to crack the SSC MTS examination within a few months of completing my college.  About my preparation for the said exam, though all the four sections, ie, QA, Reasoning, English and General Awareness are equally important, I had to devote more time and attention on my QA as I was really poor in numerical skills. QA sessions at DOTs made my concepts strong after which I could practice myself using their worksheets and Kiran’s previous year question bank. The GA section in SSC exam is decisive in determining the candidate’s rank, it should never be ignored. Questions from Ancient India, Micro- economics and Indian Constitution are sure shots. Lucent GK and textbooks from the academy helped me to get through it. Proper revision is indispensible for G.K. I would say doing one genuine book a hundred times is better than reading a hundred books one time, because recollecting what you have read is actually what matters. Questions from current affairs will not be challenging if one is regular in preparing daily notes on important current events. I devoted just an hour each day for reading The Hindu and preparing notes on it. I found that SSC had a palpable interest on topics like recent awards and publications. So keeping a record of this proved helpful. English and reasoning sections required a relatively less effort from my side as enough practice exercises on these were given from my coaching institute itself. Time management is the next big thing when it comes to SSC exams. One online mock test per day is sure to help the aspirants in getting used to the online exam pattern and to keep a check on their answering speed.

During the time of my preparation I shrank to a world of books alone, shut from all the hobbies I enjoyed till then. Thankfully, all those little sacrifices worked and I found myself working in a Central Government Office within a few months. Though it is definitely not my ultimate dream job, I am happy that I have entered the service and I still continue my studies as this year’s CGL is in the offing.

Harikrishnan M S

“Selected for Assistant Audit officer (Gazetted) post in SSC CGL 2016”

Anyone can Crack SSC – CGL*

*conditions Applied


I managed to crack CGL in my first attempt and can say with confidence that with the right strategy, which depends from person to person, anyone can crack CGL. I’ll try to throw some light on how you should approach the exam along with what my strategy was for the same.

  1. Understand the exam you are appearing for

First and foremost, you must do a thorough research on the exam, in this case CGL, you are appearing for. Although it may sound cliched and complicated, it is quite simple. Follow these simple steps for a start.

  1. Understand the exam pattern
    A quick skimming of the pattern of the exam will give you an idea that out of the total 700 marks the distribution as follows: –

    1. Quant/Data interpretation – 250 marks
    2. English/writing      – 350 marks
  • Reasoning      –   50 marks
  1. GK      –   50 marks

This means that Quant and English constitute 600/700 marks and this is where one should spend my Lion’s share of time.

  1. Understand the distribution of marks for each chapter.
    Almost 100/200 in the Quant section of T2 come from 4 chapters namely

    1. Algebra
    2. Mensuration
  • Geometry
  1. Trigonometry

So ideally one should spend more time practising these 4 topics.

  • Know the posts that you are applying for
    A rookie mistake that many do is not applying for the post of AAO. The post of AAO, contrary to misinformation, is the most rewarding profile in CGL. It is the only Gazetted post and highest Grade Pay post at 4800 with automatic conversion of 5400 in 4 years. Other posts take ages to reach 5400 Grade pay.

These tips are only to give you a direction that you might want to take. Try to do more analysis and research on the exam at your will. Anyone can crack this exam.

  1. Everyone is unique

It is important to understand that every one of us is unique. So, my strategy might not work for you or the topper’s strategy might not work for the person ranked 2. When we start preparing for the exam everyone will be at different level of preparation and skill. So, one must prepare according to one’s strength/weakness. I personally didn’t do much preparation for Tier 1 apart from mock tests. In tier 2 I practiced the 4 chapters, that I mentioned, sentence correction from English and took loads of mock tests. This worked for me because my base level of aptitude was above average before I started preparation. This strategy will be a disaster for those who need to cover the basics of the portions. So, understand your weakness, be honest in assessing your strength and work on the portion you are bad at. Anyone can crack this exam.

  1. Success is 10% taking mock tests and 90% analysing it.

Mock tests played a very important part in my preparations. Mock tests taught me more than any book.

  1. Be honest!

Cheating and scoring high in online mock tests may give you instant gratification and claps from classmates but if job is what you are after then please be truthful to yourself while taking mock tests however poor you are going to score. Also, don’t take breaks during the tests, that’ll defeat the very purpose of it.

