Complete guide on how to get into CBI as Sub Inspector


There are a total of 4 ways to get into CBI on different designations. These are listed as under:

Name of the post Exam Payscale
Lower Divisional Clerk (LDC) SSC CHSL Grade pay 1900 (Equivalent to Constable)
Sub-Inspector SSC CGL Grade pay 4600 (Equivalent to ITI, Excise Inspr)
Asst Public Prosecutor UPSC Law Exam GP Rs. 5400/- (Equivalent to DySP of CBI or ACIT)
On deputation (Constable, SP, others) As per the post As per the post

Of these ways to enter the CBI, two of them LDC and Sub-Inspector are from the exams conducted by SSC. In this article, we will focus on the post of Sub – Inspector in this post. The post of LDC will be covered in detail in a separate article.

Job Description

Salary – CBI sub-inspector is a group – B post with a-grade pay of 4600/- which means the starting basic pay of Rs. 44900/-. It is one of the highest paying jobs in all of SSC CGL jobs due to the special incentive allowance of 20% and 13 months pay. Watch my video on the salary of a CBI SI here –

Power, prestige, and social respect – It is also the only post that gives you unparalleled power, prestige, and respect. I have detailed some of the incidents of the power of CBI in this video – (Tip: watch from 7:29 onwards for some juicy info)

Promotions – In CBI, you normally get 4 promotions, 5 at max if you are really lucky or if you join it at the age of 21 years. CBI is probably the only department in which the first promotion is sure-shot within 5 years. I give more details about the promotions in CBI in this video –


Age criteria

As per the official SSC CGL notification of 2019, you must be between 20-30 years old to qualify for this job. It is also mentioned in the notification that the candidates must have been born not earlier than 02-01-1990 and not later than 01-01-2000. Although these exact dates change year to year.

Educational Criteria

The candidate must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university. It is also explicitly mentioned in the notification that "the candidates appearing in the final year of their graduation can also apply, however, they must possess Essential qualification on or before 01-01-2020".

Medical Criteria (Physical Standards)

  1. Height

    For men – 165 cm.

    For women – 150 cm.

    Height relaxable for Hillsmen and Tribals: 5 cms.

  2. Chest

    76 cm with expansion (There shall be no such requirement in case of female candidates)

  3. Vision

    Eye-sight (with or without glasses) – Distant vision: 6/6 in one and 6/9 in the other eye. Near vision 0.6 in one eye and 0.8 in another eye.

How to Apply, Application Fee, and Mode of Payment:

  1. The applications must be submitted through online mode only.
  2. Fee payable: Rs. 100/- (Rupees One Hundred only).
  3. Women candidates and candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Persons with Disability (PwD), and Ex-servicemen (ESM) eligible for reservation are exempted from payment of the fee.

Mode and pattern of the exam

The Examination is conducted in four tiers as indicated below:

  1. Tier-I: Computer Based Examination
  2. Tier-II: Computer Based Examination
  3. Tier-III: Pen and Paper Mode (Descriptive paper)
  4. Tier-IV: Computer Proficiency Test/ Data Entry Skill Test (wherever applicable)/ Document Verification. (Not applicable for CBI SI job)

Scheme of the exam

Subject Number of questions Number of marks
A. General Intelligence and Reasoning 25 50
B. General Awareness 25 50
C. Quantitative Aptitude 25 50
D. English Comprehension 25 50

As this is a computer-based exam, it is held on multiple dates. The process of normalization is also done to smoothen out any anomalies caused due to variation in the difficulty level of the exam on various days.

Generally, it takes about 2 months for the results to be declared although it appears from the past few years that it may take anywhere from 4 to 6 months, maybe even more. The cut-offs of this exam generally go pretty high. In 2019, the cut-offs were about 142 marks. There were about 2000 candidates above 182. Due to normalization, the scores of some of the candidates even go higher than the maximum marks i.e. 200.

The tier-II exam (Also called the SSC Mains exam) is generally held about 1.5 months from the date of declaration of results of Tier-I. The details of this exam are as under –

Subject Number of questions Number of marks Time allowed
I Quantitative Aptitude 100 200 2 hours
II English Language and Comprehension 200 200 2 hours

Things to keep in mind –

  1. Tier-I and Tier-II will consist of Objective Type, Multiple choice questions only. The questions will be set both in English & Hindi except for English Comprehension in Tier-I and Paper-II in Tier-II.
  2. In Tier-I, there will be negative marking of 0.50 for each wrong answer.
  3. In Tier-II, there will be a negative marking of 0.25 for each wrong answer in Paper-II (English Language and Comprehension) and of 0.50 marks for each wrong answer in Paper-I, Paper-III, and Paper-IV.
  4. In Tier-II, Paper-I and Paper-II are compulsory for all the posts.

