For almost all competitive examinations, the syllabi is more or less same and is similar to the 10+2 syllabi, which graduate level students should be familiar with. The format of questions may differ from examination to examination, but the content is more or less same for all competitions.

The data provided below is based on either the syllabi mentioned by the respective test-conducting authorities, or based on memory and self-analysis of the author. The purpose of providing this information is to give the students an insight into the formats of different examinations held in recent years. However, the intention of this analysis is to show how different types of questions have different significance in different examinations. These formats are not fixed and there may be changes within sections or in the overall format of papers. Some of the current syllabi of such examinations are given below in order to help in preparing for competitive examinations.

  1. SSC Assistants’ Grade (Prelim) Examination

Paper of Language Comprehension:

(a) General English—In addition to testing the candidate’s understanding of the
English language and its correct usage, his writing ability would also be tested.

(b) Communicative or writing skills—In addition to testing the candidate’s ability to understand English, his comprehension and writing ability would also be tested, along with vocabulary and correct usage of words and sentences.

  1. Examination for Staff Selection Commission (SSC)/Divisional Accountants/ Auditors/Upper Division Clerks, etc.

Paper on Comprehension and Writing Ability of English: Questions will be designed to test the candidate’s understanding and knowledge of the English language, vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, synonyms and antonyms etc. There will also be questions on comprehension of passages.

  1. Probationary Officers/Dev. Officers Examinations

Various banks have started conducting their own tests to recruit probationary officers. However, there is a marked similarity in the format of the question papers in recent times. For example, similar formats are followed for tests for Development Officers of NABARD (Grade A) or RBI (Grade B) Officers.

Test of English Language: In the case of tests conducted for the recruitment of Probationary Officers, the syllabus for the English language test generally comprises grammar, vocabulary, sentence completion, synonyms, antonyms, comprehension of a passage etc. The format for testing these parameters differ from examination to examination, but in most cases in covers only these topics. Though a majority of the papers have only 50 questions, a candidate may be surprised with a 75 or 100 questions section in a Test of English.

  1. National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination (NDA/NA)

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) holds competitive examination for admission to the Army, Navy and Air Force wings of the NDA.

Test of English Language: This paper is designed to test the candidate’s understanding of English and workman-like use of words. The syllabus covers various aspects, like grammar and its usage, vocabulary, comprehension and cohesion in the extended text to test the candidates’ proficiency in English. All questions will be multiple-choice, objective-type and the candidate is required to choose appropriate responses from the given alternatives.


  1. Combined Defence Service Examination (CDS)

The Combined Defence Services Examination (CDS) is conducted by the UPSC.

Test of English Ability: Knowledge of degree level English is required for this paper. The test contains 120 MCQs on comprehension, sentence completion/improvement, vocabulary, antonyms, synonyms, one-word substitutes, idioms/phrases, and error detection etc.

  1. Police Sub-Inspectors Examinations

This examination is conducted by the staff Selection Commission (SSC) for recruitment of: (a) Sub-Inspectors (Executive); (b) Sub-Inspectors of Police in CBI; (c) Sub-Inspectors of Indo-Tibetan Border Police; (d) Sub-Inspectors or Platoon Commanders in BSF; (e) Sub-Inspectors in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPKF); (f) Sub-Inspectors in Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). The Test of English Language for this examination is divided in two part, each containing 100 questions.

Part A is Language Comprehension (Objective-type)—This paper is designed to test the candidate’s understanding and knowledge of the English language, its comprehension, vocabulary (synonyms and antonyms), spellings and grammar etc.

Part B is the Writing Ability Test—Questions will be designed to test knowledge and understanding of the English language, its vocabulary, grammar, sentence completion, sentence structure, synonyms, anto-nyms, phrases and idiomatic use of words etc. There may be questions on paragraph writing and or precis writing.

This book covers all the topics of both the sections, and the format of questions is given to familiarize the candidate’s with the type of questions he/she is likely to face in the examination.

  1. Clerical Grade Examinations

The Banking service Recruitment Board conducts competitive examinations for the recruitment of clerical cadre in branches/offices of public sector banks for various states. The standard and format of all these tests are more or less similar for al state BSRB examinations.

Test of English Language/English Ability: The Test of English language paper consists of following types of questions: (i) Spotting the Errors; (ii) Antonyms and Synonyms; (iii) Filling in the blanks; (iv) Use of preposition, idioms/phrases; (v) Test of spellings; (vi) Rearranging jumbled up sentences; (vii) Comprehension of passage and answering questions based on the passage.

  1. Master of Business Administration (MBA)

In addition to the four Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and the All India Management Association (AIMA), which conduct the Common Admission Tests (CAT) and Management Aptitude Tests (MAT), certain universities and management institutes also conduct entrances examinations for admission. Popular management entrance exams in clude SNAP, NMAT, JMET, XAT, FMS, IIFT, ATMA, IRMA etc. In all these tests there is a ‘Test of English Language’ or ‘Communication skill’. Reading Comprehension Tests hold a significant position in such examinations and there could be a separate RC section whose difficulty level has become a benchmark for certain examinations. Also, there could be variations; for example, RC passages in CAT are very difficult while in XAT they may be lengthy.

The syllabi for all these tests can collectively be summarized as:

English Language Section: This is generally known as the Verbal ability test and comprises:

(a) Sentence improvement/sentence completion

(b) Vocabulary test: synonyms, antonyms, one-word substitutes, idioms/phrases,
words confused and misused

(c) Error detection and word usages

(d) Spellings and word meanings

(e) Word analogies

Comprehension Ability Section: This is generally known as the RC Section and comprises comprehension passages and questions based on the given passages. Generally, the time allocated per questions for this section is more than in other sections. This is because ample time is provided to read and comprehend the passages before attempting the questions. Needles to say, to things are important to score high in this section: (i) reading the passage quickly; (ii) comprehending the message/issue discussed there clearly.

  1. Other Important Examinations

In addition to the above-mentioned examinations, there are many more examinations which have Test of English as a core section. We have provided a table in which many such examinations and their respective formats as per recent papers are detailed. Some of these are:

  • United India Insurance AAO
  • LIC AAO (Assistant Administrative Officer)
  • Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner Examination
  • EPFO Social Security Assistant Examination
  • JEE (Hotel Management Entrance) Examination
  • NID (National Institute of Design) Examination
  • NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) Examination
  • CTET (Central Teacher’s Eligibility Test)
  • MCA Entrance Examination
  • New India Assurance Examination
  • Law Entrance Examination
  • Assistant Station Masters Recruitment Examination
  • Post-graduate Diploma in Tourism Management (PGDTM)
  • Section Officer (Audit) Examination
  • DMRC Customer Relition Assitant
  • ESIC Maharashtra English
  • Delhi University LLB