SSC CGL: The Complete Guide

Do you want to know everything about the SSC and its CGL exam? Do you want to know the syllabus, eligibility criteria, age criteria, name of the posts and educational qualifications for the SSC CGL exam?

You have come to the right place.

In this guide, we will look at all these things and much more.

If you know nothing about the SSC or the CGL exam, this article is for you. Lets begin.

What is SSC?

SSC stands for Staff Selection Commission. It is the younger brother of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). While the UPSC conducts exams for group-A posts, the SSC conducts exams to fill up the group B and C posts.

The posts offered by the SSC are non-gazetted, except a few.

Some exams conducted by the SSC are SSC CGL, SSC CHSL, SSC CPO among a few others.

The official website of the SSC is SSC declares all notifications, circulars, marks and results on this website only.

What is SSC CGL?

SSC CGL is the highest level exam conducted by the SSC. It stands for Combined Graduate Level.

As the name suggests, this exam is for the aspirants who have completed their graduation. Sometimes, the students who are in the last year of their graduation are also allowed to sit in the exam, if they have received their degree before a particular date. The SSC mentions this date in their notification.

As this is the flagship exam of the SSC, the jobs offered through this exam have the highest salary and post among all the posts that are offered by the SSC. The most important posts through SSC CGL include Income Tax Inspector, Central Excise Inspector, CBI Sub-Inspector, Sub-Inspector in NIA, Assistant in IB and 27 others. I will talk about these posts later in this article.

This exam is one of the most popular in India and about 30 lakh students fill up the forms. Out of those, about 20 lakhs appear in the pre-exam.

The number of vacancies in the SSC CGL exam has also decreased significantly in recent years. About 5-6 years ago, there used to about 12 thousand vacancies, but in 2020, the number of vacancies announced is just 6500.

What is SSC CHSL?

SSC CHSL is another exam conducted by the SSC, which stands for Combined Higher Secondary level.

This exam is for candidates who have passed their 12th standard. The candidates who have done their graduation can also appear in this exam.

The posts offered by this exam are of lower grade pay and designation than those provided by the SSC CGL.

It is my opinion that you should give priority to the SSC CGL exam and keep SSC CHSL as a secondary choice only. The difference between the pay and the designation offered by these exams is massive.

Many of the SSC CGL jobs are 3 or 4 levels above in designation that the CHSL jobs. Thus the SSC CGL jobs will give you a head start of 15 to 20 years compared to the SSC CHSL jobs.

SSC CGL Exam particulars

The SSC CGL exam is conducted in 3 stages –

  1. Pre (Tier -1)
  2. Mains (Tier – 2)
  3. Essay writing (Tier -3)
  4. Computer proficiency test (also known as the typing test) – Only for some posts.

They generally conduct the pre-exam in May/June every year. But in the last few years, the timings of the exam have become a lot uncertain.

There are several reasons for this uncertainty including re-exams, court cases, backlog of older years exams, etc. In a YouTube video, I have also argued that you should prepare not only for the SSC CGL, but for all government exams now, considering the uncertainty of SSC.

As of writing this article, on 21st April 2021, the final result of SSC CGL 2018 has been declared a few days ago.

The pre-exam of SSC CGL 2020 is scheduled to be held from 29th May 2021 to 7th June 2021.

Normally, there is a gap of about 2-3 months between the Pre and the Mains exam. But sometimes, because of special circumstances like Coronavirus, Unfair means or court cases, this gap has widened up to a year.

Pattern of the SSC CGL Exam Paper

All SSC exams are conducted online.

SSC CGL Pre-exam (Tier-I)

This is the first phrase of the exam. About 20 lakhs students appear in the exam at this stage.

The pre-exam is 200 marks and has 100 questions. The duration of the exam is 60 minutes. The following subjects are covered in the pre-exam.

  1. General Intelligence and Reasoning – 50 marks
  2. General Awareness – 50 marks
  3. Quantitative Aptitude – 50 marks
  4. English Comprehension – 50 marks

Twenty-five questions of two marks each are asked from each subject mentioned above.

SSC CGL Mains exam (Tier – II)

This is the second stage of the exam. At this stage, majority of the aspirants have been weeded out and out of 20 lakh students that appeared in the tier – I, only about 1.25 lakhs have remained.

