From failing to get into NCC to getting recommended in first attempt, hello aspirants, this is me Prateek Hanchate from Pune, Maharashtra. I recently got recommended for Indian Navy pilot course from 12 SSB Bangalore in my very first attempt.
My journey for SSB preparation started way back when I was in my 1st year of engineering and it was the same time when I first realised that defence forces is where I want to make my career. As an aspirant, I wanted to join the NCC Air wing. But because of lack of physical fitness, I wasn’t able to clear the assessment and get into the NCC.
This failure had taught me a lot in terms of my preparation to get into the forces. After failing to qualify for the NCC, I made sure that I will work from now onwards for my first ever SSB which was scheduled after 3 years from that time. Talking about my very first SSB experience, there were a total of 77 candidates who reported on day 1.
After our documentation and all other formalities, we had our OIR test. For me, the OIR was very easy stuff as I had practiced a lot for this test especially from SSBCrack content which is available online as well as in the form of books. In fact, we got a lot of time to do both the OIR sets. Now came the very important aspect of screening test, which is the PPDT.
We were shown an accident scene which was very clear and I wrote a story which involved the past, present and future as well as minute details like how the main character tried to help the injured person. The thing is, it was a practical story which many of us can relate to if we get into such a situation. My narration was good and every candidate was cooperative towards the group during the discussion. A total of 26 candidates got screened in and I was given chest number 8.
After this we had to fill some forms which included the PIQ form. I had prepared my PIQ before my SSB because of which I didn’t missed anything in the actual PIQ form. Next day we had the psychology test. First was TAT (Thematic Association Test), and out of the 11 pictures which were shown to us, 3 were related to accident. The last picture was blank and I had prepared a good story during my preparation. Now the thing is, I didn’t practice much for psychological test as wanted that my true self should get reflected through these stories.
Most of my stories were related to my past experiences which had actually happened. Second was the WAT (Word Association Test). This was the only test which didn’t went well for me. I did all the 60 words but my hand writing was bad and there were 2-3 words for which I wasn’t able to frame a sentence so I just wrote the same word. I was disappointed with my performance in this particular test. Then came the SRT (Situation reaction Test).
I did 40 of them out of 60 and all were practical and true responses. For the self-description test, again I had prepared everything beforehand so this also went well. Except WAT, I was overall satisfied with my performance in the psychology test. An important thing to note here is that, I tried to relate my psychological test responses with those with I have written in my PIQ form and self-description. On the same day I had my interview as well.
My interview was taken by the president of the board. Basically, the interview was mainly based on my PIQ form as there were a lot of things which I had done in my past which I had included in my PIQ. Additionally, there were questions related to my academics, teachers, family, why low marks in 12th, friends and many current affair questions.
Also, there were many questions related to aviation since I had written aviation as one of my interests in my PIQ form for which I gave answers for all the questions. I was confident as well as clear in all my responses hence I was overall satisfied with my performance in my interview. Next day, GTO tasks were scheduled. As soon as we reached the ground the GTO started to grill our group. Every time he used to scold us without any reason.
The main reason for this was that, he wanted to build pressure on all of us. On first day of GTO, PGT, HGT, group obstacle race, group discussion and lecturette were done. In PGT and HGT, there were some candidates who were overpowering and hence I didn’t get much chance in these tests. Group discussion and lecturette went really well. Every member of the group had put points in the group discussion. For lecturette, I took the topic of India – US relation.
On day 4, we had the last series of our GTO tasks which included individual obstacles, command task and final group task. For individual obstacles, I did all except balancing beam as the beams had become slippery due to heavy rains. Command task is one of the tasks in which I excelled the most. I got task to diffuse the bomb and I did it in my own way. Even the testing officer appreciated me for my performance in the command task.
Final group task also went well as the whole group was cooperating this time and everyone got the chance to come forward. This was the end of our assessment for SSB. As it was the last night for all of us, we enjoyed a lot as we shared horror stories, our future plans, etc and had fun. We literally slept at 2:30 AM that night. Next day, we had our conference. Everyone was tensed and waiting for their chance. I remember we all were waiting in Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan Hall which in itself was a very motivational experience.
Before our conference began, a Navy officer in his sparkling white uniform came and motivated us to accept whatever be the result and said that this is not the end there will always be opportunities coming towards you, it’s just that you have to grab that opportunity and give your best next time. The conference started and after some time my chance came. Before they called me, there was a waiting time of around 10-15 minutes.
