SSB Preparation Tips – Ways to crack SSB (Service Selection Board)

SSB stands for Service Selection Board which is a 4 to 5 days long selection practice being conducted by the group of usually 4 to 5 Officers. It is a procedure to recruit young Officers from the pool of selected candidates after the written examination.

SSB - Complete Procedure

SSB is conducted to select:

Officers in Indian Navy to be trained at INA, Ezhimala, Kerala.

Officers in Indian Air Force to be trained at AFA in Hyderabad.

Officers in Indian Army to be trained at IMA in Dehradun.

through various competitive exams like NDA (National Defence Academy), CDS, AFCAT, NCC, UES, and others.

Candidates declared qualified in the written exam will be called for SSB interview at a selected location through call letters. Call letters will be dispatched to the permanent address of the candidate and at the same can be downloaded online as well.

SSB (Service Selection Board) consisting of 4 to 5 well-experienced officers in their respective fields judge the candidate for his overall personality and aptitude whether he is able to make it to services or not.

 SSB consisting of a group of officers headed by PO (Presiding Officer) and a panel of officers, it may also include medical specialists in the panel. There are many centers usually on the campuses of Defense Services to conduct SSB which all can be identified as their numbers like 33 SSB etc.  There are some SSB centers specifically for different forces like 33 SSB is dedicatedly to select Officers for the Indian Navy.

SSB complete procedure

The SSB interview has two stages i.e. Stage I and Stage II and it lasts for 4 to 5 days of the complete selection procedure.  The stage (I) is consisting of some small but important activities like Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) and Picture Perception & Description Test (PP & DT).  The Second Stage (II) will be consisting of Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests, and the Conference.

Minimum details regarding each and every task, you have to undergo are discussed here but these all are subjected to change with respect to their duration and marking. The decision of the board remains final in all the cases whether you agree with or not to that decision.

How to prepare for SSB effectively

Your preparation strategy to attend SSB for any services or defense exam must be well planned, organized, and practiced. SSB pattern is fixed and almost every candidate knows what all activities you are going to be tasked for as of now. But then also the percentage of selected candidates is very less and one reason for it is preparedness. There is a difference between having knowledge of the procedure of SSB and practicing all the events included in SSB.

Here we will discuss some of the important and quite easy to follow tips to crack SSB, which you must go through before going for appearing in SSB. Tips to clear SSB includes:

a. Must know the Procedure

It becomes very important for you that you must know the complete procedure of SSB before appearing into it or preparing for it. Because knowledge of procedure will tell you what all you should prepare and how to prepare. Various activities you have to undergo during these 5 days includes:

PIQ Forms: In this form, you have to furnish all the personal details like educational background, family profile, and any other. Data furnished by you in this form is very important because sometimes questions are framed out of this data and can be asked from you in a personal interview by the board. 

Intelligence Test

Picture Perception and Discussion Test (PP & DT): In this test, you will be tasked to write a story and discuss the same in the group with the officer in charge. You will be shown an image for 30 seconds and a further 3 minutes will be given to you to write a story on the same picture.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): It is the same as the PP&DT test except that, here you will have to write 11 different stories on 11 different pictures with time allotted to write each story is just 4 minutes.

Word Association Test (WAT): It is like a psychological test and here you will be exposed to 60 words back to back for the timing of 50 seconds and you have to write the word comes in your first thought after seeing that word at the board.

Situation Reaction Test (SRT): You will be handed over a booklet containing some situations and you have to record and write your reaction or response for those situations.

Self Description Test (SD): As the name suggests, you have to describe yourself like your personal info, family, friends, and anything which you think can best describe your attitude and behavior within just 15 minutes.

Group Discussion: Quite easy to understand that here a topic will be given and you have to discuss the same among the group and the officer will observe and judge you accordingly based on your participation in the discussion.

Group Planning Exercise (Military Planning Exercise): Model of real-life practical faced by someone will be given and you have to write and further discuss your planning and action for that problem.

Progressive Group Tasks (PGT): It is simply an Obstacle crossing with limited resources such as rope, plank, wood log, etc with the help of a group.

Half Group Tasks: Same as PGT but here the number of candidates is halved so you have more chance to show your caliber.

Individual Obstacles: Simply crossing of 10 obstacles individually.

Group Obstacles Race or Snake Race: It is like competition among groups and has to complete a snake-like race with some obstacle in between.

Command Task: You will be acting as a commander of a small group and have to clear obstacle with the help of commanding position with your subordinates in the group.

Public Speaking: Simple public speaking for 3 minutes in front of Officers and other candidates.

