“Whatever is good for me, will come to me and I am here to make the best out of everything that comes in my way!” This is the motto I kept on saying in my heart and to the friends I made in this entire journey of 25 days (SSB+Medicals). Hello everyone! I am Vidhi Madan and I recently got recommended for SSC(W)- JAG 23 course from 11SSB Allahabad and got AIR 9 in my first attempt. It feels so good to speak, hear and even say the rank in single digit in the first go. But trust me the journey was no less than a roller coaster ride. I’ll be sharing my experience as a fresher and how and what all contributed to make it a lifetime experience. I completed my last exam of LL.M. on 10th May and straight away from Gujarat went to report Allahabad on 13th May to start the process of SSB. It all starts with the reporting day and as many people say, “you are under scrutiny from the first day”, take my words ‘It starts well before from reporting day itself.’ I met a bunch of people standing at the Railway station to be taken to the selection board from there. I was all tired after giving exams and long journey but I thought of interacting with people and getting to know their first hand experience about previous SSB if any.
Pro tip here: Just be natural whenever you meet people. The moment you start browbeating yourself on others, it gets fake. SSB is all about who you are. So try to be happy and try gelling up with people since Day 1. But it doesn’t mean you have to be with people 24×7.
When we were taken to the centre, we were asked to arrange our documents in sequential order. Please take all the documents stated carefully or else you’ll be sent back home from there and please be very clear with the tattoo policy. Also, the crucial part of the day was filling your PIQ form. This form my friends is your identity throughout your stay at SSB centre. It will go to the Interviewer, GTO, and Psychologist. So fill it wisely.
We quietly rested for the day and were clearly told the dos and don’ts. The next day started with the screening test. I was very scared for it. I was having second thoughts that I’ll have to go back home as I am a fresher, did no coaching, tired because of the rigorous exam schedule of the masters, haphazard sleep cycle I was following in the last few days and so many things. Post breakfast, screening part 1 (Verbal and Non-verbal) started at 6:15 am. You won’t believe that I was able to complete only 65% of the questions. It got to my nerves and then I picked up the pace and completed 95% of the second test. Now part II (PPDT) started and I was all clear and awakened by that time. We were shown a picture and within 3 seconds I was able to think of a story. I made a story related to my mother and me. Try keeping the story very basic and simple. Try relating it to yourself, your surroundings. The more you relate it to yourself, the more you are able to connect. The more you are able to connect; the story gets more appealing and attractive. Don’t fake around and this is psychology test and not your English test. I am very close to my mother and built a story around her and myself. So the story not only helped just for PPDT, rather when we were to narrate our story and then come with a common story, my story was appreciated almost by everyone and I was only nominated by others to narrate and sum up for all.
See this is how you get an edge over others without any extra effort. Pro tip: When you are narrating your story or discussing it with your group, look to all of them left to right and not to the examiners. Try gaining trust amongst your group.
After sometime we were told the results and trust me all my fear went to bay for the rest of my days at SSB centre. Honestly because I came with the thought and impression that SSB is very tough and getting screened in for a fresher is a very tough task. But here’s a pro tip again: Don’t listen to others and just be yourself and I also realized, PPDT is a game stealer and verbal and non-verbal just helps in your merit. So from Chest no 13, I was now chest no 12. What a feeling!
Since I told earlier that I came here without coaching, so every night before the test I used to ask my friends about the test and read about the exam that was scheduled the next day. Now this I have told you to make you familiar with the fact that I was very relaxed and didn’t panic despite not knowing anything. So staying calm throughout and enjoying the journey was more important. The ones, who were panicking, were making it evident to the examiner and under pressure they were committing silly mistakes.
So, again the next day we got up at the same time and were ready for stage 2 of testing. It all started with Thematic Apperception Test [TAT]. All I did was, I showed presence of mind and again related it to my life experiences. It gets way easier with that. Quickly try to relate all the positive experiences of your life in your stories. Now came Word Association Test [WAT] and with that again your thinking and writing speed was required. Try to find positivity in everything, even the negatives. I practice Buddhism and try finding good even in a bad situation. It starts with easier words and then comes down to negative words. Do not write quotes or statements. Just be natural about anything you could think of and write it down. Target is to think smart and no matter what just complete it.
