National Defence Academy is basically a joint services military training based graduation college. Here cadets of Army, Navy & Air Force train together before going to their respective academies for commission. The alumni comprise of 3 Param Vir Chakra and 12 Ashok Chakra recipients and also, 27 Chiefs of Staff till date. The students passing out receive either a B.Sc or BA degree. Assuming that you are eligible to write the NDA exam (check your eligibility here), joining NDA is a four step process. 1st step is to clear the written exam which is held twice a year. 2nd step is to clear SSB (services selection board) and the third step is to clear medical examination. Once all of the above is done then a merit list is made by UPSC which is the fourth and the final step.
1st STEP: Written Examination (Total marks = 900)
The first step of NDA is to clear the written examination which has two papers. First paper is mathematics, which is of 300 marks, the syllabus of the paper is restricted to class 11th and 12th (NCERT). For a detailed syllabus overview click here. A student who is serious with his studies should have no problem in solving mathematics problems. Right strategy and time management can lead to an easy score above 180 marks out of 300. Second paper of 600 marks has two parts, part A is english which contains 50 questions and part B is GK which contains 100 questions. GK section covers questions from physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, polity and current affairs. Here the student must focus upon english, current affairs and choose wisely from the remaining subjects as covering 100% of the syllabus is not easy in GK. A score between 220 to 250 marks is easily manageable and enough to clear the individual cut-off in second paper. An important part of scoring is also that we need to curb our temptation to attempt everything as we need to remember both the papers has one third negative marking.
We advise students to have right mentorship and guidance with experienced people to make correct strategy and to improve time management. It is very easy to blog about how to make strategies and how to manage time but the fact is that strategy and time management is a very personal topic and it varies student to student so, it is very important to have a mentor/ institute.
2nd Step: SSB Interview (Total marks = 900)
SSB Interview is a five day process (soon may become a 3 day process) which starts with a screening process and then the shortlisted candidates go under a 4 day rigorous process where 15 OLQs are checked and marked by three different evaluators. Broadly speaking, psychologist checks your personality through thoughts, group testing officer checks your personality through actions and interviewing officer checks your personality via words. But when we get into details it is a complex process where various tools are used to analyse and mark your personality. Screening test consists of OIR test (officers intelligence rating test) which has two parts verbal and non verbal. There are 40 questions in each part and 20 minutes are given per test. Candidates get 30 seconds to solve each question. After OIR test comes PPDT i.e. picture perception and description test, where a picture is shown to candidates and a story has to be written on it in a particular format. After PPDT there is also a group discussion which checks the candidate’s communication skills. After this some students are shortlisted and rest are sent back.
The psychological test series consists of thematic appreciation test (TAT), word association test (WAT), situation reaction test (SRT) and self description test (SDT). To understand more about psychological test series click here.
GTO test series consists of 9 tests out of which 3 are indoor and 6 are outdoor. Indoor tests consists of group discussion, group planning exercise and lecturette while the outdoor tests consists of progressive group task (PGT), half group task (HGT), command task, final group task (FGT), individual obstacles and group obstacle race (snake race). To understand more about GTO test series click here.
Finally, the candidate undergoes an interview which is generally conducted by a senior officer of the rank of Colonel and above. The interview lasts for about 40 – 45 mins but there are exceptions too. To understand more about interview click here. On the final day there is a conference where each candidate is called in a conference room where all the evaluators are seated and all of them for the first time together meet the candidate. Then after this final candidates are recommended and sent for medical examination.
SSB is as important as written examination and requires personal attention to have corrections in personality. A generalised approach is not enough to improve in weak areas.
3rd STEP:Medical Examination
For officer selection there is a 7 day long detailed medical process which minutely evaluates the candidate for smallest of the medical condition which may or may not be evident. The reports are sent to ministry from where sometimes a candidate may be again called upon for checkup if any anomaly is noted in reports. The candidates who have been given a medical point can re-appeal two more times where if the board decides the candidate may or may not be cleared. For a detailed analysis of medical examinations and common problems click here.
4th STEP: Final Merit List
After the candidate goes through all the above process then UPSC makes a final merit list
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