By : Swarnim MishraHello Readers, My name is Swarnim Mishra and my journey began when I decided to write the AFCAT 2 2017 and CDS 2 2017 exams and by the grace of almighty, managed to clear both of them. I selected the dates 26th Feb 2018 and 4th March 2018 for the SSBs respectively. I had always wanted to join the defence forces but couldn’t clear the NDA written examination so I decided to do my graduation from Delhi University where I did my Honours in English. Now after this brief introduction, I will get straight to the experience.
My AFSB interview started on 26th February 2018 in 1 AFSB Dehradun. I went to Dehradun a day in advance and stayed at a friend’s. On 26th, I reported at the MCO at 0600 hours in the morning and was baffled to see so many people already there. I didn’t expect such a huge crowd as I didn’t have any prior experience of the SSB, people there told me that a turn out like this was a pretty normal affair.
From there our luggage was loaded on a truck and we were taken to the AFSB Clement town in an Air force bus. Immediately after we reached we were segregated into groups of freshers, screened out, and conferenced out candidates. After a brief document check, the screening process began. We were escorted to a big hall where the OIR test was conducted. It is a pretty simple test so you don’t need to worry about it. After that we were taken to another hall in which picture was shown to us based on which we had to write a story, it was a hazy picture of a car surrounded by a crowd. I managed to write a decent story. After that, we were taken to separate rooms in groups of 13. After a good discussion, we came up with a well-made group story which I was designated to narrate. Later that afternoon, at around 2, our result was announced and 63 people got screened in out of a total 192 who had reported. I was really happy to get screened in. I was allotted a room along with my group which consisted 9 people including me. The room was spacious and comfortable.
The same evening at 5:30 PM we were asked to report for Psych testing. Most of the people slept in the meanwhile. AT 5.30, the testing started and series of tests like TAT, SRT, WAT, and SD were conducted. The tests were simple but tiring as we had to write too much. I would also like to point out at this time that during Psych testing try to be as simple and plain as possible, with your answers and you’ll be able to sail through. The testing ended at around 9 and then we were taken for dinner, immediately after which we all went to sleep.
Next day in the morning, we were asked to come for breakfast at 6 wearing the respective dresses for the testing of the day. We had our GTO that day. The whole GTO was going to be conducted the same day as our conference was preponed by a day due to Holi. GTO started with Group Discussion which went really well for me. This was followed by GPE which also went well, I was able to write the complete solution and was chosen to give the group solution after the discussion. The group was very cooperating until this point but it was a totally different story once we went outside. The first outdoor task was PGT, it was horrendous. We were not working together and so were not able to move much forward. I got a little depressed after that. When it came to HGT, I decided to take charge and change the course of how things were going and we did the task very efficiently. After this, Command Task was conducted, this was the turning point for me. I was called last for the task, it was different from what task was given to everybody and the assessor kept increasing the difficulty and I was able to solve all the problems. This boosted my confidence and carrying this confidence I was able to fare well in IO and FGT. With this GTO was over. That evening I decided to go out and use the sports facility in the AFSB. I went to the volleyball court and joined in with the people who were already playing there. I made some friends there, specially chest number 45, whose name I didn’t know back then but he would go on to become one of my really good friends.
The next day was my interview. I got ready, I was a bit nervous but I calmed myself down by knocking the fact that “it’s just a light conversation and that’s it” into my head. My turn came, I was called in and immediately the interviewing officer started firing questions at me. My interview went on for around an hour and the array of questions was from all walks of my life, both personal and public life. That day I played badminton and volleyball later in the evening as well and then went to sleep. That evening a run was conducted which was just a formality and everyone managed to make it in the stipulated time.
CONFERENCE DAY was here, everyone was dressed in their best formals. People were going in the room and coming out pretty fast. My turn came and I wasn’t asked anything specific. I was just told to rate my performance, which was followed by the generic questions about the stay. After a wait of around 2 hours in which we had our lunch, we were made to sit in the hall once again. The excitement levels were high, many were nervous. You could cut the tension in the room with a knife, I was more excited. Soon, the officer clad in his uniform came to the dais and gave the usual speech. As soon as he said, “the candidates recommended from this batch are…” my heart skipped a beat, “chest number 22”. I was speechless for a moment, I couldn’t believe he called my number, I stood up, thanked him and went out. That moment is by far the best moment of my life!
