Cleared SSB Interview In 19th Attempt AIR-12 To Join Indian Army

Hello defense aspirants, I am SUMIT KUMAR from Ghaziabad. This was my 19th attempt for CDS IMA-144 course. My journey had started in JAN 2012 when I appeared for NDA SSB in Bhopal and got screened out. But I kept attempting continuously. I cleared every single written exam to appear for SSB. But I was not able to clear SSB. In last 6 years I have made 18 attempts. 10 screened outs and 8 conferenced out. In 13th attempt I performed very well but got conferenced out. 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th attempts I got screened out.  After these many failures, I had nothing to lose. I stopped thinking about my rejection or selection. I just focused on my responses during SSB. Being natural and honest is very difficult because time pressure and selection pressure made us all manipulative.

This time I tried to make my responses more natural and honest.

Coming to 19th attempt


I had selected the very 1st batch of IMA SSB commencing from 10th July 2017. 62 were reported, around 10 were sent back due to documentation. Screening started with 52. OIR test, Repeaters do well in this. In PPDT we were shown a picture of a doctor and two ladies standing one behind him and one in front of him. Since, it was monsoon season. So I made a story on widespread of mosquito related diseases in rural areas. I narrated very confidently as I had no pressure of selection/rejection. In Group discussion, I gave 1-2 points. When the result was announced I was the last chest number to be selected and given 32 chest number for 2nd stage.

Listen GTO briefing carefully. Give your narration confidently (irrespective of story). Speak only when you have valid and constructive points. Try to speak at least 1-2 times with valid and constructive points. Don’t speak just for the sake of speaking. Don’t repeat points. If you don’t have points, keep quiet and listen others. Listening will help you to get the matter to speak on.



In evening we were asked to fill PIQ. Testing for stage 2 starts with filling up of PIQ. Be careful while filling PIQ. You will be asked questions about each and every single word that you write in your PIQ. Be prepared to answer every possible question around every single word written in your PIQ.


 In My previous attempts, I had so many thoughts in my mind before Psych test. I was worried about the picture/words. I was worried about my responses on negative pictures/words. I was worried about response of Psychologist to my answer. And this much nervousness made me to alter my responses during test. Because of this nervousness, most of the times, I ended up writing a Preconceived story. This nervousness always led me to rejection.

But this time, I didn’t think about negative/positive/neutral even for once. My total focus was on to write a solution oriented story on whatever picture/word shown to me. Not for a single time, I thought about result/evaluation of my responses. I just kept writing my first thought to every pic/word.  I was very calm and chill before the  test and this helped me making my mindset to write a solution oriented story on any picture. This time I didn’t even prepare my SD. I only wrote whatever came to my mind first (truth).cds exam book


I was very calm before Psych test. My strategy was very simple. Look at the picture very carefully, write a solution oriented story.

  • Write a very simple and very specific story.
  • See the picture carefully. Your story and picture should match.
  • Neither try to fit your story according to pic nor try to manipulate the picture.
  • Use maximum two lines to write the intro part of story.
  • Action part must cover 80% of the story.
  • Write details very specifically. For example: he pressed wound before dressing it using medical kit available in Bike. Or he did the soil test. Normal range was 4-5 but result showed 6 indicating the acidic nature of soil. Or He placed and changed a wet cloth on forehead to cure 105 degree Fahrenheit fever. These specific details make a special impression on your story. These details bring genuinity to the stories.
  • Keep PIQ in your mind while writing stories/responses. Suppose you are making a story on preparation of a presentation on a subject related to economics. But you have done graduation in science. So try to write a story on science related subject only.
  • Write all and complete stories.


Practice beforehand .Don’t be nervous. Prepare yourself to write responses on any word. Calmness in your mind while writing WAT is the key to success. Try to write all 60 sentences.


Write your own responses. Don’t write the responses of others. For example: your response to a situation was that you would convince and during Group Discussions you were exactly opposite to what you wrote. It is contradictory. So write your natural/own responses to situations. Don’t skip SRTs in between. Keep it short and qualitative in nature. Here quality matters more than quantity. But still try to attempt as many SRTs as you can.


Avoid writing fancy words like hardworking, honest, responsible, etc.


