Sat Shri Akaal guys, I, KPS lubana from the state of Punjab, writing this blog on my experiments with SSB. 1st of all, I appreciate SSBCRACK for giving me this podium & continuously motivating chaps like me striving to join defense forces. Not a day passes without me visiting your website at least once. This journey of recommendations would not have been possible without help from my Teacher Pawan sir, hostel friends & other friends viz. Sunny, Joban, Rajan, Rohit & Honey. One reason I love to go to SSBs is because there I meet gentleman friends & I’m sure without having spent quality time with them for those 5-odd days, every time I go there, there won’t have been any selections. I miss you guys & look forward to see you all in uniform very soon. I trust & love you overwhelmingly. Last but not the least, I thank an anonymous editor for taking out time & rectifying this piece.
Beginning with the story, I’ve given 11 attempts so far, which includes 4 screen outs, as many conference-outs & 3 recommendations. It was a journey of rejections & selections but evolved me as a personality comprehensively, after making me realize my intrinsic abilities lying dormant & my evolution henceforth.
Since the recommendations are multiple in no., So i’ll share the experience in an overall task-wise manner, otherwise sharing every recommendation separately would make it to be a boring self-praising story, which my motive surely is not. I’ll also give examples of my personal experiences at times correspondingly.
The first couple of SSBs were through AFCAT (both Conf.outs), then 2 screen outs (AFCAT & Coast Guard), the next CDSe attempt at Kapurthala (Conf. out) was a real eye opener & propelled me to bag maiden recommendation in next attempt through AFCAT at 4 AFSB, Varanasi. The next good moment (recommendation) came after a arduous gap of 5 months when i got selected for SSC Tech 54 course from 17 SSB Bangalore for my family’s profession & my Love I .e.Indian Army. After a couple of months henceforward, I again got recommended for AFCAT from 1 AFSB, Dehradun.
Jumping straight to today’s duty,
OIR– Friends to be honest, I never prepared fully for this. Having cleared afcat 5 times & CDSE four times, it used to be easy for me. But I advice you to pick any topic in which you are weak and clear doubts comprehensively. E.g. I was weak in “Dices” topic, so I would either get it cleared beforehand or at SSB from other candidates who have reported (remember, they are your gentlemen friends & not competitors). Moreover, nowadays new SSB booklets(2019 re-printed) are being issued at some selection centers, which involve speedy math skills & moderate but not easy non-verbal reasoning. So guys, OIR is not going to be the same cakewalk it used to be. Go there prepared after clearing weak topics & le’mme pin this, it is surely used in your screening evaluation on DAY1, goes to other assessors during phase-II & helps u in final merit list.
Next, PP&DT, making a normal story (how to do so, I’ll cover in TAT part) not just helps you in writing down your thoughts freely & naturally, but also in convincing other group members while discussing story. 10-12 lines on paper are sufficient. The time gap between story writing & discussion needs to be used judiciously. Speak story in mind or whisper it calmly multiple times. This is specifically helpful for candidates like me average/weak in communication skills. Moreover, I almost never practised for PP&DT at home since attempt 1 as I would repeat the story in mind multiple times before narrating it confidently. Coming to Narration part, whatever entry u r appearing for, be brief(45-50 secs) & precise but bold having eye contact with group members. Now being bold doesn’t mean fluent English, it means continuing even if u get stuck. I have even used Hindi in my narrations because the instructions are very clear about Hindi usage (you know them). During discussions, instead of wasting time on deciding mood, characters or gender, which are very ambiguous, directly come to the theme, contribute towards group 2-3 times with your strongest points, listen to all. Now, twice what happened with me was that my story was entirely different from group, so in that scenario, I advise you to go alongside group instead of beating around the bush about your own story & eventually contribute to group story by adding practical modifications to their story. If elected to narrate group story, mention others’ points but don’t narrate it in a hodgepodge manner, you need not include everyone’s points but the overall summary.
TAT– Beginning with good sleep will help in being calm. Now coming to TAT, i must advise you following 05 things.
1. Observe the picture very very carefully for full 30 secs & note down individuals’ clothing, body gestures, background, paintings on wall etc. just to mention a few.
2. Whether the story is “positive” or “negative”, following step 1 will help you in that. E.g. if it is very much clear that blood is coming out of someone’s body part OR a vehicle is clearly seen crushing someone, then obviously u have to write accordingly. But if there just the person lying on ground OR someone holding a weapon, that doesn’t mean the story is in a negative sense. So, basically in a nutshell, the careful observation of the picture itself will guide you how to portray the story.
3. Another question, Whether to practice TAT or Not?……Friends, Initially, I used to practice a lot, time them etc. but during TAT at one of AFSBs in Evening, I went there after sleeping for a couple of hours. Guess what happened???….. I forgot whatever i just practised or learnt, & i was writing stories as if this is my maiden attempt, I had no control over my senses & was writing whatever picture came in front in a very blunt manner. After that, I felt exasperated that i’ve wasted another attempt at SSB by sleeping before TAT, but the result was otherwise. Thereafter, i followed the same concept of no practice & results were overwhelming. Another thing, why my psych performance improved was becoz instead of putting that an hour or so in practice, I would either do Running or talk to friends over a cup of tea, or start reading a book. So basically my point is that Psych test ( esp. TAT) is all about how challenging your daily schedule is, whether u really do put in efforts towards doing things u mentioned in PIQ/ TAT stories & how carefully u gauge the situation posed.