This exam is the most important for your success in SSC. You can afford to mess up a little in the tier-1 exam but you cannot afford to mess up in tier-2. I myself recovered my poor score of tier-1 in tier-2 both times, I cleared SSC. So make sure to master your Maths as well as English pretty well.

Mode of Examination Scheme of Examination Maximum marks
Pen and Paper Mode Descriptive Paper in English or Hindi (Writing of Essay/ Precis/ Letter/ Application etc.) 100

Things to remember

The Paper in Tier-III will have to be written either in Hindi or in English. Part paper written in Hindi and Part in English will be awarded zero marks.

Syllabus of the exam

Tier – I

  1. General Intelligence & Reasoning: It would include questions of both verbal and non-verbal type. This component may include questions on analogies, similarities and differences, space visualization, spatial orientation, problem-solving, analysis, judgment, decision making, visual memory, discrimination, observation, relationship concepts, arithmetical reasoning and figural classification, arithmetic number series, non-verbal series, coding and decoding, statement conclusion, syllogistic reasoning, etc. The topics are, Semantic Analogy, Symbolic/ Number Analogy, Figural Analogy, Semantic Classification, Symbolic/ Number Classification, Figural Classification, Semantic Series, Number Series, Figural Series, Problem Solving, Word Building, Coding & de-coding, Numerical Operations, symbolic Operations, Trends, Space Orientation, Space Visualization, Venn Diagrams, Drawing inferences, Punched hole/ pattern- folding & un-folding, Figural Pattern- folding and completion, Indexing, Address matching, Date & city matching, Classification of centre codes/roll numbers, Small & Capital letters/ numbers coding, decoding and classification, Embedded Figures, Critical thinking, Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, Other sub-topics
  2. General Awareness: Questions in this component will be aimed at testing the candidates’ general awareness of the environment around him and its application to society. Questions will also be designed to test knowledge of current events and of such matters of everyday observations and experience in their scientific aspect as may be expected of any educated person. The test will also include questions relating to India and its neighbouring countries especially pertaining to History, Culture, Geography, Economic Scene, General Policy & Scientific
  3. Quantitative Aptitude: The questions will be designed to test the ability of appropriate use of numbers and number sense of the candidate. The scope of the test will be computation of whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and relationships between numbers, Percentage. Ratio & Proportion, Square roots, Averages, Interest, Profit and Loss, Discount, Partnership Business, Mixture and Alligation, Time and distance, Time & Work, Basic algebraic identities of School Algebra & Elementary surds, Graphs of Linear Equations, Triangle and its various kinds of centres, Congruence and similarity of triangles, Circle and its chords, tangents, angles subtended by chords of a circle, common tangents to two or more circles, Triangle, Quadrilaterals, Regular Polygons, Circle, Right Prism, Right Circular Cone, Right Circular Cylinder, Sphere, Hemispheres, Rectangular Parallelepiped, Regular Right Pyramid with triangular or square base, Trigonometric ratio, Degree and Radian Measures, Standard Identities, Complementary angles, Heights and Distances, Histogram, Frequency polygon, Bar diagram & Pie
  4. English Comprehension: Candidates’ ability to understand correct English, his/ her basic comprehension and writing ability, etc. would be tested.

Things to remember

The questions in Parts A, B, & D will be of a level commensurate with the essential qualification viz. Graduation and questions in Part-C will be of 10 standard levels.

