[Studyplan] SSC-CGL English Vocabulary, Grammar and Comprehension: preparation strategy, tips, booklist, analysis

SSC442 Comments

  1. Introduction
  2. Topic-wise breakup for SSC-English (tier I and II)
  3. Overall: SSC-English  (Tier 1 And 2)
  4. Vocabulary?
  5. English Grammar: Approach
    1. Task #1: Active Passive (voice) and Direct-Indirect (speech)
    2. Task #2: Sentence Correction+Improvement
  6. Comprehension + Sentence Arrangement
  7. Recommended Book for English Grammar


In the previous articles we saw how to approach

General Awareness for Tier IClick me
Maths / Quantitative Aptitude for Tier I and IIClick me
Reasoning/ General Intelligence for Tier IClick me

In this article, we’ll see how to approach English for SSC-CGL exam.

In the SSC exam, you have to face English at two stages

Tier I (prelims)50 questions
(other 150 question will come from GK, Maths and Reasoning)
2 hours
Tier II (mains)
Paper II
200 questions2 hours
  • Negative marking: Yes

Topic-wise breakup for SSC-English (tier I and II)


Tier ITier II
Fill In Blanks0155302010
Vocab Subtotal203530554541


Tier ITier II
Sentence Correction555202020
Sentence Improvement555202022
Grammar Subtotal201510858589

Sentence Arrangement + Comprehension

Tier ITier II
Sentence Arrangement500102020

SSC CGL English Analysis

Overall: SSC-English  (Tier 1 And 2)

Tier ITier II


  1. Synonyms
  2. Antonyms
  3. Fill in the blanks (single statement)
  4. Fill in the blank (huge paragraph)
  5. Spelling mistake
  6. Idioms and phrases
  7. One word substitution (similar to synonyms)


  1. Sentence improvement
  2. sentence correction
  3. Active passive
  4. Direct-indirect


  1. Comprehension
  2. Sentence Arrangement
TotalGrand Total505050200200200
  • The SSC exams, the English questions usually come in the multiple of “fives” e.g. 5 question on synonyms,  then 5 on antonyms and so on. (tier 1)
  • Similarly in tier-ii, 10 questions on fill in the blanks, 20 questions on active passive and so on.
  • Please do not live in overconfidence that “SSC is a “pappu” exam and I’m a master of English. so I don’t need to prepare anything for vocabulary or grammar.“
  • If you observe the previous SSC papers particularly the tier-II papers of English, the vocabulary portion is not “pappu” at times, they ask  meaning of words that are not used in the day to day English.
  • Similarly, a lot of things that we say and write in English in our day-to-day life, are not grammatically correct. So you may not be able to tick the right choice in sentence correct/ improvement question.

First of all, get a fullscape notebook / diary. Divide it into two parts

  1. Grammar
  2. Vocabulary. (last 50 pages)


Vocabulary is of critical importance in SSC exam because of following reasons

  1. There are direct questions on synonyms, antonyms, idioms and phrases.
  2. You can read the passage faster, if your vocabulary is good, else you’ll have to pause and think.
  3. In comprehension passages, some questions are in the format of “what is the meaning of XYZ word in the sentence”

Apart from SSC, if you’re planning to appear for CAPF , LIC or PSU exams – they usually have a descriptive paper (précis, letter writing, essay etc.)

  • If you’re planning for UPSC, or State PSC, both have compulsory English paper during Mains. Again (précis, letter writing, essay etc.)
  • So, you’ll have to write English essay someday and without good vocabulary you can’t write a decent essay.

How to improve vocabulary?

  • There is no dearth of ready-made books in the market for “vocabulary”.
  • Any Tom Dick or Harry can download a list of synonyms, antonyms, idioms and phrases from Google search and publish a book.
  • But such books are useless because unfamiliar words don’t stay long-term memory.

Vocab: Basics

  • Most of the “so-called” books on English vocabulary, written by Indian authors, and merely rephrasing the concept of Norman Lewis’s book “Word Power made easy”+ copy pasting some synonyms-antonym list from google search.
  • My advice: Use this book called Word Power made easy by Norman Lewis
  • This book does not merely contain meaning of words but also helps you “guestimate” answers and probable meanings of unfamiliar words.
  • Because Norman Lewis explains how English vocabulary has evolved from certain roots. He has also explained the spelling rules.
  • Once you’re selected in some exam, gift this book to your siblings, friends or cousin. Really helpful for everyone, irrespective whether he/she is appearing in some competitive exam / not.

