Competitive Exams – A Quick Guide to Choose wisely

Competitive Exams become a part of our life as soon as we graduate. They are the scanner of your future career. Competitive Exams in India validate our capabilities and responsibilities in doing a government job. Whatever exam it is, every competitive exam has its own essence and value. Preparing for one competitive exam can ease the preparation for other competitive exams but never completely. To be honest, as everyone has a specific area of expertise, similarly expectations of every competitive exam differ from each other.

Appearing for each and every competitive exam is not a good option. It restricts the time of preparation for the aspirants. You cannot concentrate on one exam as a whole; instead, you need to break your preparation into pieces which ultimately breaks the flow of your concentration. With lakhs of aspirants appearing for every competitive exam, each aspirant has to face the competition in all the exams. To succeed in such exams, you need to devote your complete time to the preparation for months. At present, with such a huge competition, there is no such exam as a cakewalk. Thousands of aspirants are competing for a single task, and to bag the post your preparation needs to be one step ahead of your competitors.

So, what is the solution?

There is only one solution. Focus one at a time. Competitive exams are held once or twice every year. It is considered best to select the job you prefer to see yourself working in the future and start preparing solely for that particular competitive exam.

The path to your ultimate career is risky and needs lots of effort. Time is precious; you cannot waste your effort on something which is less fruitful. You need to have proper planning and strict plan before stepping into work. With so many competitive exams held every year, and seeing the attractive job profiles you get the urge to appear for all the exams. For some aspirants, sometimes constant failure makes them appear for exams which are for the lower posts. Either of the ways of choice for selecting an exam is wrong.

To understand which exams to prepare for, you need to understand what you want.

  • What are your career goals?
  • What do you expect from the job?
  • How do you like to work in the future?
  • In which field would you like to work?
  • Your areas of expertise.

Getting an answer to such questions would help you create a mind map on which exams to prepare for or to say, to select the way to your dream job. Once you decide on your dream job, focus only on the particular exam and follow a proper preparation strategy. Success will be knocking at your door.

There may be one problem for the aspirants. How to choose the competitive exams and which would be the best option for him/her? In this article, we will describe all the competitive exams in India. It will help the aspirants to get an idea about the exams, how they are held and when they are held. To sum up, we will provide you an honest review of the exams so that you can make a wise choice to start your battle with!

There are many exams held in India every year. Out of all these, the exams which are in the limelight are UPSC Exams, SSC Exams, and the Banking Exams. We will discuss all these exams in detail, along with other exams which hold a great career opportunity for the aspirants.

1. EXAMS HELD BY UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

UPSC Exams are one of the most prestigious and tough exams in India. They conduct a series of exams in different fields for various attractive posts. Some of the exams held under UPSC are:-

  • CIVIL SERVICES EXAMINATION

This is the exam conducted for civil services posts like IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, and other allied services. The exam is held once every year in offline mode. The eligibility criteria to appear for the exam is that aspirants should be an Indian, a graduate from a recognized university in any discipline, and should be between 21- 32 years of age. There are relaxations under certain conditions as well. The exam will be conducted in three phases-

Preliminary Examination- It will have two papers- General Studies-I and General Studies-II or CSAT. The General Studies-II is of qualifying nature. Each paper consists of 200 marks and is all objective-type questions. The marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination will not be calculated to obtain the final mark.

Mains Examination- There is a total of nine descriptive papers. It consists of 4 General Studies Paper of 250 marks each, 1 Essay Paper of 250 marks each, 2 Optional Papers of 250 marks each, and 2 Language papers of 300 marks each. Out of the language papers, English is of qualifying nature.

The 4 General Studies Papers are:-

  1. Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the world and society
  2. Governance, Constitution, Social Justice, Polity and International Relations
  3. Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
  4. Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude

Interview- It is the final test towards a prestigious career. Those candidates who cleared the mains cut-off will be allowed to attend the interview. In the interview, there will be a test on the mental alertness, integrity, analytical and moral integrity of the candidates.

 

  • ENGINEERING SERVICES EXAMINATION

The exams are conducted for the posts of Class-1 Engineering Officers in departments like Central Engineering Services, Central Water Engineering, Power Telecommunications, Indian Railways, and Defense Services of Engineering, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Central Electricity Authority, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Indian Navy, Border Roads Organization, Geological Survey of India, Central Public Words Department, Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways. Once qualified, the recruitment of the candidates is based on four categories-

  1. Electrical Engineering
  2. Mechanical Engineering
  3. Civil Engineering
  4. Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering

The candidate should be an Engineering Graduate and should be within 21-30 years of age. The exam consists of three stages:

Preliminary Examination- It is an objective type exam consisting of two papers- General Studies and Engineering Aptitude, and an Engineering Paper (Electrical/ Mechanical/ Civil/ Electronics and Telecommunication). The Paper-I and Paper-II are 200 marks and 300 marks, respectively.