  1. Find your critical path
    The order of exam in tier 1 is Reasoning -GK-Quant-English. While doing mock tests try to shuffle the order in each exam and analyse how your average scoring is. This will help you get the ideal order of taking each section. As for me, my critical path is Reasoning – Quant half – Gk – English – Quant rest – recap. This route consistently fetched me marks above 150 in mock tests and in final exam. Similarly find the best path for you. This will help you in pushing your marks by at least 5-10 marks. Remember 1 marks equals close to 500 ranks. This could make or break the exam for you.
  • Do an in-depth analysis of your mock tests.
    After doing 10 odd mock tests I realised that my scores weren’t that high. So, I list down the total number of questions I skipped or got wrong from each topic. This gave me an idea that I was terrible at sentence correction, direct indirect speech, active passive, algebra and some other topics. So, I spent more time getting the basics of these topics right and then took more mock tests. This dramatically improved my scores.
  1. Revise your mock tests
    There is no use taking the mock tests if you are not going to thoroughly understand the questions you got wrong. While going through the answers you’ll realize that there are some questions you skip as soon as you see it, or some questions which are brilliant. Star these questions for future revision either by taking a print out or taking a screenshot. This will help you in your last-minute revisions. Remember making a mistake is natural, making the same mistake twice is criminal.
  2. Let go off your Ego!
    Don’t let your ego that you can solve any question in this world get in between you getting a lucrative job. Time is ticking and you cannot afford to spend more than 2 minutes (ideally 1 minute) even on the most difficult of questions. So, skip the questions without shame. You can always come back to them at the end.
  3. Get into the head of the question setter and the understand the environment
    This will come to you only with the experience of a lot of mock tests. Almost every set of question paper (especially t2) will have a bias. For example, 2017 T2 quant paper had very difficult advance mathematics and very simple arithmetic. So, a clever student who manages to understand the trend of questions will skip the difficult questions of advance maths after a quick read and cakewalk through the simple arithmetic questions. Moreover, in the computer system in which I was sitting, I had to scroll both horizontally and vertically to see the complete geometric figure. This was again time consuming, so I skipped them and kept it for last. My 2017 score – 158 – Quant, 180 – English. Anyone can crack this exam.
  4. Fine tune yourself.
    For time bound competitive exams like CGL, presence of mind is of utmost importance. A bad mood can undo the yearlong hard work. Make your body clock right at least 2 weeks before the exam. Try to take mock tests exactly at the time of the day when you’ll have your actual exam. This will help you fine tune your mental ability. Don’t skip your breakfast, also don’t eat heavily before exam. Have a good night sleep the day before. Some students do really well under pressure, So I won’t say don’t get tensed or scared. Anyone can crack this exam.
  5. My Strategy
    This should be the least important part in this write up. Nonetheless sharing what I did.
    I did self-study for t1 and t2 and took the help of Dots Academy in T3. Preparation for CGL was all mock tests and revision of the same. I took close to 25 mock tests and revised the same for t1 and t2.

    1. Reasoning
      My strongest section – No strategy as such – I consistently scored 48-50 in this section. Key is to practice a lot enough to reduce time on reading the questions. When you do mock tests, you’ll realize that there are some sets which have very long question text. So, during actual exam you will be able to skip reading these questions and straight away be able to solve it since you already know what the question is intending to ask. Finish this section fast.
    2. GK
      My weakest section – Didn’t do any SSC specific reading. I did revise the 25 questions from all the mock tests I took. That came in handy. My score was around 25-35 in this section. As I said ROI is too low. Finish this section very fast.
  • Quant
    Average section – Quant is all about practice and not making the same mistake twice. SSC quant questions are repetitive. So, if you’ve done enough mock tests and revised the same, this portion will fetch you good marks. And practicing questions again and again and again will give you that speed you were always lacking. I used to score 40-45 in this section in t1 and 150-160 in t2
  1. English
    This is a very important section for Keralites since our fundamentals in English is comparatively better than that of competitors. This section will help us negate the marks by which we fall back in Quant section against competition. Perfect example is 2017 t2 exam where on an average we scored really high in English but was down by 10-15 marks in Maths. I was really bad in sections like Sentence correction, Direct indirect etc. Out of 10 questions in sentence correction I used to get 6-7 wrong. So I googled sentence correction pdf, downloaded couple of the sets. Sat and did those 2000-3000 questions religiously. This dramatically increased my accuracy. I used to score 40-45 in t1 and 160-185 in t2.
  2. Tier 3
    My association with Dots academy starts with T3. Since I wasn’t really good at framing good exam-oriented essays or letters, help was very much needed. Dots academy helped me find the right approach to framing good essays and reducing my grammatical errors. The topics given by Dots helped in getting an overall template answer practice. Moreover, topics that we actually practiced (Earthquakes, demonetization) came as the topics in both 2016 and 2017s T3 exam. Making groups for discussions really helped in this stage.
  3. Tier 4
    Don’t worry about T4 now. It is Microsoft word, PowerPoint and excel. Think about it only after T3. 2-3 days of practice will sail you through this tier.

So be confident, make study groups, practice a lot, do a lot of mock tests and success will come to you. All the best. Anyone can crack this exam.