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NDA Selection Procedure and SSB Interview Tips

UPSC releases NDA Notification two times every year for the recruitment of fresh Intermediate pass out candidates to be enrolled in the Indian Defence Forces. Candidates who joins the National Defence Academy serve the nation as Officers in Indian Army, Navy and Airforce. This article is for those who want to join NDA in 2021. Read to the end to know about NDA Selection Process and NDA SSB Tips to clear the UPSC NDA Exam.

NDA Selection Procedure and Eligibility

National Defence Academy exam is conducted by Union Service Public Commission twice a year. National Defence Academy is established on 7th Dec 1954. It is the Joint Services Academy of Indian Armed Forces, where cadets of the three different services, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force train together before they join the respective academies for further pre-commissioning training.

As they say, “Do you have it in you”? If you think that you possess those qualities which are required to be an officer and you want to serve the nation in the best possible way then you are required in National Defence Academy.

Before applying for National Defence Academy one must fulfill some eligibility criteria otherwise he will not be able to join NDA in even after clearing the written exam. So, it is absolutely necessary that you should know about the criteria or standards to apply for NDA exam . Candidates need to be eligible before applying for NDA 2021.


  • Only citizens of India, Nepal or Bhutan can apply for NDA exam
  • Tibetan refugees, who came to India before 1 Jan 1963 to become a permanent citizen of India
  • Person of Indian origin who has migrated from Burma, SriLanka, Pakistan & East African Countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, and Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India are also eligible to apply

NDA Exam Age Limit, Gender & Marital Status

If you want to join NDA then you should fulfill the following age, gender and marital criteria. But there are some key points which you need keep in mind. The DOB mentioned in your matriculation or higher secondary examination certificate available or an equivalent certificate will be considered by the commission.

NDA Age Criteria FromTo
NDA – I 2021 2nd Jul 2002 1st Jul 2005
NDA – II 2021 2nd Jan 2003 1st Jan 2006

Gender: Only male candidates can apply for NDA

Marital Status: Only unmarried candidates can apply

Educational Qualification for NDA Exam

To join National Defence Academy, apart from written and SSB, students need to fulfil certain educational qualification criteria respective to the wing they want to choose.

Educational Criteria for Army Wing

  • All those students who are appearing or passed class 12th and equivalent exam from a well-recognised board can apply for Army wing
  • No compulsory subjects needed

Educational Criteria for Air Force and Navy Wing

  • All those students who are appearing or passed class 12th and equivalent exam from a well-recognised board can apply for Army wing
  • Candidates must have studied Physics and Maths in their 12th class as compulsory subjects

NDA Height & Weight Standard

  • Minimum height required for Army is 157 cm ( for Air Force 162.5 cm)
  • Concession of 5 cm in height is given to all those individuals belonging to North-Eastern areas of India, Garhwal, and Kumaon
  • Concession of 2 cm in minimum height is given to candidates hailing from Lakshadweep
  • Read the official document for detailed report on eligibility criteria

Height and Weight standard chart for Army and Air Force

Height (cms)Weight in Kgs
 (without shoe)16-17 years17-18 years18-19 years

Additional Physical Requirement For Pilot in the Air Force

  Minimum Maximum
Leg Length 99.00 cm 120.00 cm
Thigh Length 64.00 cm
Sitting Height 81.5 cm 96.00 cm

Height and Weight standard chart for the Indian Navy

Height (cms)Weight in Kgs
 (without shoe)16 years18 years20 years

NDA Complete Selection Process- Exam, SSB and Medical Tests

Primarily, NDA Selection Process is divided in 2 stages. In the first stage, candidates need to clear the written exam and in the second stage candidates need to go through the SSB (Service Selection Board). Once and only those who have cleared the written exam are called for SSB in which candidate’s personality, psychology and attitude is checked.

NDA Written Exam Pattern Pattern

NDA Written Exam is an offline test which is compulsory for all the candidate who want to join NDA. All those candidates who clear this phase by clearing the cut-off of written exam are called for SSB interview.

Read: NDA 2021 Exam Pattern In Detail

Subject Duration Maximum Marks
Mathematics 2 hrs 30 min 300
General Ability Test 2 hrs 30 min 600
Total   900

Structure of NDA Written Exam

  • Candidates need to give 2 papers and both contain objective type questions
  • One paper is of Mathematics which is of 300 marks and the other is General Ability test which is of 600 marks
  • Mathematics syllabus consists of Class 11th and Class 12th Maths
  • Candidates are required to get minimum marks set by the commission
  • Those candidates who clear cut-off are called for SSB interview

Read: Complete NDA 2021 Exam Syllabus

NDA Service Selection Board (SSB) Interview Details

All those candidates who clear cut-off in written exam are called for SSB interview for further evaluation. The complete SSB interview process takes 5 days. Selected candidates are called in different SSB centers for a maximum of 5 days.