Now with the writing speed taking pace, here comes another i.e. Situation Reaction Test [SRT]. It is very hard to complete them all. But nevertheless try completing as many as you can. Also, no matter if you have written less also because at the end of the day, all that matters is quality over quantity. Last part of the testing session was Self Description Test [SD] wherein it all makes sense to prepare beforehand i.e. what do you think about yourself, what your parents, teachers and friends think about you. No loose ended answers will help and neither too much of flattery will help here. Again be honest with your answers because in interview anything and everything will be cross checked and you won’t even know. I handled position of responsibilities from school level to college level (Head Girl of school to Department President at college) and I clearly wrote everything around the same.
With this Psychology test was done and a few of us were straight away called for the interview also. Again I was very relaxed about the same. At that point of time my knowledge of current affairs was very bad but trust me to whatever question the interview asked me, I took my stand and he tried to puzzle and shake me from my stand but I didn’t. To whatever I had no clue of, I straight away said, “Sorry sir! I am not able to recall.” To whatever questions, I was not completely sure of, I said, “As far as my memory goes and I can think of it, the answer to the same is XYZ”. Whenever the interviewer continued about a point and stretched it with his arguments, I said “I totally agree with you sir but in my opinion XYZ should be the answer.”
Trust me, interview is no herculean task. Honestly I was sure of only 30% of my answers and the rest all I tried, I straight away said that I cannot recall at the moment.
With this my day got over and then ultimately came the day of GTO, toughest part of the SSB (for me at least). We reached the ground the next day and then started with GD. Pro tip for GD is not to cut anybody’s point even if you disagree. Rather say that I appreciate your understanding about the topic but I feel XYZ method is more convenient in my opinion because of ABC reason. Group planning exercise is also fun. Although I wasn’t able to write down my plan completely on the sheet provided. Nevertheless, all that mattered was that I was able to portray it well and my team nominated me to narrate the plan of action to the GTO which again fetched me extra brownie points.
Next in line was Progressive Group task. I wasn’t able to guess the right alternative in it but again I didn’t step back to try and stand on planks or for that matter anything asked or suggested to do. Pro tip: Even if you are not able to contribute in the activity through your suggestions, try contributing it physically and take the risk and try out the tasks. Similar was Half Group Task, just with less number of people.
The best task was Group obstacle race. It was so much fun. Remember to have fun and to complete the race. It really doesn’t matter which team wins it. Even though I was scared of heights, I didn’t step back to first climb the wall and help a lending hand. GTO has eyes always on you, be kind and passionate and do not crib as to what others are doing to others and even to you. Remember, you are here to have the best experience and whatever is good for you will come to you.
Post this was lecturette wherein we were super tired with our earlier tasks but were asked to speak on the topic provided to us. I just spoke on the day again remembering anything and everything possible without stammering. Actually public speaking is my forte so I don’t really fret regarding anything related to it.
The next day was also similar with the difference being of Individual obstacles to be done. I am very scared and trust me I showed all the courage and jumped off from all heights, crossed all poles and did whatever it required with the thought that even if I break my leg, I’ll remember it throughout my life. I know it seems so passionate and not appropriate but isn’t the idea of wearing a uniform gives you goose bumps? I was all bruised and then we did command task. Try being a good leader. Rather than subjugating things on your subordinates, take the risk of doing it yourself first and then tell them to take your lead. At last, thank your subordinates and to the GTO also. Final thing was the Final Group Task wherein if you were not able to showcase your potential earlier, try as hard as you can this time which again isn’t difficult at all.
With this all the part 2 of testing got over and we went out and rested before the final conference day. My conference lasted for 15 seconds with the questions being, “How was your stay at SSB Centre?”, “Do you have any suggestions?” and I was spellbound as to what happened in the last 15 seconds.
After this we were told to wait for the end result and ultimately results were announced and 11 candidates got recommended and I was the only fresher amongst those 11. You know what was the best part even after getting recommended? Getting applause from others and they agreeing unanimously that I totally deserved every bit of it. My father gave me this challenge and I immediately called him up saying, “Hanji Recommended”. It is beyond words to express how happy my father was.
Trust me the amount of respect it has given me, I can’t really think of getting from any other career or profession. It gave a sense of earning a valuable thing and I have even been told that one who clears SSB never fails in any test of life! So this was by far the best experience of my life and getting a one digit rank (AIR 9) in one go was the cherry on the cake. I believe my rawness and to the point honest attitude helped me a lot.
Also a pro tip for medicals: Do get your basic tests done before going for SSB. I had a really bad experience at medicals because of so many issues such as I got to know that I have kidney stones, less hemoglobin etc. For me SSB was easy and medicals were tough.
But above everything all that mattered to me was I had a lifetime experience which I am going to cherish throughout my life.