5 tips to help you ace the SSC CHSL exam 2020

This article lists the points that need to be taken care of by any candidate preparing for the Stage I of the SSC CHSL examinations. In order to clear a competitive exam, lots of hard work is needed. The 5 tips given in this article will help to channelize your hard work in the appropriate direction. Do read on for more.

The first stage of the Combined Higher Secondary Level examinations conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC CHSL in short) for the year 2020 has been in for a rough ride. The notification for the exam was issued way back in December last year. Then in March 2020, the exam began according to the pre-announced schedule. However, the exam which was slated to be held from 17th to 28th March (three shifts each day) had to be postponed after the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID 19 outbreak. The candidates who weren't able to appear for the exams in March will now have to appear for the exams in August according to the revised schedule (17th to 21st August and 24th to 27th August).
Thus there is a time span of almost one and a half months between now and the exam. Candidates who have already registered for the exam will, therefore, have to boost their preparation in order to ace the exam and qualify for the next stages. In order to perform well in the exam and get a good nationwide rank, a proper method of preparation has to be followed. This article lists those points which the candidates need to keep in mind.

1. Do not ignore any section

As candidates must be aware of it, the Computer-based exam in the first stage of the CHSL examination consists of questions of a very wide variety including Quantitative Aptitude, English Language, General Awareness, and Reasoning. None of these sections should be ignored if you want to achieve a good ranking. Some candidates can be guilty of giving very little attention to certain reasoning topics. This is unfortunate because reasoning is one of those components which can really push your score higher if you invest a bit of time in understanding the methods of solving the questions. Also, some candidates might find some sections like English comprehension very easy. Even in that case, the proper amount of time needs to be paid so that the candidate can familiarise himself/herself with the pattern of questions.

2. Take care of the time limit

Solving 100 questions within a time limit of one hour can be quite challenging. Often certain questions might be there which might become time-consuming. This is especially true of the quantitative aptitude section. For example, the questions on compound interest can often be time-consuming due to the calculations involved. To solve this problem, while practicing section-wise problems, the candidate should always set a timer. If you want, you can search for shortcuts for certain types of problems. For example, there are questions where the percentage change in the price of a good is given and we have to find the percentage change in consumption that needs to be made so that the total expenditure remains the same. For these cases, RS Agarwal's book "Quantitative Aptitude" contains a good shortcut formula. You can use similar formulas for other questions as well. However, do remember to practice a lot if you plan to rely on shortcuts. Otherwise, in the high-pressure environment of the exam hall, the shortcuts might abandon you.

3. Mock tests are indispensable

Mock tests will help you to get a feel for the actual exam. As already mentioned, solving 100 questions within an hour can be a tall task if you are not used to it. Mock tests can help to fill that gap. Remember to practice at least one mock test each day (you can take Sundays off). After solving the mock, do take at least half an hour to analyze where you went wrong. For example, there might be a question where something from the Mughal era was asked. If you got it wrong, then take some time to revise the topic so that you do not make the same mistake twice.

SSC CHSL mock tests are easily available on several online platforms and online apps. For example, Gradeup, Oliveboard, etc provide a huge number of mock tests for a nominal price. Some platforms like Cracku give previous year question papers in a mock test-like format for free. No matter which platform you use, remember to take these mock tests seriously.

4. Don't fret if something isn't covered

The syllabus of SSC CHSL (like most government job exams) is huge. This is especially true for the General Awareness part of the paper where questions can come from literally any topic from sports to international conventions to books and authors. The range of possible questions is enough to make most aspirants sweat nervously. If this is you, then don't panic. Even the top-ranking candidates suffer from this problem. Arti Udainia (AIR 1 in CHSL 2015) in an interview on the show "Chamomile Tea with Toppers" said that no matter how hard you prepare for General Awareness, the odd question will always come which might leave you stumped.

However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't prepare for GA. Read up the basics of science, history, geography, etc from the NCERT books from Class 6-10 (you can safely ignore world history). If you solve enough mock tests then you will have an idea about the static portion anyway. Then look up the main events from the last 8-10 months for the current affairs portion. The past year's papers are invaluable in this respect because they can help you understand where the questions mostly come from. If you do all this seriously, there should be no frenetic last hour mugging before the exam!

5. Daily goals

Preparation for SSC CHSL (if you begin right now) can extend to almost a month and a half. This period might seem short but you can easily get distracted. To prevent this you should set a few daily goals. For example, you can set a goal of practicing one topic from logical reasoning for at least half an hour each day. Doing so will help in enforcing accountability which is incredibly important while preparing for an exam.

There is another last point which I want to emphasize and which might depend a bit on the luck factor. The CHSL exams are conducted in multiple shifts over several consecutive days. If you are fortunate enough to be assigned a day towards the end, then you have enough time to go over the questions of all the previous days and the previous shifts. Questions may not be repeated exactly but you will begin to have an idea of the general thrust of the paper. In an exam like this, every little bit of advantage is valuable.


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