Mains Examination- The Engineering Services Mains Exam is of descriptive nature. It consists of two papers on Engineering (Electrical/ Mechanical/ Civil/ Electronics and Telecommunication). Each paper carries 300 marks with a time duration of 3 hours.

Interview Test.

  • COMBINED MEDICAL SERVICES EXAMINATION

The exam is conducted by UPSC to recruit medical graduates in various union governmental organizations. The posts offered to the candidates after qualifying the exams are Assistant divisional Medical Officer in Railway Sector and Indian Factories Health Services, General Duty Medical Officer in Municipal Corporation of New Delhi, and Junior Scale Postings in Central Health Services.

The candidate needs to have an MBBS Degree and the upper age limit is 32 years. The exam is held online and is objective-based followed by an interview after clearing the cut-off.

  • COMBINED DEFENCE SERVICES EXAMINATION

The CDS Examination is held to recruit candidates in the Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Indian Military Academy, and Officers Training Academy. There are physical criteria set by the conducting body in order to get selected.

The candidates should have a graduate degree and an engineering degree for Indian Naval and Air Force Academy from a recognized university and the age limit should be 19-25 years.

The exam is conducted in two stages- Written exam and Interview. It is an offline exam. The written exam consists of an English and General Awareness section consisting of 120 questions each and Elementary Mathematics of 100 questions each. The interview consists of two stages. The first comprises Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) and Picture Perception Description Test (PP&DT). The second stage comprises the Interview, Psychology Tests, Testing Officer Tasks, and the Conference.

Similar exams conducted by the UPSC are-NATIONAL DEFENCE ACADEMY EXAMINATION, INDIAN NAVAL ACADEMY EXAMINATION, and CENTRAL ARMED POLICE FORCES EXAMINATION

  • INDIAN FOREST SERVICE EXAMINATION

The Indian Forest Service Examination is an all-India level examination for the recruitment of forest services. The exam is conducted to select desirable candidates for higher positions in the state forest department.

The exam procedure is similar to the Civil Services Examination. It has three stages, the Preliminary examination, the mains examination, and the Interview.

  • COMBINED GEOSCIENTIST AND GEOLOGIST EXAMINATION

This exam is conducted by UPSC for the posts:

Geologist, Geophysicist, Chemist Group ‘A’ in Geological Survey of India, and Junior Hydro-geologist for Central Ground Water Board.

It is an offline exam held once a year. The preliminary exam consists of two papers. General Studies Paper 1 is common for all and Paper 2 is subject-specific consisting of subjects Chemistry, Hydrogeology, Chemical, or Geophysics. The mains exam consists of four papers held in two days, namely Geology/Geophysics/Chemistry-I, Geology/Geophysics/Chemistry-II, Geology/Geophysics/Chemistry-III, and Hydrogeology. There is a personality test after the candidates qualify for the mains examination. The age limit of the candidate to attend the exam is 21-32 years.

  • EMPLOYEES PROVIDENT FUND ORGANIZATION EXAMINATION

UPSC EPFO Exam is also one of the most sought-after examinations by aspirants. The exam syllabus is similar to the civil services examination with few extra topics included.

There are only two stages of the exam- The written test which is objective-based and the interview. The mark weightage is 75% and 25% respectively. The written test will be an offline exam of 300 marks with a negative marking of 1/3 rd marks for each wrong question. The post is a high-level post with an attractive pay scale.

 

Are the exams held under UPSC a perfect choice for the candidates looking to appear for the competitive exams?

If you qualify for the above exams, you are going to be a future bureaucrat. It is a very prestigious post but it may not be suitable for all the aspirants. Every aspirant has their own level playing field, strength, and weakness. Not everyone has the capability to grasp a subject topic compared to other subjects. To qualify for the exam, you need to have analytical skills. Along with the objective test, there are descriptive papers as well for some exams. You need to have a proper analysis of what is asked in the exam. Not only analytical, it tests both the ethical and intellectual capability of the candidates also. Comparing the needs of the exams and the candidate’s capability, a candidate can decide on which competitive exams to choose from. No exam is as difficult as impossible to clear. With proper dedication and correct planning and strategy, any eligible candidate can sit for the exam and conquer the posts.

