How to prepare Idioms for SSC CGL

    Lokesh Gupta Lokesh Gupta
    Exam Prep Master

    Idioms in SSC CGL is one of the most important topic in English Comprehension especially in Tier 2. Proper practice and understanding the context will help you to score good in this section. Tier 1 consists of 25 questions (50 marks) from English Comprehension and the section consists of 200 questions (200 marks) in Tier 2.

    • Idioms contains 3- 4 questions (6- 8 marks) in Tier 1 and difficulty level of the questions ranges from Easy to moderate.
    • It consists of 10 questions (10 marks) in Tier 2 and difficulty level is slightly higher than Tier 1 but still easy to solve.
    • Idioms are highlighted and candidates are asked to find the similar meaning of the Idiom mentioned in the question and four options are provided.

    General tips and previous year SSC CGL question papers are provided in this article for a better understanding of Idioms concept.

    Read More About SSC CGL

    Important tips for SSC CGL Idioms/ phrases

    • Look at the terms properly: Sometimes a little bit change in the questions can change the context of the meaning. For eg. Taking French leave – taking changes the meaning of the sentence so reading the statement properly is a must.
      He was punished for taking French leave.
      a) giving lame excuse
      b) leaving without permission
      c) Being absent without permission
      d) resigning without permission
      French leave means an abrupt departure, or being absent without approval so option B or C but since we have to replace the phrase ‘taking French leave’ so the correct option will be ‘C’
    • Try to find meanings by looking at the statement: Eg. He worked hard to feather his nest.
      a) decorate his home
      b) be envy of others
      c) trap birds
      d) provide for their own needs
      Feather his nest means to look after one’s own interest.
    • Combined meaning:  In idioms words together has a meaning which is different than their individual meaning. So try to look at the combined meaning of the Idiom. Idioms have a hidden meaning so they cannot be solved just by looking at them. They are tricky.
      For Eg. Break a leg – literal meaning go and break your leg. But no- idiom meaning do your best (all the best).
    •  Do not limit yourself to meanings alone, understand contextsTry and understand in what context a particular idiom or phrase has been used. This will help you understand and remember the particular idiom or phrase better.
    •  Keep a handy list for revising what you have learnt: Keep a diary to learn words on the go. This will not make learning a chore and you can revise the important idioms or can look at them whenever required.
    •  Do not try to cram at onceNever try and learn too many idioms or phrase at the same time because learning too many idioms will simply confuse you in spite of helping you out, However, learning them by grouping them into themes is quite a good idea.
    • Relate idioms and phrases to visual imageryTry and relate idioms and phrases to images and link them to stories. Trust us, you will never forget them! And also try to make sentence using idioms because to get a better idea about the usage of that idioms.

    Example of some commonly used Idioms with their Meanings

    Go through the table and also try to look for more such idioms and understand them properly avoid any confusion during the exam.

    Vote with their feetTo Show their disapproval
    Brought the house downTo make audience laugh
    Golden handshakeA big sum of money given to a person when he/she leaves a company or retires
    The best of both worldsThe benefits of widely differing situations, enjoyed at the same time
    Ball is in your court it is up to you to make the next decision or step
    Break the iceTo initiate a social conversation or interaction
    To call a spade a spadeTo be brutally frank, outspoken, blunt in speech

    Previous year SSC CGL Idiom Questions

    1) I threw up my cards for want of funds:
    a) gambled all my money
    b) gave up my plan
    c) put my whole income at stake
    d) looked out for help

    Threw up my cards means to give in or to confess defeat.
    2) He advised her to give a wide berth to malicious people
    a) give a larger bed to
    b) to stay away from
    c) share her seat with
    d) pay more attention to
    wide berth means to steer clear of
    3) Tripti gave her report quoting chapter and verse
    a) provided minute details

    b) spoke like a preacher
    c) referred to religious books
    d) taught like a teacher
    means very specifically detailed so option A
    4) Shyam Prasad was a chip of the old block
    a) a common boy of the locality
    b) an experienced old man
    c) a being of the old generation
    d) someone similar in character to one’s father who behaves in a same way or resembles his father

    Challenges faced by Students

    • Time Management: Sometimes, students in spite of knowing all the answers, not able to solve all the questions because of poor management. So it is advised to manage time in the best way possible. So go through all the question papers and look at the format and questions asked.  
    • Allotted time for Tier 1 reduced: The time has been reduced from 75 minutes to 60 minutes so candidates may find it difficult to solve all the 100 questions in such a less time. Also Idioms doesn’t take much of your time can be solved much easily if properly practiced. So practice as much as you can. It will enhance your performance.

    General Tips for Idioms

    • Reading: Read as much as you can.  Newspapers and literature textbooks contains Idioms in them so by reading such things you will learn more and also try to write them down after looking  its meaning and  try to compare it with other idioms and spot the differences between the two.
    • Practice: Practice makes a man perfect. So solve questions or go through all your notes and also use the learnt idioms in your daily language because it will improve your communication skills as well as your Vocabulary.
    • Previous Year question papers: Go through all the previous year SSC CGL question papers and you will more clearly understand the difficulty level of the question paper and also the type of questions asked.
    • Do not try to break any Idiom: Breaking the Idiom will not be of any use because meanings vary. So breaking any Idiom will be a bad idea.

    • Oxford Idioms (Idiom Dictionary)
    • Phrases and Idioms by Richard A spears
    • Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms by Marvin Terban



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