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

SSC509 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 509 Comments posted

  1. Soba

    very helpful sir

  2. vicky donor

    i think WPME ( word power) is one of the best book , i have ever read.
    SP bakshi is also very helping book. it contains some those grammer rules which i hardly find in some kinds of ‘pappu’ books.

  3. Vaishali Nigam

    which book is best for SSC exam

  4. Prashant kumar singh

    Pls info me , how to prepare English subject in ssc points of view , which type of book use for various type of topic.

  5. Singh

    which topics of grammar are most important for ssc cgl ?
    on which topics i mostly focus or not, please suggest me ?

  6. Raja gupta

    What is your Message? Search before asking questions & confine discussions to exams related matter only.
    sir pls tell me ..i am good act in math and reasoning but i feel weak in English so how to improve my self in English for ibps and ssc both because for ssc i laboured very hard in math then finally done but if English is good then it will be an opportunity for me pls tell English best examples and undesirable books .and for words . Thanks sir

  7. Digamber

    sir plz. recommend me an English book to strengthen myself in vocabulary and annt. sym. idiom 1wrd sub. nd other scoring topics

  8. Digamber

    sir plz. recommend me an English book to strengthen myself in vocabulary and annt. sym. idiom 1wrd sub. nd other scoring topics need nd urgent response

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