Understanding the NDA Examination
The National Defence Academy (NDA), is the training institute for the joint defence service, known for various numerous reasons. One of such reasons is its distinctive feature of being the first institution worldwide to provide a tri-service training to cadets of the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, prior to separating them for their respective journey in service academies for pre-commission training. It is located in Khadakwasla at Pune in Maharashtra.
The origin of NDA is related to the experience gained during the World War II, which is that, to be able to successfully come out of a war, a country should have a fully incorporated and serviceable strike force received from all the armed forces as its backbone. The inauguration ceremony for the academy was held on 16th January 1955, and the first Passing Out Parade took place in 5th June 1955 in presence of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
First Step for the NDA Aspirants
The NDA aspirants have to begin their journey by qualifying a written examination organized by the UPSC, which is followed by interviews by the Services Selection Board. This national level exam is conducted twice a year, and are named as NDA I and NDA II. There is a distinct list of requirements sought in a candidate for being eligible in writing the exam. For instance, the one has to sit for the exam between the age of 16 and a half to 19 years.
Applicants joining the December course must be born between 2nd January to 1st July, and those who are born between 2nd July to 1st January must attend the July Course. In the view of one’s qualification, a completed 10+2 degree from a recognised board.
NDA Entrance Exam
The first round of the selection process in NDA course, that is, the written test consists of two papers. Paper I is solely based on the subject Mathematics with the topics learned from classed 6 to 12, for instance, Algebra, Trigonometry, Statistics and Probability, Matrices and Determinants, and many more.
Paper II has two subdivisions: Part A with questions from English for covering aspects like Grammar, Vocabulary. Part B consists of questions of General Knowledge from various topics of Physics, Chemistry, Social Studies, General Science, Geography and Current Events.
Coming to the second round of the process of NDA course, the applicants who are able to secure the cut-off marks of the written exam are invited for the interview round, conducted by Service Selection Board (SSB). This is a 5-day process scheduled at the SSB Centers across the country. The first requirements of these candidates are to present the set of documents required for verification and other formalities of background check of the candidate.
What is the purpose of the selection process that lasts for 5 days?
The second round of the process makes sure to grill each and every candidate to their maximum limit to check if they meet the requirements of a Commissioned Officer of the Indian Army, Air Force or Naval Services. The candidates are tested from three different angles by three evaluators, vis-à-vis, the Interviewing officer, Group Testing Officer and the Psychologist test officer.
It is the reporting day. It includes the formalities like filling up a personal information questionnaire form, understanding the rules and regulations of the testing centre, and other requirements. The real series of tests begin the next day, that is, Day 2.
There are three screening tests on the very first day, with verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests, and Picture Perception & Description Test (PPDT) where candidates write a story in three minutes inspired from a 30 seconds hazy picture.
The emotional and behavioural aspects of a candidate are judged on the second day of the selection process by making them involved in four psychological tests. This commencing test is known as Thematic Appreciation Test, which is jotting down twelve stories on pictures displayed one by one. One story has to be written in four minutes. The interesting point comes in writing the last of the stories, where a black picture is viewed as a reference of the story. The second test is a Word Association Test, where the candidate, after being shown a word, has to put their first thought on paper after within 15 seconds. Situation Reaction Test requires the candidate to address sixty situations in thirty minutes and provide immediate reactions. The last test of the day is a self-description test, having them to write five passages with respect to their parents/guardian/friends, teachers/superiors.
The Group Testing Officer administers nine different group tests. Tasks such as group discussions, group planning exercise, also known as military planning exercise, progressive group tasks, lecturette are performed by the applicants so that their ability to perform in a team gets highlighted.
The day is divided into two sessions. The first is the GTO task session, which involves various types of outdoor tasks, such as facing individual obstacles with points allotted for each in the span of three minutes. At the end of the series of tests, a final group task is conducted with one hindrance and it has to be completed within twenty minutes.
The second session of the day consists of a final test of assessing the candidate through a personal interview, conducted for 35-40 minutes for each candidate.
In the fifth and the final day, there is a conference held where the candidates face the Board Officers. On this day itself, the candidates get the verdict of their hard work of months, receiving which, they are sent for completing their medical tests.
The last and final round of the selection process is one of the crucial ones, as it determines if the candidate is fit for the role, as at times, it is found that even after completing all rounds of tests successfully, a hidden deformity is the body keeps as aspirant from reaching their goal. Physical standards like weight, height, eyesight and other details are checked thoroughly before finalizing a candidate’s fitness report. Hence, the result of the selection process is only announced after the completion of the above mentioned three rounds.
The difficulty level of the whole selection process itself explains the magnanimity of the life ahead. So, the NDA aspirants must roll up their sleeves and prepare for every stage well in advance.