“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then, is not an act but a practice”. Hello my fellow aspirants, I am Jagmeet Singh Jeetla, a BE mech graduate from Pune with an entirely civil background. I feel both happy and proud to share my success story with y’all and I thank SSBCrack for letting me do so. I got recommended in my 8th attempt from 2 AFSB Mysore for AFCAT 1 2019. First and foremost, the credit of my success goes to two important pillars of my life- 1. Col. Sameer Kulkarni sir, who has been my guiding light, motivated me and instilled the confidence in me to go and get recommended this time. And secondly, my parents and my brother who have given me rock-solid support throughout my journey.
My journey began when I was in class 5. One of our family friend’s son had joined NDA and we used to go to visit him on Sundays. Seeing the atmosphere there, the daily disciplined routine of the cadets, the relationship between the seniors and juniors, the stories of ragdas of the cadets and obviously the uniform, basically the life at the NDA was so overwhelming for a 10 years old boy that it was in those days that I had decided that this was the only profession that I want to be in, the life that I want to live and thus I made my dream. Years passed by passed my matriculation with flying colours and by the start of my 12th class I began my preparation for the NDA exam. I cleared the same in my first attempt and was all geared up to clear the ssb in 1st attempt as well. I joined a coaching for ssb with an intention to have an idea about the ssb. But my experience at the coaching was not a good one and here I’ll advise all the freshers that if you’ve joined a coaching class please be alert and do not lose your originality which was the case with me. I tried to portray myself as an ideal person without any flaws and so the result was my 1st conference out. I was heartbroken at that time, didn’t understand what exactly had happened with me during those 5 days. I was not able to cope up with the failure and the same was reflected in the 2nd written nda which was just 2 days after I got conferenced out. Yes I didn’t clear it. After that I got admission into an engineering college through JEE and started pursuing Mech Engg. I had just one and final chance remaining to join NDA but just 2 weeks prior to the exam my dearly grandmother passed away and I lost all track towards my preparation and so couldn’t clear the written exam again. Nevertheless, I accepted my fate and continued with engg. I knew that I’ll get more chances in future to join the forces through CDS, afcat and direct entries. During the college time I gained more knowledge about the ssb, and analysed my performance at the ssb. I interacted with many new people, made many friends, became more outgoing as a person and all these things helped me in shaping my personality. Cut to the 4th year, my goal was already set and it was time to again start working towards my dream. And thus I took the risk of not sitting in the campus placements. I prepared for cds 2 2017 and afcat 2 2017 but sadly couldn’t clear them. Having not been able to clear these two exams I realized the gravity of the situation I was in as I had left myself with no other backup option. But I can say that this also helped me to work even harder and since then I have cleared each and every written exam i.e 4 CDS, 4 afcat and 1 Inet. Coming back to the ssbs, I’ll mention the attempt and respective entry pointwise-
2nd – UES Navy at vishakhapatnam.
Result – screened out.
Reason – no practice, not a good story, poor narration.
3rd – Afcat at dehradun.
Result – screened out again.
Reason – more or less the same as above.
These 2 back to back screen outs made me believe that a decent story and a good narration was the key to get through the screening. I was conferenced out in my 1st attempt for NDA as I had mentioned earlier but now I was struggling to get through the screening itself.
4th – CDS IMA at Bangalore
Result – Conferenced out
Reason – This was a fairly good attempt overall. I had made amends on my previous mistakes. My conference went on for 10-15 min which made me think that I was somewhere on the border and that I was going in the right direction. But still I knew there was quite a room for improvement!
5th– Afcat at Gandhinagar
Result – Conferenced out
This was byfar the worst attempt as I wasn’t satisfied with my performance in any of the tasks, got several cuts on my body due to the new and slippery ropes at the new centre .