The tier-II exam has the following structure –

  1. Paper – I: Quantitative Abilities (Maths) – 200 marks
  2. Paper – II: English Language and Comprehension – 200 marks
  3. Paper – III: Statistics – 200 marks
  4. Paper – IV: General Studies (Finance and Economics) – 200 marks

For most posts offered by the SSC CGL, you will need to give only the first two papers – Maths and English. That means if your aim is to get into any of the department like Income Tax, CBI, NIA and a few others, you won’t have to appear in paper – III and paper – IV.

Paper-III (Statistics) of Tier-II is only for those candidates who apply for the posts of Junior Statistical Officer (JSO) in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation and who are shortlisted in Tier-I for the Posts.

In Tier-II, Paper-IV [General Studies (Finance and Economics)] is for only those candidates who are shortlisted in Tier-I for Paper-IV, i.e. for the posts of Assistant Audit Officer/ Assistant Accounts Officer.

Paper-I (Maths) has 100 questions of 2 marks each, whereas the paper-II (English) has 200 questions of 1 marks each.

All questions in all tiers have a negative marking of 25% i.e. questions which carry 1 mark have a negative marking of 0.25 whereas the questions which carry 2 marks have a negative marking of 0.5.

Tier-I and Tier-II exams are objective type, multiple-choice questions. The questions are set both in English and Hindi except for English Comprehension in Tier-I and Paper-II in tier-II.

Tier – 3 Exam (Essay writing/Descriptive)

The tier-3 exam is essay writing. The candidates will have to write Essay/ Precis/ Letter/ Application in the exam.

The exam is of 100 marks.

Students can write the paper either in English or in Hindi. You cannot write part paper in Hindi and part paper in English, otherwise they will reject your paper.

Tier – 4 (skill test)

For some posts of the SSC like tax assistant in CBEC/CBDT, they also conduct Computer Proficiency Test (CPT) and Data Entry Speed Test (DEST).

In simpler terms, if you know how to operate a computer and how to work on MS Word and MS Excel, you will pass the Computer Proficiency Test.

To pass the Data Entry Speed Test, the official requirement is 2000 key-depressions in 15 minutes. Roughly, this means that you must have a typing speed of at least 30 words per minute (WPM) to be on the safer side.

This skill test is not conducted for any of the high-end jobs like Income Tax Inspector, Excise Inspector or Sub-Inspector in CBI and NIA.

Official Syllabus of the SSC CGL exam

The syllabus of the SSC CGL exam is given below. I have copied and pasted it from the official notification, so this is verbatim.

The syllabus written in the official notification seems pretty lengthy, but it actually isn’t. It seems lengthy only because even the smallest of topics have been written explicitly. The syllabus is not as wide in reality as it seems.

First, let’s see the complete syllabus. Remember that I have provided it here only for the sake of completeness, so you should just skim through it once.

  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.
  2. General Awareness: Questions in this component will be aimed at testing the candidates’ general awareness of the environment around them 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 Research.
  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 Allegation, 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 chart.
  4. English Language and Comprehension – Questions in this component will be designed to test the candidate’s understanding and knowledge of the English Language and will be based on spot-the-error, fill in the blanks, synonyms, antonyms, spelling/ detecting misspelt words, idioms & phrases, one-word substitution, improvement of sentences, active/ passive voice of verbs, conversion into direct/ indirect narration, shuffling of sentence parts, shuffling of sentences in a passage, cloze passage & comprehension passage.

The Maths and the English syllabus of Tier-I and Tier-II is more or less same.

What are the posts given through SSC CGL?

I produce the list of posts offered by the SSC CGL below according to their pay levels. You can skim through it at a quick glance unless you are curious about some particular posts.

I have taken this list from the official SSC CGL notification 2020. So this data is accurate for CGL 2020. Some facts like the group of the posts or the age limit for some posts may be changed in later SSC CGL notifications.

I have also mentioned the expected salary before the lists. I have taken DA, TA and HRA as per the date of writing this article, i.e. on 21.04.2021.

Also, I have calculated these salaries for X grade cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, etc. In the Y and Z-grade cities, the HRA is 16% and 8% respectively, so the salaries in those cities will be a little lesser.

Pay level – 8

The Gross salary of these posts is about Rs. 71328/-. The basic pay starts at Rs. 47600/- + 24% HRA + 17% DA + (3600 + DA) TA = Rs. 71328/-.

Group B gazetted posts offered by the SSC CGL - Assistant Audit Officer and Assistant Accounts Officer
Group B gazetted posts offered by the SSC – Assistant Audit Officer and Assistant Accounts Officer

Pay level – 7

The Gross salary of these posts is about Rs. 67521/-. The basic pay starts at Rs. 44900/- + 24% HRA + 17% DA + (3600 + DA) TA = Rs. 67521/-.

