In order to get into the armed forces, one has to complete certain phases. The first phase is the written examination, the second phase is the SSB Interview and the third phase is the medical examination.
After the written examination, candidates who clear the cut-off and qualify are called for the SSB Interview.
The SSB Interview involves psychological tests, Ground Task Operations, and a Personal Interview. The SSB Interview is spanned over a period of five days where the candidates are kept under close observation to see if they meet Officer-Like Qualities.
Amongst the various tasks in the SSB Interview, one such task is the Ground Planning Exercise.
During the Group Planning Exercise, or Military Planning Exercise, candidates are put under stressful situations to check their reaction time and decision-making ability.
The procedure of the Group Planning Exercise:
This task is a leaderless task and candidates are required to arrive at a solution to the problem by the end of the exercise.
The task is conducted in a group consisting of six to twelve members.
The GTO will read out the narrative and explain the problem/situation/scenario with the help of a sketch map or a sand model which may be a 2D or a 3D model. He will also answer queries of the candidates, if any.
The scenarios which the GTO provides could be centered around your group going someplace or returning and facing the situation at that time itself or you are presented with clues to a situation/threat which may happen in the future and you must try and prevent it.
Around three to five tasks are presented before the group which they must solve in the time given.
When working on your solutions, face the task imagining yourself to be the leader and come with apt and achievable solutions. The solutions presented must be logical considering distance, time and terrain of where the task is situated.
After the GTO narrates the tasks, each candidate is also given a copy of the tasks and has a reading time of five minutes in which they must remember key details and make mental notes. After five minutes, the paper with the tasks will be taken away and the candidates will begin writing their solutions when the GTO signals.
Each candidate will be given a piece of paper on which they are to write their solution to the problem posed. The time allotted for writing one’s answer is approximately ten minutes. Candidates are not allowed to consult one another while writing their answers.
After the allotted time is over, the candidates are to hand over their answers to the GTO and then engage in a group discussion and arrive at a unanimous decision on the best possible solutions to the problems.
Each candidate is encouraged to take part in the discussion as it shows the GTO how invested you are. It also helps establish a ‘natural’ leader, showing who doesn’t suggest a plan thinking theirs is inferior to another plan put forward and also, who is capable to express themselves best and convince others to work with their plan.
If there is no unanimous conclusion, the solution agreed by the majority is presented to the GTO. The GTO can ask anyone to present the plan and can further ask the group for their comments, suggestions and even alterations they may want to bring to the solution.
The group discussion process takes approximately twenty minutes.
Tips to ace the Group Planning Exercise:
- Take every detail, big or small, into consideration.
- While giving solutions, keep in mind to pick the safest outcome for your team.
- Be authentic with your solution.
- Apply a solution that will take minimum time and that can be executed with time remaining to escape.
- Use general knowledge and common sense to apply factors that may not be mentioned in the task but that might be available on ground.
- Give alternatives to certain aspects of your solutions.
- Prioritize the tasks given and attempt them accordingly.
- Take active part in the group discussion.
In the above article we have gone through what is a Group Planning Exercise, its procedure and tips to crack the exercise.
The Group Planning Exercise allows you to be original with your ideas as well as gives you an opportunity to show the GTO that you are capable of taking charge in difficult situations.
Always keep the time limit in mind and work according to priority of the tasks given. Take active part in the group discussion and do not hesitate to put your ideas out there and give your suggestions or comments if the GTO asks; you do not have to be part of the unanimous decision.
I hope this article was helpful and gave you a better understanding of the Group Planning Exercise that is conducted at the SSB Interview.
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