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SSC-CGL 2016 Topper Interview – AIR 37 – Ashish Sodhi

Hi, my name is Ashish Sodhi and I got AIR 37 in SSC CGL 2016. This was my second attempt at SSC CGL having failed to qualify mains in SSC CGL 2015. I did my graduation from PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently employed in Union Bank of India.

 Exam specific questions

  1. How was SSC-CGL paper this year? Give us some insights into SSC-CGL-2017 paper and compare it to past year question paper.

My exam was on 21 August 2017 evening shift. My exam was a little bit tougher compared to last year as GK questions were more Science based. The English and Mathematics sections were more on the same lines as of last year, i.e easy level. The Reasoning section was more along the lines of moderate level.


  1. How did you feel after seeing first few questions? Did you feel relaxed and calm or you were anxious during first few questions? If you felt anxious then how did you calm yourself?

I felt fairly relaxed after seeing questions as I don’t judge a paper by looking at the first couple of questions as the examiner deliberately puts tough questions at the beginning to destabilize the test taker. I answered all the questions which I knew and left the questions in which I felt uncomfortable. After answering the easy ones, I took on to solve the tough ones. This strategy has also helped me in clearing BANK exams too.


  1. How did you go about attempting the paper? How did you distribute time among various sections? Please give a detailed description of time management strategy you followed?


I first took on solving Mathematics as one can correctly solve all 25 questions. This in-turn boosts one’s confidence. Then I took on reasoning section as reasoning questions take time to solve. Then I moved on to English and GK sections as they take only split second to answer. In GK, you either know the answer or you don’t.

I also followed the strategy which I mentioned in my previous answer. I did my paper in 3 attempts. Firstly, I solved easy ones, then moderate and then the tough ones at last. This helps a candidate to fetch more marks as all questions are of same marks.

Lastly, I deployed a strategy with which I am comfortable but I believe most people are not. I answer even those questions of which I am half sure. In my CGL-Pre, I knew answers to around 90 questions. However, I attempted 99, thus out of these 99 I guessed 9, but these were calculated guesses. I believe one must make these guesses as if one gets only 1 out of 5 correct, even then one is safe.


Preparation Strategy

  1. What was the motive behind you appearing for SSC-CGL exam?


I had worked in the corporate sector for a couple of years and long grueling hours and office politics made me rethink where I was heading in my life. I needed peace and job security in my life which is only possible in government jobs. Hence, I quit my job to give this competitive exam.


  1. When did you start preparing for SSC-CGL exam?


I had given CGL 2015 while working in the corporate sector but due to work commitments and time constraints I was not able to devote enough time to study and thus was not able to clear that. However, I left my job in June 2016 and then gave full time for preparation of this exam.


  1. Up to what date were you able to complete the course once? What was your target as to how many questions to practice in each section? What was the sequence in which you prepared the sections?


I believe course completion is a myth. I have seen several aspirants who do not give mocks thinking that first, they will complete the course and then will give the mocks. I had started giving mocks from day 1 as they helped me gauge my preparation.

I practiced Arithmetic Mathematics first and then practiced Advance Mathematics (Trigonometry, Geometry, Algebra). I had no specific target to practice questions. I just practiced the whole book of RAKESH YADAV Publication’s Mathematics course material.


  1. Which sections according to require more practice than the others and why?


I have always been comfortable in English, hence I felt I had to work the most in Mathematics. Since in SSC we deploy tricks to solve questions, hence it was quintessential for me to get comfortable in using tricks for solving Mathematics questions. I had to know when and which trick to apply to solve a question as fast as possible.


  1. Which study material and standard books would you recommend for SSC-CGL Aspirants in each section?


I would recommend Rakesh Yadav Publication material for Mathematics. For    English, I would recommend NEETU SINGH’s Plinth to Paramount for clarity of concepts and MB Publication’s past year papers for practice. For GK I would recommend Lucent, but past year papers are very much important than rote learning from Lucent. I did not follow any specific book for reasoning. I just practiced and learned from Mock tests.


  1. How did you keep the subjects fresh in your memory the entire time? Did you revise the subjects regularly or you left the revision for last few months? What was your strategy for revision in the last few months?

After completing my syllabus my mains focus was to give as many mocks as possible. I believe one must practice at least 30-40 mocks before giving the final exam. Thus, mocks helped me in keeping myself fresh and also helped me in my revision as I went back to the course material whenever I felt I was forgetting some concept or a fact.


  1. What is the role of mock tests in your success in SSC-CGL exam? How many mock tests did you attempt? When did you start attempting mock tests?

As I have already eulogized my love for mock tests so I can only say that mocks are a must for any competitive exam. They help one in gauging one’s knowledge and performance in a test-taking environment.  I had started attempted mocks from day 1 and by the time of the exam, I had attempted around 30 odd mocks.


  1. How was your score in Mock Tests? Is there any correlation between mock test performance and actual SSC-CGL performance?

 I used to score around 110 in mocks as the mocks from KD Campus and Paramount were very tough. However, I was performing better than numerous other candidates. Hence, there is a little correlation but still one cannot predict the final exam day paper.



Personal Questions

  1. How did you motivate yourself for such a long journey towards SSC-CGL?

I would be lying if I say that it was an easy journey. Leaving a well-paying job to prepare for this exam was very tough. I used to doubt myself every day whether I had done the right thing to leave the job. My only main concern was to not let my parents down. They had supported me in this decision and failing was never an option for me.


  1. Did you expect such a result after giving the SSC-CGL exam?

Well quite frankly no. I had expected to be in top 500 but to be in top 100 was a pleasant surprise. This shows the unpredictable nature of this exam.


  1. How did you feel the moment you saw the results?


I felt happy but again felt that I must keep my head down and prepare for Mains as marks in Mains can make or break for any candidate.


  1. What is the role of family and friends in your success in SSC-CGL exam?


My family played a major role as they supported my decision to leave the job and I did not want to disappoint them. Also, I hear people say that one must stop mixing with friends during preparation as it can divert your mind. However, I believe one must seek out friends to relieve pressure from time to time as the preparation takes a lot of time and sometimes one feels lonely. At that time, one needs friends to help one to get through that tough period.


  1. Who would you dedicate this SSC-CGL result to?

I would dedicate this result to my parents. They had always wanted me to succeed and excel in life. I am all because of them in my life.


  1. What is the success mantra that you would like to give to other SSC-CGL aspirants which has been critical for your preparation as well?

I think after one decides to prepare, one feels bogged down by the huge competition. This is very natural, but one must believe in oneself and keep thinking about the happiness one can provide one’s parents when one succeeds. I also gave bank and CAT exam so that I can diversify my options. Hence, one must give other aptitude based exams as it will provide the candidate security in case he/she fails in any exam.

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