Hi All, I want to share my experience in getting recommended for Army(TGC-128 entry) in my first attempt with all of you. Before I start, I want to thank various people who helped me throughout this process. My friends Mohit and Sanjay who were always there whenever I had any clarification needed with the SSB process and also shared their experience with me which helped me to prepare in a better way. They helped me with every minute details I asked. Then I want to thank Cdr.K.Natarajan, I didn’t personally meet Sir but I had bought one of his book(SSB Interview the Complete Guide) which gives insight into the overall SSB process. I personally feel the book is very helpful in making your understanding clear about each of the task/assessment during the SSB process. For each test, it has examples and also few practice sets which helped me very much to get to know in and out of each Task and prepare in better way. Last but not the least I want to thank SSBCrack, I have been following their website from the moment I started preparing for SSB and going through the experiences of people helped me a lot and hence I am here today sharing my very own experience as well.
To introduce myself, my name is Manohar Singh D. I did my B.E. degree in CSE and graduated from the batch of 2016 from Chennai and I don’t belong to a defense background. My advice to all the gentlemen who are applying for any of the forces would be to understand each of the test involved in SSB, see what the officers are looking from that test and prepare. I have heard many people saying that SSB is all about personality and you cannot change your personality. I agree to it, but some people get it in wrong way and don’t practice for the different TESTS involved, i.e. you cannot change your personality but one of the important aspect I feel every candidate must have is to “Know Themselves”. If you don’t know yourself then it will be very challenging for you to show your qualities to the officers. My dear friends, there is a great saying we all would have heard of ” PRACTICE MAKES A MAN PERFECT”. And I believe in this, with practice you improve the speed of your answers, and you can assess your own answers and see what other better way you could have written the answer to it. I practiced each of the SSB Test and did self-assessment to understand what could have been done better, it helped me a lot I can say.
The next thing every aspiring candidate should know is the 15 OLQ’s(Officer like Qualities), I feel it is must for everyone to know these OLQs so that you can figure out which are the qualities in you and then prepare as to how you are going to show it to the officer. For example, If I say I have the “Ability to Influence Group” then I should also have all the incidents recollected from my life where I have influenced the group(you may be asked by the IO as to why you feel and you can share these incidents). During my preparation, I figured out which OLQ’s I have in me, and be honest to yourself and figure out these qualities because if any one of the officers finds a contradiction in your qualities then it’s not good for you. For example, in your SRT, you have written answers which shows that you are very courageous but in PI/Group Task the officer notices that you are not showing the similar quality then it becomes a contradiction and hence impacts your chances of recommendation. So don’t select OLQ’s just for sake of showing it rather figure out which are the ones you have in you, so that in the tests you have to be yourself and only think of showing those qualities, but if you try to fake then my dear friends believe me somewhere or other you will be caught because in the pressure situation the truth will come out. So be natural, know yourself in advance and work on showing those skills to the officers. Coming to my SSB experience, I had gone to SSB-Bhopal Centre and my batch was from 2nd Sep, we had to report directly to the Centre at 0600 hrs, As usual, we got all the documentation work done, had our breakfast and reported for our OIR test in the hall. Below I will share how I prepared for each of the TESTS involved and how was my experience from BHOPAL of same.
OIR: For the OIR test I bought a book written by R S Agarwal and prepared both the Verbal and Non-verbal sections from it. It has all the questions with answers given so spend enough time for this test as this is very important for anyone to get screened in. Remember the different type of questions under each section and with good practice, you can do well.
During my OIR, in the verbal section I attended 25/45 and in the Non-Verbal, I realized I had to work faster so I was able to do 31/45. As Time is a constraint, I would suggest everyone not to spend time on working larger problems, skip it and move forward.
PPDT: As we all know this is the second test for screening, I used the Book I have mentioned earlier by K.Natarajan Sir, it has sample stories and mock test images. Practice and write stories, make sure you are showing the OLQ’s in the story. For this reason, you should not write the OLQ’s but the actions should speak. For example, if you are trying to say in your story the person is having the quality of responsibility then show it in actions what he has done that makes him responsible and avoid saying that my character he/she is responsible person. Remember “ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS”. So you need to show the qualities but indirectly. And for narration, your confidence matters, so be confident and calm and narrate your points. even if you don’t get a chance to initiate/conclude a GD make sure you jump into the discussion with strong points that convinces few members of group at least. And at same time if you feel someone has put good points then accept the same and see if you can add further good points that show Teamwork. One important point is even though the picture may look like a negative mood, I would suggest you to come up with a positive story as it is all about perception there is nothing like which is correct and which is wrong. So there is no harm in writing a positive story when everyone else perceived it as negative but make sure that your positive story is catchy enough to grab officers attention.
