This is the best of times;this is the worst of times.

This is that time of the year when results of all the major MBA entrance exams (CAT, XAT, NMAT and SNAP) have been declared. Those of you who have secured good scores in one or more of these exams and have been short listed for the next stage have started their PDP classes and are working hard to do well in the Personality Assessment process.

However, most of you are wondering what went wrong and what is the way forward? Some of you have given up on this admission season and are thinking of CAT ‘16. Many of you have already appeared for CMAT in January and many are contemplating to appear for MAT and Maharashtra CET (for MBA) in February and March respectively.
Many of you are planning to compromise and join MBA institutes which follow the philosophy that even trespassers will be admitted. The reality is that out of the over 4000 approved MBA institutes in the country not more than 100 are worth joining. It is only these top 100 that will provide you with a decent education that will be valued in the industry and will help you get an acceptable job. The remaining 98% institutes will give you an MBA degree/PGDM which will not be worth the paper it is printed on.
In many lower end MBA institutes, you will have to invest over Rs. 10 lakhs in tuition fee and other expenses for two years and then if you are fortunate you will get a job offer of Rs. 3 lakhs per annum. The fact is that an MBA from a lower end institute will only reduce your market value.
For those of you who do not have a good job and do not have an interview call from a good college and are hoping that CET will be your way out, let me offer another option – Combined Graduate Level Exam (CGL) conducted by Staff Selection Commission (SSC).

Combined Graduate Level Exam (CGL)
Staff Selection Commission is India’s largest recruiter for the central government and its most important exam is the Combined Graduate Level Exam (CGL). Candidates who are successful in CGL join the Group B and C services of the central government and can become Group A officers through promotions.

Why CGL?

Purely in financial terms, the salary and benefits of Group B and C officers are far better than what you can expect from jobs through lower end MBA institutes. Starting salaries for these posts are around Rs. 55,000-60,000 per month. The other benefits include free housing, medical support for life for your family and post retirement support (extremely rare in the private sector).
Further, you have to work only 5 days a week and not more than 8 hours a day. Thus, you are left with lots of time for further career enhancement (Civil services or MBA). In fact, the work-experience here might come in quite handy for you when you decide to retake MBA entrances.
If you join the government through CGL exam (with a good rank) at an early age (below 24), there is a good chance that you may be able to enter the coveted Group A services by the time you are 30 and thus, get almost at par with those people who enter the government through UPSC’s Civil Services Examination. I wonder what a candidate can achieve if he/she becomes a graduate at the age of 21 and clears CGL at that age!!!

Assistant Audit officer
A new post Assistant Audit Officer in Indian Audits and Accounts Department under CAG has been added this year. This post is a non-ministerial gazette post with a grade pay of Rs 4800. This is the first time a post with Grade Pay of Rs 4800 has been included in SSC CGL, whose in hand salary touches Rs 60000 with a CTC of 9.5 lacs, considering the 7th Pay Commission recommendations.

What is CGL like?

CGL, like MBA entrance exams, tests English (including basic comprehension), Reasoning, Quantitative Ability and General Awareness. There are three stages of this examination – Tier 1, Tier 2 and Date Entry Test / Skills Test (wherever applicable).
CGL Tier I is a 120 minute, 200 question MCQ test with 1 mark for every correct answer and -1/4 for every incorrect answer. The test has the following structure:
Part A: General Intelligence & Reasoning – 50 questions of 1 mark each
Part B: General Awareness – 50 questions of 1 mark each
Part C: Quantitative Aptitude – 50 questions of 1 mark each
Part D: English Comprehension – 50 questions of 1 mark each

Mathematical Ability section is full of questions on Arithmetic and you will find this section easier than QA of MAT. Most of the questions in General Awareness are based on static information and hardly any of them are from Current Affairs.
Since you have prepared for the MBA entrance examinations, there is hardly anything new that you need to do except for practicing a few test papers.
Cutoffs for clearing Tier I in the last two years (2014 and 2015) have been 96.5 and 102.25 for general category students. There are no sectional cutoffs, so there are people who have cleared Tier I without attempting a single question from one of the sections.
If you qualify in this Tier, you get a chance to appear in Tier 2 of this examination. One important thing is that you carry forward your marks from this tier to the next stage and thus, you should not be focusing on merely clearing the cutoff but target a score of 150.

CGL Tier II has two papers of 200 marks each as given below:

Paper I: Quantitative Ability – 100 questions of 2 marks each
Paper II: English Language & Comprehension – 200 questions of 1 mark each

Both the papers are of objective type and the level of difficulty is lower than what you have experienced in your MBA entrances. The two papers are conducted on the same day in different time slots.
At this stage, the next shortlist gets prepared on the basis of 600 marks (200 for Tier 1 and 400 for Tier 2). The cutoff for CGL 2015 examination for this stage is 430.75 (out of 600). Even if you do not feel very confident about Tier 2 examination at this stage, do not worry as you will get 2-3 months time between Tier 1 and Tier 2.

Eligibility for CGL

Those of you who are graduates as on 1st Aug 2016 or as on 1st Jan 2016 (notice dated 22nd Feb 2016) and are below 30 years of age (on August 1, 2016) can apply for it. The notification for SSC CGL is out and is available at CL’s Bank & SSC blog.

The last date of application is March 24. For reserved category aspirants, there is some age relaxation. What’s more, you have to pay only Rs 100 as the examination fee and absolutely NOTHING if you belong to the fairer sex or if you belong to SC/ST category. I wonder why the government does not allow final year (of graduation) students to appear in it. Even UPSC allows final year students to appear in the Civil Services Examination.

Should Engineers/students from good colleges go for CGL?
Many of my colleagues/ex-colleagues who are from decent engineering colleges have joined government jobs through SSC CGL exam. A few names that immediately spring to my mind are Rajat Sen and Himanshu Joshi from Delhi College of Engineering, Himanshu Joshi (DCE again), Ankur Mittal from HBTI, Kanpur etc. Moreover, appearing for an examination does not mean that you will be forced to take up the job. My suggestion is that you keep it as one of your options at least. This is definitely a better option than joining a lower rung MBA institute. The work experience that you gain here will in any case be helpful when you go for a retake of MBA entrances.

Take a Mock CGL Tier I paper

Why don’t you to experience Tier 1 of SSC CGL on 28th Feb 2016, Sunday at our centers spread across the country? CL is conducting an open mock test for SSC CGL Tier 1. CL students can take the test for free by showing their CL ID card and for non CL students there is a nominal fee of Rs 99. In the worst case, you will get some practice for your MAT/CMAT/CET paper.
To register for the All India Open Mock Test for SSC CGL Tier I paper, you can click on the following link or contact your CL center.
Registration Link –

Important Dates
Closing date of Part I online application –  21st Mar 2016
Closing date of Part II online application –  24th Mar 2016

Dates of Exam

Tier I: 8th May 2016 and 22nd May 2016
Tier II: 13th Aug 2016 Paper I and II

Link for online application: and

All the best.