After this, I came back and wrote down my previous 2 interviews in a diary. This really helped me in understanding the types of questions asked, the answers that I had given and the answers that were expected. I realised I had to build a solid general knowledge and the only way was to get into the regular habit of reading newspapers. I started maintaining a diary in which I used to write all the news headlines and the details in my own words after reading the newspaper. This habit has helped me to learn a lot. Earlier I used to just mug up some current affairs before the interview and so struggled to answer questions during the interview. So, if you’re doing the same, then believe me this won’t help you in the interview. By this time I had realised that the more I put myself out of my comfort zone, the better it will be for me in the future. Exposure does help to bring out a better personality. Hence I joined an NGO which was approximately 14kms from my place. The NGO worked for the welfare of 2 underprivileged communities there and my work there was to conduct a survey among the people of the communities so as to know the problems that they were facing in their slums and also to get a feedback about the work the NGO had done for them over the past years. So naturally, this included going into the difficult slum areas, talking to the people and understanding their problems and all this was during the summertime when the temperature reached 43-44 degrees here in Pune. But as the days passed by I realized that these slumdwellers live in such harsh conditions, many of them living in tin houses, with poor health conditions, barely earning anything and still being able to support a family of 5-6 ppl on an average. I felt really bad sometimes seeing their condition but at the same time there were people who could still manage to put up a genuine smile. These things have taught me a lot and made me an even more mentally strong as a person. No matter what the situation is, it is our attitude which decides the outcome of the situation!! It was during this time that I had got down with dengue as well, but I speedily recovered and got back to work as soon as possible :p
6th attempt – CDS OTA at Allahabad
Result – conferenced out
7th attempt – CDS INA at Bhopal
Result – conferenced out again.
Reason- couldn’t answer a few questions in interview and the same I was asked during the conference which I messed up yet again. I wanted to kick myself after that. Really frustrated me.
8th attempt – Afcat at Mysore
Result –FINALLY RECOMMENDED !
Reason : I had prepared each and everything, high on confidence!
This time I was prepared very well. I had formed a list of about 100 questions which were asked to me in my previous interviews. These included my personal life related questions, technical background questions, general knowledge questions, defence related questions and questions related to my previous attempts. With this I felt more confident. For lecturettes, I used to record it in camera or recite it standing in front of a mirror. The rest was taken care by the continuous inputs from my sir col Kulkarni as he rightly pointed out my mistakes and made me understand on how to go about in the interview. I was really very confident this time.
I arrived at the station a day before the reporting and found another candidate over there. We quickly bonded up with each other and booked a lodge together! We even visited the famous and beautiful mysore palace that evening, had dinner and went off to sleep.
Day 1 : reporting at 6:00 hrs at the centre
Approximately 150 candidates reported and the screening process started.
OIR : oirs have been easier for me as I’ve cleared so many written exams but I would advise a regular practice would do no harm! Practice some dice questions beforehand as these could cause some problems.
PPDT: An old lady coming out from a door, this was the picture that was shown to us. I was satisfied with my story. After writing the story they usually give some time before taking to the discussion room. This time can be utilized well by just revising your story. My narration was good, narrated my story in a calm and crisp manner, with a loud and confident voice simultaneously making eye contacts with everyone. One thing which can really help you in the discussion part is that you should listen carefully to other’s stories as well, as most of the times there are 3-4 common points in everyone’s story which can help you in GD. Also quickly get started by deciding the theme of the common story. Our group had 14 candidates and as usual it was a fishmarket but I was able to give 3-4 points and our group managed to come to a conclusion. I was nominated by the group for narrating the final story. I included all the points that were decided by our group and completed the story. I was confident of my selection and got screened in. Out of 150, 46 candidates were screened in. I was given chest no. 45 !
After that our document verification started and my turn came. In AFSBs, as you might be knowing that this document verification is done by the officers itself. While the officer was doing the verification he came to know that this was my 8th attempt and asked me one question “ Jagmeet so how well are you prepared this time?” I looked into his eyes and said “ sir, I’ll get recommended this time.” He smiled at me and said all the best.
Then we were sent to our lines, I took a quick nap for an hour before we reported again at 18:00hrs for the psych tests.
Psych tests: I completed all the 12 stories, about 55-57 WATs and 36 SRTs.
TAT: What I’ve understood by my experience is that in TAT, introduce your main character in first 2-3 lines mentioning about his place, educational/ work background. And during the introduction please try avoiding the usage of adjectives to describe the qualities of the character as the qualities should come out through the actions of the character. In the body, concentrate more on the actions performed by the character. In the end give a suitable conclusion of about 2 lines. Even if you’re not able to complete one or two stories, don’t worry the psychologist wants to understand your ideas!
WAT: practice, practice and practice! Make a sentence in your mind anytime you see a word. This will help you a lot.
SRT: Remember it’s the quality which matters and not the quantity. I could write just 36srts but maintained the quality throughout. There’s no right or wrong solution in this, just put yourself into that situation and write what you’ll actually do. Simple :p
SD : I think many a times we take this part lightly but let me tell you it is very important as the psych officer will try to find out all the qualities over here that you’ve previously shown in tat, wat, srt . Also, IO might ask you questions like “ what your friends will say about you if I meet them” the answer here has to match with what you’ve written in your SD. Do not contradict yourself! Take help from your parents, teachers and friends and you’ll come up with your own unique SD!
