Thursday, November 19, 2015

How to Strengthen English for Competitive Exams?

This article is for those students who are struggling to score good marks in English. Most of these students are actually the ones who were not privileged to do their schooling from English Medium schools. They did it either from Hindi Medium or any other state boards. When they face the competitive exams, they do pretty well in other sections but considerably lag behind their privileged counterparts in English section.This is quite discouraging when you know you deserve better. Before i start, I would like to make one thing clear:

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The Process of Strengthening English is not too easy. It need constant effort so you won’t find any magical tips in this article that will help you to become a maestro overnight. If you want to be a maestro in just 1 day then this article is not for you.
Ok, let's start. If you are targeting SSC CGL 2016, you must check our Mission SSC CGL 2016 Series.
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Why you are not able to get Good Marks in English?
  1. Negligence - Most of you know that this section has substantial weightage(50 marks in tier-1 & 200 marks in tier-2). However, you still neglect this subject and give priority to subjects like GK and Reasoning which are only helpful for tier-1.
  2. Applying Tukka or Guesses in Exam- You should know that Tukkas don't work these days because of negative marking. If you don't know the answer, leave it. Many of you use tukkas and end up losing few marks.
  3. Wrong Approach - You make notes consisting of Grammatical rules, Antonyms-Synonyms etc. However, you go through these notes only before going for the examination. It shows that you look at this section from exam point of view only. That is one of the reason why you fail. You should know that English is a crucial language which helps you throughout your life. An employee having good command over English is always preferred over his counterparts who are weak in this subject.
  4. You don't read good Newspapers - Reading a good Newspaper like The Hindu daily is a great way to strengthen your English. Most of the vocabularies and even passages that are asked in competitive exams are taken from these newspaper Editorials. 
  5. You know the meaning of Words but not their usage - Most of you are aware that a good vocabulary is needed to clear the exam. So, you note down a lot of words that you come across daily. You memorize their meanings as well. However, you don't know where and how that word can be used in sentences. This is not the right approach.
How to Strengthen your English? What's the Best Approach?

1.Take English Seriously
You are not able to get good marks in English simply because you are not taking it seriously. It is important for all competitive exams so take it seriously. If you don't have any English Grammar book yet, Purchase either of the two mentioned below.

  1. Objective General English by S.P Bakshi
  2. English for General Competition(Plinth to Paramount)
Go through the Grammar rules more than once and practice exercises(it's really important to practice). Once done, go through One Word Substitution, Idioms & Phrases, Phrasal Verbs & Antonyms/Synonyms. You must give at least 1-2 hour daily to English.

2.Read Newspapers Daily
SSC does not ask for very high flowing words but you must be sure of the usage of the word and how it is used in sentences.For example, the word "tantrum" means "bad temper". Most of you know that right? However, do you also know that it is generally used with reference to ‘children’ and the verb that is used with it is ‘throw’?. Have a look on sample question:

Q) He was the only child of his parents and _________ tantrums whenever they did not fulfill his demands.
  • A) made
  • B) had made
  • C) threw
  • D) displayed
You can master this by reading a good English newspaper daily. Newspapers are classified in two groups:
  1. Mass Type
  2. Class Type

The ‘mass type’ includes Times of India, Telegraph etc as the language used in them are reader friendly and they contain much ‘masala stuffs’, so attracts masses. 



The ‘Class type’ consists of The Hindu, Indian Express as they contain authentic news and the language uses can challenge your English abilities. These types are very important for exam point of view.  For this reason, I suggest you to read newspapers like The Hindu or Indian Express daily.If you can't buy, download the e-version of Hindu from Here.

What to read in the Newspaper?
There is no need to read everything in the newspaper. Go through the Editorial Section. Note down the new words that you come across along with their usage. Make this your daily habit. 

How Reading Newspapers will help you?
  1. Comprehension - Reading newspapers daily will not only improve your vocabulary but also your grammar and reading speed. You would be able to solve questions quickly and accurately. Sometimes you will find the same comprehension you have read somewhere before.
  2. Cloze Test - In a Cloze Test, you are asked to fill the blanks with appropriate words. Reading newspapers daily will help you in deciding the best words.
  3. Spotting Error - Remembering all the grammatical rules is a hectic task and believe me, no one remember each and every rule. When you are into serious reading habits and you read some erred sentence, you will indistinctly know that there is some error in this part of the sentence. 

3. Follow Some Websites and Apps
This is an Internet era right? There must be some good websites for improving your English as well? I am listing some best websites:
  1. http://www.vocabulary.com/
  2. Magoosh App on Android 
  3. http://www.wordhippo.com/

4. Practice, Practice and Practice
Last but not the least, Practice as much as you can. It's Practice that makes the person perfect not the books. Solve previous year papers and new Practice sets. I recommend you to purchase below given practice book for best result.
Now its Your Turn
I have listed some best methods for strengthening English for competitive exams. Follow these methods and let me know whether it worked for you or not. 

If you want to share some more methods that can be helpful then share it via comments. We will add that as well. Have a great day ahead! 


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