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How to Become a CBI Officer in 2020: Step by Step Guide

Are you dreaming of working for one of the most respected government agencies in India and wondering how to become a CBI officer? This article will help you understand some intricacies of joining the service. Read on to find out more.

What is the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)?


The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the main investigative agency in India, similar to the FBI in the United States. It investigates the most complex and high-profile crimes related to corruption, kidnapping, and murder. Also, the CBI is engaged in anti-terrorism activities, combating international organized crime, and other work on which the safety and well-being of the Indian people depend.

The CBI was originally a police force, but soon after the war with China, in 1963, it became a separate agency. In total, the CBI has six departments, and each of them specializes in a particular job: an administrative department, an anti-corruption department, an economic crime department, a policy and international cooperation department, a special crimes department, and a laboratory for conducting all kinds of tests.

How to join CBI?


So, you have firmly decided what you want to devote your life to. How to get a job in the CBI? In fact, not that difficult: you just need to meet certain criteria, successfully pass a special exam, and be better than other applicants. But as is usually the case in such situations, the most interesting thing is in the details. Let’s take a look at them.

SSC Exam (CGL)

You can take the SSC or Staff Selection Commission ‒ Combined Graduate Level exam to get the most junior position in CBI and begin your career advancement. This is the most direct route to your dream. However, most likely, you already guessed that a huge number of other people are also going to go along this path. And the first thing to prepare for is huge competition. Next, you must have a bachelor’s degree. Age ‒ up to 25 years. You will also have to go through a medical examination and selection for physical fitness. You will have an undeniable advantage if you happen to be an athlete, especially with any sporting title or titles in popular sports.


As for the exam itself, it consists of two stages: the preliminary exam and the main exam. These are tests designed to test your mental fitness. Both phases are done in writing.

The preliminary exam consists of two parts with 100 questions. Both tests take 2 hours. Topics: arithmetic; general knowledge and intellectual ability.

The main exam includes more topics and tests: general knowledge, 100 questions for 3 hours; English, 100 questions, 2 hours 20 minutes; arithmetic, 200 questions, 4 hours; language, 100 questions, 2 hours 20 minutes; communication and writing skills, 200 questions, 2 hours 20 minutes.

You will have to try very hard to pass all the exams with an excellent grade. In addition to exams, you will also have an interview with CBI staff. During the conversation, you will again be assessed personally to finally make sure that you are suitable for work.

In case of successful completion of all tests, you will be offered a job at the CBI in the lowest position. To advance in your career, you will have to try no less than on the exam. Or wait for an increase in seniority.



This is a different type of CBI officer exam. If you choose to follow this path, the good news is that it is shorter and you will immediately become an officer in Group A. That is, automatically skip a few steps on the career ladder. At the same time, much more serious tests await you.

If you have not yet figured out what this is about, then there is an opportunity for IPS employees to transfer to service in CBI, IB, or RAW. You have to first get a job in IPS, and then transfer to CBI. It sounds very cool and simple, but this is not the answer to the question of how to get into CBI.

You will have to take an exam, which consists of three stages: prelims examination round, main exam, and interview. It is somewhat similar to SSC (CGL), but the details are still different.

During the prelims examination round, you will have to complete two tests, 3 hours each. Besides, you will need to pass a small exam called the CSAT. It is passed by all who get a job in the civil service. This exam is designed to test your general knowledge and intelligence.

During the main exam, nine tests await you, two of which are mandatory, the remaining seven you choose at your discretion from the list. In general, everything is very similar to SSC (CGL) but more in-depth and more complex.

In addition to the two required language exams, you can take exams that can be roughly divided into four categories: (1) humanities ‒ culture, history, and geography of India and the world; (2) legal sciences ‒ constitution, state structure, international relations; (3) technical sciences and biology ‒ technology, biology, cataclysm control; (4) ethics.

You need to prepare so that you could easily take the exam. That is, your employment will directly depend on how hard you prepare for the tests. By the way, the number of attempts to pass this exam is limited.

After two stages, you will be taken to an interview. As in the previous case, when speaking in person with CBI staff, you will need to convince them that you are suitable for the job.

Preparation tips


While the UPSC exam is a good example of an extremely challenging test, that doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable. You just need to do your best. Namely, prepare well.

  1. Organize yourself. Plan all your actions on the way to the goal, and systematically implement your plans.
  2. Get ready every day. Regular classes in your chosen subjects are the key to successful test passing. Consistency and discipline are essential in this regard.
  3. Regular physical activity. To keep yourself in top shape, you need to exercise. Improve your muscle strength and endurance.
  4. Eat healthy foods. Eating right can help you avoid stress and mental overload. The body needs energy, so provide it with everything it needs.
  5. Get some rest. If you are working hard, you need to rest periodically. It will be great if the day off is on your schedule.


We have told you how to become a CBI officer in India. Of course, you can improve your knowledge in this matter, and learn even more about what you will have to go through during exams and tests. Do not forget that you will also need to prepare a lot of documents, and all of them must be in perfect order, otherwise, you will have to redo some things, and spend precious time and effort on this.

It is unacceptable that you have any illusions associated with serving in government agencies such as the CBI. Either you got the job by succumbing to the romance that is shown in movies or books. You must be fully aware of what you are doing and where you are going. With the knowledge and health needed to serve in CBI, you could easily take a management position in a decent company or start your own business. However, the decision is yours.

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