It is the final round of the selection process in which candidates need to show their ability that they can be part of the organization and show their strength to the officers. The SSB test mainly comprises of two tests, one is the psychological aptitude test and other is an intelligence test.

The two stage process for NDA SSB Interview is as follows:

  • Stage I (Screening) – This is the first test candidates have to give and it is called Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) in which Picture Perception & Description Test is taken. Although all tests have equal importance, this is the most important because if a candidate is unable to qualify in this test then he has to go home on the very first day of SSB.
  • Stage II (Group Exercises)– If candidates manage to qualify stage I then they get to stay in the SSB centers for the complete 5 days and there is no disqualification in the remaining days. This stage comprises of many tests such as Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and the Conference. All these tests are conducted in the remaining 4 days to SSB

The objective of these tests is to check whether the candidates have those qualities or not which are required to become an officer in the Defence Forces

A candidate’s overall personality is assessed in three different domains which are Group Testing Officer, Interviewing Officer, and the Psychologist.

All the tests contain equal marks and candidates need to qualify in each exam separately.

SSB Interview Day Wise Test Details: 5 Days Process

SSB interview process takes 5 days to get complete but it can be extended to 6 days, depending upon the type of SSB (NDA, CDS, AFCAT, etc). Below is given the complete SSB breakdown of 5 days and the tests and take place in those days.

Having prior knowledge of SSB interview can be very helpful for candidates who want to join National Defence Academy. Candidates can prepare themselves accordingly after reading the day to day process and the tests taken on the respective days which will decide whether or not you are fit and able to join National Defence Academy.

SSB Interview- Day 1

On the first day of the SSB interview only psychological tests are conducted for all the candidates. All the candidates are requested to go through the screening process and consists of multiple tests which are explained below:

  1. Officer Intelligence Rating Test: This is the basic intelligence test in which some basic questions are asked which does not require any special techniques or qualification. This is to test the immediate response of the candidates in the given circumstances. Candidates are required to perform as per their skills and intelligence.
  2. Picture Perception and Description Test (PPDT): In this test an unknown picture is shown to the candidates just for 30 seconds, and all the candidates need to write a story in about 3 minutes. Once the story writing is complete, candidates are divided into groups of 15 members and all the candidates need to narrate his/her story to all the other members of the group which is followed by a group discussion.

SSB Interview- Day 2

  1. Word Association Test (WAT): In this test, all the candidates are shown 60 words back to back, each word stay visible only for 15 seconds. Candidates are supposed to write a sentence for every corresponding word, in other words, you need to write 60 sentences simultaneously without stopping.
  2. Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): In this test, candidates are shown 11-12 pictures/ slides one by one. Every picture remain visible for just 30 seconds and then disappear subsequently, candidates need to write a story in 4 minutes corresponding to every picture. After 4 minutes a new picture/slide is shown for 30 seconds and 4 minute will be given to write story and so on until the last slide.
  3. Situation Reaction Test: In this test, all the candidates will be given a book with 60 different situations written on it. Candidates have to write their respnoses corresponding to a particular situation. Total time allotted to write the responses to all the 60 situations is just 30 minutes.
  4. Self Description Test: In this test, candidates are required to write about themselves from the perspective of different people. You are required to write the opinion of others, in other words, what do your parents think about you, what your friends and teachers think about you and most importantly, what you think about yourself. Only 15 minutes are given to complete this test.

SSB Interview- Day 3

  1. Group Discussion Test: In group discussion test, as the name itself suggests, candidates are engaged in a group discussion test on two topics, one after another. Usually, topics are related to current affairs or social issues.
  2. Military Planning Exercise: In Military/ Group Planning Exercise, candidates are divided in groups and a military problem with a map given to every group. Each candidate of every group has to come up with a plan to solve the problem. Later, all the group members need to come up with an effective plan which can solve the given problem. In the end a group member is suppose to explain the common plan with the help of a pointer and map to a task officer.
  3. Progressive Group Task (PGT): In this task, every candidate need to complete some obstacles with the help of supporting materials like a wood log, rope, plank, etc. There are some rules which need to be followed while completing this task and it is a full group activity.
  4. Inter-group Obstacle race or Snake race: As the name itself suggests, this is a competition in which different groups competes with each other. All the members of a group will be holding a snake like rope and they are required to complete certain obstacles while holding that snake rope. This is a kind of race amongst groups while following some rules.
  5. Half Group Task: This task is just like Progressive Group Task but with a minute change. You need to cross certain obstacles with the help of supporting materials but this time only half of the group can participate.
  6. Command Task: As the name itself suggests, it is a task in which you (each candidate) will be the commander along with some sub-ordinates whom you can choose from your group. You will need to cross certain obstacles with the help of some 2-3 sub-ordinates while following some rules.

