English Language (Descriptive) in NICL AO Exam - Practical Approach is Essential

The new year has brought good news to all those students who want to get into government services. Various notifications for recruitments in Government sector have already been released.
One among them is the notification from National Insurance Company Ltd. for the posts of administrative officers and assistants.

The structure of the paper involves one objective test, including 40 questions each on Reasoning, Quantitative aptitude, English Language and General Awareness, followed by a descriptive paper on English Language. Hence, we can say that the exam pattern is almost on the lines of SBI PO.

With the objective to provide complete understanding about the due importance of English in this exam, this article covers all the areas of English preparation for the given exam.

Starting with the Objective test first
The main focus of this exam is on three topics viz.- Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Grammar.

These key areas check candidate’s understanding of the standard usage of English and how comfortable he/she is with the basics of the language. For this reason, it is very important to have a good command over English. The candidates who are not that comfortable with English can start reading at least 1 English newspaper everyday from now onwards to improve their command and this traditional method of reading really works!

Objectively speaking, you do not need to master all the concepts of English for this exam. Just a sharp focus on the main and important topics will be enough to help you hit the bull’s eye. So what are those topics?

Going by the previous years’ papers, the popular question types are: - questions on Para jumbles, Fill in the blanks, Spot the errors, Synonyms, Antonyms, Reading Comprehension, Choosing the most suitable word according to the context.

Here are the tips on to tackle these questions:
As for the sentence correction questions, prepare the following topics really well:- Parts of speech, Articles, Tenses, Modals & obligations , Subject verb agreement error, parallel structure, Active/passive & narrations, Conditionals.

These topics will take care of most of the questions asked in ‘Spot the errors’ section of the grammar. Apart from that, also try lay your hands on ‘Idioms & phrases’ as this topic is gaining popularity among question paper setters.

Having said that, make sure you don’t just read the topic but study the topic. For example: In parts of speech, don’t just read how many parts of speech are there or what are the definitions of those parts of speech, but also read what is the practical application of every part of speech. To elaborate it further, ask yourself, is it okay to say- The lady was walking very slow?

The answer is no. In the above sentence, Slow describes the walk and hence is an adverb. But, it is written in adjective form ‘SLOW’. So, we have to correct it and write it in adverb form which is ‘SLOWLY’.

For fill in the blanks questions – The questions can be either vocabulary based or grammar based. If it is grammar, above topics will suffice. If it is vocabulary- you need to at least be good at vocabulary if not an expert. Reading a good editorial a day from any good English paper will help you build your vocabulary. You can also take help of the books available in the market.

For synonyms & Antonyms Questions, again, you should be good at vocabulary. Try to learn words in all the contexts available. For example: - The simple word ‘Fast’ means quick movement (She runs very fast). And, it also means Resistant to destruction or fading (The use of vat dyestuffs and naphthol products in printing fast colors has increased steadily for some years). Learning words in this way will help you to crack all vocabulary related questions.

For reading Comprehension questions, most of the students complain that they fall short of time and were unable to complete all RC related questions. Students also express their helplessness over not being able to understand the meaning of the question or the paragraph. To cope up with this problem, try reading editorials (from any English newspaper) for main idea and summary. This will help you to improve your understanding of the text and English in general. Initially, it might seem an uphill task but don’t quit. Follow this advice, diligently and you will see the results. You will also notice an improvement in your speed of understanding Reading Comprehension.

Lastly, for the Para jumble, these questions can be little confusing sometimes, So, Practice a lot of questions so that you get comfortable with this type of questions. Also, you can check this topic online as there are plenty of resources & concept techniques available.

One important thing you should take care of while attempting the exam is that you cannot afford to give more than 25 minutes to English section. So practice well in advance.

Coming to the Descriptive paper
This paper will contain Essay writing, précis writing and comprehension.

To finish all these 3 questions you will be given 45 minutes and all the questions are mandatory. So you have no choice.

In essay writing- You are asked to write an essay in around 250 words. Mostly the major problem faced by students is that they don’t even understand what the question was about. Read the question twice or thrice to get a better understanding of the question.

Make sure that you plan the essay’s content well in advance. Brainstorm. Prepare an outline of the main points that you are going to discuss in your essay. After the outlining is done, plan the structure of your essay well. What will be the introduction of your essay? How many ideas you are going to present? What will be the conclusion? Accordingly, you can choose to divide your essay in 4-6 paragraphs. However, keep the paragraphs’ length limited to 5-6 lines per paragraph.

Now, how to write an essay? Introduce your essay in the first paragraph (Give the background of the issue), in second paragraph, introduce your first idea related to the essay. Elaborate it. Give examples to explain your idea well. Introduce another idea in third paragraph and see to it that the ideas in second and third paragraphs are well linked to each other.

In précis writing- You are given a paragraph and you are asked to write a summary of it. In précis, the word limit of summary is one third of the original length of the paragraph. To score well in this question, first underline all the important points given in the paragraph. Reread all underlined lines and then write them in your own words. Don’t choose all the words from the paragraph, use synonyms or equivalents. In the end, all the important points should be covered & the original meaning (the essence of the paragraph) should not change.

The comprehension is simple. It is just like Reading comprehension of objective paper. Only thing is, here you will have to write the answers of the questions instead of choosing one option out of four or five options given. To get good marks in comprehension, again, ensure that you write answers in your own words without altering the original meaning of the sentence and without much grammatical mistakes.

-Neha Garg
Head of the Academics,
Anil Nair classes,
Published on 1/19/2015 6:28:00 PM


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