Coming to my experience, I wrote a decent story on the picture shown to me with Responsibility being the theme of it. And I feel I did a decent narration without any stammering and did it with a smiling face to make myself feel confident. During GD I was listening to people and shared my views when I felt right moment to which a couple of my group members agreed and hence I was chosen to conclude the story as well which I did confidently.
TAT: TAT is similar to PPDT except that you have to write 12 continuous stories and there is no narration/GD here. So preparation wise its similar to above. And for the 12th slide(Blank one) I think this should be prepared in advance where you show the OLQ which you figured about yourself in short story. I had written a real incident from my life for this slide.
I would suggest everyone to practice this and watch the time so that during your TEST you can write your stories in time.
WAT: It also requires timely practice and assesses your answers when you practice and see if you could have framed a better sentence. During the test you won’t get time to think and write but practicing more will help you to tackle this test easily and you can finish it easily.
I used the book to prepare for this test and gave many mock test to improve my time, and during the actual test, I was able to attend all the words in time.
SRT: This is one another Psychology test to assess your mental thinking and reaction ability, practicing sample questions more and more will help you improve your time and also one should always write practical answers. For ex: if you get a situation where you see a group of thieves attacking a person then if you write that you will fight all of them then its too much to digest for anyone, instead write something practical like you will call the police and gather locals around and confront the thieves. Remember we don’t have to be Superman in this Test, just be natural and give answers. I was able to attend around 55 questions out of 60.
SD: This section should be prepared by you before you go for SSB, make it short and to the point. Focus more on what you think about yourself and what you want to become.
As time is a constraint here, I would recommend to show your best points and finish it, else you may fall short of time.
During my SD I wrote short and simple what my family, friends, employer think and focused more on what I think of myself and the longest was what I aspire to become.
PIQ: I would say this is the basis for your personal interview, so think and write and be honest. if you don’t have achievements in sports or extracurricular its okay you don’t have to make up things, coz if they dig deeper it might be trouble, to be honest to the max.
PGT: I would recommend people to view the different videos available on Youtube by various channels and understand what are the different types of obstacles. By watching that you will get fair idea about how the TASKS are going to be and perform well. Remember working as a team is more important, we may not realize this during the task and hence there will be so much of mix up of ideas and team will be facing challenges in moving ahead. This is what happened in our group, but somehow we crossed some of the obstacles. Listening to the instructions and abiding by them is very important throughout the tasks, that shows how serious you are taking the activity.
HGT: In this the group was divided into half and we are asked to cross obstacles just like PGT, but this time as no. of people were less we performed well and everyone gave their inputs and also listened to others inputs. We finished TASK well within time and that too by trying several different ways which the officer asked us to do. This is the task when we realized that working as team is more important than dominating the group individually.
Group Obstacle Race(SnakeRace): This is one of the entertaining task I found, where we had to cross 10 obstacles with a snake like rope to be carried by team. Showing swiftness and working as a team can help you perform better and probably win the race. Remember the instructions and don’t break rules else you maybe asked to repeat depends on the penalty.
FGT: This was the last field task we were going to do as a team, and after our HGT we discussed among team to work together and how it will help us, so everyone was performing better than PGT this time and we finished the obstacles within the given time.
GD: Here the group has to Discuss on 2 different topics one by one and share your views, one is usually social topic and other being current affair. So to improve your knowledge and share good points one should have the habit of reading newspaper regularly and be updated on the latest happenings around, this will help you put your points with fact during GD.
Remember, a good speaker is one who is also a good listener, let others talk as well and avoid cutting people during their chance. Instead let them finish and then share your inputs. And don’t argue just for the sake of being noted, if you feel whatever someone has said is valid then sometimes it is good to agree to their views. Remember Quality matters more than quantity, its fine if you didn’t speak much but make sure whatever you say has an impact and people in your group should be able to agree to it as well.