SSB Interview- Day 4

  1. Final Group Task (FGT): This task is like a last opportunity to all the candidates to show their potential to the group task officer. This task is also like Progressive Group Task.
  2. Individual Obstacles: Every candidate need to attempt 10 obstacles individually and points (from 1 to 10) will be rewarded for every obstacle.
  3. Interview for selected candidates: Along with group tasks going on some candidates are selected for interview also. Those candidates either who have completed their task or waiting for their turn are called for interview. Group tasks and interview are often conducted simultaneously.

Personal Interview is the deciding factor in your SSB selection. The questions asked in SSB interview and what and how you respond to those questions can be decisive in your recommendation.

SSB Interview- Day 5

  1. Conference: In the conference, each candidate will face all the SSB Board members along with some common questions like what did you learn from SSB process, how was your experience while staying here, etc. Conference doesn’t take too much time but for some candidates who are at border line may have to answer more question than rest of the candidates.
  2. Announcement of recommended candidates: Just after the conference gets completed of all the candidates, result is announced on the same or 5th day of the SSB Interview Process.

NDA Medical Test Process

All the SSB recommended candidates are then requested to appear before the medical board for complete medical checkup. Medical test can take 4 to 5 days to get completed. Only after medical board declares a candidate fit then only they are recommended. If any candidate is declared unfit then he cannot join the academy but can file a review for his another medical checkup.

NDA Exam Result, Cut-off and Merit List

If we summarise all the phases of NDA Selection, the first phase is written exam, the second is SSB interview and if candidates are able to qualify both of them then they are sent for medical examination for their medical checkup. Even after clearing written exam and SSB interview if a candidate get failed in medical examination then he is unable to join the NDA.

But all candidates, who clear the medical examination, have to wait for the merit list which approximately comes after 2 months of SSB interview process and medical.

Final merit list contains the average of all the stages of the NDA selection process; NDA written test, NDA SSB interview, and NDA Medical examination.

You can check previous year NDA written Exam cut-off from the below table.

YearNDA(I) (Max Marks:900)NDA(II) (Max Marks:900)
2015306 (With at least 30% marks in each Subject) Marks secured by the last finally recommended candidate (out of 1800 marks) 674269 (With at least 25% marks in each subject) Marks secured by the last recommended candidate (Out of 1800 marks) 637
2016288 (With at least 25 % marks in each Subject) Marks secured by the last finally recommended candidate (Out of 1800 marks) 656315
2017342(With at least 25 % marks in each Subject) Marks secured by the last finally recommended candidate (Out of 1800 marks) 708

8 Hard Core Tips To Crack NDA Written Exam

There is no hard and fast rule or method that can guarantee you that by following some rule you will clear any exam, however, it does not mean that you can’t do any about it. There is one thing which never goes in vain and that is hard work. If you work hard for anything there you increase your chance of getting it.

Following are some tips that you can follow to crack NDA written exam

  1. Previous Year Papers: It is a must do method for every aspirant that he solves previous year NDA papers so that he can have the idea about the exam pattern and difficulty level. It is also necessary to solve an ample amount of previous year papers with regular interval otherwise it won’t be of any use.
  2. Time Management: You need to manage you your time in both the places, first at home when you are preparing for NDA written exam and the other when you are at the exam hall taking the NDA written test.
  3. At home, you need to be persistent about your studies and study schedule and the best method is balancing. Do not overdo the studies and disturb your biological clock and other co-curricular activities. And do not under do your studies too otherwise you won’t be able to crack the NDA written exam. Maintain the balance between your studies and other regular activities
  4. At Exam Hall also you need to maintain the time management. In other words, do not waste time on hard and time-consuming questions because there are a lot of easy questions available in the paper to attempt. If a question is taking too much time then it is wise to leave it and try other questions
  5. Learn Mathematics Shortcut Methods: In the exam of mathematics, your best friend is your mind. But it doesn’t mean that you should make it work very hard when you can achieve the same thing with much less effort. Learning Mathematics shortcut is one way that can help you in many ways. Shortcuts can help you in increasing your speed and quickly complete your paper.
  6. Ace the English: The best and the easiest way to be better in English is reading a newspaper. It is helpful in many ways, for example, vocabulary, comprehension, grammar, and writing skills.
  7. NDA Exam Guides: Once you start solving questions for NDA written exams either from Previous Year Papers or Sample Papers then it is not necessary that you know how to solve each and every question that is when NDA exam guide comes handy. They contain every topic and concept with so many questions to practice that is why it is suggested that if you are preparing for NDA written exam then you should buy one.
  8. Negative Marking: You should not forget about the negative marking, for every wrong answer you are charged with 1/3 of the marks alloted to that question. So do not try guess the answers if you do not know the correct answer to the question.

