Dear Aspirants, my journey through the SSB was very short. Since my uncle was in the Indian Navy who thoroughly inspired me to join the Navy, my interest in Biology drew me to NEET in my 12th and I wanted to join the Navy as a doctor but I did not take chances and kept Mathematics with me in my 12th and also gave my JEE Exams. Unfortunately, I could not get a medical seat and neither I got IIT so I took a drop and started preparing for my JEE and NEET again. In the meantime, when I saw the notification for 10 +2 BTech Entry of the Navy which was based on JEE scores, I applied for the same and suddenly in the beginning of March 2018, I got a call to attend SSB on 30th March 2018 at Bhopal. My father immediately searched the web to find the right resources for me and came across a book and a DVD Product made by Dr. Cdr NK Natarajan. Later he also saw the promotion of Armed Forces Preparatory Academy (AFPA) on SSB Crack, a well-known site for SSB aspirants and since AFPA was also located at Nagpur from where I belong and also run by Dr Cdr Natarajan he enrolled me straight for the course and I happen to be one of the aspirants in their first ever batch which started on 5th March 2018. I joined the academy completely unaware of SSB and the first thing that they handed over to us was the book and video made by Dr Cdr NK Natarajan free of cost. The very first day early in the morning we spotted this man in the campus and the way he spoke during the inaugural address, gave me a new energy. The journey of 14 days in AFPA not only gave me exposure about SSB but also transformed me permanently with regard to my outlook and aspirations towards life. The meticulous planning and tireless efforts by all the faculties of AFPA, who lived within the campus and where available till 11 in the night to help us out, taught me about the commitment and passion of the people of Armed Forces.
I became very serious seeing all this and registered every word uttered by them and made it my mission to be part of this brigade of men. I left AFPA on 19th March and immediately got my DVD activated. I went through every minute of it just to reinforce the learning and finally I left home on the 29th for the SSB with complete confidence and reported on 30th. After our documentation and briefing when I went back to my room I was surprised to see that almost every candidate was having the book on SSB written by Dr. Cdr. NK Natarajan. I became skeptical for a moment thinking if everybody is learning from the same source then how would I be different from others but I quickly left the thought behind and remembered what he had said in AFPA, “Focus on your competence than competing with others”.
My First day at SSB
I found the OIR Test to be relatively very easy but I knew PPDT is going to be a waterloo. Even our batch got a very vague and hazy image but my learning at AFPA stood me right. I could perceive the image, connect minor details of it and made a logical yet simple story. When we sat for the discussion, I strangely did not find myself nervous which I use to be before I went through AFPA. My stage fear was perhaps removed because of intense PPDT Practice we had every day. I was in the middle of the group and when my turn came I could narrate my story confidently and as soon as the last person finished I was ready to pounce and initiate the discussion like I was taught. Incidentally, my story resembled a few others and they joined into make a common story quickly. Though I was not the one to narrate the final story by the group, when the results were announced we were just 24 of us screened in out of 284 aspirants who reported and just two of us from my group who got screened in. I was thrilled to have got screened in.
Day 2 Psychological Testing
I went through the test like others and could finish all the TAT, 58 WAT and 56 TAT and wrote a fairly good SD. I was very confident of doing well in the psychological test as most of it was very familiar. Thanks to AFPA Psychologist who guided me even during late hours of the evening.
Day 2 GTO Day 1 and 2
Since we were only 24 of us, there were 3 GTO Groups of 8, 8 and 6 and there were 2 repeater candidates in my group. Through I was a fresher and several of them were also coached in other academies, I was a little worried as to how would I compare with them but I quickly put my thoughts behind and remembered the words, “Do Your Best and Leave The Rest” which Dr. Cdr Natarajan often says. In both the GDs I could initiate, participate and contribute in terms of facts and figures because these topics were very familiar to me as I had intensely practiced and prepared based on the guidelines given to us. In GPE, I did make a few mistakes while writing my own solutions but corrected myself during the discussion. The physical tasks where much easier for me because of my exposure earlier and I could do very well in those. In the beginning of March when I had received my call letter I was overweight my 6 kgs and didn’t have much of physical activities due to my JEE and NEET Preparations but thanks to everyday morning PT and IO Practice at AFPA, I not only reduced my weight but could also do 12 out of 10 obstacles in the IOs.
