Updated on 28 June 2017
SSC CGL GK section is the trickiest of all sections in the SSC CGL exam. Since the syllabus is very loosely defined you don’t really know what all to study and how much to study.
However, if the Tier 1 exam day is your lucky day. A lot of questions can be asked from what you have studied. And you can score a lot of easy marks really fast!
In any case, here is the first tip.
Why SSC CGL GK Is the First Section You should Attempt
You see, General Awareness or GK in SSC CGL is the only section which can be attempted in about 20 minutes. This covers the time for the whole section – reading all the questions, choosing their answers and marking them on the answer sheet!
When you read a General Awareness question, you either know the answer or you don’t. There is nothing really to think about it. There is hardly any logic or analysis (apart from elimination method) that can help you. For example, try to answer this question which was asked in SSC CGL Tier 1 2014.
Question – Which of the following resources is renewable?
- Natural Gas
The answer is (C) – Timber. To answer this question all you should have known is the meaning of a “renewable resource”.
So if you know the answer to a question, you mark it. Otherwise, you leave it. Even if you have prepared decently, you can score good marks in this section without spending a lot of time.
The Main Hurdle In Studying SSC CGL GK & How To Overcome It
As I told you earlier, the main problem in preparing general awareness is that the syllabus is very poorly defined. If you read the notification, this is what the official notification says regarding the SSC CGL General Awareness section syllabus:
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 History, Culture, Geography, Economic Scene, General Policy & Scientific Research.
This is too open-ended. So the big question is what should be your strategy for SSC CGL GK preparation in limited time (and with limited effort)?
It’s quite simple. You can analyse previous year’s SSC CGL GK Question papers and focus only on those topics that get asked in the exams most frequently. By going through previous year’s papers you also get to know what type of questions are normally asked.
Don’t worry, I have already done this analysis for you!
Also, I hope you are aware of the SSC CGL paper pattern. In the SSC CGL GK section, you will be asked 50 multiple choice type of questions. This section only appears in Tier 1. For complete SSC CGL Tier 1 paper pattern – Check this post.
SSC CGL GK Paper Analysis
To help you identify the important areas for SSC CGL GK section preparation, I have categorised past year’s questions topic-wise. Have a glance through the table below and then I will share with you some important observations.
|Indian History and Culture||05||06||05||06||05||05|
|Current Affairs||Miscellaneous GK (Includes sports, honours, awards, current affairs, important dates)||03||05||10||08||10||09|
As you can see the SSC General Awareness section questions can be broadly categorised under three headings. S + S + C = Science + Social Studies + Current Affairs.
Some also refer to the ‘social studies’ section as ‘static’ but being a CBSE alumnus I prefer the former 😀
If we go by the past six years pattern, approximately, science and social studies each account for 40% of the questions. Current affairs fills the remaining portion.
This is an important observation here.
Armed with this key knowledge, now let’s delve deep into what you should study for each sub-topic.
Nailing SSC CGL GK — Key Topics To Study
If you analyse similar sections (general knowledge) in bank and insurance exams, you will see that they give higher weightage to current affairs and banking awareness topics. However, in SSC CGL, as we saw in the previous section, the focus is more on ‘general studies’ (science and social studies).
Let us begin now.
- This topic can be broadly covered under 4 sub-topics — physics, chemistry, biology and computer.
- More questions come from the first three than from computers.
- In recent years there is a lot of focus on ecology and environment related questions – basic things – this part overlaps with geography.
- The level of questions is mostly high-school/10th standard — NCERT science books for 7-10 standards are recommended.
- The questions are majorly (I’m tempted to say ALL) knowledge based. Numerical problems are not asked.
History & Culture
- The GK section in SSC CGL asks history questions almost only from Indian history.
- Sometimes there are 1 or 2 questions from world history, but it does not make sense to put in a lot of effort for only 1-2 questions. So concentrate only on Indian history.
- Questions mostly revolve around important persons and event. If it is an important event – remember its date/year. Otherwise don’t even bother.
- For the culture (only Indian stuff) part, you can memorise lists which contain information on dances in India, places of worship (temples, mosques, churches, their location), architecture, paintings etc.
- A lot of culture part overlaps with history.
- NCERT history books for 6-10 standards are good books to start with.
