[Editor’s Note: In these days of pandemic, when we see things around us, two things strike us. Besides the doctors, nurses, sanitation workers and policemen who are warriors in our fight against the pandemic, we also see the Government administration (that includes secretaries, district collectors and other higher officials) in the centre stage making crucial decisions.

First, do you aspire to reach one of those leadership positions that have the power to influence the lives of lakhs of people?

Second, in these days of uncertainty, do you not want a job which is more secure and stable?

Ms. P. Padmalatha, the author of this article, shares her knowledge on the different types of Government jobs available and how one can aim to get into one of those! Padmalatha did her B.E. (Civil) from Alagappa College of Engineering, Karaikudi, and attended one year of coaching at Shankar IAS Academy during  2017-2018.

She has appeared for UPSC Group I exam and has cleared both TNPSC Group I and Group II exams in the first attempt. Now she has cleared SBI exam and is waiting for her posting.]

Everyone loves to get a job which is more stable and secured. Many of the graduates even do not hesitate to jump out of their own core field. Many government jobs do not need a specialised degree. Before taking up exams one should be sure about two things, nature of jobs and types of exams.

1. Nature of Jobs

Nature of Jobs differ depending upon the sectors and organisations. For example, jobs in banks, revenue department etc have direct contact with  people while  some jobs, say in RBI, do not have direct contact with people. Some people like to sit before a computer even for the whole day and some hate to do so. Hence before choosing a career, one should know where he/she fits in.

2. Types of Exams and their Syllabi

 Nowadays, almost no exam has only one  stage. Mostly, there are two stages even for clerical cadres and the number of stages increases with the nature of the job. Initially, there is a screening test called preliminary exam, the marks of which is not normally counted for the final merit list. Successful candidates in the preliminary exam have to undergo  another written exam and an interview (may include a group discussion in some exams). The syllabi   for various exams differ from one exam to the other.

But we can group them into two, one which gives importance to mathematics (called as quantitative aptitude) and another with lesser importance to it. Mathematics does not include topics like trigonometry, geometry, algebra. It has only basic mathematics such as simple interest, measurements, relation between speed time and distance, time and work which everyone can do with the knowledge of high school mathematics.

Various exams which are annually conducted are given below:

(i) Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) Exams

TNPSC website contains syllabi for various exams it conducts.

For TNPSC exams one has to concentrate on the Tamil Nadu State Board books (besides other books, importance is given to 6th std to 12th books ). For Group I exam, there are  3 stages,  (i) preliminary exam (objective type questions), (ii) main exam (descriptive type questions) consisting of 3 papers (Papers 1,2,3) and (iii) an interview. Again, the Group II exam  also has 3 stages and the group IV  has only 2 stages but the pattern differs for each. For these exams,  simple mathematical knowledge is required;   everyone, even without preparation,  can attend many questions. Only in Group I main exam, one needs good preparation for  mathematics,  that too, from school books only. Reading newspapers is a must for these exams. To add up to your knowledge, you can also refer to websites like TNPSC Thervupettagam for current affairs. Many institutes such as Shankar IAS academy, Apollo, provide good coaching for these exams.

Besides the TNPSC, High Court of Madras also recruits for the post such as Assistant, Computer operator, Typist etc.; these posts also come under the Government of Tamil Nadu but working rules  are based on the court guidelines.

(ii) Civil services exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)

Many call it as an IAS exam but it is not so. It is an exam for about 20+ posts such as IAS, IPS,IFS,IFOS, IRS. This exam has three stages, preliminary exam (two objective papers- general studies and CSAT), mains (9 descriptive papers including 2 optional subject papers) and an interview. The question papers used to have both dynamic and static questions. So one has to go through NCERT textbooks, latest news of national importance etc. to crack this examination. Here too, quantitative aptitude comes along with English comprehension questions in one of the preliminary exam papers. This CSAT paper is  just a qualifying paper. There are many candidates who have passed this  toughest exam without coaching. But many aspirants need a streamlined guidance to prepare for the exam; such candidates may take up the coaching.  Shankar IAS Academy is one among the few good  coaching centres in south India. Many coaching centres are available in cities like Hyderabad, Delhi.

(iii) Bank exams

Bank exams are  held regularly for probationary officers (PO) and clerical cadres. It is conducted by IBPS for all public sector banks except SBI. PO examination has 3 stages (preliminary exam, main exam and interview) and clerical cadre examination has 2 stages and it does not have the interview. But the syllabus remain the same for both PO and clerical exams. To pass these exams, one has to do the mathematical calculations at a faster rate. But that does not mean that people who are not good at mathematics cannot pass the exam. Everything comes in handy once you practice a lot because quantitative aptitude here includes only basic concepts and not higher grade mathematics that everyone fears. Reasoning ability and English are the other two topics of the preliminary exam. More or less all three sections carry equal marks. Each section has a sectional time and one should get sectional cut off mark and overall cut off mark to pass. But SBI exam has no sectional cut off mark. Main exam contains a section for general awareness (GK, financial awareness, current affairs, etc) for which  regular careful reading of newspapers is a  must. For some exams like RBI computer awareness also shares a good percentage of marks.

Sources you can refer to practice

Websites like Crack with jack, Grade up, ibps guide, affairs cloud, bankersadda, bankersdaily, testbook, oliveboard, govjobadda, ixambee will help a lot. Many of these  also have YouTube channels and also provide test packages at low price. It’s not compulsory to attend coaching institutes as the shortcuts needed to solve problems and strategies to be followed are posted by these websites and YouTube channels.

(iv) Combined Graduate Level (CGL) exam conducted by Staff Selection Commission (SSC) (Central Govt.)

The posts for which the exams are conducted  include Group B (both gazette and non Gazette posts) and Group C. The posts are in the departments of Central excise, Income tax, Audit and Accounts, postal etc.  Each year the vacancy is around ten thousand. This exam can be taken by graduates of any stream. But this exam needs good knowledge and interest in mathematics as the syllabus contains advanced topics in mathematics  such as trigonometry , algebra, coordinate geometry. The  syllabus also has reasoning ability, English and general awareness, which even includes questions in  physics, chemistry and biology. Nowadays, due to high competition, the toughness of the exam has increased dramatically.

(v) Other Exams

Exams conducted by Food corporation of India (for the posts of Manager and Assistants), CBI, Food safety and standards authority of India(FSSAI), Airport authority of India (AAI), Central warehousing corp. (CWC), and various other Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) resemble the banking exam patterns and syllabi. Hence if one prepares for bank jobs then he/she  can also try for   these exams.

Summary: It is always better to try for high posts. But the  good idea is to cling on to anyone Government job that comes to you first and then climbing on the ladder to get your goal.  The exams are highly competitive. Some aspirants  have a single examination in their mind and they move towards it even if it takes many years. Some IAS aspirants take five or six attempts;  they may attain their goal or not; if they are not successful, then they may be around 30 and hence they may not be able to sit for other  exams because of age. But many aspirants may not spend too many years on preparation for a single exam due to financial problems or they may be interested  to do any job in the government sector. There are  many candidates only in the second category. Hence, in my opinion,  simultaneously make  preparations for bank exams, UPSC, TNPSC etc. After preparing for these exams simultaneously aspirants can manage any competitive  exam easily.