I still remember when I was in class IV, our class teacher asked us what we wanted to become. Out of 40-50 students in our class, around 35 answered Pilot and I was also one of them. I don’t know why we answered it. I think it sounded cool and whichever teacher asked our answer was always the same. Never had I realised back then that my dream would become a reality someday. If you would have asked me last year what I wanted to become. My answer would have been, “An officer in Indian Armed forces” but destiny had something else in store for me. My name is Upendra Singh. I got Recommended from 4 AFSB Varanasi in AFCAT 2 2018 entry for flying branch. The following week, I also got recommended for Indian Navy from NSB Coimbatore in SSC Tech. Entry.
I completed my B.Tech from PSIT, Kanpur. I belong to Army Background as my father was in Indian Army. I did my schooling from various Army Public Schools, another perk of being a Fauji kid. An NCC cadet at heart, the motivation to join the Defence forces was from the starting. But I must tell you the journey to this day was not at all smooth. I failed many times but that is what life is all about. You fail, you get up, analyse what went wrong, you try again and repeat this until you succeed. That’s the mantra to success. Now without wasting much time, I should proceed with my story. What I did to get here. I’ll describe my AFSB experience in detail to cut short my NSB one.
Air Force Selection Board, Varanasi (12 Nov – 17 Nov 2018)
12/11/2018 (Day 1)
I reported at Varanasi Junction Railway Station at 6:30 AM and after a short document verification we were taken to AFSB. A total of 141 candidates reported. Firstly, OIR was conducted. OIR was easy and I was able to complete all the questions well within the time limit. After that Picture Perception and Discussion Test (PPDT) was conducted. I made a story related to my Final year project and related it to the picture shown to us. After that we were taken to the discussion room where the assessors briefed us. I gave my narration confidently. Despite being a repeaters group, our discussion went smooth, fortunately. Now we were waiting for the results of I Stage.
Some tips to follow during I stage of testing:
- Since there is no negative marking in OIR Test, try to attempt as many questions as possible.
- Narration is very crucial. Deliver it confidently in loud voice and address it to every candidate sitting there.
- Try not to interrupt anyone while they speak because group behaviour is something they notice while discussion.
After I stage of testing, DSO sir came with the results. Out of 141 candidates, 41 candidates were screened in and were retained for II Stage of Testing. I was given chest no. 31.
After thorough document verification we had our lunch and we took rest in the room allotted to us.
In the evening, Psychological Tests were scheduled. This is one test that I had never felt confident about but now I think that this is the test that has led to my recommendation.
Moving forward, I did all 12 TAT stories. All the stories that I had written were somewhat related to me and the things I do such as NCC, Football, academics etc.
- Psychology is related to your personality so write mostly about the things you do or any experience you have encountered. Be it TAT, WAT or SRTs.
- As you all know Quality is important not quantity. Speed is important.
- In Self-Description, if you are mentioning your weakness then its important that you also mention what are you doing to overcome it because no one is perfect. Moreover, they are not looking for the perfect fit. They are looking for a right fit.
Day 2: Group Tasks I
This is one part that I am always confident about. Being a sportsperson I always love this part of the testing.
The two GD did not went good. In the first discussion I was able to speak only 1 time since there was chaos. In the second GD, I was able to contribute only 2 times. But don’t lose hope if you are not able to perform in some specific test. Try to give your best in next one.
In Group Planning exercise (GPE), I was able to write my individual solution in specified time. Mention Time, distance and resources that you will utilize in your solution. Then we had to discuss among themselves to reach a common solution so again discussion started. The discussion was intense. I initiated the discussion and was able to speak 2 times only.
The Progressive group task (PGT) was not so great. We got stuck in the second obstacle and were able to complete only 3 obstacles. One thing here when GTO sir tell something to the group. Listen carefully he tries to give hints to clear the obstacles. I was able to give some ideas and contributed to the group like a team player.
Group race(or Snake race) was not conducted because some repairing work was going on.
Half Group Task (HGT) was good. We were able to complete the task very easily within the given time.
In lecturette, Among the 4 topics I had I chose to spoke on “Strategic Importance of Indian Ocean”. I was able to speak confidently.
Day 3: Group Tasks II
Day started with Individual Obstacles (IO). Individual Obstacles went good and I was able to do 9. I was the only one in my whole batch who did rope climbing. During Monkey Crawl my hand slipped when I was just at the finish line, so that was the only obstacle that I was not able to do.
Command task went great. GTO sir gave me a problem and I did it. Then he said suppose that structure is not there. Again I did it with another approach. Then he said that you don’t have rope now. Do it with Balli and plank only. Again I did it with another approach. That was it. I was called as a sub-ordinate 4 times.
Final group task (FGT) is just like an formality and we were able to complete it.
Day 4: Interview
My Interview lasted for about 45-50 minutes. I was asked questions related to my education, family, friends, Hobbies, some GK questions etc. He asked that why I did NCC from Army Wing and not from Air Wing. At that time assembly elections were going to take place in 5-6 states so he asked me the names of the states and what all issues are present in those states in brief. Since I captained my college football team so he asked about what all challenges I faced. Which football team I support and if I have had any girlfriends or not. Names of my friends, their strengths & weakness. My strengths & weakness. About which aircraft I want to fly. Which all aircrafts does Indian Air force have? Roles of Sukhoi and jaguar fighter planes. Since the name of the room we were staying in was Mi-17 so he also asked about that. Then he asked about the places we visited in Varanasi. He asked me about any secrets that I have. I declined answering that by saying if I will tell you then they won’t be any secrets anymore. I think overall he was satisfied with my answers.