About NDA SSB Selection Centres and Respective Selection Rate

SSB selection centers are responsible for selecting candidates and recommending them for the respective institutes. All the SSB procedure is conducted in SSB selection. Just after the independence, there was just on SSB center but over the years, new SSB centers established as and when need was felt.

  1. Selection Center East (SCE) Allahabad: (Uttar Pradesh)
    • 11 SSB
    • 14 SSB
    • 18 SSB
    • 19 SSB
    • 34 SSB
  2. Selection Center Central (SCC) Bhopal: (Madhya Pradesh)
    • 20 SSB
    • 21 SSB
    • 22 SSB
  3. Selection Center South (SCS) Bangalore: (Karnataka)
    • 17 SSB
    • 24 SSB
  4. Selection Center North (SCN), Kapurthala
    • 31 SSB
    • 32 SSB

NDA Officers Rank Structure- Indian Army, Navy and Airforce

Officers Ranks Structure in Indian Army, Navy and Airforce

After completion of the training, all the officers are sent to the respective trades they have chosen from 3 different wings: The Army, The Navy, The Air Force. After joining the Force they are given different ranks in their respective wing.

NDA Officers Rank Structure is given below. The most senior rank is shown at the top of every column.

Army Navy Air Force
General Admiral Air Chief Marshal
Lieutenant General Vice Admiral Air Marshal
Major General Rear Admiral Air Vice Marshal
Brigadier Commodore Air Commodore
Colonel Captain Group Captain
Lieutenant Colonel Commander Wing Commander
Major Lieutenant Commander Squadron Leader
Captain Lieutenant Flight Lieutenant
Lieutenant Sub- Lieutenant Flying Officer

NDA Officers Pay Band/ In-Hand Salary Rankwise

Indian defence services not only offers the best career option but a very lucrative salary. After the seventh pay commission the salary has become even more handsome in all of the defence services

Indian Army Officers Salary: The senior most rank is given at the bottom of the column

Seriol No. Rank Pay Scale/Level of Pay Promotion Procedure
1. Lieutenant Level 10(56,100 – 1,77,500) On Commission
2. Captain Level 10B (61,300 – 1,93,900) On Completion of two (02) years
3. Major Level 11 (69,400 – 2,07,200) On Completion of six (06) years
4. Lt. Colonel Level 12A (1,21,200 – 2,12,400) On Completion of thirteen (13) years
5. Colonel(TS) Level 13 (1,30,800 – 2,15,900) On Completion of twenty six (26) years
6. Colonel Level 13 (1,30,800 – 2,15,900) On Selection basis subject to fulfillment of requisite service conditions
7. Brigadier Level 13A (1,39,600 – 2,17,600)
8. Major General Level 14 (1,44,200 – 2,18,200)
9. Lt. General Level 15 (1,82,200 – 2,24,500)
10. VCOAS Level 17 (2,25,000) Fixed
11. COAS Level 18 (2,50,500)

Indian Air Force Officers Salary

The senior most rank is given at the bottom of the column.

Rank Level Pay Band
Flying Officer Level 10 56,100 – 1,77,500
Flight Lieutenant Level 10 B 61,300 – 2,07,200
Squadron Leader Level 11 69,400 – 2,07,200
Wing Commander Level 12 A 1,21,200 – 2,12,400
Group Captain Level 13 1,30,600 – 2,15,900
Air Commodore Level 13 A 1,39,600 – 2,17,600
Air Vice Marshal Level 14 1,44,200 – 2,18,200
Air Marshal HAG Scale Level 15 1,82,200 – 2,24,100
HAG + Scale Level 16 2,05,400 – 2,24,400
VACS/Air force/ Air Marshal (NFSG) Level 17 2,25,000 (fixed)
CAS Level 18 2,50,000 (fixed)

Indian Navy Officers Salary

The senior most rank is given at the bottom of the column.

Pay Scale of Officers
SUB LIEUTENANT1056,100-1,77,50015500
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER1169,400-2,07,20015500
REAR ADMIRAL141,44,200-2,18,200NIL
VICE ADMIRAL151,82,200-2,24,100NIL

Overall, the job of NDA officers is pretty exciting and full of adventures. Each day is new to them and they train for worst situations as well. The number of officers required in Indian Defence Forces is huge but that does not brings the bars down for the selection of Officers through NDA.

To get selected as a Lieutenant in Indian Army or Sub-Lieutenant in Indian Navy or a Flying Officer in Indian Airforce requires a hard core determination and effective Intelligence which is of utmost importance to the Defence Forces.

The preparation of NDA starts the day when you set the goal for yourself to see those stars on your shoulders. Whatever may be the reason but your consistent efforts and clearance of thoughts favours you when you sit for the NDA Written Exam or NDA SSB Interview.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab those books and start preparing for your dream of joining NDA as a Gentleman Cadet. If you need any sort of help or advise, you can use that comment box below.

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