4. Blank story- People generally tend to practice it in advance & I used to do so, but believe my word friends, I don’t know what happened to me, in each of the 3 recommendations, I wrote a story which I never imagined. You remember 30 secs we get even for blank story, I would stare at white screen for those 30 secs when everyone would jump to pen down whatever they had prepared in advance. I would develop a broad story in mind, write it down as fast as I can thereafter.
5. Bad handwriting- My Achilles heel. I’ve suffered from it in form of low grades & bashing from respected teachers from times immemorial. But le’mme clarify that until & unless, it is at least legible, it’s OK. You need not worry. Psych is more interested in your sub-conscious mind & not in calligraphy.
About WAT, i would advise you to be precise. Initially, i didn’t get sentences to write on paper in test, but then i started adding my hobbies, games i played, friends, teachers, family and my general thoughts. In short, i responded to WAT words in way as if i am writing all about myself. I aligned Negative words with positive thoughts to make a meaningful sentence.
SRT– Another of my weaknesses, till now my highest mark throughout 11 attempts is 45 SRTs, which i achieved during my SSC Tech recommendation. It was 35 & 38 and Half(funny, ehh?) during Varansai & Dehradun recommendations respectively. So, the point must be clear, numbers matter less, content more. My Personal habit is that until & unless i’m fully satisfied with SRT solution, i don’t approach further and that precisely stems my speed. But don’t just follow the above line & be natural at your own speed & thinking. Coming to advice part, solution lies in problem posed itself. It gives enough hints to you write solution accordingly. Just like TAT, read it carefully, then give answer to only whatever is required & not less, not more.
SDT– I would go there after remembering 3-4 points in each column in advance, but tragedy would happen in actual test, when due to low cramming, i would forget whatever i remembered, and then jus’ like TAT, my response becomes natural in the sense that whatever my family, friends etc, think of me, i just vomit it out. But i advice you to improve your daily routine, practice productive hobbies etc. Subsequently, your SDT will improve. Everything comes at a price and getting good feedback from others involves hard work & overhauling your persona.
INTERVIEW & PIQ– Completely know about yourself & i seriously mean, completely. E.g. After Kapurthala conf. out, i was sad that under pressure, i was not able to answer even those questions which i knew or at least i partially understood. So, i made a list of about 80-100 questions(no. will vary according to your persona) about my persona. The above list also included some questions about respective armed forces for which i was supposed to be interviewed. This list almost helped me single handedly in entering that Interviewing Officer’s room confidently and eventually, what SSB folks call it, Cracking the interview. I also asked 5-7 of my close friends, brothers, sister & parents to mention 3 of my weaknesses & strengths. Other things i advise are that in that room, listen to officer very attentively. At times, he/she will be deliberately slow as to gauge how attentive you are. Through your talk, it should be explicit that you are welcome to talk to him for the next almost an hour. Many candidates (including me) face problems in remembering & then answering questions in the sequence that is posed to us, jus’ wanna say that be attentive & calm, you will definitely remember most of the questions, personal experience speaking there. Another human aspect i utilized was to keep a smiling face, personally speaking it helps in tackling even the trickiest of the situations.
The PIQ form friends actually should portray that your schedule is optimal & challenging, you should have participated in some games/activities even if that means on a smaller stage. Not everyone needs to be a national/state player to get selected. Hobbies/Interests’ section needs to be given attention. Certain hobbies like listening music, watching movies & web-series(sorry, prime & ‘Flix fans) etc. which people write, needs to be replaced with something productive, optimal and suitable to young life. Now, that doesn’t mean you become a bluff master by penning down things like reading literature, giving tuitions, running marathons, hiking etc when u know that it’s totally fake. Mind it, i have tried all that during initial attempts & was sent back home packing on day5. Another aspect that IO is interested is your alternate career option i.e. Plan B. Practically speaking, SSB involves zero preparation (just think over it for a minute) apart from improving yourself, so after education,you should either be doing a job, taking tuitions, preparing for competitive exams (with good results to show) OR any other activity that is making you self-reliant in life. It secures you from incredibility of SSB procedure & medical/merit-outs & that is precisely what IO is looking for. Whatever u think, but i keep dressing sense in high regard. A tie in summers and a blazer, in addition, in winters(even on screening, DAY1) is like icing on the cake.
