Hi all, I am Shreshth Bhardwaj. I got recommended from 14 SSB Allahabad in my first attempt for IMA 145th course. I’m going to share my experience from Day 0 till the Day 6 at Selection Centre East in Allahabad.
I come from a defence background. My father took a premature retirement as a Lt. Col., hence it was my chance to take the baton ahead and become a 2nd generation army officer. I had previously written the NDA-NA exam but could not clear the written. After my Engineering in Electronics and Communications from Indraprastha University, Delhi, I wrote the CDS-2 2017 exam and cleared the written.
Day 0: My SSB reporting was on 3rd March. We reached the MCO and were taken to the Selection Centre. 130 people reported on that day and after document verification, first 60 people were given 14 SSB and rest 70 were given 34 SSB. We were sent to our lines. This was my first time staying alone and in the lines. I made my bed and slept off as I was very tired.
Day 1 : This was the day of the screening. I was very nervous as I had been reading about the whole process but I did not practice much as I was working at Accenture in Gurgaon. My chest number was 58. We were seated in Manoj Pandey testing hall. The JCO first explained us the Intelligence Test. We were given two tests. First test had 20 questions which had to be completed in 12 minutes. I was able to do 14-15 questions. The second test had 50 questions which had to be done in 30 minutes. I completed all of them before the 30 minute mark. They were easy questions. Just practising once all the types of questions will be more than sufficient.
The next was PPDT. The Officer explained us the whole process and a photo was shown to us for 30 secs. After that we had to write the story which consists of identifying the main character/characters and writing about the situation, what led to the situation and what will happen. This story had to be written in 4 minutes.
The picture shown to us was of a scene where there was a crowd. I perceived three main characters. They were Americans who had come to India for a vacation. I wrote about their visit to Har ki Paudi in Haridwar and how they were mesmerised by the diversity of India. I was able to write my story in 4 minutes.
After this the group discussion happened for the story. All freshers were in my group. There were 17 candidates in my group. The group discussion lasted for 5-6 mins.
We were told to wait for results. After an hour the results were declared. 24 out of 60 were screened in. My new chest number was 7.
This was followed with the forms filling. I had made friends with a few people there and it was good to see all of them screened in. I was relieved to get screened in and was looking forward for my stay in at the selection centre.
Download important ebooks
We had breakfast at 6am and were told to report near the testing hall by 7. This day was for Psychology tests. It started with TAT. We were shown 11 photos and the last one was a blank screen and had to write the story of whatever we can think of. My approach was simple. I questioned the picture as to why are the characters happy. This helped me in writing good positive stories. I was able to write all 12 stories in the given time.
Then came the dreaded WAT. I was least confident about this because I had not practiced much and my practice sessions were never completed as I would leave the test mid way. We were given the instructions and the test was started. To my surprise, I was able to do 55 out of 60 words and I was happy with my performance. I would advise everyone to take this as a psych test and not as something you mug up beforehand. Make sentences that showcase your personality.
After a small 10 mins break, we had the SRT. I took a lot of time in writing and I was able to do only 33 SRTs out of a possible 60. The Self Description Test was wherein we had to write Our opinion about ourselves, Parent’s opinion about me, friends opinion, teachers or colleagues opinion, and What I wish to be. This was easy as I had written it once in my practice session and I was able to write it in the given time.
PS: One golden rule to be followed in Psych Test is that one should be consistent throughout. For Eg, if your SD talks about you being a leader but in your WAT your sentences show you as a team member then there comes some inconsistency and that could go against you.
This day was for GTO. We got into our all Whites and had our fall in at 6:30 AM. I was very excited because I had read so much about the various activities and finally I could implement them.
First were two rounds of group discussions. We had to choose between two topics, the first was Arms Race in today’s world and the second one was FDI in India. Unanimously Arms Race was chosen. The group discussion lasted for 15mins. After this one topic was given and we had to discuss it. The topic was Unemployment in India. This again went for 15 mins. I had a really good GD. I was able to put my points and then group also acknowledged them.
This was followed by the Group Planning Exercise. We were given a map and the situation was that we a group of 8 had gone to a college project work to a national park and while returning we stopped by at a Dhaba. Some chain snatchers came a snatched a gold chain off a woman at the dhaba and ran to the village. At the same time at a nearby train crossing, a school bus with children got stuck and also a child fell in a dry well which needs urgent help. We were told to prepare a plan individually taking into consideration the time schedules and assuming relevant material at hand. After writing the individual plan we had to discuss among the group and come to a common plan accepted by all. I was nominated by the group to give the final plan which was agreed by everyone.
After GPE, we had the PGT. 4 obstacles had to be tackled with the help of a ramp, rope, a balli and weight which had to be transported all along. I was able to give some ideas as to how we tackle the obstacles with the help of the material. Wherever I could not give any idea, I helped anyone who had any idea about tackling the obstacle. This way I was Able to make my presence felt in the group.
We were able to complete 3 out of 4 obstacles and then were told to report to the Snake Race obstacle course. We had a snake-like structure and were told to compete against other groups by passing through the obstacles. Our war cry was ‘Har Har Mahadev’. My group won. We all were very happy as we were the freshers group and we defeated two repeaters groups.