Group B and C posts with basic pay Rs. 44900/- offered by the SSC through CGL exam
Group B and C posts with basic pay Rs. 44900/- offered by the SSC through CGL exam
Group B and C posts with basic pay Rs. 44900/-
Group B and C posts with basic pay Rs. 44900/- offered by the SSC through CGL exam

Pay level 6

The Gross salary of these posts is about Rs. 54126/-. The basic pay starts at Rs. 35400/- + 24% HRA + 17% DA + (3600 + DA) TA = Rs. 54126/-.

List of group B posts with basic pay Rs. 35400/-
List of group B posts with basic pay Rs. 35400/- offered by the SSC through CGL

Pay level – 5

The Gross salary of these posts is about Rs. 45384/-. The basic pay starts at Rs. 29200/- + 24% HRA + 17% DA + (3600 + DA) TA = Rs. 45384/-.

List of some group C posts with basic pay Rs. 29200/-
List of some group C posts with basic pay Rs. 29200/- offered by the SSC CGL

Pay level – 4

The Gross salary of these posts is about Rs. 40167/-. The basic pay starts at Rs. 25500/- + 24% HRA + 17% DA + (3600 + DA) TA = Rs. 40167/-.

List of group C posts with basic pay Rs. 25500/-.
List of group C posts with basic pay Rs. 25500/- offered by the CGL

Disabilities allowed in SSC CGL

There are various physical disabilities permissible for different posts. These disabilities are also notified by the SSC in their notification, as you can see in the lists above in the fifth column.

The disabilities have been mentioned in the short forms. Their full forms are given below. You can check for the disabilities allowed against your favourite post and then below for the full details.

Nature of Physical Disabilities: OA-One Arm affected, OL-One Leg affected, OAL-One Arm and one Leg affected, BL-Both Legs affected, B-Blind, LV-Low Vision, PD-Partially Deaf, D-Deaf, PB-Partially Blind, HH-Hearing Handicapped, OH-Orthopedically Handicapped.
Physical Requirements: S-Sitting, ST-Standing, W-Walking, MF-Manipulation by
Fingers, RW-Reading and Writing, SE-Seeing, C-Communication, H-Hearing, SP- Speaking, PP-Pulling and Pushing, L-Lifting, KC-Kneeling and Crouching, BN-Bending, M-Mobility.

What is the eligibility criteria?

There are three different criteria for these posts – Educational Qualification, Age and Medical.

Educational Qualification criteria for SSC CGL

In SSC CGL, for the most posts, excluding Junior Statistical Officer, you must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university or equivalent.

For the post of Junior Statistical Officer, you must have a bachelor’s degree in any subject from a recognized University or Institute with at least 60% Marks in Mathematics at 12th standard level; Or a bachelor’s degree in any subject with Statistics as one of the subjects at the degree level.

Again, these criteria have been mentioned in the SSC CGL notification 2020.

Age criteria for SSC CGL

The SSC has specified the age criteria against the names of posts in the list above.

The SSC also specified the exact dates from which the age should be calculated.

Age calculation for different posts of SSC
Age limits for different posts specified by the CGL for 2020

Physical criteria

Some posts in SSC CGL require the candidates to have specified physical attributes. These posts are Inspector in Central Excise, Examiner, Preventive Officer, Inspector and Sub-Inspector in CBN, Sub-Inspector in CBI and SI in NIA.

I have pasted here the screenshot from the official notification of CGL 2020.

Physical standard required for various posts of SSC CGL
Physical standards required for various posts
Physical standards required for various posts of CGL

Who can apply?

Anyone can apply for the SSC CGL exam, even the students who are yet to complete their graduation. But remember that unless you qualify all the criteria specified by the SSC, you won’t be selected for a post.

But you can appear in the SSC exam for your practice.

Is it better than the private job?

It depends on the private job with which you are comparing.

If you already have a job which pays you a handsome package, say 20+ lakhs and above, then no, SSC CGL job won’t be a better option.

But if you in a job which pays you peanuts, say less than 30,000/- and is crushing your soul, then yes, SSC CGL job is worth it.

This is a very simplistic view of comparing the two jobs, and I have also made a more thorough comparison between the two in the blog.


I hope this article gave you a glimpse of the SSC CGL exam and its details.

If you would like to read more such articles, check out the links below.

If you have any doubts, you can reach out to me on Instagram and contact there.

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