Our group had gto 1 on day 2. We Started off with the group discussion, I contributed well, spoke 3-4 times in both the GDs. I waited for the right time for my turns and also listened to what others had to say. Regularly reading newspaper will surely help you in GDs. GPE was quite normal. The plan that I had made was pretty much the same as the one agreed by all. Here, just try to take the group towards a solution, do not get stuck with petty little things like the no. Of the men to be sent to solve various problems. Accept the ideas given by your group members as well and move forward. The PGT, GOR, HGT all have the basic idea of teamwork. Here, ill recommend you to first observe the obstacles/structures carefully and build up a rough plan in your mind. I gave some ideas and where I couldn’t, I helped my group members in executing their ideas. This way we could complete our tasks. Our last task for the day was lecturette. I spoke on mass transportation for exactly 2.30 min and concluded my talk thereafter. It does not matter which topic you speak on. It doesn’t even matter if you’re not an eloquent speaker. If you can project your ideas in an understandable way with a confidence in your voice , then it’ll do the work for you.
IO- I had attempted 8 obstacles out of which I could complete 6. After that we were given a short break. The next task we had was the command task. My chest no. was called and now it was my turn. Before starting off with the task, the GTO sir talked to me for about 5-10 min. The questions asked to me were related to my daily life, hobbies and education. Thereafter I called my 2 subordinates for the task and began. My task was to bring the load back to the starting line. He was continuously increasing the difficulty level by minimising the no. of structures there as well as the helping materials as and when I executed my idea. So, in all I provided 3 different workable solutions by which he finally seemed to be satisfied. This had reboosted my confidence as I knew I was in the right direction as I had formed a fairly good impression on GTO. The last task for the day was FGT. This was quite simple and our group managed to complete it in the stipulated time. With this our GT came to an end. I was feeling relaxed as I was quite satisfied with my performance in these 2 days.
DAY 4- I was free for the entire day as my interview was scheduled for the 5th day right before the conference.
My interview was scheduled at 8am. Chest no. 46 and 47 were also there with me in the waiting room. The screen displayed chest no. 45, my 2 friends wished me luck and I left for the interview room. I was a bit nervous but yet confident. The IO started off by asking me general questions about my journey, family, education etc. I was asked 3 rounds of rapid fire questions which included questions related to my personal life, family, friends, my hobbies, previous attempts and defence related knowledge. I listened to all the questions carefully and answered each and every question. My interview went on for 45 min and in the end he asked me any 2 current affair headlines, one national and one international. It seemed to me a formality but I was so comfortable at that time that I myself asked permission to let me explain those current affairs in brief. He smiled and allowed me to do so. In the end he wished me luck for the conference and told me to leave. As I came out from the room I had a wide smile on my face as this had been my best interview till date.
Conference- I waited for about 7-8 min before going in. My chest no. flashed and I went in. First the officer sitting on the right of the president asked me the meaning of my name. I answered. Then he asked me question related to one of my WAT sentence and told me to give atleast 2 examples. (My sentence was-Healthy criticism is beneficial for personal growth. Criticise was the word.) I freezed for a couple of seconds as my mind was totally blank at that time. But then I managed to scroll through my memory and gave them the 2 examples. They smiled and it seemed to me that they were satisfied by my answers. During all this I had a bright smile on my face and let me tell you it really helped me!! With that I was asked to leave.
We were all so anxiously waiting for our result in the auditorium. I had butterflies in my stomach and somewhere in my heart I felt really confident that this time I was going to make it. My friends were confident about my recommendation. Suddenly, the officer came in with his file which carried our result. I could literally hear my heart pounding at that time. He started announcing the chest no.s who were recommended. He called out chest no. 14 then 18. I thought that was it but then I heard chest no. 45 !!! I can’t express that feeling in words. It was such a special moment, the moment for which I had to wait for so many years. The realisation that I had finally made it and all my efforts , my hardwork, my prayers were answered after all. My friend, chest no. 46 was also recommended. I was already into tears by that time. Seeing me cry, even he got emotional, hugged me and both of us cried our hearts out!! HAHAHA 😀
Finally, my message to all the aspirants and especially the repeaters is that continue your fight for the recommendation, keep on putting all your efforts into it and keep improving yourself. This struggle is just a transient phase of your life because at the end of this struggle you’ll realise the worth of your success. We have all had those frustrating, uncomfortable journeys back to our homes after getting S/O or C/O but let me tell you, your struggles will finally give you the fruitful reward one day. Lastly, I’ll dedicate a few lines of Liverpool football club’s anthem for all the aspirants —
“Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone .”