How Not To Get Merit Out In NDA by AIR 425

Hello, NDA aspirants my name is Yogesh Vitthal Joshi and I am merit out candidate of NDA 142 course ( AIR 425,  medical status: Army Fit). I am not writing this blog to share how to get recommended or how I got recommended. you can read plenty of those on various websites/forums, I am here rather to share some of my personal advice regarding how not to getting merit out.  I was not going to write this blog as It has been quite a while that I have got merit out,  but  I saw not many people writing blog regarding this topic: Merit out/How to not get merit out.so I decided to write one as, its never too late for such informative and motivational blogs. moreover, this might help others who will be appearing for the NDA exam in the near future. and I don’t want others to repeat the same mistakes which I made!

Disclaimer : These are based on my personal experience and with thorough research at my personal level, if anything of you find it to be factually incorrect information, feel free to correct me and let me know in comments section.

Before getting started I would like to give some background about myself. I hail from Pune. I use to live in an army cantonment ( MILIT, Girinagar to be specific ) which is just on the opposite bank of Khadakwasla lake where NDA is located. Imagine while going school (KVDIAT ) I could daily see a glimpse of Sudan block ( NDA HQ ) on the other side of the lake throughout my schooling days, as I was in the same school from 1st till 12th . having been to NDA 100’s of times, I  could sense the josh in the environment and could feel the Goosebumps all over my body,  the adrenaline rushing through my veins inside me, whenever I entered NDA or saw NDA cadet. so right from my childhood, my sole aim was to join the prestigious National Defence Academy!

Having been this lucky (living near NDA, visiting its countless times, attending POPs often )  in terms of motivation, I was not able to crack my NDA exam in first 2 attempts ( the credit goes to the over attempting, lack of execution on D-DAY ), though in my third and the last attempt, ( technically not the last NDA chance ) I was able to crack my exam. Got recommended from 11 SSB Allahabad on 8th of April 2019 and returned back home after medicals ( got TR for over Weight ) on 18 of April. As I was confident that I will get a decent rank in merit so I decided not to go for NDA 1 2019( on 21 April 2019 )  written which I deeply regretted later. The merit list came in and I was 425th in the list of 520 total candidates and This was the turning point in the whole happy journey and this was the time I realized some of the mistakes I made throughout my journey, which now I am about to share.

How not to get merit out in NDA :

1.     Be Wise While Choosing the service preference during online form filling of NDA exam:

 it’s your personal decision but one thing I would like to tell you is that please don’t put 0 preference to any service for eg. NAVAC ( INA ). Don’t do so as you never know what might happen in the merit list and you don’t get that preferred service. down the line, sudden change of mindset happens and now you are ready to join the non-preferred service but it was not allotted to you as its preference was 0 in the online NDA registration form. so be careful!

2.    Written examination is the King :

 this is the most important point and the deciding factor of your rank in the merit list.  just to put the things into perspective, the mistake which cost me my great rank  in the merit list was low written score (written cutoff was 325, I secured 342 and 395 in SSB).just clearing written + SSB is not sufficient, it’s highly important to get a great rank in merit, especially for those whose 1st preference is Army and are medically declared as ARMY fit only ( like me).cause such candidates don’t have the privilege of getting allotted other service if in case army vacancies are over. thus the situation is like “you will get allotted ARMY or NOTHING” and unfortunately I fell prey to this.

 In my case NDA 2 2018 (NDA 142 course) the last guy to join NDA ( Army wing ) was AIR 417, he got 740 marks( written + SSB Interview marks) in total. I secured AIR 425 (737 marks written + SSB).thats it, just 3 marks ie 1 GAT MCQ  (which is of 4 Marks ) cost me my dream ( I was not allotted NAVAC/ NAVY as I was only army fit). Now every time I pass by NDA campus and see cadets, it really hurts and the flashback did come in my mind for an initial couple of months. I was agonized that time when I got to know AIR 417 was the last ARMY candidate to join NDA and that time I realized,  even if one GAT MCQ would have been ticked correctly today I would have been in one of the squadrons of NDA( though now I have moved on and looking forward to CDSE entry ). I am telling you this not to gain sympathy rather to make you understand the value of each and every mark you score in your written exam as it’s in your hand.give your  110%. don’t let clearing cutoff with a margin of 10 20 + marks come in your head, target 400+ 410+ for those who are weak in maths or English or social science part. remember friends, if one is your weakness then you must either convert your weakness into strength or focus more on its counterpart( ie if your maths is strong then demolish maths section get an exception score same applies for other subjects) .dont neglect English or Social science section for that matter, give dedicated time to those subjects as well.

