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Assistant's Grade Examination

Assistant's Grade Examination is conducted every year by the Staff Selection Commission for recruitment to the posts of Assistants in the Railway Board Secretariate Service, Central Secretariate Service, Armed Forces Headquarters, Departmental Organisations and attached offices of the Government of India as decided from time to time and Grade IV (Assistants) of General Cadre of Indian Foreign Service (B). The selected candidates are recruited as Assistants in the above mentioned departments of the Government of India, which is the lower middle rung of the administrative hierarchy.

The career as Assistant is particularly attractive to the candidates clamouring for the Government jobs. After recruitment to the post of Assistant, the candidate may rise to the level of Under/Deputy Secretary20to the Government of India. While climbing to this post, the candidates may be selected as Section Officers through a Departmental Competitive Examination held by the Union Public Service Commission.
Scheme of Examination
The Assistant's Grade Examination is held every year by the Staff Selection Commission as a Competitive examination. The number of vacancies vary from year to year based on the requirement of vacancies given by various departments from time to time. Depending upon the number of vacancies, reservation is also made for Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) as per the existing instructions on this issue.

Every candidate holding a graduate degree from a recognised university or equivalent qualification is eligible to take the examination. The age of the candidates must be 20 to 25 years, with usual age relaxation to the SCs, STs and Ex-Sservicemen as per rules. An examination fee of Rs 50 is required to be remitted along with the form. SC, ST, Ex-Servicemen and Physically handicapped candidates are exempted from making the payment of examination fee.

The Competition is conducted in two parts:

(a) Preliminary Examination
(b) Main Examination.

(a) Preliminary Examination: Preliminary examination is an objective type examination used to short-list the candidates for the main examination. It is a 3-hour duration examination comprising 4 subjects of (i) Reasoning Ability (ii) General Awareness (iii) Arithmetic; and (iv) Language Paper (English or Hindi) and carry a maximum of 300 marks. The examination is mainly used as a screening test to short-list the candidates for main examination and the marks obtained in this examination are not used while determining the final merit list after the main examination.

The paper is held by supplying separate question booklets for all tests separately. The questions asked are set in both English as well as Hindi and are Objective (Multiple choice) Type. Language Paper (English or Hindi) is qualifying in nature and the marks secured by the candidates in this test are not counted towards the overall merit to be prepared for qualifying for the Main Examination. No qualifying marks have been fixed and are determined on year to year basis depending on the number of candidates taking the Preliminary Examination, number of vacancies and overall performance of the candidates in general.

(b) Main Examination: The candidates who are declared successful in the Preliminary Examination are then required to take the Main Examination.

The papers in Main Examination are conventional and descriptive type. In Paper I, Part (a) consists of General English which is compulsory for all candidates but is only qualifying in nature and its marks are not included in the final merit list. No qualifying marks for General English part are prescribed and are fixed on year to year basis at the discretion of the Staff Selection Commission. However, marks obtained in the part (b) on Communication/writing skills are counted towards final rankings of the candidates. The candidates also have an option to write this paper either in Hindi or English. However, Part (b) of Paper-I (Communication/writing skills) and Paper -II (Arithmetic) are evaluated only if the candidate qualify the Part (a) of Paper-I.
Preparing for Preliminary Examination
The candidates must opt for the language in which they feel more confident and at home. No additional weightage is given for taking the Language Paper in any particular language. The other three tests on Reasoning Ability, General Awareness and Arithmetic are more important and like the language paper, carry 75 multiple choice objective type questions each with the same amount of marks.

The Competition Master is of immense use in preparing for the Preliminary Examination. Every issue of this magazine carries at least two model solved test papers on Reasoning, at least one solved paper each on General Awareness, English Language and Quantitative Aptitude. The Reasoning Ability test may include certain questions on common sense, a few pertaining to figures, relationship, statements, series of numbers etc. The range of questions on General Awareness is much wider. It inlcudes questions on current national and international affairs, Indian Geography, Modern Indian History, Indian Planning and Economy and General Science etc. The questions on Arithmetic are on elementary arithmetic, statistics, numbers, graphs and general quantitative aptitude. All these aspects of the Preliminary Examination are amply covered in each and every issue of The Competition Master. A continuous reading of the magazine for two to three years would put the candidate ahead of others. To supplement, it is desirable that books on Test of Reasoning, General Knowledge Refresher and Current Affairs and the Backgrounders are also consulted.

Time Planning is another important factor while attempting this paper as the candidates are required to answer 300 questions in 180 minutes (3 hours) and every question carries one mark. Hence it is imperative that the candidates attempt all the questions within stipulated time. This is only possible if no time is wasted on any question and regular practice is carried out before finally taking this examination.
Main Examination
The main aim of the examination is to look for the candidates who have a minimum required level of knowledge of English level and have fairly good written communication skills either in Hindi or English language. In addition, the examination also judges the capability of the candidates in simple arithmetic to see whether the candidates can carry out simple and logical calculations which may be required in day to day discharge of duties as Assistants. Of course, only those candidates are considered who have already qualified the Preliminary Examination and passed the minimum knowledge requirement prescribed by it.

Part (a) of Paper-I is qualifying which is on General English. It has simple questions to test the knowledge of English Language and comprehension of the candidates. It tests the general understanding of the language, usage of words, precis, paragraphs etc. The second part on communication and writing skills judges the candidates by asking them to write Essay, Topical Paragraphs, Letters and Reports etc. The candidates must, therefore, practice all these aspects in the language of their choosing, i.e. Hindi or English. Paper-I on Arithmetic can also be written in either language. This paper also requires thorough practice solving simple sums of arithmetic, statistics, graphs etc. A candidate having moderately good aptitude for arithmetic and quantitatives can expect to do well in this paper. Continuous practice of attempting the Quantitative Aptitude Test every month in this magazine will be of great help. The practice in doing more and more questions will not only enhance the problem-solving speed of the candidate but will also acquaint him/her with different type of expected problems and proper way to tackle them expeditiously and accurately.

One special feature of this examination is that there is no subjective judgement of the candidate in the form of Personality Test or Interview. The marks obtained in the Main Examination, which is conducted after short listing the serious candidates after the Prelims, determine the position of a candidate in the final merit list. Hence, a candidate who prepares well for the examination is expected to do well in this competition. Hard work and good preparation are the key words.
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