For the introduction, I Abhilasha Barak, come from Panchkula, Haryana. I have completed B.Tech in ECE from Delhi Technological University. I was currently working as a Business Technology Analyst for Deloitte, USI. Coming from an army background, I changed around 8 schools over a course of 12 years, but for the highlights, I completed my 10th from The Lawrence School, Sanawar and 12th from Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar.
Recently in the news on 26 May 2022, Captain Abhilasha Barak became the first woman combat aviator in the Army Aviation Corps. In the passing out ceremony of the Army Aviation Corps today at Combat Army Aviation School (CATS) at Gandhinagar, she passed out with flying colors along with 36 Indian Army Pilots. Read More Details: Meet Indian Army’s First Woman Combat Aviator Captain Abhilasha Barak
To summarize all my attempts:
|2)||AFSB DEHRADUN||Aug-16||SCREENED OUT|
Attempt 1 (DEHRADUN)
My first attempt or least to say the ideal attempt of my life. To compare with all other SSBs I would call this the most flawless performance I could ever give. I literally put my heart and soul into this SSB. The amount of enthusiasm I had was unmatched. I was in my final year of college. I sat home for a month to prepare, my college was on the verge of detaining me but nothing else mattered other than this SSB. So to begin with, I reached the Railway station at exact 6:45 am and started looking for directions in order to give my attendance. I had in mind there might just be somebody we have to report to and thereafter we will be guided to board the buses accordingly. I went up to the officer in charge, who was very preoccupied with everything, to enquire the same but he told me that I was late and I should head back already. It took me a while to understand what he meant but instead of feeling helpless I saw others directly boarding the bus so I went along and took my seat without paying heed.
We reached the campus, got documents verified, went for Stage-1 testing, solved booklets 52 and 53 (simplest ones out of all) , PPDT- old man with bandage on eyes along with doctor, narration was great and GD was decent, thereby I was screened in. Same evening we had Psych testing. Next day, we had CPSS and PABT (the two best test you can experience, sitting in a simulated cockpit makes you feel like a pilot already) cleared both the tests. In GTO (lecturette and snake race didn’t happen), and in IO completed all the obstacles leaving out the hanging tyre. My interview was last of all and the interviewer was from north east, a very humble man I wasn’t grilled on anything, these are very learned people he even recognized the tie I was wearing of my school. Overall it was more like an easy flow of views. Thereafter the next day after conference my chest number 13 was first to be called and thereafter 11 other chest numbers were called. My afcat score was 177 and I was merit out for ground. For flying, I was medically unfit for flying for falling short of 2cm in standing height than what is required.
Attempt 2 (DEHRADUN)
This time my Afcat score was 192 and my Ekt was also clear, so I had very high chances of clearing the merit but destiny had it the other way. On the day of reporting, my level of josh was zero. I had been merit out recently after putting out the best performance of my life. That time I developed immense respect for the repeaters out there, because I realized the amount of dedication and courage it takes for anybody to come back out there and do the same thing over and over again. I don’t even call them repeaters anymore, rather I say the ‘experienced lot’. I messed up my OIR here, when we were asked to write a letter as the answer, I wrote the whole word! Read the instructions very carefully even if you are doing it for the 2nd or 8th time. In PPDT there were two clear characters, one man sitting with newspaper and a woman standing beside him. I made the man the main character and spoke on how he read about smart class technology in the paper and incorporated the same in his school thereafter. I was the first one up for narration which went very well but in GD being the one on one of the corners and that too in a repeaters’ group the big lesson here was to put in double the efforts to make it through. The group I was in was really aggressive but somewhere I couldn’t be like them, so ended up speaking hardly for 2 times. I was screened out. This was another takeaway for me. So two downfalls back to back. But then there was a third one to come. I didn’t clear my AFCAT for which I had to travel to Hyderabad from Chandigarh. So anyway, after my 2nd attempt I decided to take up my placement offer instead of sitting back at home and preparing. It was the right decision. So, I went for the job in Gurgaon I learnt many things, and constantly communicating with people kept me energized. For the record here, ~80 girls were screened in out of 150, which makes a great ratio.
ATTEMPT 3 (BHOPAL)
During this attempt, the good thing about army was for them to call you a day prior to the actual testing, which they always do. So, even If you aren’t in best of your form you talk to people, get to know them and it naturally fills in the excitement. Around 120 people showed up, 63 were screened in and 21 recommended. In Stage 1, OIR was similar to the one that came in Doon. PPDT had a picture of a doctor along with two ladies, so majorly everyone’s’ story revolved around free check-ups for pregnant women. There was one girl who made something related to drug abuse, we both were screened in but I specifically want to mention her here because in all honesty, I haven’t come across a person like her in any of the SSBs or in general in life, the way she is or the way she talks I have sheer admiration for her and in my opinion I haven’t seen a more deserving person than her in this regard. In Psych, there were TAT images like a man and a woman discussing, people climbing a peak etc and I completed 52 SRTs. In GTO, my CT was related to diffusing a bomb within circular boundaries. In Individual obstacles, I completed the difficult ones like Double Ditch, Tiger Leap and Tarzan Swing very smoothly before I went onto the easy ones. Not being overconfident but I know my IO was better than any other girl out there. I always start with Commando Walk in IO because if my legs get tired they would shake the whole thing up. Similar way in AFSB I start with vertical rope first and do the rest successfully. Interview was taken by the president straight after GTO and focused on interpersonal questions. I wasn’t able to answer GK questions like always so they were repeated during conference. I was AIR 12 out of 46 girls ans the seats were 05 for women. My written score was 90 and SSB score was 101.
