Success Story of Vishal Sodhi – Cleared IBPS PO 2017, SSC CGL 2017(AIR 150)

Read the Success Story of Vishal Sodhi, who left his job and started preparing for government exams with the intention of contributing towards the society directly. His perseverance and a strong will helped him to crack IBPS PO 2017 & later this years SSC CGL 2017 with AIR 150.

Here is his inspiring story:

Hello aspirants, I am Vishal Sodhi and I cleared SSC CGL 2017 and IBPS PO 2017 earlier as well. I completed my B.Tech in 2015 in IT and joined an MNC and worked there till Nov’16. During my tenure as a techie, I realized that there are better prospects if my employer is the government, but my love for Tech was the binding force that I had to overcome, as I took IT out of my own free will. But the reason I wanted to work in the public sector (technical or administrative profiles) was that my work will affect the people directly, not like indirectly earning Forex. 

So, I resigned and went into full-time preparation mode for the preparation of both Banking (SO and PO) and SSC CGL, knowing that dealing with both of them together wouldn’t be an easy task because each of these exams had a different set of subjects, common subjects had different things that were asked, the pattern, the scheme and timings were completely complementary, with almost nothing in common, except for one thing, ‘The Will’ to crack them both. So it required a different regime to get command over both the exams’ syllabus and pattern as I would be discussing in my strategy later here. 

I didn’t qualify for SO, but cracked IBPS PO 2017 convincingly in my first attempt and got allocated to Canara Bank! After cracking IBPS PO 2017 in April 2018, I was left with Tier 3 of CGL 2017 (after clearing the Prelims and Mains earlier) because at that point, there still were some months for joining which could be used for writing further exams.

After Descriptive Exam in July 2018, there was a very long period of inactivity on the CGL 2017 front, during which I was busy doing my job and preparing for the further exams like SSC CGL 2018. I wrote the CGL exam 2018, but just before that Tier 4 of CGL 2017 finally was conducted in June 2019 and the final results got declared in November 2019.

Although I was expecting a good rank, but the results were nothing short of a surprise. The perseverance had paid off. I was ecstatic, I got an AIR of 150 in the Main Selection List out of more than 8 thousand candidates selected in the exam which attracted more than 25 lakh applications. With this rank, I was able to secure the post of Assistant Section Officer in the Ministry of Railways, which is my favorite post among all the posts offered by SSC CGL.

My Strategy:

I had been working in the IT sector for the past some time before the exam, so to train your mind to pick up academics after so much time for such competitive exams was quite difficult. But I had a good command on general aptitude and English so it was only a matter of time to get into the exam frame. I picked up the online practice material available on YouTube and went through the syllabus and previous year questions from books I purchased to realize the level and type of questions asked.

After a month it was time to give test, analyze it and give specific attention to the weaker sections because the real-time practice is a great way to sharpen your skills and improve your knowledge. One thing was, I had to take care of the finances during this period of preparation before I began working after 2 long years in Dec’18 , which was met with the savings I had done while working earlier, this prevented any financial stress.

Now coming to my subject wise strategy as every subject is important because you can’t leave any stone unturned.

English: I preferred reading the Hindu and practicing the exam oriented questions online. As English is my first language, I was comfortable with vocabulary and grammar despite of jumbled question paper.

Reasoning: The basic questions that were mostly expected like Number Series, Direction Sense, Diagram Questions, Word Matrix, etc were practiced. The reasoning asked is basic in CGL but the scope is so vast that you cannot define it into types like banking. So, I practiced as much as I could online and offline from previous year papers. Appreciating the logics involved in getting the final answers is the key here, as they improve the scope of logical thinking during the exams.

General Awareness: I read monthly GA reviews and Newspapers for current affairs. For static GK topics, I made my own notes from various NCERTs and internet of subjects like History, Geography, Polity, Economics and Biology. The various GA capsules available online are also of use.

Quant and DI: I followed Kiran Publications’ Previous Year Solved Questions Book and also practiced everything online thoroughly because of the variety of questions that could be asked. The variety during Mains exam was covered by studying the advanced topics through High School Textbooks and Online Videos for Trigonometry, Geometry and Mensuration.

Strategy to Attempt the Exam:

Prelims (Tier –I): Attempted maximum questions possible (99/100 in my case). Starting from Reasoning, then GK, then English and Maths at last as it’s equally scoring as all other sections but is also the most time consuming section. I tried to gain maximum marks in the first 30 minutes by completing 75 Qs out of 100 (other than Maths). I completed the exam in 53 minutes, hence got enough time to check my answers and go to the marked questions later. Also, I tried not to get stuck on a single question and traverse the paper quickly.