How-to approach Norman Lewis?

From outside, the book looks very thick and heavy just like Manorama yearbook. But actually this book is written in a very lucid, easy, reader friendly language. You can read it like a storybook after-dinner.

Structure of the book

Basics of vocabulary

  • This is subdivided into About 40 sessions (mini-chapters).
  • Try to finish 3-4 sessions per day. Complete all the exercises given at the end of each session.


  • In the appendix, he has given meaning of all the words you learned in above sessions.
  • I suggest you go through this list at least three times.
  • Why? Because while going through old papers of SSC, I realized that sometimes they’ve directly lifted words from this book in synonyms question!

Vocabulary: Advanced

wordweb software

  • Download free software called “WordWeb”: http://wordweb.info/free/
  • It is also available for android phones, tablets etc. for free (links on the same site).
  • Keep a habit of reading in English on daily basis- be it English-newspaper, magazine or some web-article.
  • While reading such things, whenever you come across any difficult word- note down in your diary, along with the sentence in which it appeared. (please keep in mind that absolute words do not stay long-term memory. You have to connect them with a sentence or context.)
  • Then lookup for its meaning in the Wordweb software, and write down the meaning back in your diary/notebook.
  • Repeat this exercise, until you’re selected in some exam.

This pretty concludes the approach for Vocabulary.

Moving to the next topic:

English Grammar: Approach

In the SSC exam, you have to face English grammar in following areas

  1. Sentence correction
  2. Sentence improvement.
  3. Active passive
  4. direct indirect speech

Approaching Grammar

Task #1: Active Passive (voice) and Direct-Indirect (speech)

  • This is no-excuse topic. Because it relies on a set of simple rules, almost like math formulas.
  • And usually Tier I has 10 questions on Voice+speech
  • and tier-II has almost 40-45 questions on these two topics alone.
  • Understand the grammar rules and practice maximum questions.
  • In your “diary” note down any special/odd rules you come across- including example sentences.

Task #2: Sentence Correction+Improvement

To master sentence correction, you’ve to master two subtopics:

  1. Grammar rules
  2. Phrasal verbs

Grammar Rules

  • First of all you need to know the grammar rules. But you don’t need to know all grammar rules!
  • Because in competitive exam, sentence correction relies on certain specific mistakes only.

For example: The topic “verb” has lot of theory and classifications.

But for “sentence correction”, it boils down to very few rules for example

  1. Either, Neither, none, each and every is singular.
WrongEach of the soldiers are disciplined
RightEach of the soldiers is disciplined.

Your task = first go through your grammar book, and note down such rules with example statements, in your note book. Revise these rules often (along with example sentences).

Phrasal Verbs

  • Grammar rules are like maths. Universal valid.
  • But Phrasal verbs are different game altogether. You need to know memorize the correct usage- case to case basis. For example:
Correct phrasal verbWrong Usage
Dispose of= sell.He has decided to dispose off his property.
Dispose to= willing, interested.He is disposed in discussing that business proposition.
  • Both statements are wrong because phrasal verbs are incorrectly used.
  • Many a times, candidates know the grammar rules very well, but they fail to detect the error in sentence because they’ve not prepared the phrasal verbs.
  • Standard English has truckload of phrasal verbs. But you should at least know the top/common 200 of them. (can be goggled and also available in various grammar books).
  • You next task: revise the list often and write down the very confusing ones into your diary: with example sentence.

Once this is done, try to solve as many practice questions as you can.

Comprehension + Sentence Arrangement

  • Just one word: Practice.
  • The best source for practice= old papers of SSC, IBPS.

Recommended Book for English Grammar

Objective English
  • There is no dearth of books on in English-grammar in the market.
  • Some people might even advise you to use “Wren and Martin” etc. but such books are written from board exams/ academic point of view. And for the competitive exams, we don’t need to study everything of English grammar, we just need a set of rules and practice questions.
  • If you already have some IBPS Manual/ some English grammar book (R.S.Agarwal, A.P.Bhardwaj) etc. use it.
  • If you don’t have any book, I suggest you go for objective general English by SP Bakshi (Arihant Publication).
  • He has given direct “rules” and example-sentences from competitive exam point of view. =makes  it easy to handle sentence correction.
  • Plus, the book also contains good list of phrasal verbs, idioms and vocabulary.
  • While most English grammar books cost for around Rs.300, SP Bakshi is half that price. (Around 150) and yet coverage is same, including number of pages. And it has Universal application for all exams: IBPS, LIC, PSU, CDS etc.