GTO TASKs– The advice that we keep getting but never follow that GTO tasks are about co-operation & not competition holds true. Hardcore repeaters must imbibe this.In the very first task GD, giving 3-4 points is adequate but don’t forget to listen to others thereafter and add to their points if group gets stuck somewhere so that discussion can be carried forward. In GPE, troika of careful listening, observing & visualizing will help. You have to take care of special things like priority of problems, resources required etc. Practical assumptions play a key role in moving forward. Like PP&DT, there is a high probability that group gets stuck on trivial things like means of transport, boat/ferry usage, no. of persons to go for a task, then it becomes your responsibility to take group forward. For PGT, HGT & FGT, instead of shouting at others or forcefully getting your ideas executed, you just give 2-3 practical ideas & if even one of them gets executed (yess, i’m serious), then it’s your ‘Balle-Balle’, Chill maaro. For GOR, just remember couple of things- Josh and Help for others. The 3-liner Chetwode Credo, if you remember, holds perfectly suitable in this task. For lecturette, i advise you to choose a topic which you can handle mentally. Dividing topic either into ‘past, present & future’ OR in ‘Intro, mid-part & conclusion’ helps a lot. Another clause that we rarely make use is of using Hindi if one gets stuck. I’ve used it considerably in lecturette whenever i got stuck. Having eye-contact puts up a good show.For Command Task, i would suggest that analyse the structure carefully, and forget whatever u jus’ learned from Coaching, Youtube videos or any repeater friend’s ideas. SSB recommends normal candidates who can use brain on the spot according to nature of problem by giving simple solutions & rejects those who copy/paste ideas irrelevant to problem in front even if they are highly talented & use for e.g. all the helping material to advance even when only simple plank/balli is required. The pep-talk GTO does with you before CT gives insight to him about you, answer him calmly. A mis-conception among candidates is that if GTO is willing to recommend you, he’ll give you a tough task like Bomb disposal etc. It’s not mandatory. In my all 3 selections, i was offered tasks which were moderate (but not easy) & none was bomb disposal related. Be happy if GTO breaks some structure or changes its colour, Congo!!! he is interested in you. For Individual obstacles, just listen to GTO attentively during each obstacle’s briefing, he actually is giving u hints since he is also concerned about your physical safety. Also, Josh should be there while doing obstacles(but don’t try to put up a show, it’ll be counter productive). Points don’t matter, but GTO through your 3 mins run-around, will automatically come to know whether you in actual do anything to keep yourself physically fit or if u just bluffed in your PIQ. Another thing, if you have touched red color during process or broke any other rule, make sure you don’t try to be smart by moving forward & repeat the task. GTO knows everything. Under his/her RayBan, lie the best camera lens on this pLaneT. Overall, GTO will be easy if you go there on ground with an open, welcoming mind ready to co-operate with others. Also, one or two bad tasks out of total 9 GTO tasks doesn’t mean you are out or you may get less marks in that task.Remember SSB is a comprehensive evaluation, let assessors take care of assessment, u just give 100% in every task & then forget about that task.
Friends, i’m near end of this blog, but before that, a few suggestions on overall process of SSB and then some pep-talk:
1. Go to SSB open-minded thinking that upto whatever level u may have prepared, u can even get screened out or as far as that u may get recommended also.
2. Instructions are everything. For your Girlfriend/ boyfriend’s sake, Listen to them intuitively before every task.
3. Improve your daily schedule, make it more challenging, break barriers put up by mind. Your performance in those 5 days will improve subsequently.
4. My dear repeaters, i have great affection for you people, for i also being from your category, but i advise against you people going to SSBs week after week or a fortnight later, take some time, improve your persona, comeback again with an open mind, because i know just like me, you guys are never gonna’ sit silent until & unless u get that “+” sign. My sincere wishes for repeaters. Just one more point here, during my preparation, i came forward how Pakistan SSBs work. I came to know that there must be at least 04 months grace period between 2 SSBs that you are going to appear. I don’t wish to promote such embargo in India, but real change only comes after a while, not at once. So take your time. We can learn something from our arch-rival.
5. SSB, as stated earlier, is a comprehensive evaluation. So after 1 task is over, whatever its result you’ve perceived, just forget it & move forward freely. You may have erred at judging it. Personal experience there esp. in case of TAT, & psych test in general.
6. To all those candidates, who get merit/medical out(esp. girls), i won’t offer you fake sympathy but jus’ wanna’ tell you one thing that you people are already cream, having made all people around you proud. You have already achieved what 95% of us crave for. Use this achievement of having been recommended mentally to further upscale the newer heights in life. Best wishes.
7. I have had varied experiences of candidates getting screened out after recommendations. I even have got screened out as well as conf. out after getting recommended, but that in fact helped me know more about SSB & without these, i would not have been able to write this blog as detailed as i have written now. For all such people out there, i request don’t feel dejected or ashamed, it’s part of the process. Wear these failures as badge of honor. I’m proud of them.
Napoleon Bonaparte, the French General, once said ,” A soldier will fight long & hard for a bit of colored ribbon”.
kps Lubana says,” A SSB aspirant will fight long and hard for a bit of colored “+” sign”.
My only motive to write this piece was to clear certain myths & misconceptions found among aspirants that i have come across while my preparation.