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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Seeking Employment In Defence, SSBs Are The Key

Article Collected by - Education is My Passion

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Author : (Retd) Lt Col B G Ray

After reading the article on NDA Entrance Exam in November 2009 issue, many readers have sought information on Service Selection Boards (SSBs) and their selection procedure. All officer cadre selections in the three services are through SSBs. We are carrying the article in this issue on request of readers.          - Editor

The aim of this article is to appraise youngsters aspiring to join Armed Forces in the officer’s cadre of some commonly unknown facts about Service Selection Boards and their selection procedure. It will remove many misconceptions, which the candidates and the trainers face.

Service Selection Boards (SSBs) function directly under the respective headquarters of the three services, i.e, Army, Navy, Air Force. They also function under the technical collaboration of Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR), which is a DRDO established at New Delhi. The service officers and the DRDO scientists, who have been specially trained in the selection procedure, carry out the assessment of candidates to find their suitability for the officers’ cadre in the Armed Forces.

The present selection procedures followed for the Indian Armed Forces is a composite, 3D system, which has incorporated good elements of many systems. The tests have been standardised time and again in order to maintain their reliability and validity in high order. The three-tier system calls for independent assessment carried out through a series of psychological tests, group testing and interview.

Some Unknown Facts

• The first and most important point is that the entire selection procedure in the Service Selection Board is psychological in nature.
• There is no physical efficiency test in the entire selection (unlike selection of jawans).Though candidates are required to perform certain physical activities like obstacles, they do not aim at assessing physical efficiency by any standard.
• Selection Boards are normally considered rejection boards because of their high rate of rejection .However, there is no pre-determined rate of selection or for that matter rejection .The fact is the minimum acceptable level is never allowed to be compromised.
• Some believe that secret assessment is carried out by psychologists who are in the disguise of room attendants, waiters and so on. Such beliefs are false.
• It is also a misconception that repeaters do not stand any chance of selection. On the contrary, there are numerous instances of candidates getting selected in their 5th, 6th or even 7th attempt. It is a matter of how a candidate fares in the tests irrespective of his previous performance records.
• Selection is made strictly based on performances.
• There seems to be a major misunderstanding and misconception about the role of pre-SSB coaching, training or guidance.

Training Vs Coaching

As the entire SSB selection is psychological in nature coaching received from unqualified, incompetent and laymen trainers is likely to cause more harm than any good to the ambitious candidates. There is a great danger of such candidates losing their original thought process and distorting their behavioural patterns after being coached by such untrained and unqualified “SSB coaching shop owners”.

 The test response of such candidates shows clear indication of being coached, which are not considered very healthy in the SSB for the simple reason of being unnatural responses.

    Since the tests in the SSB are of psychological nature, the training imparted must also be very psychological. The candidates must not be ‘coached’. However, they may be ‘guided’ or ‘trained’, of course by a qualified and experienced person who is capable of understanding and guiding the psychology of trainees/candidates.

   In SSB, the personality of candidates is assessed through three different techniques and their suitability for the Armed Forces in the officer’s cadre is ascertained. A qualified trainer, therefore must have a thorough knowledge (and experience) of the concept of personality, its growth and development and most importantly, assessment of personality.

     A competent trainer should be capable of doing two important tasks in his attempt to guide any candidate appearing before the SSB:  Ï% Assess accurately the current status of candidate’s assets and liabilities in terms of personality traits as required by the Armed Forces.

Ï% Having assessed them correctly , they should be able to bring in certain changes in the innate and outward behavioural pattern of the candidates in such a manner that these changes become natural part of his/her ‘self’.


1) Candidates aspiring to face SSBs and getting selected must be left in the hands of experts.
2) Such candidates must not be ‘coached’ or spoon-fed by incompetent or pseudo trainers.
3) If a candidate has adequate self-confidence, it is better for him to face SSB directly.

Likely Output

If the pre-SSB guidance and training is offered by qualified, trained, competent and experienced trainers, the following benefits are expected to be derived by the candidates:

* The candidates would be able to obtain adequate, appropriate and accurate information about the latest procedure followed by SSBs. This would help candidates go through the test with the right mindset.
* The candidates would be able to get acquainted with the various tests conducted by the SSB and the briefings given for each test. This would put the candidate in a situation where they already know what is forthcoming. Thus fear of unknown is removed.
* SSB is the only institution in the country in which the selection is based on a 3-tier personality assessment system.
 It is therefore, pertinent that the trainer must be a trained psychologist, who is fully conversant with peculiar personality traits desirable by the services and their specific job requirements. Similarly, he should also be acquainted with the customs, traditions and ethos of services.

Tips For Candidates

Unlike the UPSC’s written exams where students receive guidance from numerous coaching centres available throughout the country, getting adequate, appropriate and accurate guidance for SSB is usually a difficult proposition. This deficiency is primarily due to non-availability of adequate and genuine training centres managed by qualified and experienced people to guide and train ambitious candidates do a lot of physical exercises, obstacle course or half-hearted SSB like activities originated out of sheer commonsense are likely to cause more harm than any good. Candidates aspiring to face SSB, therefore need to be very careful in selecting their place of training. 

(Retd) Lt. Col B.G .Ray

The author is an ex-defence psychologist and served in SSB, IMA, Three Regimental centres and Sainik School. He trains candidates appearing for SSB through IFDO (Institute for Defence Orientation) for all entries. The author can be consulted for careers in the Defence services through 

Email :
cell: 9908601841                               
Source : The Career Guide
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