My Command Task was somewhat difficult but the concepts taught to me came handy and though the GTO tried to fox me my making the task more difficult, I was able to put up with the pressure.
My Personal Interview
The PI was perhaps the most difficult of the three that I found particularly when it comes to GK Questions. I had fared well otherwise but definitely there were some questions of GK which I could not answer. But I did not lose my composure till the end and remained confident and checked all the answers from the internet after the interview as a preparation for my conference.
The heartbeat went high on the 5th day and I was in an introspection mode while my gut feeling said that I had done my best, there was still a strange fear of not making it. When my turn came and I was sitting outside the conference hall, my stomach had started churning. I was called in just after 3-4 minutes after the previous guy left the room and that gave me a feeling perhaps I am not in. When I walked in, wished everyone and took my seat, I was asked very routine questions and asked to leave. I was sure then that I didn’t make it. I went back dejected, had my lunch, picked up my bags and reassembled for the results which was quite predictable to me but when my chest no was called I was the second one and I couldn’t believe it.
Finally, we were the only two who made it in the end out of 284 candidates who reported on the first day. I was in state of shock for some time and didn’t know how to react but when the JCO entered the room for further documentation the realization dawned on me that I finally made it.
Next 4 days I went through the medicals and came out clean and I only hope that I make it in the merit, get to join the academy and serve the nation.
My Suggestion for all aspirants
- Having gone through such a short and yet successful journey, I would like to suggest a few things to all the aspirants. If you make up your mind then even one month should be enough to do well in the SSB but the catch is you should know what to prepare and how to prepare. I was very fortunate that I got excellent mentors in AFPA who spent so many hours with us and who very systematically groomed us. Had I put the same efforts without proper direction I may not have got success. So it is very important to get the right set of mentors.
- Like often said by Dr. Cdr NK Natarajan, don’t go with the intention to crack the SSB. Go out there and do your bets and leave the rest. It’s the pressure of performance spoils the chances. Though, even I came under pressure at times but the words of my mentors made me put that fear aside and perform freely.
- In the interview, I was asked several GK questions which I had no clue about. But I kept my calm and cheer and answered whatever I could. I made sure I don’t get nervous. May be that helped. Since GK is so vast, it may not be possible for one to know everything about everything and I am that is not the intention of the IO too. It’s perhaps to check how we react to stressful situation.
- When I started my journey, I didn’t have much knowledge on topics like Doklam, OBOR< CPEC etc. But, we at AFPA intensely prepared and after my course, I continued reading till the last minute. In the end I definitely knew something about everything and that was sufficient. But, I would suggest all aspirants must read newspaper regularly and watch good English news channel.
- In GD and Lecturatte, facts, figures and data are a must. In addition, our personal opinion on issues is important. This was taught to me in AFPA and I carried this approach. I could convince my stand based on facts and figures and the eventually the discussions turned in my favour.
I sincere acknowledge the contribution of AFPA and all the people and faculties associated with it. By far, I personally feel that the four stalwarts of AFPA namely Dr. Cdr. NK Natarajan, Col Rahul Gowardhan, Col. Ravindra Nair and Mr Ashok Kumar are amazing people who made all the difference to my life and I am indeed very grateful to them.
I was lucky to get to see the 17 hours videos tutorials of Dr. Natarajan which I got free from AFPA. It reinforced everything so clearly that I was getting reminded of several things while I was sitting in the SSB live.
I am also grateful to my batch mates at AFPA without whom I couldn’t have practiced GD, PP&DT Discussions, Lecture and practical tasks of GTO.
Finally, I am grateful to my parents for instilling in me the right values which stood by me.
My very sincere thanks to the almighty for showing me the right path.