Indicative Syllabus (Tier-II):

  • Paper-I (Quantitative Abilities): The questions will be designed to test the ability of appropriate use of numbers and number sense of the candidate. The scope of the test will be the –

    1. Computation of whole numbers
    2. Decimals
    3. Fractions and relationships between numbers
    4. Percentage
    5. Ratio & Proportion
    6. Square roots
    7. Averages
    8. Interest
    9. Profit and Loss
    10. Discount
    11. Partnership Business
    12. Mixture and Allegation
    13. Time and distance
    14. Time & Work
    15. Basic algebraic identities of School Algebra & Elementary surds
    16. Graphs of Linear Equations
    17. Triangle and its various kinds of centres
    18. Congruence and similarity of triangles
    19. Circle and its chords
    20. tangents
    21. angles subtended by chords of a circle
    22. common tangents to two or more circles
    23. Triangle
    24. Quadrilaterals
    25. Regular Polygons
    26. Circle
    27. Right Prism
    28. Right Circular Cone
    29. Right Circular Cylinder
    30. Sphere
    31. Hemispheres
    32. Rectangular Parallelepiped
    33. Regular Right Pyramid with triangular or square base
    34. Trigonometric ratio
    35. Degree and Radian Measures
    36. Standard Identities
    37. Complementary angles
    38. Heights and Distances
    39. Histogram
    40. Frequency polygon
    41. Bar diagram & Pie
  • Paper-II (English Language and Comprehension): Questions in this component will be designed to test the candidate’s understanding and knowledge of English Language and will be based on –

    1. spotting the error
    2. fill in the blanks
    3. synonyms
    4. antonyms
    5. spelling/detecting misspelt words
    6. idioms & phrases
    7. one-word substitution
    8. improvement of sentences
    9. active/passive voice of verbs
    10. conversion into direct/indirect narration
    11. shuffling of sentence parts
    12. shuffling of sentences in a passage
    13. cloze passage & comprehension passage.

    Things to remember

    1. In my opinion, the level of Tier – II remains almost identical to the level of Tier – I. Also, keep in mind that the syllabus is also the same for both the tiers.
    2. On some shifts, the level of exam is very high while on some of the shifts, it is pretty low. To make the level playing field equal for every candidate, the process of normalization is conducted.
    3. Note that there’s no data entry test/ Computer proficiency test for the post of sub-inspector in CBI.

    Tier – III

    Tier – 3 is essay writing exam. You can adopt either English or Hindi for this purpose. You cannot however mix these languages in one paper.

    The combined results of all the tiers are declared about 2-3 months after the conclusion of the tier-III exam. Although for the past 2-3 years, SSC has taken much time to declare results at all levels.

    Document Verification

    After the results of the all the tiers have been declared, its time for the verification of documents of all the successful candidates. The candidates are required to bring with them the following documents in 3 photocopies –

    1. 10th Mark sheet/passing certificate
    2. 12th Mark sheet/passing certificate
    3. Birth certificate (optional)
    4. Graduation Mark sheet (print out of the results of those candidates who applied in their final year)
    5. Caste/Category Certificate -if applicable
    6. Physical handicap certificate – if applicable
    7. Relevant certificate is seeking age relaxation
    8. No objection certificate if already employed in government/ govt. undertakings
    9. Any other document mentioned in the SSC notification.
    10. 3 passport size recent colour photographs
    11. Government issued ID proof original (Aadhar, Driving License, PAN card, passport etc)

    At the time of document verification, the candidates are given the post preference forms. They have to fill their choices in decreasing order of preference. Please note that a candidate will not be considered for a Post and Ministry /Department /Organization if he/she has not indicated his/ her preference for it. Options confirmed at the time of document verification will be treated as final and will not be changed subsequently under any circumstances. Therefore, candidates are advised to be careful in exercise of such options.

    If you are aiming for SI in CBI, you must fill in this post at number 1 spot. Note that there is no location preference for this post as locations in CBI are decided by the CBI itself after the training of the candidates. In CBI, you are liable for all India transfer.

    Also note that there is a set of physical standards prescribed for CBI and some other posts, so you must fill in these posts only if you qualify their Physical criteria.

    After the document verification, the final results are declared about 2-3 months later. Again, looking at the trend for the past few years, the SSC has been too lazy to declare the results.

    Paper-wise cutoff

    Note that there is an individual paper-wise cutoff for every paper of Tier – II i.e. Maths and English. It means that you cannot just score well in one subject and can afford to trail behind in another. You have to clear the individual cut off in both the subjects. It is generally not that high so you wouldn’t have to worry about it. But what you do have to worry about is the combined cutoff.

    There is a cut-off criterion for a combined score of tier – I and tier – II exams. If you fail to clear that cutoff, you won’t be considered for the tier-III exam. So prepare for both the exams well.

Books for the preparation

I have made a separate article covering all the resources you might need for your SSC preparation. It includes some books as well as some online resources which will be very helpful to you. Check it out here –

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