Common Eligibility Test

The Central Government has recently approved the setting up of the National Recruitment Agency (NRA) on 19th August 2020. The function of this National Recruitment Agency (NRA) will be to conduct the Common Eligibility Test (CET). This exam was proposed in the Rajya Sabha way back on 14th March 2018 whereas the concept of NRA was first proposed in the Union Budget 2020. This exam will be conducted for the selection of aspirants to the various non-gazetted Group B and Group C posts in the Central Government, State/UT Government and the Public Sector Banks. The idea behind this exam is to replace various other exams for the said posts with one single exam. Currently, these exams are being conducted by different hiring organizations like the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), Railways Recruitment Board (RRB), etc. The scores of this exam will be valid for three years. There will be no limitations on the number of attempts and the best among these scores will be considered valid.

National Recruitment Agency and Common Eligibility Test

There seems to be a lot of confusion among the candidates in regard to these new terms i.e. NRA and CET. In simple words, the Common Eligibility Test will act as one single screening/shortlisting test for various Group B and Group C exams. Generally, for most of the exams, the selection takes place through multiple stages i.e. preliminary exam, main exam, skill test/interview. The CET will replace the preliminary stage for all the said exams. On the other hand, the multi-agency body called the National Recruitment Agency (NRA), will be responsible for the conduction of this CET. The candidates who will clear this CET will be assessed further through specialized tiers (i.e. tier 2, tier 3 exams) by the respective organization i.e. SSC, IBPS, etc.

NRA CET Major Highlights
NRA Full Form National Recruitment Agency
CET Full Form Common Eligibility Test
Frequency Twice a year
Exam Language 12 Major Indian Languages
Score Validity 3 years
Number Of Attempts No bar on attempts
Exam Centres 1000+ (every district of the country)
Mode of Exam Computer-Based Online
Posts Covered
  • Group B (Non-Gazetted)
  • Group B “Gazetted” (exempted from the consultation of UPSC)
  • Group C



Exams to Be Replaced By The CET

by respective agencies (i.e. SSC/RRB/IBPS). The CET will replace the examinations from agencies: As discussed earlier, the NRA will replace the Staff Selection Commission, Railways Recruitment Board & other such Govt exam conducting bodies for the conduction of preliminary tests or the screening/shortlisting test only. The final appointment or the selection will be carried out through a domain-specific exam to be conducted

  1. Staff Selection Commission

The SSC conducts various crucial examinations for students hailing from different educational backgrounds like class 10th, class 12th, and graduate level. These various examinations like Combined Higher Secondary Level, Combined Graduate Level, Central Police Organization Exam, etc. are conducted across various stages like Tier 1, Tier 2, and so on. The first tier for all of these exams has a somewhat similar exam pattern or syllabus. The CET will replace all these tier 1 exams.

  1. Railways Recruitment Board

Indian Railways is one of the largest employers in the country when it comes to Govt jobs. The RRB too conducts various examinations like NTPC, Group D, etc. across various CBTs i.e. Computer Based Tests. The Common Eligibility Test will replace the CBT 1 stage for all the exams.

  1. Institute of Banking Personnel Selection Board

The IBPS conducts examinations for the recruitment of various banking posts like Clerk, Bank PO, Bank SO, etc. For all such examinations, the IBPS arranges a preliminary exam. The CET will replace all these preliminary examinations for all such banking posts. The further stages of selection i.e. mains, interview, etc. will be conducted by IBPS only.

  1. Graduate & Undergraduate Level Jobs

The CET will be applicable not just for Central Govt job exams but also by recruitments conducted by various State Governments and Union Territories. The State/UT Governments also need candidates belonging to every educational background like graduate, 10th pass, and 12th pass. The respective exam conducting body can directly conduct the advanced selection stage once the CET has been cleared by the applicant. The press release regarding the same was released recently:

Advantages of CET Exam

CET Exam will have some major advantages which can be summed up below:

  • CET will reduce the number of exams conducted by the various exam conducting bodies.
  • The candidate has to pay multiple application fees and has to travel to numerous examination centers in order to appear for multiple exams. This initiative will hence resume the financial burden on the student.
  • It is possible that CET scores may be further used by State Governments in the future if they desire to use it for short-listing candidates for employing them.
  • The CET can curb corruption and scams to a great extent.
  • There will be no restriction on the number of attempts. Hence the candidate can appear for the exam as long as he/she satisfies the age limit.
  • CET majorly aims to bring transparency in various government procedures, to ease the difficulty faced by the candidates after failure in the proper conduction of various exams. In the past, SSC CHSL 2013, CGL 2014, SSC Constable (GD), CAPF 2016, etc. have been canceled due to a number of reasons.

CET Exam Pattern

The NRA has not declared any specific exam pattern or syllabus for this Common Eligibility Test. The details regarding the same will be released in due course of time. The National Recruitment Agency will however conduct the following three types of CETs:

  • Matriculation Level (10th class)
  • Higher Secondary Level (12th pass)
  • Graduation Level

The syllabus for these exams will be as per the Tier I/CBT 1/ Preliminary stages of the various exams which are conducted by the SSC, IBPS, etc. for respective educational levels. Hence the recruitment will be taking place in two phases i.e. NRA CET & Specialized Tiers by respective organizations.



  • The Cabinet had approved the setting up of NRA on 19th August 2020.
  • The NRA is expecting to conduct CET from September 2021.
  • The CET will be conducted for Group B (Non-Gazetted), Group B “Gazetted” (exempted from the consultation of UPSC) & Group C posts.
  • The CET will be conducted twice a year.
  • The CET will be conducted in 12 major Indian languages.
  • The CET scores will be valid for 3 years.
  • The mode of exam will be Computer Based (Online).
  • The NRA has set no bar on the number of attempts.