The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Combined Defence Services (CDS) Examination for admission to The Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (NA), Indian Air Force Academy (AFA) and the Officers training Academy (OTA. All candidates selected through this written exam are required to attend an interview and assessment test conducted by The Services Selection Board (SSB). Post this test and on successful verification of the documents submitted and good medical test results, a seat is offered to the candidate in one of these academies. In this article we have provided some tips for Cracking the CDS interview.
Officer Like Qualities (OLQs)
SSB tests are based on 15 character traits which are called Officer Like Qualities or OLQs. These are:
The tests are designed to bring out your true personality and character to ascertain that they match with the core values of the Indian Defence Service. Be yourself, honest and willing to learn; all these qualities can be developed even if you lack them.
SSB assesses candidates over a five day period including physical, mental and personality-driven tests. While the schedule of these tests can vary depending on the number of candidates present, it usually lasts for five days. Here is the list of tests conducted by SSB:
- Intelligence test
- PPDT (Picture Perception & Description Test)
- A 30 minute group discussion about PPDT
- TAT (Thematic Apperception Test)
- WAT (Word Association Test)
- SRT (Situation Reaction Test)
- SDT (Self-Description Test)
- Group Discussion about social issues and current affairs
- Group Planning Exercise
- Progressive Group Task (outdoor)
- Group Obstacle Race
- Half Group Test
- Lecturette (short talk of three minutes)
- Individual obstacles
- Command Task
- Final Group task
- Personal Interview
- Conference and Closing
- Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT)
As can be seen above, the SSB conducts a series of tests to ensure that they find candidates who are well-suited for the defence life. There are many things that candidates must prepare for before appearing for these tests. Here are some tips to help you crack the CDS interview:
- Understand the structure of each of these tests.
- Spend time preparing for each test
- Involve in group discussions, whenever possible
- Participate in team tasks like sports or voluntary work, etc.
- Pay attention to your fitness levels. Run and exercise regularly.
- Be honest while taking the SDT
- Be aware of your city, state and country’s recent affairs (Can you name all the states in India?)
- Have a basic understanding of the Indian Armed forces (structure, achievements, etc.)
- Know your Maths and Science basics – your academic knowledge might be tested
- Work on your communication skills – both verbal and non-verbal
- A leader is usually a good orator – take the podium whenever you can
Before you go
Remember, life in the armed forces requires discipline and strength of character. Prepare well and let the CDS interview bring out the best in you. Once you realize the significance of each of these tests, preparing for them would be easier and the willingness to acquire new traits (read OLQs) will almost certainly ensure you a place in the country’s highly respected academies.