How to Prepare English for Competitive Exams

English language test or verbal ability test is an important part of any competitive exams , be it UPSC, CAT, SSC CGL, RBI Grade B , SBI PO or GATE. English language is a major transactions language used in mutli-lingual societies like India. On the average, every competition exam have 20-33% of weightage for english paper. It also plays an important roles in stages like essay writings (for example in UPSC, State PSC, RBI Grade B) and in interviews for all the competitive exams. We can easily says that english paper form a backbone for good scores and ranks in any competitive exams.

English Preparation tips for competitive exams

Any english paper (or verbal reasoning paper) can be divided into five major sections. We have kep essay writing and interview section apart, and we will share different articles for these 2 topics.

See also: Essay writing tips for UPSC Mains, RBI Grade B and Nabard 

Important section in english paper

  1. Comprehension
  2. Error spotting
  3. Para jumbles
  4. Cloze test
  5. Vocabulary

Broadly, they can be classified into

a. Reading section (Reading comprehension)

b. Vocabulary skills (which is major part of speech)

c. English grammar (reading and writing)

How to score good marks in English paper for competitive exams

Here are some tips on how to enhance your English skills and score good marks in these sections:

How to prepare Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension is the ability to read the text, process it and understand its meaning. In addition, RCs are aimed at testing a candidates Knowledge of two elements i.e. Vocabulary and Text Comprehension.

Here are some tips for scoring good marks in comprehension section:

  1. Firstly read the passage in about 1-2 minute. Don’t waste lot of your time there. Once you read it then come to the question which follows it. Then try to locate the passage or sentence from which question is being asked. One more point you should keep in mind here is try to get the main idea of the passage. Sometimes the questions are not directly asked, but you have to infer from the passage.
  2. Make a habit of reading newspaper daily (most preferably ‘The Hindu’). In a long run it helps to understand the passage clearly in short interval of time and also helps to get the main idea of passage.
  3. Also start using dictionary more often. When you do this, it gradually results in increment of your vocabulary skills. This also helps in scoring good marks in comprehension section as frequently questions regarding synonyms/ antonyms are asked.
  4. You can also adopt the method of elimination. Sometimes through elimination we can get to the correct answer but avoid assuming the correct answer rather than going through passage again.

Error spotting tips

This is the favourite section of many aspirants because they find it easy. You don’t find it? Don’t worry. After going through these tips you will say the same.

  1. First go through the complete passage. Many errors will be detected in the first reading like spelling errors and common grammatical errors.
  2. Try to find out errors related to subject-verb agreement because this is the common error questions asked in exam.
  3. Also focus on errors related to gender or countable and uncountable nouns or where to use singular or plural form.
  4. Before appearing in this exam you should also have the knowledge of much/many or whose/which (ie. where to use them).

Para jumbles tips

Some people think that this section is quite easy and can be solved spontaneously. But let me clear this confusion. Its not as easy as it seems. You have to practice a lot of questions related to this topic in order to get perfection and accuracy. Here are some tips to improve this part:

  1. Firstly find the opening sentence of the paragraph. Many a times it then gives the idea of whole essence of paragraph.
  2. Try to get to the main idea on which the paragraph is based and then it gets easier to arrange the sentence accordingly.
  3. For its improvement try to practice more and more questions. You can also make habit of reading good English novels (prefer foreign writers). It helps in getting the idea of sentence formation, para jumbles and helps a lot in increasing vocabulary.

Cloze test preparation tips

Now this is a difficult section of English for competitive exams. I am saying it difficult because it involves good vocabulary, grammar and a strong command over English language. But nothing is difficult if you know the strategy to crack it. So lets have a quick glance over tips and tricks:

  1. First go through complete passage. This helps in getting the central theme of passage which gradually gives the idea of missing words.
  2. Identifying transition words, pronoun antecedents and chronological order helps a lot in this context. It gives the idea of what sentence should follow it even if you are not able to get the central theme of passage.
  3. Have a good knowledge of vocabulary. This helps a lot in guessing the accurate word. And for this keep a dictionary handy. Make use of modern technology and always refer to dictionary in your mobile whenever you infer a new word. This helps a lot in increasing vocabulary.


In this article, we have shared some preparation tips for english (or verbal ability) tests for exams like UPSC IAS, CAT, RBI Grade B, SSC CGL, SBI PO, GATE, IRDA, Nabard and other competition exams.

Do let us know in case you have any problem in english preparation. We would love to help you.

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