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Dear friends, we often meet students who are preparing for both SSC CGL exam and SSC CHSL exam simultaneously. SSC CGL exam is conducted by SSC to recruit staff to various posts in ministries, departments and organisations of the Government of India for various Group B and Group C posts whereas SSC CHSL exam is mainly for clerical posts which come under group C.

As both of these exams offer lucrative jobs under various central government offices so shouldn’t we be more specific about which one to target and how to approach it? There is a notion among students that both of these exams have the same syllabus and exam pattern for Tier 1 and thus they can be and should be prepared simultaneously to save time and efforts. But should they be? Let’s analyze the same.



First of all, let’s see the pattern for Tier 1 exam for both SSC CGL and SSC CHSL.

Subject Questions Marks Time
General Intelligence
& Reasoning
25 50 60 minutes (Total)


For VH & Candidates suffering from Cerebral Palsy: 80 minutes

General Awareness 25 50
Quantitative Aptitude 25 50
English Language 25 50
TOTAL 100 200

Since Tier 1 pattern is exactly similar for both the exams, many students misinterpret it to be similar in entirety. But they are NOT. A few points are given below to explicate the same.

  • Difference in Difficulty Level – First and foremost, the basic difference between SSC CGL Tier 1 and SSC CHSL Tier 1 is the difference in their difficulty levels. CGL exam is prepared keeping in mind that the student has already graduated. The tone, the standard, the in-depth knowledge required to completely understand and solve the paper are designed accordingly where as for SSC CHSL exam, the same are set at the level of XII standard. The official notification for CGL 2017 clearly mentions that General Awareness, Reasoning and English will be up to graduation level.
  • Exam analysis – The exam papers are set with an appropriate mix of easy, moderate and difficult questions. Both CGL and CHSL have 15 to 20 percent difficult questions. But if the same CHSL exam is analysed considering the candidate to be of graduate level, the difficulty level would come down to 5 to 10 percent only while the same would rise if the CGL exam is analysed considering the candidate to be XII standard passed student.
  • Syllabus – At first the syllabus for both these exams looks same. But on comprehensive and thorough analysis, one would find that the reasoning section of CGL exam also tests one’s Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence and Judgment level. The frequency of similar questions in CHSL exam is limited because of the clerical work associated with the posts available with CHSL Exam. It goes on without saying that though the syllabus looks same, but the depth of erudition of the topics varies considerably for both these exams.
  • The Quantitative Aptitude section– As per the official notifications for both SSC CGL and SSC CHSL exam, the quantitative aptitude section commensurate with 10th standard. This gives an impression that the difficulty level for both exams for quantitative section would be same but it is not. Before reaching the above conclusion one must remember that Quantitative section even for CAT exam has the same syllabus i.e. essential qualification up to 10th standard only. But is the difficulty level of SSC CGL similar to that of CAT exam? A big NO. Same way the topics to be studied for the quantitative section for both these exams are same, but the level of understanding, the in-depth knowledge of a topic and the possible variety of questions differ quite a bit.
  • Competition – Approximately 14.25 lacs candidates appeared for Tier 1 of CGL 2016 whereas approximately 30 lacs appeared for Tier 1 of CHSL 2016. One thing to be noted here is that nearly all the candidates eligible for CGL are also eligible for CHSL exam and they make use of this opportunity to appear in CHSL exam as well. Considering that a huge proportion out of CHSL candidates has also prepared for CGL, the difference between the standards of selected candidates between the two exams diminishes. Most of the time, the candidates clearing the Tier 1 of CHSL exam are graduates and thus we see little academic difference between them and this in turn fuel the belief that CHSL and CGL have the same standard.

So if we go by above few points, we realize that CGL and CHSL have a few differences in their Tier 1 exams which are not superficial. These become tacit considering that SC conducts Tier 1 for both exams separately, which requires precious resources i.e. both time and money. So why is there a misconception that these exams are exactly similar?

Apart from a few reasons mentioned above, there is one more reason for it : the sheer number of graduates preparing for SSC exams. Although they are eligible for SSC CGL, but most of them also apply for CHSL. Reason being the widespread unemployment and good job opportunities offered by CHSL Exam. Also half of their competition has less education qualification and this slightly reduces the competition. Not only this, the syllabus for CHSL Tier 1 is not same as CGL but a subset of it. So the candidates preparing for CGL can appear for CHSL without the need to study anything extra. The same is not the case with CHSL students. The 12th standard passed students have to compete with already graduated students for the same posts and also among themselves. The only respite they get is that Tier 3 is a typing test in CHSL which requires a far better typing speed that that required in CGL and most students preparing for CGL do not put much emphasis on this and thus it creates a balance playing field for them.

In the end, we wish to say that the graduate candidates need to prepare for CGL which includes the preparation for CHSL and thereby they can appear for CHSL exam Tier 1. For the candidates who have just cleared 12th, they need not lose heart thinking that they have to compete with Graduate students. Remember, the person you see in mirror is your only competition. The CHSL exam is set up for 12th standard only and it means you have as good chances to qualify as anyone else. As said by Nicki Minaj, “Your victory is right round the corner. Never give up.”

Downlad gradeup app to get free study material & notes for SSC CGL & CHSL 2018.

Also check our android app for school students: NCERT Solutions, RD Sharma, CBSE Guide class 6-10



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