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How I Cracked the NDA Exam Two Times with AIR 249

Success requires effort, discipline, focus, and most importantly, the ability to learn from failures. Jai Hind, everyone. My name is Satyapal Singh, and like many of you, I am a...

Success requires effort, discipline, focus, and most importantly, the ability to learn from failures. Jai Hind, everyone. My name is Satyapal Singh, and like many of you, I am a defense aspirant. I have attempted the SSB Interview three times: twice for NDA and once for TES-49.

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In my first attempt, I was recommended for NDA-149 from 19 SSB Allahabad and secured AIR-486 but was merit out. Then, I got a conference out for TES-49 from 22SSB Bhopal. After that, I couldn’t attempt the NDA-150’s written exam due to medical reasons.

Subsequently, I was recommended for NDA-151 from 24SSB Bangalore, achieving AIR-249, and this time, I am joining the prestigious National Defence Academy.

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Coming from a defense background—my father served 24 years in the Army and retired as Havaldar in 2019—I have observed the defense life closely. It’s one of the most unique and interesting lifestyles one can experience. This inspired me to join the army as an officer and be part of the defense forces. Witnessing my father’s work ethic, discipline, and camaraderie with fellow soldiers fueled my aspiration. He is both my role model and supporter. During my 12th grade, I was determined to pass the NDA examination at any cost, prioritizing my studies above everything else. I studied relevant topics from books, YouTube videos, and online content, focusing on previous year’s questions and time-based sample papers to identify and improve my weak areas.

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A crucial aspect of the NDA written examination is time management, especially in the math paper, which consists of 120 questions to be attempted in 150 minutes. My strategy involved first tackling questions I could answer quickly, then those requiring more time, and finally, if time permitted, attempting the trickier ones. In the GAT, despite the temptation to guess answers for extra marks, I was mindful of the negative marking and focused on questions I was certain about.

This approach helped me clear the written examination and prepare for my SSB. The SSB, a 5-day process involving Psychology tests, GTO, and Interview, thoroughly evaluates candidates. To prepare for the screening test on the first day, I practiced OIR tests and created stories for PP&DT images. Joining SSB-oriented Telegram channels for regular PP&DT sessions improved my storytelling and discussion skills. During the PP&DT, I focused on observing the picture during the 30-second viewing period without preconceiving a story. I then crafted my story around the picture’s details, rehearsing it to ensure clear and concise narration during the discussion. My approach was to present my views in a non-aggressive manner and be open to others’ ideas.

The next stage involved psychological tests: TAT, WAT, and SRT. In TAT, I crafted stories around 11 pictures, ensuring they were positive and relevant. The 11th picture, being blank, allowed for creative freedom. In WAT, I wrote sentences for 60 words, each shown for 15 seconds. In SRT, I addressed 60 situations in 30 minutes with concise, comma-separated solutions.

GTO Day-1 included GD, GPE, PGT, HGT, and a Lecturette. In GD, I focused on bringing new points and responding calmly to counterpoints. Preparation involved following current affairs and discussion channels. In GPE, I prioritized problems, formulated group plans, and discussed solutions, considering time and distance. In PGT and HGT, I contributed ideas and volunteered for tasks. For the lecturette, I chose a topic I was knowledgeable about, practicing fluency in advance.

GTO Day-2 comprised Individual obstacles, Command task, and FGT. I worked on my stamina to complete the obstacles and approached the Command task with attention and efficiency. The interview, scheduled on either GTO day, required confidence and honesty, with preparation on current events and my PIQ.

Through my SSB journey of 2 years, I learned the importance of enjoying the process and persevering through challenges. The setbacks in my initial attempts only motivated me to work harder. The experience was enriching, teaching me the value of prioritizing goals and making sacrifices. I am grateful to my family and friends for their immense support throughout my journey. I hope those reading this make it this time and strive to achieve great heights in their future endeavors.

“Jab aankhon mein armaan liya, Manzil ko apna maan liya, Toh mushkil kya, aasaan kya, Jab thaan liya toh thaan liya…”

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