We had GD on 2 topics:
* Should India accept foreign aid in times of calamity?
* Reason for teenagers being violent.
Lecturette: Here we are given 4 topics and 3mins to prepare speech on any one and talk for 3mins. I chose the topic of Road Safety a concern in India. Remember friends choose a topic which you are more comfortable talking on, if you choose a high level topic but can’t talk for whole 3mins with good points then it better to choose easier one where you can talk for 3mins. Finishing before time is not a good idea, so be calm and talk little slow so you will be able to cover your points. I have seen people speaking fast and finishing before time which is not a good sign and also shows that you are nervous.
GPE: Here we were given a situation and each one of us was asked to write their way of handling it. Usually, this will have 4 situations which needs attention and you need to prioritize and work on solution based on that, the book I referred to had nice sample which should be suffice for practice.
Command Task: The Officer has a casual discussion with you first as this is the first time the GTO gets to hear about you personally, it will be a casual one like I said before, about your native place, family, friends etc. Then you will be briefed about the task and asked to call 2 sub-ordinates, be ready for your answers if the GTO asks why you chose these 2 people only.
I was given task of missile diffusion, before this I was called by 4 people as their sub-ordinate and maybe that’s the reason why I got one of the difficult task as the helping objects were less and it was more challenging. I took my time and thought of ways to get in, and came up with idea and did it successfully and while coming out I was asked to use other path, this was another challenge and I did it with some thought.
Remember friends, you have to lead the TASK and you should be carrying the load/ diffusing the missile. Never ask your subordinate to do the final TASK you have to own the responsibility there. you should take their help only to move through the obstacles.
Individual Obstacle: I would suggest one should be doing little bit of regular exercise to keep themselves fit so that it will help you in completing the obstacles and maybe you will have time to repeat some obstacle if you are quick enough.
After the GTO briefed us, I had planned my way of completing it i.e. where to start from and all. I repeated 3 obstacles.
Conference: This is the day everyone has been waiting for, once you are in the waiting hall an officer comes in his Uniform and addresses you. Seeing the officer in the Olive Green uniform only makes you desire more to get into the armed forces. And soon one by one Folks were called in conference room. There was good 10mins discussion before I was called in, the president of the Board wished me and so did I. Below is our conversation:
Officer: Manohar Tell me how was your SSB experience?
Me: It was great Sir, I got to learn a lot of things.
Officer: And what is that?
Me: Sir, Time management, bonding with people in such a short span of time, living a life without cellphone. All these have been wonderful experience for me Sir.
Officer: Good, so tell me Manohar What do you think is the reason behind Kerala Floods?
Me: I kept forward my views on it( Thanks to reading newspaper it came handy to me).
Officer: So what would have you done if you were the State Secretary of Kerala to avoid this in future?
Me:* a SRT now*, I shared my views on what would I have done.
Officer: Good, so Manohar you play sports?
Me: Sir I represented my School at District level in Hockey.
Officer: Tell me the latest rule change in Hockey?
Me: I knew one of the rule change as to how the penalty strokes are taken now compared to when I used to play and I shared that with them.
Officer: Ok Manohar, Any other suggestions?
Me: No Sir.
And then the conference was over and I left the room greeting them.
My chest no. was 5 and after sometime, the results were announced, as chest no.2 and myself were the only ones who were asked more questions from our group during conference my friends were saying that we both will get recommended surely. But I was not getting carried away by that and wanted to hear it from the officer himself. So the Psychology officer gave the closing address and then went ahead to call out the Chest nos. in below order:
Now I was hoping my number would be called out.
Chest No.16(Believe me I thought my number has gone and I didn’t make it to the list and I had already accepted this thinking it could be due to any of the mistakes I did during the task)
Chest No.5 (I was taken away when I heard my chest no. and couldn’t be happier, I shouted my name and Roll Number and stood side by other recommended friends)
Chest no.21 was called out finally, 4 out of our batch got recommended and all four of us were freshers.
So this is my SSB experience friends, I hope it motivates people to work for their dreams and never give up. I got the final merit list and I have been selected for the course at IMA starting January 2019.
All the best to future Army officers.
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- Word Association Test – WAT
- Situation Reaction Test – SRT
- Officers Intelligence Test – OIR
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