ATTEMPT 4 (BANGALORE)
This center is beautiful with a large number of mango trees all over the campus. I’ll keep this one short and majorly mention the areas of improvement. In OIR tests, Booklet numbers 100 and 101 were given. 100 is full of alphabet series with 75 questions to be done in 30 min. I could only finish 60 with surety. About 28 girls were screened in out of 60 and 17 were recommended. In psych, the pictures were really interesting like young people riding horses, people in a court room. I still have a list of all the pictures I have come across in all the SSBs. WAT, I always complete 60 words and in SRT, I completed 43 in number. In GTO, I was really good at PGT, HGT and in CT I received a plank, a log and a metal triangle as helping materials. The solution was kind of tricky but I succeeded. We weren’t allowed to do the 3 difficult individual obstacles here as directed by the testing officer. I was disheartened as this was one thing I was really good at and have always outshined in. Lecturette was on ‘Unity in Diversity’ but I messed up and said my topic is ‘University in diversity’. One of the GD topic was, “Why are women finding it easy to move out of marriage?.” My interview lasted hardly 25 minutes in which I could not answer basic GK questions on Chabahar Port and some technical questions related to Radio Spectrum. Conference was short and quick. And made it to the merit at AIR 9 with 95 marks in written and 103 marks in SSB.
ATTEMPT 5 (GANDHINAGAR)
This center too small in size. It is 45 min away from the Railway Station. IAF is coming up with new location for the center in 2 years in Sec 25 Gandhinagar where 2 batches will be able to have SSBs simultaneously as told by the authorities. To start with OIR tests, we received booklet no 74 and 75 which were pretty easy and had all kinds of questions of CLASS A/B, jumbled words etc. In, PPDT I had never come across a more abstract picture. Nothing was clear so majorly people perceived it as trees/ buildings and made stories on industrialization and sustainable development. My story was very odd it was of a teacher who practically tries to demonstrate and equip students with knowledge about environmental science by taking them for outings. I was the first one up for narration in my group (just like the time when I was in Dehradun where I got screened out) and I fumbled like 3 times here. Usually, my narration has always been loud and clear so I knew I had messed it up and I had to prevent history from repeating itself, so ensured that i excelled in GD, there was no way out. As the GD started, I was on fire like literally I had not spoken as much in any other GD as I did here. There is one thing about screening, its risky you never know what you do out there is right or wrong. After screening results, got enough 1-2 hours break before Psych started. We had same old words, so one must practice as many as he/she can but be diverse in your responses and with every sentence one must think what OLQ is it portraying. For eg. If the word is Hide
Negative– Hidden order of corruption is increasing.
Neutral-Children play hide and seek.
Positive-Hidden talents are explored.
And for TAT what I always try to do in my stories is help people, how, why and what the picture only tells you. I completed around 54 SRTs here.
Also people keep talking about making a positive story but nobody out there defines what this positive thing is. After talking to several people, I’ll explain my understanding via another example-
Picture- Aerial view of man getting down from a car and people coming and surrounding/gathering around.
Negative– People are stopping him from running after being involved in an accident.
Neutral– Volunteers spreading awareness about car rationing.
Positive– People have come to welcome him as chief guest after his successful stint at launching the ISRO geo satellite for the nation
That’s for Psych.
The next day was free for our group. We took ample rest and went out to explore the city after lunch. The next day was GTO. GD topics were 1) Crime against women is on rise. Why? 2) What is the major cause of child abuse? My lecturette topic was on Cottage Industry. I didn’t hear the first bell which is to start summarizing your topic so ended up speaking for 3 min 30 sec (Don’t do that! You are eating the time of the next person). My command task was again to diffuse a bomb where the bounded area was in rectangular shape instead of a circle and the bomb was at one end of it and GTO told me the starting line and finishing line were same (i.e you have to come exit from where you started one you pick the bomb, you can’t exit from the other end).
The next day was Interview. There was no rapid fire. The officer was very expressive. He probably had more to tell than to ask. It went on for 50 minutes. It was one good interview. The conference went on like a 6-7 min interview. I came out and thought I was somewhere on borderline here but then they did this with all the people who got recommended. You can never decode what goes on in their minds. 3 of us were recommended who were all repeaters and 5 were previously recommended candidates who didn’t make it. IAF shows no mercy whether it’s your last attempt or first. Currently awaiting the merit for this.
In the end, kudos to all the people who keep coming back with all the josh and grit to face SSBs! Even if you don’t make it, you are my true inspiration.
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