I was called and as soon as I entered the room, there were around 8-10 naval officers sitting in front of me. They asked me to rate my performance and give rank to different assessments which were taken. They asked me whether I have taken any professional coaching for which my answer was in negative and the typical questions related to the stay, food and friends made during this period. Finally, the results were announced.
The officer started announcing the chest number and as soon as he announced chest number 8, I was overwhelmed and said to myself that yes, I did it. It was the result of my 4 year’s preparation. All those late-night studies, some failures which I had encountered, physical fitness activities and above all believing in myself, didn’t go in vain.
Along with me there were other 2 who got recommended. One was already a gentleman cadet in OTA and another guy was previously recommended for OTA. I was the only fresher who got recommended. After a gap of 3 days, we were sent to AFSB Mysuru for our CPSS test for flying branch. We were a total of 6 candidates which included 3 Navy candidates and 3 Air force candidates. 4 cleared the CPSS including me. This was the day when I realised that my dream for flying and protecting the sky of my motherland is going to get accomplished soon!
Now there are some things which I would like to share with you all which may give you some boost to crack SSB.
- Have a clear-cut vision. it’s not only for defence aspirants but all those who wants to do something in their lives. This will help you to not get distracted to other things and only focus on what you want and stick to the same plan.
- Be determined and not obsessed. You are obsessed to get something when you are only thinking about that particular thing, but on the other hand, when you are determined, you are thinking about that thing as well as working towards achieving it.
- Most important thing to keep in mind during your assessment is that, you should relate your responses which you have given in your PIQ, self-description with your responses in psychological tests. Be consistent while answering in personal interview. In my case, the interviewer was asking the same question 2-3 times at different point of time that whether I have taken any coaching or not. The same question was asked to me during my conference.
- Don’t go to the SSB without any preparation. There are certain things which you can prepare for like the OIR, PIQ, self-description, current affairs, etc. Also, don’t go over prepared. I have seen people by hearting TAT and SRT responses. I was surprized when a guy in my batch was by hearting responses for conference. This will do more harm than good to you. Only prepare for those things where preparation is needed. You don’t require extensive preparation for psychology tests and GTO.
- If you do not do well in one particular test, doesn’t matter, forget about it and move on as there are other tests where you can excel. Thinking about the past where you haven’t done well will only affect your present and future performance.
- Accept failure and try to make a strong comeback. In my case, I wanted to join NCC but failed in the assessment. That day, I made sure that this is going to be my last failure to join the forces. I worked upon my physic by running marathons. Today, I am a half marathon runner all because of that failure which I had encountered in my past. Learn from the failure and make sure you don’t do the same mistake again.
- Do what suits you. Some people might say that you will need a daily time table to be successful. It all depends on you. In my case, I never had any daily time table kind of thing in my life. I was completely flexible with my day. The only thing I made sure was that I completed every task which I had assigned to myself on that particular day itself. In fact, I am not a person who only focuses on studies, I used to do cycling, running, indulging in my hobbies, a lot of extracurricular activities in the college etc.
- A very important aspect of my success in SSB was because of the extra-curricular activities in which I was a part. In my school as well as college, I have always had my hand in extracurricular activities. These were not just for the sake of enjoyment but these activities have helped me to inculcate the leadership qualities which the assessors are looking in a candidate in the SSB. I used to organise events, participate in group as well as because of my past experience, during my final year of engineering, I was assigned the post of technical secretary of my department where I had to handle numerous different types of events throughout the year.
- At least take up 1 sport so that you enjoy as well as maintain your fitness levels. It can be anything, cricket, football, basketball, badminton, etc. in my case, it was long-distance running as this is the easiest exercise (for short distance) which you can do since it doesn’t require any sophisticated equipment.
- Never give up and have persistence. There will always be setbacks which will try to bring your morale down, but if you have thought that you are going to achieve that thing by hook or crook, then stand up again, go back and start from scratch, if not now, you will definitely make it tomorrow.
Finally, I would only say that SSB doesn’t require any extensive preparation. What you need is a right guidance. You don’t have to be a topper in academics, a national sports champion, or a son/daughter of a defence officer.
You need to be a normal person who can be trained by the forces according to their standards. Don’t take it as an ordinary test, it’s a test of your personality which you can improve by doing day to day works, taking up leadership activities in school or college and helping your friends or family members. That’s it, all the best to every defence aspirants who are reading this article and don’t forget, the day will definitely come when you will wear those ranks on your shoulders!!!!!!!
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