 

2. BANKING EXAMS

  • RBI GRADE B EXAMINATION

This is one of the topmost banking exams among all the bank exams. The opportunity to work for the apex bank is itself enough for any aspirants to appear for the exam. To crack such a prestigious exam you need to have a perfect strategy and complete dedication.

The exam will be conducted in three phases. Phase 1 is an objective-type question with sections like English Language, Reasoning, Quantitative Aptitude, and General Awareness. Phase 2 consists of three sections- Economic and Social Issues, English Language, and Finance and Management Paper. They are descriptive papers. The candidate must be within 21-30 years of age. A candidate should obtain 60% marks in graduation to be eligible to appear for the exam.

  • RBI ASSISTANT EXAMINATION

RBI Assistant exam is like a clerical post for the Reserve Bank of India. Though the questions asked in the examination are on the easier side, the cutoff is very high. You need to master your accuracy and quick problem-solving skills to crack the exam.

The exam is conducted in three phases- Prelims, Mains, and Language Proficiency Test. The candidate should be a graduate with 50% marks from a recognized university and should be within 20-28 years of age. The prelims exams consist of three sections- English Language, Reasoning, and Numerical Ability. The mains exams comprise English Language, Reasoning Ability, Quantitative Aptitude, Computer Knowledge, and General Awareness. Both the exams are objective-based.

  • SBI PROBATIONARY OFFICER EXAMINATION

The SBI conducts the SBI PO examination for the post of Probationary Officers all over the country. The SBI PO exam is held once every year. The exam is held in three phases-Preliminary, Mains and Interview. The preliminary exam consists of English Language, Numerical Ability, and Reasoning Ability. The mains exam consists of 155 questions and comprises of sections-Data Analysis and Interpretation, Reasoning and Computer Aptitude, General Awareness, and English Language. After qualifying for the Mains Exam, the candidate has to sit for Group Discussion and Personal Interview to make it to the merit list. The candidates appearing for the exam must be a graduate from a recognized university and should be within 21 to 30 years of age.

  • SBI CLERK EXAMINATION

The SBI conducts the exam for the post of Junior Associates in the branches of the State Bank of India within the state. The syllabus is similar to other clerical bank exams. The exam is conducted in two stages. The preliminary exam is a qualifying paper that is objective-based and includes three sections English Language, Numerical Ability, and Reasoning. The mains exam comprises 4 sections namely, General English, Quantitative Aptitude, Reasoning, and Computer Aptitude, and General/Financial Awareness. It comprises 190 questions comprising 200 marks.

The candidates willing to appear for the exam must be within 20-28 years of age, and the candidate must be a graduate in any discipline from a recognized university.

  • SBI SPECIALIST OFFICER EXAMINATION

The exam is conducted to recruit officers in various specialized category posts. The exam is for the managerial posts. The recruitment for the posts of specialist officers is conducted in two phases- online exam and personal interview. The educational eligibility criteria are different for different posts of Specialist Officers.

  • IBPS PROBATIONARY OFFICER EXAMINATION

The IBPS conducts the exam for the posts of probationary officers for all the 12 Public Sector Banks in India. Every year lakhs of aspirants appear for the exam and the competition increases with an increase in the number of aspirants.

The exam is conducted in three stages-Prelims, Mains and interviews. The prelims paper comprises of English Language, Quantitative Aptitude and Reasoning Ability. The mains exam comprises English, Data Analysis and Interpretation, Reasoning, Computer Ability, General Awareness, and a Descriptive Paper(online) and is followed by an interview after qualifying for the mains exam.

The IBPS CLERK EXAMINATION is similar to the IBPS PROBATIONARY OFFICER Exam. The only difference is that there is no Interview stage in the IBPS Clerk Examination. The IBPS RRB PROBATIONARY OFFICER EXAMINATION and the IBPS RRB CLERK EXAMINATION are also similar to the above examination. The only difference is that the prelims exams of IBPS RRB CLERK and IBPS RRB PO Exams have only two sections- Reasoning and Quantitative Aptitude.

Are the bank exams a perfect choice for the candidates looking to appear for the competitive exams?

When any candidates decide to prepare for Government Exams, the bank exams always get the first preference. They are the perfect exams for every candidate no matter whatever background he/she belongs to. The syllabus is simple and is framed in a way suitable for each eligible candidate looking for their dream job. It is always advised to read the syllabus and solve previous year question papers to get an idea of where he/she stands and which exam is suitable for him/her. All the bank exams are similar to each other and are conducted in a way suitable for all aspirants irrespective of their educational background. There is nothing much to think about when a candidate is thinking to appear for the bank exams. There are many technical post-exams held by the banks periodically as well.