Tip for those weak in maths:30% + in maths ( majority of the times) will clear sectional cutoff, now u have to score good in gat to reach 400+, 410+ mark. if you have a score greater than to 410 marks and get recommended even the gods can’t stop you from joining the academy. the So those who are appearing for NDA 1 2020 written or subsequent attempts and really want to make in into academy get this thing ingrained into your mind. NOTE that writing is the thing that is completely in your hand, unlike SSB where getting recommended itself is a big thing moreover Marking system of SSB is very unpredictable and confidential.

3.    Appear for computerized pilot selection system (CPSS) :

 this is the second most important point ( especially for those who have passed the exam with not so much great score ). When you appear for SSB interview (FOR ARMY/ NAVAL SSB ) either during the beginning ( 1st/2nd day ) or after you get recommended ( in my board 11 SSB we were asked later after getting recommended )  the authorities there will ask you  DO YOU want to give CPSS or NOT? I THINK you should say a big YESSSSS !!!. now let me explain why do they ask you and how does it help you to not get merit out.

It’s clear that in AFSB it’s mandatory to undergo CPSS as far as I know ( now the situation might be different, as from now onwards NDA is inducting cadets for IAF ground duty as well but at least it was so for my course as IAF wing in NDA was only for the flying branch ).

the candidates who are recommended by army or naval board, they will undergo medicals as per that service ( mostly army and navy medicals is same only the difference which I know is eyes criteria, CP 3 and CP1 eye ratings to be more precise, I got CP -3 rating thus was declared army fit).

Now if you undergo CPSS and qualify CPSS despite you having your 1st service preference as ARMY/NAVY. you will undergo medical as per air force standard and if you are fit for the air force ( thus you are fit for all services ). then even if your rank is low, there is 99.99 % chance that you will make it to the academy given that You are fit for all services and have qualified CPSS. This is because mostly airforce seats in NDA never get fully filled ( during my course NDA -142,12 seats went vacant for IAF as far as I know ).

 Consider, that you appeared for cpss, qualified it and are declared fit for all. even if you don’t get army ( 1st preference) due to low merit rank/vacancies are fulfilled, they will consider your candidature for subsequent service as per the preferences you have filled in your form.

So what I want to say is appear for CPSS, find out relevant information regarding CPSS to be mentally prepared for D- DAY during SSB, as it is once in a lifetime opportunity.

Bonus information : If any Naval or Air Force cadet is unable to cope up with the B Tech program, the change of service to the Army will be granted to the cadets with the parent’s consent during the first term itself. So the change of service is possible in exceptional cases.

this is the exact line I copied from the joining instruction brochure of NDA. So even if you are a hardcore army lover its possible that you can change your service from IAF/NAVY to the army ( not vice versa).

My story: I didn’t appear( Unwilling ) for CPSS when I was asked, as at that time I didn’t know advantages of appearing for qualifying CPSS and getting FIT for all service.

4.     Don’t neglect IO ( individual obstacles ) :

 you know it very well the SSB marking system is very unpredictable and confidential. But it’s a known fact that doing extra obstacles in IO can fetch you more marks . in my case I did 9 obstacles ( couldn’t do balancing beam ). So starting running beforehand to improve your stamina to be able to do more obstacles. Every extra mark counts!

So these were some of the advice from my side. All the best !!! And please take, seriously whatever I have said especially regarding the written exam part, and CPSS if you want to join NDA!. Remember guys, competition is very high and the stakes are too. Work as if some else around you is working 24/7 to take away the seat you deserve!

I will conclude with the line: “It’s said that a wise person learns from his mistakesbut wiser one learns from others‘ mistakes”

we both have a lesson to learn!

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