My only advice to all of you would be that be truthful. If you don’t know the answer then kindly say I don’t know. Avoid beating around the bush. Keep your answers short and to the point.
Day 5: Conference
I was the first one to appear before the officers and I was made to wait for around 10-15 minutes. I entered the hall. Greeted them and they asked me to sit.
The first question he asked was about my previous attempts and what all steps had I taken before appearing this time. I answered everything I had done for self-improvement.
Next Question: What motivates you to join Indian Air force?
Answer: Sir, Being a sportsperson I always wanted a job which allows me to lead a sporty life along with my duties and responsibilities and I think Indian Air Force allows me to do so. Moreover, the uniform and the person donning it has so much respect in the society. I would be flying an aircraft which is dream for so many. I don’t think any other job offers you so much.
The following questions were about my stay and food. Then he said Thank you Upendra and Best of Luck for your future. You can leave now.
After this I had a positive vibe about my recommendation but was not sure.
We waited for about 1 hour after the conference was over and then DSO sir came with the results.
He told that out of 41 they have only recommended only 2. Well that increased our nervousness level.
He started announcing. First chest number that have been recommended is Chest no. 30… and then a little pause and then he said Chest no. 31..(I was chest no. 31). That was the best feeling in the world. The feeling of finally achieving what you have dreamt from your childhood days. The dream that haven’t let you sleep.
Well, that followed by a lot of form filling. Chest no. 30 was not eligible for flying branch so he was sent home after form filling. I was retained for CPSS that was to be conducted the following day.
Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS)
CPSS is also conducted in 2 stages:
1. 1st there will be a MCQ test. They will first give you instructions how to read 6 kind of dials present in an aircraft, based on that there will be a number of MCQ tests which include dial reading questions along with IQ, pattern matching, basic maths, 3-d shapes, mirror images (around 15 small quizzes in total). It is fairly simple.
2. After you clear 1st test you will be made to sit in a CPSS machine which is like a cockpit with a joystick, pedals and a lever (like in an aircraft) with a screen in front of you. You will be made to play a number of games similar to a video game with joystick and you have to get a certain score in all games combined to clear this test. Anyone who drives or has played video games can clear this one easily. You just need hand leg coordination. You get a total of 4 chances in which the 1st one is a practice set so as to make you familiar with what you actually have to do and the next 3 chances are live ones in which the best score out of the 3 is considered, so if you mess up in the 1st attempt you can make up for it in the other 2 attempts.
I was able to clear the CPSS and was recommended to become a pilot in Indian Air Force.
Now, I am going to be a pilot in Indian Air Force. Hoping to be a fighter pilot.
Naval Selection Board, Coimbatore (21 Nov – 25 Nov 2018)
Day 1: Screening
A total of 81 candidates reported.
The OIRs were almost similar and I was able to complete it very easily. Gave a decent narration and during discussion our group was divided into 2 parts. I was able to speak for 3 times during narration. I was happy with my performance and was waiting for the results.
Results came and out of 81 candidates, only 26 were screened in.
Day 2: Psychological Test
I followed the same strategy for psychological test as I mentioned above. Was able to complete 12 stories in TAT. I did 45 WATs and 45 SRTs again. Self-Description was prepared beforehand and was able to write it easily in the given time frame.
Day 3: Ground Task I
Our GTO sir was very strict and he scolded and mocked each one of us during task. Our group was so cooperate that the both GDs and GPE went very smooth. Everyone was able to speak sufficient points. Everything went good and I was able to give ideas whenever our group stuck at any place. I did 10 IOs here and the topic for my Lecturette was “Indian Navy”. I spoke comfortably for 3 minutes.
Day 4: Ground Task II
Command task was good and FGT was completed very easily by the group.
My Interview was scheduled on this day. When I reached the interviewing officer room, the first question he asked was about my previous attempts and my performance in it. I told him that I got recommended for Indian Air Force 4 days ago. He told me to show the recommendation letter. I showed him my letter in which medical dates are mentioned, then he asked me everything about the ships. If I would be an electronics engineer on a naval ship, what would be my job and what all electronics equipment are present on the ship. Then normal technical questions about radars. Some GK questions. Then my interview was over.
Day 5: Conference
Before my turn to enter the conference hall, I was made to wait for around 10-15 minutes and only I was made to wait for this long.
I entered the hall and the officer on my left asked some technical questions and he asked some SRTs and usual stuff like accommodation and food. After that I was told to leave.
We all were waiting for results. The Officer came and said we have only recommended only 1 candidate and asked us to guess the chest number. Some candidates said chest no. 17 (which was me) and officer announced chest no. 17. I was retained for further filling up of forms which took around 3-4 hours.
So, this was my journey at both the SSBs. To get recommendations I had done a lot of things to improve myself. Introspection is at the top in that. Since I was not that good in my communications skills so I started reading novels. I used to play football regularly so that has helped me to remain fit. I used to take part in the activities organised in class to build my confidence as public speaking was something that I feared a lot.
At last, I would like to thank my parents, siblings, friends, seniors, juniors, football mates, NCC mates, teachers and everyone who had been a part of my life because if it were not for them, I would not have been the same person that I am today. Thank you all.
Keep your josh high!