Final Day/Conference: Candidates are called by SSB board members and every individual is interviewed individually and you have to face a group of officers who will judge your personality based on your answers.

b. Prepare for the Written Part:

SSB has many activities in which writing plays an important role, like essay writing, picture perception test, etc. You must be well prepared for the written part of it before reporting in front of the board. You can go through books and notes which are easily available in the market. But I must suggest that you should search for new topics and pictures to practice upon. Never go for a number of books for the same topic as it will further create confusion for your mind.

c. Group Discussion:

Group discussion is an important stage where an officer will judge the promptness, calmness, knowledge about the subject, ways to describe the topic in the asked manner by the candidate. In GD part, never gets in an argument with other candidates when a contradiction of views took place. Rather just wait patiently for the right time and initiate your answer because Right words weight much than a loud voice. Body posture during GD must not be casual at all and must be attentive & participative all the time.

d. Be logical:

You can check previous years’ question papers and their answer for reference but those answers must not be your answer for the same question. Your perception and thoughts about the question asked matter most to the board, and ultimately they want to recruit you. So you must be logical and thoughtful in answering the questions.

e. Be Updated:

On the final day of the conference or Personal Interview, questions are asked by the Board of Officers and you should answer those correlating with the present scenario. You must be updated in terms of daily news, events, and happenings in and around in terms of geopolitical perspective. Services related achievements, Advancement, Procurement, and their utilities in the future for the forces must be studied thoroughly. It is advised to follow some good magazine and only one or two daily national newspapers to keep you updated with current happenings.

Be Physically and Mentally fit:

As you are going for the selection in defense forces, so to be physically and mentally fit is a prerequisite. Training for the forces always thrusts physical toughness and psychological burden to the trainees, so you must be well capable to handle the same. These things will be checked in SSB itself through various activities like Obstacles, Snake race, PPT, Group Discussion, and many more. Unfit candidates will be sent back home immediately without any notice, so it is better to practice for physical activities and make yourself strong enough in all spheres prior to reporting for SSB.

f. Be Confident: 

Confidence is one thing that makes you separate from others in the group. SSB board will judge your confidence at each and every level or test by exposing you to various situations and analysis. No one can be surely confident about everything but you must maintain your confidence and most important is not to lose it by communicating with other candidates.

Generally, a candidate becomes under-confident when start communicating with another candidate who comparatively seems to be more confident. You must not lose your confidence at that point because SSB is a long procedure and nobody can be perfect in everything and you may have other strong areas to prove.

g. Be Positive:

Positivity in mind boosts confidence in you and you have to maintain a positive frame of mind throughout the SSB. Whether you have a different and negative opinion for a particular topic or not but for the sake of SSB, positiveness in your answers and behavior must be reflected by you.

A simple solution for it is to check and identify your area of weakness and make it your strength. Board can try to drag you in negative criticism with respect to current trending topics but you must maintain positivity in your answers as it is sometimes used as a trick by the board to assess your behavior and mindset.

h. Self- Awareness: 

It is a must for you to be self-aware especially for SSB because here you will be tested for your aim from life and your commitment towards achieving the goals. It is judged by the board, how you can describe yourself in a positive and well-oriented manner to a service approach. So you must be well prepared in your each and every aspect like your thoughts about parents, friends, and teachers. To prepare, you can self-practice by writing each of these details and related answers which will reflect your attitude, and accordingly, you can make corrections in it.

i Practice writing: 

As in SSB, you will be asked to write narratives, descriptions, and essays, so you must improve your writing skills. To improve these skills, keep practicing writing anything about everything you come across in your preparation. One thing to note while practicing is that your writing must be based on facts, logic, and data with a strong positive note in it.

j. Personality Grooming:

 Defense services recruit only those candidates to be trained for officers who are not only well educated and intelligent but must be well matured, mentally tough, and have a good personality. So you must give due attention to personality grooming by reading good books, practicing good habits and following exemplary individuals who you think to be helpful in your preparation for the carrier. Communication with sound and positive people plays an important role in your grooming and it must be inculcated in your habit to communicate with them frequently.

k. Documentation:

Preparedness means you are ready to attend SSB in every aspect and Documents to carry along must be included as an integral part of your preparation. Documents that are asked to carry as per call letter to be collected and stored safely and if any attestation work is to be done must be completed well in advance. Documents will be returned after verification by the boards so no issue of carrying original documents along during SSB.

Following documents to be brought by candidate along while reporting fro SSB at any centre:

⇔ Educational certificated in original

⇔ Ten passport size photographs

⇔ One pair of white shoes, two pairs of white socks, white shorts & a T-shirt and two formal pants.

⇔ Print out of call letter downloaded from official website only

⇔ Risk certificate duly signed by parents/guardians.

Note: if you are attending any SSB for the first time for a particular commission than three-tier train fare for both the side will be refunded to you on the production of journey tickets.

SSB is going to be a lengthy but interesting procedure you are going to attend, so you must enjoy the complete procedure with a positive note in mind. It will teach you many things for life like leadership traits, communication, and decision making. So it does not matter whether you got successful in SSB or not, but these teachings will surely be helpful to you in the future.

Wishing Future Officers a Good Luck

Jai Hind