Mains (Tier –II): Just stay focused, here we have a lot more time, so, I only focused on accuracy by getting the concept right, be it Maths or English. But remember not to get stuck on a single question for long and traverse the paper quickly. The rest of the  strategy is the same as for Prelims.

Descriptive Exam (Tier –III): Prepare for the current common topics of national importance like Demonetization (for that time) and Abrogation of Article 370 (for current exams) for essays. They analyze the writing skills of the candidate, not the knowledge, so the topics of both letter and essay would be very common and known anyone from any part of the country. The marks for format of letter are for free, don’t miss out on it.

Oliveboard’s Contribution:

My stint with Oliveboard has been a short but a fruitful affair. I got to know about Oliveboard mock tests from Facebook and a friend who recommended them and had already cleared IBPS PO 2016. He also told me that how Oliveboard played a key role in his selection.

I started with the free ones and liked their analysis and the good difficulty level. I purchased Oliveboard mock tests and to my surprise, the level and pattern of questions asked in IBPS PO mains and SSC Prelims was similar to the ones asked in the mock tests. Although I only gave a few tests due to practicing and analyzing more than attempting mock tests, I found the series comprehensive and better than various other test series that I had purchased before, due to which I continued with them till now when I wrote CGL 2018.

I would say that the best thing about Oliveboard was the post-exam analysis as it really helped me in focusing on my weaker areas and further by providing quality study material! The detailed time-based analysis of every mock test was extremely crucial for me in deciding which questions I should attempt and which ones I should leave at a single look which enabled me to attempt Prelims in approximately 53 minutes. Also, the difficulty varied with each test which helped to prepare for the actual exam, as nowadays, these exams are becoming increasingly difficult, the pattern is changing between shifts on the same days and the vacancies are decreasing multifold. 

I’ve also used high quality current affairs’ supplements published by Oliveboard on website and social media channels, they helped me to prepare for the GK section, which played an important role in my selection and most importantly, in getting a good AIR. Difficult questions to challenge you, amazing interface, detailed solutions, everything is there in Oliveboard mocks. It helped me to fine tune my preparation, point out my weak areas, improve my time management which finally increased my accuracy even when I was preparing within stipulated time limits.

I would recommend the aspirants of Banking and SSC exams to use Oliveboard mock test series although they may seem a little costly in the beginning but at the end are worth spending an extra penny.

My Advice to Future Aspirants :

For preparation of competitive exams these days, you need to be strong on both sides of the game, i.e. academics and mental strength. One helps you to ace the exam while the other helps to continue on the desired path with full zeal.

I believe in the motto of “Degh Tegh Fateh: Daeg Taeg Fateh, Bihrd kee Paaej, Panth kee Jeet….”. Which means when you’re in Peace you Prepare with good zeal and for the Greater Good and Prosperity and when the time comes to fight the battle (or exam), you go out there raging with all your might, for the right. For this is the path that the Guru has shown for the Victory.

The second phrase sets the importance of our Elderly and Parents, saying that you must honour and respect them, for they’ve made us what we are today. It is they who help us when the entire world seems to end and dreams appear to shatter in tough times.

The third phrase is about the importance of being in the right company of friends (or people), who are like-minded and on the righteous path, for the Victory belongs to the set of such people. They harvest a culture of things that crucial and man being a social bee, thrives on the path of success in such an environment.

A person can either submit to his situation and problems and give up, or channelize them into something productive. So just be calm and work hard, just let everything else be God’s will. Prepare for the worst but aim for the moon! But remember that Winners are not those who succeed in the exams, but those who give an honest fight with all their means and never give up.

As from its notification, the CGL 17 exam process took more than 900 days for the final result to be declared, Perseverance and a Strong Will are the keys to success here. So, work hard, not to succeed in an exam but to be a winner in life.

Now, regarding the academics part of the exam, following are some tips:

Attempt a test either for knowing your current position or when you’re fully ready, but give 2 hrs to analyze a 1-hour test and focus on improvement and new learning. Read English newspapers daily, for improving your reading habit and current affairs’ knowledge and editorials to make a viewpoint.

In the last few days before the exam, devise a personal strategy according to your strengths on how you are going to attempt the exam paper, also have a Plan-B in case the exam pattern is surprising. Accuracy is of high importance especially in your scoring subjects, pay heed to it.

Also, the people of Hindi medium, you have to be confident enough of attempting the entire paper in English, it is a measure to check your English preparedness.

Keep a watch on the other exams conducted by the same authority/vendor to know the pattern as they are the trendsetters for the pattern of the rest of the exams. They let you know from where are the Qs likely to be asked, especially in GK and Quants. Use the vastness of the Internet for your benefits.


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