My CPSS was conducted 2 days after this and I cleared that too. I was ecstatic and very confident for my CDS, IMA SSB which was scheduled just 4 days after this. I came back to Lucknow where I hail from and the very next day had to report to Allahabad. I took the morning train on the 6th of march to Allahabad and reached there at 11. Sharp at 12 the bus came and took us all to the Allahabad SSB. AS we were unloading our bags from the truck, I heard a familiar voice call me out, I turned and saw that it was chest number 45 from AFSB who had coincidently chosen the same date for IMA SSB as well. Now I got to know his name which is Anil Solanki. Luckily, we both were given the 11 SSB board and I was happy to have a familiar face around. The same evening, our documentation was conducted and 2-3 people were sent back for the lack of proper documents. There were 57 of us left after this.
Next day in the morning our screening process started with the OIR, which was again a simple affair. This was followed by PP&DT. It was not as simple as last time as I was with the repeaters this time and everyone was shouting at the top of their voices in the discussion. This time again I was chosen to narrate the group story which I couldn’t do to my satisfaction. I was really nervous and the thought of getting screened out just after being recommended was making me really anxious. After a wait of around 1 hour we were called back in and the result was announced. My name was amongst the last names to be called and hence I was given the chest number 24 out of a total 26 who got screened in.That day in the evening we, me and Anil who also got screened in, followed the same tradition and went to volleyball which was quite fun. The next day was going to be psychological tests. We woke up early and reached the testing hall around 8. The testing started and I found out that somehow I was more nervous than last time because I believed that everybody would now expect more of me as I am previously recommended but I didn’t let this hamper my performance. Getting recommended before helped me a lot here as I knew the benchmark I had to achieve to make the cut and I worked for the same. All the psych tests went well. Later that evening we again played volleyball and basketball.
Next day was the GTO Day-1 and in the morning I was told that this day I was going to have my interview as well just after the GTO. I was not feeling really well and the extra burden of the interview pulled me down. I could do satisfactorily well in the GTO tasks but had little left in me for the interview. It was quite an interview, I was grilled so hard that after that I had lost all my confidence. There were many questions pertaining to GK that I couldn’t answer which made me nervous and therefore made many silly errors. After the interview I had lost hope of getting recommended this time. This is where having a good company came in clutch, people around me were supportive and helpful. They kept me going and helped me forget what had happened and concentrate on the task at hand.
Next day was GTO-2. It was a short day as not much was left to be done. We were only left with Command task and lecturette. The topic that I chose to lecture upon was Indo-Pak relations and I could do some justice to the topic. Command task was, again, interesting. I was given one of the harder tasks but I could manage to do it even with the increase in difficulty level from time to time by the assessor. I was satisfied with my performance of the day.
Now came D-Day. This time I was not much hope for the recommendation but I was really happy that I had made some good friends. When I entered the conference hall I was showered with questions by my interviewing officer. The questions were pertaining to my group building skills and compatibility in a group environment. Expect one question, I could tackle all the questions efficiently. The questioning brought my hopes high, I started believing that I still have a chance. The turn of the results came. We were seated in a small auditorium and soon an officer entered the room which was followed by a generic speech. After which he started calling out the chest number and the second number he called was chest number 24. I was very happy but this time the feeling didn’t take a lot of time to sink in. I went to the stage and started praying for all of my friends. Soon enough chest number 16 was called who was none other than Anil. We were all very happy and in total 7 of us had gotten recommended which I think must have been a record in the Allahabad SSB.
At the end I would like to tell everyone something that I believe in strongly. Life is not a continuum, its an amalgamation of many fragments. The important thing is to spend more fragments being happy than sad, and that I believe is the real success. If you succeed in doing that, nothing can stop you from achieving whatever that you want to achieve.