- Just like history, even here you have to focus on Indian geography and basic physical geography. Skip physical geography.
- As I said earlier, biodiversity and environment are trending topics these days (overlap with biology/science). So pay attention to the basic geographical details in biodiversity/environment topics when preparing.
- NCERT geography books for 6-10 standards are recommended to start preparations
- Expect direct questions on polity. You will be tested on simple concepts and should be aware of definitions of common terms
- Also, prepare “major” current affairs associated with polity.
- Again, NCERT books cover a lot of the basics, but you can also refer to NIOS online study material.
- Just like polity, expect straightforward simple questions based on definition and concepts of Economy.
- Also, note that SSC has a habit of asking questions based on the latest budget.
Finally, Current Affairs
- Current affairs obviously refers to knowledge of ‘current’ events, personalities, and issues. As far as SSC CGL is concerned you only need to be bothered about previous one year period. If you go beyond that you are probably wasting your time.
- You should be aware of major events in different fields of general interest (science, politics, sports, arts, awards etc.) and the people involved. Forget the small events. Your brain, after all, can remember only so much.
- Don’t forget to go through various schemes of the government which might have been in the news,
- Once your start practicing previous year’s papers, learn the new information based on the questions that are asked. For example, if you come across a question about who got the Arjuna award in 2010, then instead of memorising the name of 2010 winner it will be better if you learn the name of the latest Arjuna award winner.
Small List Of Things You Should NOT Do
I think it is important that along with knowing what to study, you should also know what not to study, as this saves a lot of time and also gives direction to your preparation.
- Current affairs is the black hole where most of the candidates waste their time. As you saw in the analysis of previous year’s SSC CGL GK sections, current affairs contribution to the question is lowest. So focus more on the other topics.
- There are two kinds of people – those who take it very lightly and those who take it very seriously. Don’t be either, both are wrong. Remember that you are only studying for an exam. You are not doing a PhD. So don’t go very deep.
- Spending many hours for daily reading of newspaper will NOT help. This is not UPSC. At the same time be aware of current happenings. This is not so difficult unless you are living in a remote area.
- General awareness is not something you can master in a day. Give it a little time every day and you will score well. And revise regularly.
Best Book For SSC CGL GK
How much you need to prepare depends on how much you already know. A good way to judge your level would be to go through some previous year’s question papers and see how much you can solve.
NCERT books are great starting points. I would recommend that you read all the science and social studies (history, geography, civics and economics) books from 6th standard to 10th standard. For some topics, you may also like to go through the NIOS books. Use the links below to download relevant books. On both the sites, there are links to download the entire book so that you don’t have to download each chapter.
You may feel that Oh! God, how will you ever have the time to read so many books? But don’t worry. Once you start studying you will realise that you already know many things so you can increase your speed massively.
A number of GK books are also available. Among the options available, I really like Manorama Yearbook and Lucent – links below.
|Manorama Yearbook 2016 (English)||Buy||Buy|
|Manorama Yearbook 2016 (Hindi)||Buy||Buy|
|Lucent’s General Knowledge 2015 (English)||Buy||Buy|
|Lucent’s General Knowledge (Hindi)||Buy (2013)||Buy (2015)|
Apart from covering current affairs, these books also contain condensed information on all the topics we had covered above – science, social studies etc.
A funny thing about SSC CGL GK section, just like many other competitive exams, is that they repeat their questions. So if you solve 5 previous year’s papers, the 6th paper will have a lot of repeated questions. This is true for all sections.
If you are not buying something like Manorama or Lucent, I highly recommend you to buy and study the following book
|SSC General Awareness Chapterwise Solved Papers 1997 – Till Date by Kiran Prakashan||Buy||Buy|
Even if you are an average student and follow the major news, you should easily be able to answer 10-15 questions. Without any preparations.
If you prepare based on the above suggestions, you will really do well in this section. On a good day, you can score easy marks in this section. And really fast.
See, the point is, how much ever you prepare, you will never be able to predict what questions will be asked. SSC can literally ask ANYTHING from ANYWHERE. So don’t depend too much on General Awareness.
Hopefully, after reading this long post you now have the right attitude and directions for SSC CGL General Awareness preparation.
For our complete analysis of best books for SSC CGL – check this post.