10 Tips To Crack NDA Exam In First Attempt

NDA Exam is conducted by UPSC twice a year to shortlist candidates for SSB Interview. Every year UPSC conducts Nation Defence Academy and Naval Academy exams twice. Almost 4 lakh candidates compete for only 400 vacancies. To crack an exam having a success rate of 0.1 percent, you have to work hard as well as smart. In today’s article, I am going to tell you the smartest way to crack NDA especially the written part. SSB Interview is conducted by the SSBs of the three forces. Candidates who get recommended and are medically fit are issued joining letters based on their final merit made from aggregate of scores of written exam and SSB.

As I managed to clear the exam in my first attempt I would share some tips and strategies which will make your work a bit easier

  • Get Hold of Syllabus

The official notification released by UPSC contains the full syllabus for the written examination. Go through it and then skim through the questions asked in the previous year(papers available on the UPSC website) so that you can make a list of which topics to read. This is a very important step as it saves a lot of time to prepare for the exam and you can avoid reading the useless part. Example: Sections like Ancient History is rarely asked in the exam so you can plan on avoiding subjects like these and devote time to high scoring topics like Modern History, Famous Govt. Schemes, etc. The same goes for topics of Mathematics

  • Go through the NCERT religiously

Especially for the Maths section, go through all the definitions in class XI-XII books as recently many questions are asked from basic domains of functions, the definition of terms, etc. For this, you can make different lists of formulas on sheets of paper like all formulas of integration and stick it on a wall near your study table and same for Inverse Trigno., Probability, etc.

For the GAT section also try completely reading at least the science, history, and geography books of IX and X if not earlier classes as many questions are asked directly from the books.

  • GK Sections Strategy:

Many of those giving the first attempt is also in their board year so I wouldn’t recommend reading newspapers for the GK section. You can go through the editorial for SSB prep but for preparation of written follow the trend. If you carefully observe PYQs you will notice that some topics like Military Exercises, Awards, Defence deals/equipment, railway zones, new govt schemes, family planning, etc is asked almost every time. So select topics like these and search for it from net or you can refer to SSBCrack Exam study material where all of this is provided in a concise manner.

  • Accuracy is priority

Some of you must be preparing for JEE or NEET exams and know that for good ranks you will have to solve almost all of questions. But in NDA exam final ranks rarely matter once you enter the academy. One aspect in which the NDA exam becomes tougher is negative marking and that too 1/3rd of marks awarded to correct question. So candidates need to focus on accuracy first and then develop speed. For example: If you are weak at Maths and just solve 50 questions out of 120 in MAT with 100 percent accuracy you will easily clear the sectional cutoff.

  • Tricks/Shortcuts

Maths There is way too many tricks or shortcuts available in books and the NDA Exam Online Course. But I would recommend you to use a notebook and write the ones you are able to use while solving the questions. And also if you notice some particular order in questions note them down as they will help you during the final week revision.

Same for GAT like for remembering the parts of Indian Constitution there is TEARS OF OLD PM and many more for other topics too so search for them all available on the NDA Exam Online Course and don’t just memorise them note them down

  • Study-Materials:

SSBCrack E-books are enough to clear the exam but you can also refer to Pathfinder for Maths, Objective General English by  SP Bakshi. Don’t read Spectrum or Lakshmikant they are not at all required. For the science part, only NCERTs can help you. Don’t blindly follow any book, see if it suits you because every author has a different way of explanation. But remember to check for a book with the trends of PYQs as you have to prepare for NDA only and some authors at times put too many advanced questions which is generally not asked.

  • Syllabus Completion is a Myth

The truth is you cannot complete the syllabus of any UPSC Exam, it’s too vast. Make a list of topics you can complete and make make sure that these will sail you through the exam. Be ready to leave some topics even if they are important. Like if you are in class XII and haven’t studied calculus so focus on class XI maths(60% of exam) and other topics. Just remember to at least solve all questions of those chapters which came in the past 10 exams.

  • Mock Tests:

The moment you enter class XII start giving mocks(available on the SSBCrackExams website) as it will help you in identifying your weak areas of class XI, especially in Maths. Keep Sundays for mock exams. At start, you will score very less but with time your confidence will grow and that confidence is what very people lack and are not able to clear exams in spite of great academic talent. Sections like English and maths become very easy to tackle if you take mocks continuously. Enroll In NDA Exam Mock Test Series and Analyse your mocks yourself and then make new strategies that will help you in tackling tougher parts.

  • Time Management:

If you are in class XII you can focus on completing your Maths syllabus from the book only thus helping in your boards too and then devote time for practicing questions from various sources (like PYQ) and make a timetable with goals for a certain week like this week should be for Trigno+1857 Rebellion + Clouds + Fundamental Duties etc. Just a timetable for studies won’t work you will have to add objectives for every day/week/month to remain focussed

  •  Motivation

Many of you might feel low at times as you have to cover your class XII and NDA also at the same time. Moreover, the syllabus doesn’t match so you may have thoughts to leave the NDA exam this time and attempt it after completing boards. But remember this is the Golden Chance for any candidate as is said in the defense aspirants community. This is the best chance as assessors also would be a bit lenient towards you seeing your hard work and dedication. For sure this would not be the only chance you will have but it surely would be the best to achieve your aim of stars-on-shoulders.

You should also take help from your buddies who are preparing for the NDA exam as every mind brings with it unique ideas and peer pressure in this aspect will always lift you.


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles” -Sun Tzu. This quote pretty much sums it up what has been written above as this exam doesn’t require exceptional intellectuality but a clear strategy with self-discipline.

Jai Hind

How to prepare for the NDA Exam?

Ashish Tiwari

    Intern at SSBCrackExams. Maths Undergrad and Defence Aspirant, been to SSB 4 times for NDA Entry. Enjoy reading novels and playing cricket

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