Journey From Airman To Indian Air Force Officer

Jai Hind Warriors! I’ll feel privileged if it (This Article) could help a common guy to achieve the target to become an Officer in the Armed Forces. I’m ‘Gopinadh’, hails from District Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. I got recommended for Meteorology branch in Indian Air Force at No. 03 Air Force Selection Board, Gandhinagar on 28 Feb 2020. I am happy to share that I have cleared my Induction medicals at Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bangalore and my name is in the All India Merit List for the course commencing in Aug 2020 at Air Force Academy, Hyderabad.

I achieved my target in tenth attempt. Through the following, I would like to share my experiences and graph of my life towards success. Before sharing my experience of SSB (the Recommended Attempt), let me have a sketch of my personality, a short brief of my yesteryears and the lessons drawn from my failure attempts.

I belong to a small town from southeast coastal part of India. My father is an auto driver who leads a small middle class family. My mother is a homemaker, a highly God belief women. My younger sister ‘Gowri Priya’ is a Lecturer. I had been a below average student during my initial schooling. It was my childhood dream to join the Armed Forces. Quite often I used to talk about defence and same soothed my ears too.  My Dad, though not much educated, made me understand the importance and role of education for growth in life. My family status made me realize the importance of education associated to a typical middle class. I geared myself during the secondary school studies and scored 82% in Matriculation. The achievement made everybody in the family feel happy and proud besides providing immense pleasure and satisfaction to me. From that point, there was never a full stop to my education and I finished 10+2 with 87% marks which further boosted my confidence.

To support my family in financial aspects, trials to join in Armed Forces began. My first achievement was when I got selected as Airmen in Indian Air Force in the year 2008 at the age of 17.  Before joining training, I had already attempted my first SSB in the year 2008 at Allahabad for Technical Entry Scheme in Indian Army.  That time I was not fully aware about the selection process of SSB. I dared to attempt but the result was disheartening ‘Conference Out’. But, corner of my heart said to me ‘you are born for this’ and I made up my ambition in life to become an ‘Officer’.

In the year 2009, I got call letter for Airmen Training. Underwent and completed the training successfully in Accounts trade and gained the blue uniform. This gave me identification and knowledge about Defence Services besides the wherewithal to support the family. Time passed and with that I began to grow. The intense feeling to achieve higher, never died. My attempts for Army Technical Entry, NAVY (Navigator course), Army ACC, Army Education Corps and AFCAT during the years which followed were fruitless. The journey from 2008 to 2018 gave me nine failures and on that every failure I got a chance to introspect and learn new aspect to achieve the goal, I became more confident and determined. I would say – Behind my present success there are a lot of unsuccessful years. My achievement in those years was gaining a good qualification as during the period I gained Bachelor Degrees – B.Sc, B.Com and PGDCA.  I further went achieving Master Degrees – M.B.A (HRM), M.Com (Accountancy), M. Sc (Mathematics) & M.A (English).

I was upset with long waiting period to get succeeded. I remember my sister (Gowri Priya) used to motivate me with great words –

If God is making you wait, then wait…… God is trying to show you something…..

Thank you Angel for being my side during those times.

For my next attempt, I took more than a year time. I made a lot of changes in my personality, my daily schedule, in shining my strengths, working on my weaknesses and I felt a gradual improvement in my life. Remember, every failure is a stepping stone towards SUCCESS. The double digit had started – my 10th attempt. It was not as such planned attempt, as luckily I got chance to report in absentee batch after much communication with the Board. Days before the SSB, the schedule got so compact that during the period I completed my Cryptographers’ Course.  After completion of course in Dec 2019, I was likely to be posted out to work as Cryptographer in a new unit. God grace, the things got streamlined and I got call letter to report to 03 AFSB for SSB in the absentees batch. I felt it’s magic, I believe in magic because magic happens when you do not give up even though you want to – the universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart.

On 24th Feb 2020, I reported at 03 Air Force Selection Board, Gandhinagar. A total of approx 280 candidates reported consisting of SEC entry and some AFCAT absentees. I was the one in the absentees. Few known faces and a lot new faces. After the initial verification, we were asked to assemble in testing hall for Phase-I testing. A warm welcome was given by a civilian psychologist and a short Do’s and Dont’s briefing by an Air Force Officer. The OIR test went good, I was quite satisfied. To do well in OIR, practice is very important, especially dices and cubes. Take the help of Youtube for shortcuts and speedy techniques. Never leave anything unanswered. OIR rating shows one’s IQ level.

Subsequently, the main part of Phase-1 – PP & DT was conducted.  The picture looked clear & quite visible unlike it usually is. Picture showed a big room/hall, in the back drop a boy and a girl are coming outside the room with two additional characters by side.  I made a story on ‘Plogging’ and completed the writing part. Before discussion, I gainfully utilised the time gap, memorised the story and narrated the same to me in my mind several times. 15 candidates each were divided into groups & called inside a closed room.  We all took positions in a semi-circle manner in front of three assessors. Self story narration started, the assessors were reading everyone’s story write-up for evaluation. I narrated my story well within time, maintained eye contact with the group members with a smile on my face. After all the narrations were over, discussion ensued. During discussion, I grabbed the opportunity to speak 5 times in various lengths to present my viewpoint with validity.  In PP&DT, the C4 (Clear, Confident, Crisp& Calm) formula works.  The story has to be unique and not a copied chip. There is no place for pre-conceived ideas/thoughts. 