 Your first and last aim should be the progress of your  group. If Group wins, you win. Group loses, you lose. Don’t get personal during any task at any point of time. It’s the group that matters, not the individual.


  • It’s a discussion, not a debate.
  • Put your views with justification. If someone counters then give justification one more time and move on.
  • Avoid heated arguments in GD.
  • Sometime what happens is that we are discussing on India and suddenly after a moment we are discussing on Jupiter (away from track). Make sure you are having discussion on right topic. Make sure you are on right track.
  • Speak only when you have valid and constructive points otherwise listen others. Believe me, Listening to others is the most enjoyable thing SSB.
  • It’s not necessary to stick to your plan only. If others’ plan is good, support them. Because Group as a whole matters.


Listen to GTO briefing very carefully. While briefing, he also indicates the solution. When he says “ This circle is movable Or there is a cut here etc.” he simply tells you that solution lies here.

3rd and 4th PGT are relatively tough. Try to give ideas in 3rd and 4th PGT. Keep calm.


Avoid injuries. Enjoy these tasks to fullest.


Don’t be nervous.  Solution is always there. Think calmly. Take your time. GTO will create time pressure. Ignore him whenever he says like you are left with 1 minute or 30 sec etc.


 Give your ideas otherwise support the group.


 I was the last to be interviewed. My interview was on the evening of GTO day 2. It was dark in room ( electricity cut due to rainy season). Hardly we were able to see each other. His first question

IO: Good evening Sumit. You have been here for 19 times. You must have written some books on SSB.

ME (smiling): no sir. But I gave suggestions to two of my friends and they got recommendation.

IO: They are in the academy but you are still here.

Me (smiling): yes sir! I am still here with you.

IO: okay Sumit. Now I am giving you a chance to write a book on SSB. What will you write in that book?

Me: I told him everything that I have written in this success story.

 Interview went for 30 min (approx.). He asked about my strengths I replied “never give up attitude”, “always ready with helping hand” “polite in nature”. He asked the reason for rejections. I told him that I wrote “preconceived stories” and I was “Under confident”.  He asked,”what about this time?” I said,” this time I wrote whatever came to mind firstly. And yes over the time I improved my confidence.” To a question I replied that SSB taught me a lot of things. For me it’s not only a selection procedure but a learning process also. It taught how to rise after so many failures. It taught me how to introspect. It taught how to communicate. It taught me how to handle pressure situations calmly and many more things.

Your PIQ plays an important role in interview. You must be  able to justify your answers. Support your answers with real life examples. For ex. If you say that you are calm. Support this by telling him an incident where your calmness helped you. So, be ready with real life incidents.


Even that day I was not thinking about selection/rejection. Our conference was in reverse order. I was the first one to be called in. Chest no 32 displayed on the digital display. Like my previous attempts, they took just 30-40 seconds to call me in. Which means rejection in my case.

IO (smiling): How was your performance?

Me: Sir, It was average.

IO (smiling): not good? Not excellent?

Me: I could have done better in GTO sir.

IO (serious tone): Sumit, You have been here for 19 times. Do you want more attempts? Do you want to make it 23 or 24?

(I was thinking that if he said 23 and 24. I should reply with little fewer attempts.)

Me: No sir. I think I will get a recommendation in 20th or 21st attempt.

Then he asked me about stay and food to which I replied positively.  As I was coming out of conference room, I was thinking what a blunder I had done because I just told them indirectly that I was not going to recommend in that attempt (19th). I was thinking if there were certain chances for my recommendation, I have vanished them with a single reply. None the less I was calm but this was the first time when I was sure of my rejection. So I took a good nap because I needed to awake in return train journey.

After 1 hour my friend woke me up. Yes, it was result time. Major rank officer was announcing the result. Chest no 4, everyone clapped (he is a brilliant chap). Chest no 15 (he is polite and calm like me) again every one clapped. Chest no 26 and chest no 29(we were sure about their selection).  I thought that was it and I was ready to move out but Major looked down to his folder he was reading something (means there is another candidate. Who was it 30, 31 or 32 that was me) he looked up announced chest no 32. I rose up announced my name and UPSC roll no. As I was moving to selected candidates, my eyes were wide open I was completely black out. I didn’t know what was happening there. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. Tip..Tip..Tip..and suddenly I was bursting into tears.

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