Introduction to the Written Examinations

In competitive examination, the written examination mainly comprises of four sections which are as follows:

  1. Test of English Language
  2. Test of Reasoning and Intelligence
  3. Test of Numerical Ability or Quantitative Aptitude
  4. Test of General Knowledge and Current Events

However, you may find some variations in which one or more sections are divided to make new sections. Some such divisions frequently encountered are:

(a) Test of English—Generally it is a composite test, which includes various
types of verbal ability questions as well as one or two passages for comprehension ability. However, in some of the tests, it may be divided into two separate sections, one on Verbal Ability, and the other on reading comprehension.

(b) Test of Reasoning—Hero too, as in most examinations there is one full section based on reasoning. Otherwise, there may be separate sections on Reasoning Ability Tests and Data Interpretation and Data Sufficiency (DI and DS). (However, the DI section is sometimes perceived to be carved out of the Quantitative Aptitude section).

Similarly, all questions may also be laid out plainly over the full length of the test without earmarking any section. In such cases, the sequence of the questions may be haphazard, just to alter the conventional set-up and make the test a bit complex. Or sometimes, English language questions are found in Reasoning Tests. For example, many tests consider ‘Test of analogy’ questions to fall in the ambit of reasoning tests rather than in English language tests.

Understanding the Format of Your Tests

In each section of the test, divided in four to five sections or otherwise, there is a general tendency to have an equal number of questions containing equal marks. So, in a regular written examination we may have 50 questions in each section to be answered in a composite time of two hours or in some cases one hour and 30 minutes (90 minutes) only, and since all the 200 questions are to be answered in the composite time allocated, it means the candidate gets less than 30 seconds to answer each question. However, in recent times, it is observed that not only do various sections within the test carry unequal number of questions, but also have unequal marks weightage. Therefore, it is advisable to understand the format of the target examinations and plan preparations accordingly to avoid any unpleasant surprises on the day of the test.

Composite Time

The composite time (time allotted for all the four sections) has to be budgeted in order to be able to attempt each sections of the test paper. You may attempt the tests/questions in any order. However, it is advisable not to spend too much time on any one test. To qualify in a written examination, each test should be passed separately and it is important to obtain a sufficiently high rank in the order of merit.

However, it may be noted that in case there is no clear time limit allotted to a section, you are advised to adhere to self-discipline. Because, there are chances that too much of time is spent on tricky or lengthy questions at the cost of easier ones. It is also advisable to spend more time on subjects you are more comfortable with as your area of strength is bound to fetch better scores.

Time to be Given Each Test

As each question generally carries one mark, it is advisable to apportion the total composite time depending upon the number of questions in each section of the test. Suppose the Test of English language consists of 50 questions, it is advisable that one strictly adheres to the time allotted for this section. If 30 minutes are allowed for this section and there are 50 questions (generally there are 50 questions in each section) and in 30 minutes you have been able to answer only 40 or 45 questions, it is better to leave those 10 or 5 questions and start the next section of the test paper.

However, to help you realise how quickly can you answer particular type of questions, this book provides drills called Speed Maximizing Sectors (SMS). Practising on SMS drills will help in budgeting your time during the actual test and thus enable you to attempt more questions than what you could have done without budgeting.