After completion of Phase-I testing, I was quite confident to go through. The results were announced : 65 Screened-In. I was IN and allotted with chest No. 60 in the last group. One of my two-time SSB buddy-Ankit Pandey (Ch No.63) was in my group. It seemed a very potential group with two previously recommended candidates, chest no 64 (Anurag) & chest no 65 (Satinder).

During document verification, I had ensured that all the educational qualification certificates are kept in sequence with summary of marks & percentage scored. As I was a repeater, I had data/ documents relating to my previous attempts. I had already filled PIQ before coming to SSB (which is enclosed with call up letter) & memorised it well as I am of the view that this helps a lot during interview. During the process our mobiles were taken. A two hour leisure time was provided before the game. I had a small nap, revised my SD and proceeded for psychological testing.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) : To perform well, listen to the instructions very carefully and follow as it is. If you understand them well, half of the testing is done. Observe the picture carefully, choose the plot and make a good Intro-Action-End (Focus on Action part). Don’t crave for artistic and influencing words. Easy understanding of story is very important. Involve yourself in the story, take the stories out of your life. Be a common man, not a superman. It is also not considered necessary to show problem in every story, some can also be easy going story. I made maximum stories on my life experiences. As far as blank story is concerned, it should be well prepared and preferably a story from your life happenings.

Word Association Test (WAT) : 60 words, each 15 seconds. I attempted all the 60. Be simple, and original. Sentence should be of easy understanding. Avoid proverbs, quotes, suggestions and sayings. Practice helps you to perform better. If you stuck in between, don’t worry, you can give a single word answer, which even I gave to a few. Try to show the qualities you have and about your personality in the words/sentences.

Situation Reaction Test (SRT) : 60 SRT allotted with 30 minutes. I had attempted 42.  Put yourself in each situation and give genuine and natural response. The responses are to be short & the action is to be complete till end result. At times, quite similar SRTs or repeated SRTs may be provided to ensure your approach towards a situation/problem doesn’t change. These would be attempted naturally as the earlier ones. There is no right or wrong answer in SRT, the focus area is that the answer should match one’s personality. If you are looking to attempt the best answer, the graph is likely to be haphazard. So, be original and practical as per your personality. Don’t mind about number of SRT attempted.

Self Description (SD) : 15 minutes for 5 Questions – the answers of which are already known. He who knows others is ‘wise’, he who knows himself is ‘Enlightened’.

The questions are to be well prepared and the best is to be shown.  It is to be unique, original and genuine. Analyse – Introspect – Be Truthful and write the best.  I took a month to make my SD.  My diary helped me a lot here. 

2nd day is a leisure day, I utilised my time for self questioning and introspection. I went through my dairy, re-winded my life and talked to myself. I put questions to me and replied to me to build in confidence and judge myself. I went for a walk inside the candidates mess and asked the probable questions to be asked in interview. I framed the genuine answers and also uttered them so that I communicate unobstructed. A good buddy acts as a great teacher and my buddy (Chest No. 63 – Ankit Pandey) proved that. He helped me listening to my answers patiently, gave his valuable suggestions for better projection. Thank you man, for being a great buddy and correcting me when I missed on something.

When there is a confusion and you feels hollow ?

Sit Alone, Talk to yourself – you will find all the answers.

My Interview day was pleasant. I got ready on time in the dress suited for interview. After the waiting period, I was called by Interviewing Officer – the Boldman, Gp Capt Kunal Kala (Dy. President of the Board), with little smile on his face he welcomed me and offered a chair. I paid complements as a soldier do and took seat in front of him. My Interview Questions started with : No. of SSB attempts ? Previous failures ? Preparation for this attempt ? Why do you want to became an Officer ? Any two qualities other than 15 OLQs ? About my numerous education qualifications and the reason behind to pursue them ?  Rest all as usual like personal life, parents, friends, family, life, money, daily schedule, office, Air Force, sports, adventure activities so on…. But no GK this time. Almost an hour of interaction where I provided genuine and honest replies. I was satisfied with the performance. For interview, be genuine, accept the failures and obstacles, prove your potential by speaking/kinesics because you are judged through that only.  Answer only what is asked for.

I was sensing that the things were going well. As the Psych and Interview went well, the confidence became strong and I felt energised to face the next and final test, GTO.  

The ground Role, G.T.O started with Group Discussion. I could not do fairly well during the first G.D. I felt my participation was comparatively less but I covered the vacuum created during the second G.D. In Group Discussion, restrict your talk to the topic, don’t beat out the bush.  Don’t ever try to dominate the group – just be part of it and go along with them rather carry everybody along with you.

The Group Planning Exercise (GPE) was attempted well applying practical and workable solutions. I shared my views and ideas with group-mates during discussion. In GPE, plan and project intelligently. If your solution is different, don’t worry, you may go with the group solution. But be careful while providing solution during your written part.

