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SSC CGL All Tiers Decoded

SSC CGL is an all India level examination which is conducted every year to recruit group B and group C employees for various departments under the government of India. It has three tiers or stages. Each tier carries separate weight and on the basis of cumulative performance of the candidate, the final result is declared. Tier 1 and tier 2 are computer-based examinations while tier 3 is conducted in traditional pen-paper mode. Weightage of each tier has been explained in the following table:-

Number of questions Alloted time

(in hours)

Tier 1 100 2 200
Tier 2 100+200* 2+2 200+200
Tier 3 2 1 100
Total 700


*100 questions in Quantitative Aptitude and 200 questions in English.

**there is a negative marking of 0.25 in 1 mark questions and 0.5 in 2 mark questions.

Tier 1

Tier 1 has 4 sections in total where each section has 25 questions of 2 marks each. These 4 sections are Reasoning, General studies, Quantitative aptitude, and English. There is no sectional timing or sectional cut off. Let’s try to further decode tier 1.


           TOPIC 2016 2017
Analogy 2 4
Blood Relation 1 1
Coding-decoding 2 2
Cubes/Dices 1 1
Directions 1 1
Matrix 1 1
Meaningful Order 1 1
Missing number 2 1
Odd One Out 4 3
Series 3 2
Statement- Conclusion 1 0
Venn diagram 1 1
Visual reasoning 3 3
Word Formation 1 1
Miscellaneous 1 3
Total Questions 25 25


This is the topic wise distribution of questions asked in previous years’ SSC CGL. We have not taken into consideration the earlier SSC CGL examination because the pattern was a bit different back then. Exams in 2016 and 2017 were conducted in multiple shifts and here we have taken into consideration the average number of questions from each topic across all shifts.

The questions asked in the reasoning section are not very difficult in SSC CGL, all you need is to complete this section in as little time as possible. Almost all serious candidates end up with 40+ marks in this section. You need to score 45+ to make a difference and it is very much achievable after the thorough practice of each topic. Topics like series, coding-decoding, analogy, odd one out and missing number are very important in this section.

General Awareness

This section has a huge syllabus and most of the candidates find themselves at sea while preparing for it. This is the average number of questions asked from each subsection in the last two years:-

Topic Number of questions
Indian History 2-3
Culture 1-2
Economy 2-3
Indian Polity 2-3
Geography 2-3
Physics 2-3
Chemistry 2-3
Biology 3-4
Current affairs 3-4
Miscellaneous 1-2
Total 25


Unlike banking and insurance exams, the weightage of current affairs section in SSC CGL is not that much. Most of the questions asked are from static portion and can be prepared quite well from previous year questions itself. Also the current affairs based questions asked in SSC are very different from that of banking and other exams, so you need to prepare accordingly. Be very careful in not wasting too much time in general awareness at the cost of other sections.

Quantitative Aptitude

Questions asked in this section can be basically divided in two sections:-

  • Arithmetic- Ratio, profit loss, discounts, mixture allegation, simplification, number system, power, surds indices, average, percentage, simple interest, compound interest, time and work, pipe and cistern, speed and distance, boat and stream, sequence and series.
  • Advance- Trigonometry, geometry, coordinate geometry, algebra, mensuration, data interpretation.

Usually the weightage of arithmetic section is about 45-50% and that of the advance portion is 50-55%. Questions asked in arithmetic section are considerably easier but moderate to difficult questions are asked in advance portion. Most of the tough questions asked in this section are from mensuration and geometry. This section along with English is the most important section in SSC CGL as it carries 250 marks out of total 700. A considerable amount of practice and hard work is required to master each topic in this section. In SSC CGL 2017, the difficulty level of questions was higher than that of previous years and now it requires a thorough understanding of the concepts to score well.


SSC CGL English can be basically divided into three categories. These categories along with the type of questions under them are:-

  • Grammar- Error finding, sentence improvement, fill in the blanks, voice, and narration.
  • Vocabulary- Synonyms, antonyms, one-word substitution, idioms, phrases and spelling mistakes.
  • Reading comprehension- Unseen passage, cloze test, and sentence rearrangements.

Usually 10-12 grammar based questions, 7-8 vocabulary based questions and 5 comprehension based questions are asked in tier 1. There is not much notable difference between difficulty level of tier 1 and tier 2 but the dynamics of exam are a bit different. Similar to quantitative aptitude, English carries huge weightage in SSC CGL i.e. 250 out of 700 and thus requires considerable efforts.

Tier 2

Tier 2 in SSC CGL has two papers of two hours each. The first paper is of quantitative aptitude and the second one is of English language.

Quantitative Aptitude

In this exam, 100 questions of 2 marks each are asked. The syllabus for tier 2 is same as that of tier 1 but the difficulty level is higher and to solve 100 questions in allotted 2 hours is not an easy task. In SSC CGL 2017 tier 2 exam, considerable number of tough questions were asked especially from mensuration, geometry and data interpretation. Speed and accuracy along with conceptual clarity is required to score well in this section.


Just like quantitative aptitude, a syllabus is same for both tiers in English section. There are 200 questions of 1 mark each in English in tier 2. In tier 2, usually, this scheme of questions is followed:-

Topic Number of questions
Error finding 20
Sentence Improvement 22
Fill in the blanks 5
Idioms 10
One word substitutions 12
Synonyms 3
Antonyms 3
Spelling mistake 3
Voice 20
Narration 27
Sentence rearrangement 20
Unseen passage 30
Cloze test 25
Total 200


Questions asked in tier 2 are not very difficult but to solve 200 questions in 2 hours is a challenging task in itself. A considerable amount of practice, reading, clarity of rules and mocks are required to ace SSC CGL English.

Tier 3

This final tier carries 100 marks and usually, two questions are asked in it in pen paper mode. Syllabus prescribed for tier 3 is essay writing, letter, application and précis writing etc but only essay writing and letter has been asked till now. Let’s have a look at the questions asked in SSC CGL 2016 and 2017:-


  • Essay writing- In the event of an earthquake, for your safety what you should do and what you should not do. (word limit – 250)
  • Letter writing- Assuming you are Suresh/Seema, write a letter to your younger brother Naresh, highlighting the distinct benefits and shortcomings of computer-based recruitment test, and what will be the future shortfall of it. (word limit – 150)


  • Essay writing- How far Demonetization has achieved its objective? (word limit – 250)
  • Letter- Assuming that you are Rajan/Rajani and you have been selected as the marketing manager in a Public Enterprises and have to join immediately. Write a letter to your senior to extend the date of joining. (word limit – 150)

As you can see, the topics asked are general in nature. With little bit of practice and thorough knowledge of format, very good marks can be scored in this tier. There is no negative marking in tier 3.


The syllabus and scope of questions asked in various tiers of SSC CGL is of matriculation level. The questions asked in SSC CGL are not very tough and most of the candidates can solve most of these questions with reasonable efforts. But to solve all these “simple” questions in allotted time, that too in exam pressure is a big challenge. Add to it the fact that lacks of people are competing for mere few thousand seats and you will realize the ruthlessness of competition. Clearing an exam of SSC CGL stature requires consistent hard work for a few months, at the end of which you will enjoy a fruitful career.


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