 

3. STAFF SELECTION COMMISSION EXAMINATIONS

  • SSC Combined Graduate Level Examination

The SSC CGL Exam is held to select desirable candidates for the posts of Grade “B” and Grade “C” in various government offices, departments, and Ministries.

A candidate needs to qualify in 4 stages, two online and two offline, to qualify for the job.  The online papers are objective-based and the offline exams are descriptive paper in Hindi/ English and a computer proficiency test, respectively. The subjects include General Intelligence and Reasoning, General Awareness, and Quantitative Aptitude.

  • SSC CHSL

This is the exam conducted by the Staff Selection Commission for the posts of Lower Divisional Clerk (LDC), Junior Secretariat Assistant (JSA), Postal Assistant (PA), Sorting Assistant (SA), and Data Entry Operator (DEO) in various government departments, offices, and ministries.

It is an all-India level exam held once every year. All candidates who cleared their class 12 or are about to give their final is eligible to appear for the exam. The age limit is between 18-27 years. The exam will be held in two tiers, one online and the other in offline mode, with a time duration of I hour for each tier. The subjects include English, General Awareness, General Intelligence, and Quantitative Aptitude.

  • SSC JE

The SSC Junior Engineer exam is an exam for the post of Group B officers in various government departments like the Central Public Works Department.

The other similar exams conducted by SSC that provide prominent career opportunities to aspiring candidates are SSC GD, SSC CPO, SSC MTS, SSC STENOGRAPHER EXAM, and FOOD CORPORATION OF INDIA EXAMINATION.

Are the SSC exams a perfect choice for the candidates looking to appear for the competitive exams?

The Staff Selection Exam is the next best exam after the UPSC Exam. It is the exam conducted for the posts next to UPSC Cadre and allied services. Though there are many stages compared to other exams to finally get to the merit list, it is not impossible. The exam is suitable for aspirants who have analytical abilities. The exam is also suitable for those who have a strong command of the Quantitative Aptitude section.

WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA TO CONSIDER WHEN LOOKING FOR WHICH GOVERNMENT EXAMS TO APPLY FOR?

  • CONSIDER YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND-

Every graduate aspirant irrespective of their background can appear for most of the competitive exams. But considering the educational background eases up the preparation process to some extent. For e.g. UPSC conducts both civil services examination and the engineering services exam, aspirants from the engineering background would find it easier to prepare for it than the civil services examination. It may not apply to all the aspirants but it helps in the preparation journey of the aspirants to some extent.

  • KNOW WHERE YOU STAND

This is similar to testing how focused you can be while preparing. Not all aspirants have the same mindset. Some can prepare for long hours at a stretch and some cannot study at a stretch for more than 3 hours. Some aspirants are more into theoretical subjects and some are into practical subjects. No exam would be easy to crack until you have that inner dedication and self-reliance to successfully crack the exam. You need to have some sort of interest in the subject to study. Considering all these factors also helps aspirants in easy selection of competitive exams.

  • GO THROUGH THE SYLLABUS AND PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTION PAPERS

You can never understand the depth of the exam until you go through the syllabus and its previous year’s question papers. The syllabus helps you understand the topics you need to study for the exam and the previous year’s question papers help you understand what the exams want from you as a candidate appearing for the exam. This helps you find your interest in the subjects or the competitive exams. Our ultimate aim is to complete every task successfully. The same applies here as well. Once you select any competitive exam, it should become your passion to crack it at any cost.

  • TAKE DECISIONS SLOW

You should never be in a hurry when choosing which exams to appear or which career to choose. This would define your future career growth. You should think twice before making any decisions. Properly go through all the details of the examination, read the reviews, listen to the interviews of qualified candidates, and give a mock test or two. If you have time at least give 2-3 days of time preparing the topics for each exam to understand which exam draws you more. Most of the exams have the same syllabus, but you should also give a top priority to one competitive exam that draws you the most and keep two-three exams aside as a backup plan.

The endnote

Above are the exams most sought after by the aspirants that provide awesome career opportunities. We explained the details of the examination pattern and syllabus and also summarized which examinations are best for which category of students. This would help the aspirants narrow down their choices of exams. Having a limited choice of competitive exams would help the aspirants devote their quality time for the sole preparation of the selective competitive exams. The opportunities available to the aspirants are immense and not limited. They can spread their wings as far as possible. Once an aspirant cracks an exam, if he/she is not satisfied they can opt for competitive exams that are a level higher than the previous ones. It is okay to reach heights, but we should mind the steps by taking a step at a time.