Note: Arihant publication has released multiple books on English grammar and two of them have similar sounding names. So please donot mixup.

AuthorPages (approx.)Comment
General English for All Competitive Examinations by S.C.GuptaS.C.Gupta370Not recommended because it contains mostly practice tests and very few rules on grammar= not comprehensive enough.
Objective general English by SP Bakshi.S.P.Bakshi730This is the recommended book.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  5. Spectrum Geography (selective) (Hindi | English)
  6. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  7. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  8. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  9. Oxford School Atlas with Census 2011
  10. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Arihant

So far 442 Comments posted

  1. nirbhay

    Sir plz provide me notes on Active n passive voice and narration…

    1. shivam kumar singh

      sir can i prepare capf as wellas ssc

  2. vivek

    Notes of coaching institutes are seldom good enough.
    My advice is to study from books.

  3. Paras Kumar

    Mujhe aapka ye site ssc exam materials ke liye achcha laga per mujhe resent ssc ldc cgl ke liye study time management and NCERT ki kaun si class ke books lena hai. Thanks

  4. Paras Kumar

    Udc ldc ke liye NCERT ki kaun si class ki books lena chahiye? please quickly suggest me. Thanks

  5. Amit

    Sir, cgl incometax insp. K liye kitne marks chahiye approx. Ur category mn..

  6. k ashok

    k ashok(student)
    bestholla vidi
    manikeshwar nager(ou)

  7. k ashok

    sir i am getting 92 marks in ssc 2013 re exam from obc any chance of eligibility to write tier-2 please reply me

  8. mani

    I have googled many things but you have written in this blog is so gud for any aspirant who really want to get a govt job ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,really great written……………..thanks for becoming a gud guide,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,sir…………very much admirable,in context to finding books………….

  9. Vishal Jangid

    Thank you sir, this is great article for who want to start preparation for competition exams.

  10. sanjeev

    sir, i’m preparing for cgl 2014. i gave cgl re-exam 2013 but i could attempt only 106 ques. and i left 15-20 ques. that i can definatly solve. so, please help me how can i increase no. of ques. upto 140 to 150.


      Just practice bro. you can increase the timing only by practicing more.

  11. venkatesh

    Hi sir,
    please suggest me which book is best for only practicing quantitative aptitude for SSC CGL tier -2.

  12. manoj

    pls sir provide ctet exam stutyplan and stutymaterial

  13. sushil

    i am reading s.p bakshi for english…besides i need a book for lots of practice..is english by r.s. agrAwal a good option? Or is der ne oder gud book..plz reply.

  14. ashitosh

    aapke sabhi stats bahut hi help karte h
    Plz cgl k is web page ko update kre cgl13 tier 2 k saath jo cancel ho gaya h

  15. Alpesh patel

    Which publication is good for SSC tier 2 paper solutions ?

  16. Vickykumar

    pla tell me cut of tier 1 i have got 100 mark in tier 1 pls suggest for tier 2 examination books



    1. nitish kumar

      M.B. publication ki le lo

  18. nishan singh

    According to answer key my Marks is 114 in SSC CGL 2013 PRE Re-exam but when i saw my application form my 1st preference is non-interview due to my own fault post but afterthat all is interview posts. is there any chance for interview posts..

  19. Mak


    Recently there has been posts by many web sites saying that SSC NWR Dy Director pointed put that CGL 2013 aspirants shall be allowed to change their post preference order after result of Tier 2 results. What’s your opinon about this? Details of this as below: –

    ssc cgl 2013,2014 candidates can change their preference of post in document verification according to SSC NWR
    Many candidates are asking whether they can change preference of posts in CGL-13 and in other exams.
    Now as per new system of online data verification at the time of document verification, preferences are taken at that time on online system. So the candidates of CGL-13 will also get a chance to revise their preference of posts.

  20. preeti chawla

    i want to know about 2014 tier 1 exam notification.i have been searching for the date for a long time but i didn’t get anything…..

