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Making it to the National Defence Academy

Making it to the National Defence Academy

We had mentioned in a previous column the advantage of entering the armed forces as officers through the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination. Let us now look at the contents and style of the test.

Written Examination

There are two papers, each of two-and-a-half hour duration.

Mathematics : 300 marks

General Ability Test: 600 marks

The outline of the syllabus for the examination is as follows :

Mathematics : algebra, matrices and determinants, trigonometry, analytical geometry of two and three dimensions, differential calculus, integral calculus and differential equations, vector algebra, statistics and probability.

General ability test : (a) English : 200 marks. (b) general knowledge: 400 marks. It comprises physics (approximate weightage 25 per cent), chemistry (15 per cent), general science (10 per cent), history and freedom movement (20 per cent), geography (20 per cent), and current events (10 per cent).

There are only objective questions in the test, with four options for every question. Only one of the options is right. We have to identify and mark the right answer. There is a penalty in the form of negative marks for furnishing wrong answers. For each wrong answer, one-third of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted. If a candidate gives more than one answer to a question, it will be treated as a wrong answer, even if one of the given answers happens to be correct. If however a question is left blank, without giving an answer, there will be no penalty for that question.

The Commission may fix qualifying marks in any of the subjects if found necessary. We will not be permitted to use calculators or mathematical tables in the examination hall. Our style of preparation for the test should be in accordance with this limitation. Detailed syllabus will be published along with the official notification.

We should submit our application for admission to the "Secretary, Union Public Service Commission, Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi - 110069", as per the directions in the official notification.


A few years back we had discussed the diverse aspects of the SSB interview in this column. However, we shall now highlight the significant points.

In a conventional interview, a job seeker is positioned opposite a senior or a panel of seniors, who shoot a barrage of questions against the hapless target immersed in great anxiety and tension. The objective is the assessment of the suitability of the candidate for a specific job, through a series of oral questions and answers. This style has several inherent drawbacks.

The Services Selection Board interview, on the other hand, effectively makes a comprehensive assessment of the personal attributes, usually referred to as 'officer-like qualities'. The exercise is elaborate; it is spread over four or five days.

One of the prime objectives of the SSB interview is to confirm that the candidates have the healthy attitude and approach for defence service. Applicants would generally be ignorant of the unique test styles used by the psychologist for this purpose. Many questions do not have ?right' answers. The questions are often framed in such a way that the candidates would unknowingly disclose their attitudes and streams of thought. However, those who are acquainted with the test patterns may be able to answer the questions more prudently. We will not get time to cook up answers so as to misguide the psychologist and artificially demonstrate our non-existent mental aptitudes.

The selection process has the following components:

Psychological / Intelligent tests

Group Testing Officer's (GTO's) tests

Personal interview

First Day

Reception, roll call, allotment of chest numbers, filling up of forms including bio-data (cv). In addition to these, some intelligence / aptitude tests may be held. Those who perform very poorly at his stage may be sent back, without further testing.

Second Day

Intelligence tests: verbal and non-verbal / matrices items. (something similar to what you have in the bank recruitment tests)

Word association test: The object of this test is to gauge your real personality and attitudes. 60 random words will be shown in succession for 15 seconds each, and you will be asked to write a sentence based on each word. The sentence would reflect your first reaction. It should reveal a positive approach to life. It would be artificial if you try to make every sentence revolve around service personnel.

Thematic apperception test: A picture will be shown for 30 seconds and you will be asked to write a story based on it in three minutes. You will have to write ten such stories one after the other. The story should be complete. The psychologist is trying to gauge your attitudes. A positive ending with a ring of optimism is essential.

Situation test: You will have to tell how an imaginary person would behave in a given situation

Self-Description Test

Third / Fourth Days

The Group Testing Officer will be in charge of conducting the tests.

Indoor Exercises

Group Discussion

Group Planning : This indoor task involves the formulation of a practical solution for a complex problem such as retrieving jewels plundered by dacoits, or saving the people in a village under the threat of floods. Your solution should be workable and not dependent on rare bravado.

Short Speech : Usually you will have to speak for three minutes on a subject chosen by you from a list of three. Three minutes will be given for preparation.

Outdoor Exercises

Progressive group Task : A group of candidates will be asked to clear outdoor obstacles of increasing difficulty. Usually four obstacles will have to be cleared in 40 minutes.

Group obstacle race (Snake race): A heavy rolled tent will have to be carried observing certain restrictions. It will be a competition among different groups; there is no fixed time allotted.

Half group Task : Half a group (4 or 5 candidates) should tackle one obstacle.

Individual Obstacles : Ten obstacles in ascending order of difficulty to be cleared by each candidate in three minutes.

Command Task : Each candidate to act as the commander of a small group that should carry certain items, tackling an obstacle.

Final group task: A difficult obstacle to be cleared in a stipulated time.

Fifth Day

Conference : Each candidate faces the President and other officers.

The President / Deputy President / GTO speaks to the candidates.

Announcement of results.

You will be interviewed personally on any one of the days.

The candidates for the Air Force will have to undergo the Pilot's Aptitude Test comprising instrument reading, light control, and drum test. Any person would be allowed to undergo this test only once in a lifetime.

Making it to the National Defence Academy

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