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NIACL Phase 2 Mains Exam (Administrative Officers) - Detailed Strategy

Published on Monday, January 09, 2017
Hi Readers,
NIACL mains exam for the post of Administrative Officers will be held on 10th Jan. We thought of giving you a heads up before the exam and help you rectify your strategy if it needs work. We are sharing the detailed strategy here for phase 2 exam along with ideal time allocation. Queries/doubts can be initiated in comments section!

Strategy for Objective Test

The mains objective test of 2 hours duration consists of 4 sections totaling 200 marks. English, Quants, Reasoning and General Awareness will each consist of 50 questions.


Unlike prelims, mains will have more variability of questions. You can expect questions from following broad areas:
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Para Jumble
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Error Spotting
  • Synonym / Antonym
  • Sentence Improvement
  • Cloze Test

What should you target?

Out of 50 questions, cover those questions first which have least amount of confusion/doubt. Attempt RC in the last only if time permits and that too do it selectively i.e word meaning questions should be attempted first. Good attempt should be around 35-40.

Tip for Cloze Test- Go through latest articles on Economist. It has been observed that Cloze Test is sometimes picked directly from there.


Reasoning plays a crucial role in mains exam. Questions from following areas will be asked:
  • Puzzles
  • Syllogism
  • Inequality
  • Coding Decoding
  • Input Output
  • Blood Relations
  • Direction Sense

What should you target?

Puzzles and Input Output should be attempted in the last. Go through puzzles before attempting and attempt the one with least parameters i.e 6 rather than 8 persons. Linear arrangement should be preferred rather than circular one and so on. Good attempt in this section should be around 35-40.

Tip for Syllogism & Inequality - Draw/Write clear diagrams. Sometimes they ask questions with same parameters after skipping a couple more questions. If you would have neatly drawn the earlier figure or equation, it will help save your time in solving that.


It has been seen in last few exams that Quants section is of Moderate-Difficult level. You know about all the topics from which questions are asked. You should attempt this section skillfully as it is equally important to know what all questions are to be left in the exam.

What should you target?

Quadratic equations, Simplification, Number Series and conventional topics (STD, Time & Work, SI/CI, Allegations, Averages, Probablity) should be covered first and DI should left for later. Good attempt should be around 30-35.

It is better to start sequentially. If you feel the question involves complicated or time consuming calculations, mark it for review immediately and move further. Please note that some questions may look difficult with large numbers but are actually easy while some questions using small numbers may actually involve detailed calculations. Take that call wisely in the examination hall.

In DI, some questions asked require simple percentages or differences - they should not be skipped. So go through all questions of DI while attempting that topic and answer selectively.

General Awareness

You simply can not ignore this section as it is going to play a huge role in clearing the cut off. Go through all the current affairs and static GK material available on this blog, esp. for last 2-3 months. This section will take minimum of your time and can potentially reward you with maximum marks. Try to attempt more than 40 with accuracy here.

Strategy for Descriptive Test

Immediately followed by objective test, there will be a descriptive test of 30 minutes duration and will carry 30 marks (letter writing - 10 marks & essay - 20 marks). Descriptive test of only those will be evaluated who qualify in objective test and it will have its own cut off. One thing here - marks of Descriptive paper won't be added for interview call. Therefore it becomes imperative to clear this customary paper.

Letter Writing

Some useful tips are as follows:
  • Go through the format of formal and informal letters. 
  • Make sure you don't make grammatical/punctuation errors.
  • Structure it in a crisp way with introduction or problem in the 1st paragraph, elaborate it in 2nd para and conclude in 3rd. 
  • Language used should not be argumentative but polite. 
  • Try not to go beyond prescribed word limit.  


Some useful tips are as follows:
  • Choose the topic you are most comfortable with. 
  • Structure of the essay should be - Introduction, Body (explain the dimensions here) and conclusion. 
  •  Strictly stick to the topic, no philosophy required. 
  • Use facts/quotes wherever you can.
  • Adopt a balanced approach. Do not tilt unnecessarily towards pros or cons. 
  • Adhere to the word limit (margin of 10-20 words is Okay)

Time Allocation 

General Awareness - 40 questions (12-15 mins)
English - 35-40 questions (22-25 mins)
Reasoning - 38-40 questions (40 mins)
Quants - 35-40 questions (40 mins)

Total - 148-160 questions (120 mins)

**Please note - All the "good attempt" figures are based on careful observations of past papers & prevailing competition. Figures are purely speculative in nature.

All The Best, Cheers!

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