    1. Abhay

      exam is on 19 & 26 oct..check notification ssc-cr.org

  21. vipin savita

    very very thanks for your useful guidance sir………….

  22. kiran parmar

    respested sir,

    i have qualified in ssc cgl tier 2 2013(re-exam). now i want to start preparation for tier 2. plz suggest me how, what and from where to prepare.

  23. swapnil mundhe

    sir plz tell me book for practicing papers/questions on English and math part of ssc tier 2.

  24. Rahul

    hey,i have filled the form as general but not i come under OBC category,so is there any chance to get my category changed to OBC

  25. Dastagir

    sir ,

    sir please suggest me regarding English books
    in ssc

  26. Anuj kumar

    sir l have Lucent’s general english i want to know is it enough for preparation?
    But there is lot of rules in this book how i choose important from those?

  27. ram

    . Anyone can help me to find a window phone supported dictionary like wordweb pro……..

    1. suhail

      ADVANCE ENGLISH DICTIONARY Its one of the best on windows phone

  28. Abhi

    Sir, can you explain the difference between two sentece given below:-

    “Each of the soldiers are disciplined”

    “Each of the soldiers is disciplined.”

    Why 1st sentence is wrong and 2nd sentence is correct?

    1. suresh nallala

      each is a distributive singular pronoun so it takes the verb in singular form.




    I am preparing for SSC CGL exam. I have heard of ” perfect competitive English by V.K. SINHA “.
    Is it correct book to follow for English?

  31. k s naidu

    I am selected the MTS(non-technical) exam,is this job has promotion to high level or could i give an exam to group “B” after joining this job. so please tell me the job what is good and bad.


  32. kirty

    Sir, am very thankful to you for providing such a guidance and support. Sir I have applied for administrative officer in ICAR. Can you please guide me for the same.

  33. shivaprasad r

    mrunal sir,
    which books are better to preparing english for ssc cgl tier I
    &how many hours want to prepar english

  34. mohit

    sir mujhe eng me sbse jada prblm h

  35. radhika rajvansh

    Please send me, one word substitution, synonyms and antonyms of english, asked in previous yrs of ssc exams

  36. Vishu

    I have filled up my category general in the CGL form 2014, but after applying for the job I converted to OBC category as I got a reservation recently. What is the process to change the category now?

  37. aman

    thank u sir ur the best u showed me the path :)

  38. Prakash Kumar Jaiswal

    sir, pl. give me information can ssc give age relaxation that person who not cleared ssc stenographer examination but he joined as a stenographer in relaxed standard in Govt. Job as per Supreme Court order.

  39. KIRRAN

    Hi sir please please suggest me to crack ssc chsl exam I have 9 days

  40. RS

    Dear readers,
    Norman Lewis’ book on word power + S P Bakshi has helped me immensely to improve my vocabulary part ( most typical word meanings, idiom phrases, one word substitutions etc). Lewis’ book on how to read better and faster did the same for comprehension part.

    But when it comes to grammar, I find it very difficult to understand from wren and martin and bakshi, both.
    Kindly suggest a book which you have found easy and lucid .

  41. pvvskumar

    the increased age limit in ssc upto 30 for some posts is it temporary or permanent

  42. Anees Ali

    Thank you sir this type of detail specification help us to understating the level of Question.

  43. Tikam solanki

    Please suggestion to me for learning good English speaking writing reading @@@
    do I learn english by ncert

  44. parul


    i am working in pvt compny…so i hv not much tym for preparng such examss…i want govt job in 2015 ….please help me by making my tym shedule and stredgy to crack the exam dis year… m appered in this typ of exam from 2012 and now am fed up and loose hope..please suggest study plan and tym shedule….

    thank u

  45. durgesh..

    sir cgl ki puri tyari interview ki post ke liye kitne month me ki ja sakti he.


    SSC sentence improvement

  47. Alka dafare

    Hello sir,
    I m preparing SSC cgl 2015 for the post of statistical investigator. So please tell me for statistics paper and English.



    I m preparing for both SSC CGL and IBPS PO but there is little bit difference between the syllabus of both. Please suggest me on which I’ve to focus more so that I can cover the syllabus of both exams. Sir I m a working as well so facing confusing according to which i’ve to preapre due to shortage of time as well especially. Should I prepare for both the exam or focus on only one as I m working.

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