About SSB - Service Selection Board
Service Selection Board or SSB (as widely known) is an organization to assess the aspirants for becoming Indian Armed Forces officers. SSB evaluates the aspirant using a standardized evaluation system which constitutes of personality, intelligence tests, and interviews. The tests are of written and practical task-based type. SSB comprises the panel of officers in Indian Armed Forces and having their specialization as Psychologist, GTO and Interviewing Officer. In India, there are ten Service Selection centres, out of which four are for Indian Air Force, three are for the Indian Army and three for the Indian Navy. The selection procedure is generally of 5 days.
There are a variety of ways to get commissioned as an officer in Indian Armed Forces for civilians as well as for serving armed forces personnel. Anyone wishing to be commissioned in Indian Armed Forces except medical field must succeed in the SSB interview. Aspirants can make unlimited attempts to SSB. The SSB interview involves a battery of psychological tests. SSB looks for the candidates with an officer like qualities ("OLQs"). The sole responsibility of SSB is to assess and recommend the candidates irrespective of the number of commissions available. The successful candidates have to go through a medical examination and if found satisfactory are recorded on a merit list before the start of training and commission.
The top few qualities (officer like qualities - OLQs) are
- Effective Intelligence
- Reasoning Ability
- Power of Expression
- Self Confidence
- Organizing Ability
- Sense of Responsibility
- Group Influencing Ability
- Social Adaptability
- Speed of Decision
- Judgment under stress
- Willingness to set an example
- The feeling of loyalty to the nation
The selection procedure is for five days. The candidates are put up at SSB center during the selection period and have to complete the assessments in a group with other candidates. The group is kept under constant observation.
Day 1, Reporting
On day 1, generally, the candidate has to report in the morning between 7 Am â€“ 8 Am at the railway station. From the railway station, candidates are escorted by SSB officials to the board. At the board, candidates have to present their educational documents for verification in the testing hall and are allotted a unique number, called as Chest Number. A briefing about the schedule, various tests, and general instructions are given.
Day 1 (Screening test - Stage I)
The screening test includes a verbal, non-verbal intelligence test (around 50 questions each), a Picture Perception and Description Test (PPDT). In PPDT, a picture (it may be clear or hazy) is shown to the candidates for about 30 seconds. After observing the picture, each candidate has to count the characters in the picture in one minute. After that in the next four minutes, the candidate has to make a story around the picture in more than seventy words. The story should describe the mood, age and should revolve around a "main character". In the second part of the PPDT, candidates are given option to revise their stories. Then, each candidate must narrate his story in under one minute to the group. Finally, the group is then asked to come up with a common story involving each of their perceived picture stories.
After the completion of these tests on day 1, candidates are sorted depending upon their performance. Unsuccessful candidates are sent back which other candidates are sent to complete the personal information questionnaires. This questionnaire is the basis for the individual candidate interview.
Day 2 (Psychology test - Stage II)
On this day, the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) or picture story writing is conducted. It is somewhat similar to PPDT, but the picture shown is always clear. Candidates are not supposed to remember the number of characters and there is no group discussion or common story. The candidates are shown a picture for thirty seconds and four minutes are allocated to write a story. Such twelve such pictures are shown in sequence. The last shown picture is always a blank slide to prompt the candidates to write a story of own choice.
After TAT, Word Association Test is conducted. In Word Association Test, sixty words are shown to all the candidates one after other. Each word is shown for fifteen seconds. For every word shown, the candidate has to write the first thought which flashes to his/her mind in response to the word.
Then Situation Reaction Test is conducted in which a booklet of 60 situations is given in which the candidate has to complete his responses in 30 minutes. At last, the Self Description Test is conducted which consists of 5 questions about the candidate's teacher's, friend's, parent's and his perception about himself.
Days 3 & 4 (Group test by GTO (Group Testing Officer) - Stage II)
On these two days, followings are conducted
- Group discussion
- Group (military) planning exercises
- Progressive group tasks
- Small / Half group tasks
- Individual tasks/obstacles
- Group obstacle / Snake Race
- Command tasks
- Final group task.
Interview by IO (Interviewing Officer) - Stage II
On any of day 2, 3 or 4 along with GTO, the individual interview is conducted based on the personal information questionnaires filled by the candidates on day 1 and other general knowledge.
Day 5 (Final assessment & results - Conference)
Day five is the final big day - conference day. Each candidate attends the conference with all the officers in proper uniform. The panel of assessors look for confidence, positive attitude in adversity and honesty.
Then the final results are announced. Successful once remain for an intensive medical examination which takes around three to five days at the military hospital.
Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT)
An aspirant can only appear once in a lifetime for this test. PABT is conducted for the candidates aspiring to join the flying branches of Indian defence forces. It may be Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, Indian Army or Indian Coast Guard. PABT includes Sensory Motor Apparatus Test (SMA), Instrument Battery Test and control Velocity Test (CVT).
As per the recent reports, Computerized Pilot Selection System Test (CPSS) will be replacing the decades-old PABT test, though there is no official notification on the date of replacement. CPSS was created by the former president of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam along DRDO, DIPR and Air Defence Establishment. It was specifically developed to determine aptitude and attitude with respect to advanced aircraft. CPSS machine simulates an aircraft cockpit. It also has video games for testing hand, leg, vision and hearing coordination.