Picture Perception and Discussion Test (PPDT) in SSBs is conducted on Day-1 and is the second objective of Stage-I tests. PPDT is a screening test which is almost an elimination test of the candidate.
It is conducted to know about the imagination power and description ability of a candidate within a limited time allotted. Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) is one the psychologist tests conducted on Day-2 of the SSB.
It is one of the Stage-II tests; candidates who get screened-in, are retained for stage 2 testing. This test is geared to know about the intellectual, cognitive, emotional and behavioural functioning of the candidates and identify their intelligence, personality style, interpersonal processes and adaptive skills.
To put it in a nutshell, these tests are organised to comprehend the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviour of a candidate in a given situation and time. The candidates are shown a picture for 30 seconds (stimuli) and asked to write a story in 4 minutes (response). Therefore, it’s essential to perform well in these tests.
Following tips are effective to get screened in, at the level of PPDT as well as crucial to successfully attempt TAT.
- As you come to know that you will be shown a hazy picture for 30 seconds, mentally prepare yourself for it and observe the picture with full concentration and use those 30 seconds carefully and effectively. Look at the background and see the setting of the story; it maybe a scene of a room, a hospital, an open field, market, etc and try figuring out the number of characters and what purpose are they serving.
- While creating the hero/heroine ( the main character) from the characters you observed in the picture, choose the character you identify the most with. The hero of your story must be empowered, i.e he should be able to overcome some problematic situation or improve its standards.
- Prepare the outline of the story using three questions, what led to the situation, what is the present condition and how to overcome the problem. Do it sequentially and logically and keep the story compact. Write the story in past tense (always). Give an optimistic, encouraging and reasonable story. The ideas you exercise gives an insight into your social viewpoint and interpretation and illustrate your level of harmony with the social progress of individuals around you and your attitude towards extending a possible help to others.
Do not unnecessarily anticipate a problem when it is not shown in the picture. For example, scene of two people chatting happily or scene of a marketplace, don’t show terrorist attacks, bombing, snatching, quarrels, etc if it doesn’t depict so; it represents the pressimistic tendency of a mind. Except for you know the job of the main character, you cannot justify and explain the action taken by him.
For example, If you don’t know the nature of the job of a social activist, do not portray your main character as a social activist. Do not write a fancy or miraculous story depicting a wishful life from tatters to treasures. It must be realistic, written in a positive frame of mind, the main character must be an achiever and thrive for the common welfare of people and not just for himself/herself.
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Always remember to write an outcome of the story, the main character should not be outlined as an immoderately reward seeking person or looking for self-appraisal. A simple sense of satisfaction or acknowledgment by others would do enough to end the story. You may not be able to write more than 8-9 lines in a specified time of 4 minutes. So dedicate 2 lines for what led to the situation, 4 lines for what is the current condition in the scene that you have perceived and remaining 2-3 lines for the outcome of the setting.
When it comes to the last blank picture in TAT, it is always advisable to prepare the story beforehand because it will be easier for you to write an already prepared story in the stipulated time. Work on your handwriting. Writing 12 stories back to back is a tedious task, and completing them in a time frame of 4 minutes each can make your work look clumsy and untidy. Writing stories with a neat and clean handwriting will give a leading edge. Practice writing stories in advance, that will open the knots of creativity and imagination of your mind.
It will also help in elevating your speed to write well in time in a good handwriting. You may take pictures from a newspaper, magazine, book, movie or just sit somewhere quietly and look around you and write a story on it, to practice PPDT and TAT. Stay calm and relaxed during these tests because stressing your mind would give less space to creativity. Though these tests are conducted to put your minds in pressure and extract the best possible reaction, you need to channelize your energy towards originality and imagination without feeling panicky.