Then came the HGT. The group was divided into two groups of 4 each and an obstacle was given which had to be completed. Same PGT materials were at our disposal. I was able to give a lot of ideas and we completed it in time.
Last was the Lecturette, I chose Indian Population as the topic and spoke on it for 3 mins. I was happy with my lecturette, I did miss a couple of points but I was able to talk effectively on the points I touched.
GTO was done for the day but I had my interview too on this day. I was told to report to the IO’s office. After waiting for 15-20 mins, I was called up. The interview started with pleasantries and then the IO asked me about my GTO tasks and how they went. He asked me to rate my performance out of 10. As I had a good GTO I told him that I’ll give myself 9. IO then fired questions on me regarding my family, education, teachers, achievements, sports activities, friends and since I was working, he asked me about my job, why do I want to leave it to join the defence forces. I was able to answer about everything he asked me. He did try to corner be by putting me in pressure situations during my interview but I told him the truth and was able to justify my stand. The interview went on for 40-50mins. He touched on some current affairs topics too and also since I come from a defence background, he asked me about my dad’s regiment and the work they do.
All in all I was happy about how I fared in the interview. One tip from my side would be, to be honest throughout. Even if one does not know any answer, he or she should be able to be honest and accept that you don’t know. One should not take just say random or half baked answers. For e.g., the IO asked me the full form of CCTV, I knew TV means Television but I had no idea about CC hence I told that I don’t know. This was consistent through out my interview.
I retired to my bed after the tiring day and was excited for next day’s job.
This day we had the left over GTO tasks. First was the Individual Obstacles. I was able to complete by 9 out of 10. The one I could not was a 1 marker hence I was happy about my performance. This was followed by the Command Task. I was called by 2 other candidates to be their subordinates. I was very nervous when my turn came. I was given a tough obstacle wherein I had to pick a red coloured bucket in between a circle which a red boundary. Three poles were in the circle and there were 2 structures outside the circle. The material given was two ropes and one plank. Only the bucket’s handle was blue in colour which meant I had to place the plank in such a manner that I pick the bucket from its handle. I tried various approaches but could not complete the task in the given time. I was very disappointed and felt I had lost the opportunity to become an Indian Army officer. But then I realised I had one more task at hand and if I do that seamlessly I can stage a comeback. I gathered my energy and motivated myself to finish the day on a high and approached the FGT. The FGT obstacle was a fairly easy one and I took the lead and completed the obstacle in time.
PS: Staging a comeback is what the GTO is looking for. Everyone makes errors and fails but its how fast a person overcomes it and comes back to winning terms. I was able to show this quality. Also one should be able make his or her presence felt in the GTO tasks. GTO makes a fair image of all the candidates on Day 1 and he just confirms the image the next day. Hence being consistent is the key. In the Command Task one should not be a mere spectator and order from the Start line. You should get into the task at hand and help the subordinates.
After a mixed day, I was looking forward to the next day’s conference, the D-Day eagerly.
The big day, Conference day. We all got up early, dressed smartly, polished our shoes and were ready to face our fate. This day all the assessors and the president of the board come together, share their scores and decide on the Candidate’s recommendation. We were given a closing address by my IO. He told us about how if not getting recommended is not the end of the world as Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was not recommended by the SSB but went on to become the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces as the President of India. With the closing remarks ending, we moved to the conference waiting room. Chest no1. Was called up and like this Chest no.6 was called and then was my turn. I waited for almost 15-20 mins before my chest no. was displayed and I went into the conference room. During this time I had butterflies in the stomach and was very nervous but at the same time thrilled to have reached this far in my very first attempt.
I went inside. The President of the board told me to sit and adjacent to him was my IO and around them other officers of the board. I only saw the President. He asked me about my stay and the places I visited in Allahabad. After that he asked me about my assessment of my performance. I told him that my interview went well and GTO Day 1 was good but GTO Day2 wasn’t so good. He asked me why and I explained to him my task and how I tried various approaches but failed and ran out of time. But I told him that I finished it on a high note by doing a very good FGT. He asked me about my Psych Tests and questioned me on the low number of SRTs attempted. He then gave me a Situation and asked my reaction to it. I gave the reaction and he then finished the conference with any suggestions and wished me luck. I came out with absolutely no idea how it went. I had heard it is a 2-3 mins exercise but it my case it went on for good 15-20 mins.
I waited for an hour for others to complete their conference and then the results were declared. The officer came and announced the results. 2 people got recommended out of 24 and I could not believe that I was one of the two to get recommended. My friend which I had met on the day of document verification got recommended with me and we were so happy and elated. Both of us had teary eyes and our dreams were fulfilled. I want to live that moment again and again.
As someone who got recommended in the first attempt my advice to all aspirants would be to have consistency in your performance. If you say you are a leader, one should show he or she is a leader. If you are a go-getter then get things done. Having this approach can help you a lot and I’m sure it will do wonder.
SSB Interview Preparation Material [ 100% Recommended]