The grand part of GTO is Ground Tasks.

As we know TEAM Means – Together Each Achieve More.

My group was a great TEAM and to my opinion everybody performed well. For Progressive Group Task and Half Group Task, use the provided equipment well and its correct applicability and usage. Imagine yourself in the situation/hurdle, solution seems to be coming soon. Share your ideas with the team. If anyone have a good idea, allow them to perform. As we know, Team work means co-operation and co-ordination, follow the same.

To me, the most important task of G.T.O is Lecturette & Command Task.  If you couldn’t make a good performance in the aforesaid Group Tasks, these two may bring you up if you perform better. In Lecturette, I chose topic ‘Reservation System in Education’. I delivered a good lecture with confidence, and to me it may be the best lectures in the Group. For Command Task, G.T.O called the candidates one by one in a random manner. I was called at last but one. The waiting period made me sure that my performance is on the mark. My turn came, the G.T.O interacted with me for a couple of minutes on general and personal issues. The Command Task was load evacuation. After understanding the assigned task, I was asked by the G.T.O to call for two subordinates for help, to which I replied ‘I will manage with one’. I completed the assigned task with the only helper. GTO increased the difficulty level twice.  It seemed little complicated with one helper as the difficulty level went up as I kept on finding solutions to questions/problems provided by the GTO. He offered for taking another helping hand but I managed with one and took some time but found solutions to the exercise task. It was a well done project. Thumbs up !

Finally, the time for CONFERENCE.

All the candidates gathered in waiting hall, it took much time as my chest number is in the last group. A speedy call for everyone, but there was a long waiting before my call. Heart beats up fast, it seemed every second passing slowly. I began to sweat a little and adjusted my dress several times. My group buddies rose up my expectations and gossiped. They calmed me and wished me to perform well in the Conference Room. I was facing the toughest waiting time. I recollected a golden word, said by My Love ‘Relax, God sees, God knows and God will fix it’. After a wait of twelve minutes, I was called. I was facing a dozen assessors going to decide my fate. Numerous questions like achievements in service, what changes I have brought in me for this attempt, the next step if couldn’t make it now, how the organisation will be benefited if I get commissioned and so on…..  And lastly – All THE BEST with a smile on the President’s face.

After the Conference, all candidates were asked to gather in a hall for announcement of final result. Everyone kept his fingers crossed, discussing for the probables. I was confident but fear and eagerness lingered in my heart. The announcement began – firstly chest No. 11, then missing much and jumped straight to the Chest No. “60” It was mine.  Oooh my God! It’s my day. I made it, flying high, my happiness found no bound. That moment was priceless and more valuable because I achieved it after years of wait, struggle and hard work.  A long back thrown arrow found its bull now. Went on the stage with a huge round of applause by the all present. Then followed by chest No. 64. In complete, three candidates were able to make their mark this time.

I would like to mention few advices, which will help for your inherent actions :-

  • Make SSB as a part of life.  It should not be like a passing cloud.  It is to be like a significant attribute in your daily life.
  • Ask yourself often, why you want to become an officer in Armed Forces.  Shine up everything you possess.  Be Good, make it Better and convert Better to Best.
  • Feel yourself like an Officer, imbibe the 15 Officer Like Qualities and act accordingly in every situation.
  • Make yourself a Jack of All.
  • Follow SWOT Analysis. Have a better introspection.
    • Introspect                  Work                 Analyse              Repeat
  • Put your dream into your thoughts
  • Thoughts                    Words               Actions              Habits
  • A Good Foundation is always important.
  • Firstly, Practice Good Communication Skills – overcome the fears.
  • Secondly, You should know about yourself very well. To know about yourself, start writing a diary, right from your early days. The earlier, the better. During diary writing, touch all corners, characters and situations of life like a movie story. Even the minute details should not be missed.

This will show you,   What you are….?  &  What you can be….?

  • Lastly, If you ever feel to STOP, then ask yourself why you STARTED.  I recollect one of the good saying by my SSB mate ‘Ganesh Parmar’ “Jab Tak Todenge Nahi, Tab Tak Chodenge Nahi” (Never Let it go, till you Achieve)

I thank from the bottom of my heart to “ God, Family, Love, Sarath, Friends

A Special bow to Indian Air Force, Officers of Armed Forces, SSBCrack Success Stories and AFOSOP Videos.

True words about life.  

Believe in life. Life is a full of Surprises & Miracles.

What you want – may not happen. But, what you deserve will definitely happen.

I’ll be most happy, if a common guy could achieve the heights of success with my inspiration story.

So, my dear Warriors. If I can, Why can’t U ? ALL THE BEST. Jai Hind !

2 Comments

  1. PUNEET PUNDIR

    I will make it & within one yr I 'll post my story here. . Thankyu sir , it's not just an article but a holistic view of ur prospect to see the life & ur dream thankyu ones again. Jai hind
  2. Bhanukant

    First of all I would like to congratulate sir. it's very hard to took out time for study during duty time inspite of this you go through this.talking about your preparation sir it's very motivated and inspiring it's bring me one step closer to getting my goal. Thanks sir

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