Greetings Warriors! In this post, I intend to share my SSB Experience at Naval Selection Board, Coimbatore.
I am son of a retired Army Personnel. My father has served in the Indian Army in Army Education Corps and retired from the Rank of Hon Lt. I have lived in the army in the formative years of my life or simply, I can say that I am brought up by the Army. Seeing the men in uniform everyday and the way of life they lead inspired me to be a uniform bearer myself when I grow up. So, after passing class 12th with good grades, I applied for all the possible entry routes into the Armed forces. Be it NDA, be it 10+2 TES, be it 10+2 B.Tech Cadet Entry Scheme. In this post, I’ll share my SSB Experience at NSB, Coimbatore.
Before we start-
This is a whooping 5000+ words article. I have tried to include all the possible helpful things, as demanded freshers who are travelling for their SSB at NSB Coimbatore. Moreover, apart from giving the basic details like- “How many SRTs I did, How many individual obstacles I did.” And things like that, I have also given an emphasis on explaining you how it ‘feels’ like when you are subjected to the tests at SSB, which I am sure would help the freshers a lot. So, grab a cup of coffee and read this ‘abridged’ 5000+ words article for- “How it feels like to give SSB Interview at NSB Coimbatore.”
I’ll begin with my travel to NSB, Coimbatore from Ambala. First of all, I boarded a Shatabdi for travel to the New Delhi station and after that I boarded Kerala Express for travelling to Coimbatore from New Delhi. The journey was pleasant and comfortable. It was my first SSB attempt. En route to Coimbatore in Kerala Express, I talked to the fellow passengers who happened to be South Indians. I talked to them and learned a few phrases of their language. (The first phrase I learn is how to say that I don’t that language. For example, if I have to say that I don’t know Tamil, it is said as- Tamil teriyada, ignore the spell mistake, if any, in this. Nandri for thank you.)
So, with this, I made my way to Coimbatore. My reporting was at 0600 Hrs. And the train had to reach at about 0400 Hrs at Coimbatore. I slept at about 2100 Hrs at night. But out of excitement, I didn’t sleep like I was supposed to. I set the alarm for 0330 Hrs. But as it happened, out of excitement of first SSB or you can say ‘tension’ of first SSB, I woke up before the alarm at 0320 Hrs. I went to the door of my bogie and enjoyed the silence of the night and fresh morning air simultaneously. It felt like, “Yes! The time to prove my mettle has come!” It was a really strange feeling…
After that, I freshened up, and I got ready in my formals. I unlocked the chains of bags and started waiting for the destination- Coimbatore Junction.
When it showed 0355 Hrs on my watch, I picked up my bags and got to the door of the bogie. At about 0420 Hrs, I started to get sight of a platform kind of thing and there it was- Coimbatore Junction, the place from where I would be getting a good nice recommendation.
Soon, the train reached the platform and announcements were made for the arrival of train at Coimbatore Junction. They were making the announcements in Tamil and English. And I felt really proud of myself when I got to understood a part of the announcements made in Tamil and that was- Nandri.
With my bags in hand, I started walking for the MCO. And we, the SSB Candidates, always have those strange looks from people when we are wearing the formals. That gave me a really good feel. And while walking down the Railway Station, I thought in my mind, that now, I am walking over here, just as ‘one of the crowd’. But when I return back, I have to be ‘one in the crowd’. I found the MCO at platform 1. Few candidates were sitting over there. I also sat at a bench nearby. It was then, when I sat down that I realized, that I am sleepy! As time passed by, the number of Candidates started increasing. The clock ticked.
Gentle breeze. Quite morning. All calm except the candidates.
For 10 minutes to 0600 Hrs, a man in Navy Sailor’s uniform came walking briskly and called upon all the candidates to make a line. He then asked us to get our call letters and ID proofs out. He checked the call letters and ID proofs of all the candidates. And then, made us to sit in a bus.
There were two buses for travelling to the center. We went in the second bus. We loaded our luggage on the top of the bus and had a seat in the bus. The bus engine revved. And goosebumps again!
I chatted with candidates sitting besides me. Talked about their whereabouts. Other candidates were talking about the SSB procedures. And as it happens in every case, repeaters were giving their previous experiences, and freshers were listening to them keenly.
Soon, we reached the Selection Center. The NSB Coimbatore, INS Agrani. As soon as we stepped out of the selection center, we got a strange good feeling about that place. It looked like home. A place where we belong. A uniformed personnel’s organization.
First of all, we were asked to put our luggage in a nearby building. There were some of the candidates who were not wearing a formal attire. So, they were asked by the official to put on the formals in a five minute time. I knew that the screening would start the same day, so I was already in formal attire. And then, we were asked to stand in a single line. Then, we were divided in the groups of freshers, repeaters and screen outs. In our batch, number of freshers were quite more than others. There were also a few previously recommended candidates in our batch. Then, we were allotted chest numbers. Freshers first and then screen outs and repeaters. After that, we freshers were sent to have our breakfast first, while the screen outs and repeaters filled their forms. After we had our breakfast, we filled our forms and others had their breakfast. After filling all the forms, all the candidates were asked to assemble in front of the candidate’s ante hall. Then, groups of candidates were made. Around 15 in one group. Mine was second group. And after the groups were made, we were taken to the building where our screening was to take place.
We went inside the building. First of all, the OIR test. An officer came in and briefed us about the OIR test. OIR test at NSB Coimbatore is simple. You would find a lot of class A and class B questions. OIR tests have two tests, verbal tests and non-verbal tests. It is conducted in two phases. You will get two answer sheets in total one by one. First the one, and then the other. What I would like to suggest while doing the OIR is if some question is taking too much of time, skip it. And do the next question. You can always come back to the same question after you have done all the question you can.
After commencement of OIR tests, then the officer gave briefing about the PPDT test. The picture shown to us was quite hazy. Infact, the haziest picture I have ever seen in any SSB so far. But it didn’t effect the performance. We used our imagination to assume the character and the scene.
Then, we wrote the story around it. While I was writing the last line of story, Officer asked us to put our pens down. Although my story wasn’t complete, but I put the pen down immediately.
Then, we were asked to leave the testing hall. We waited near the testing hall. We chatted a little. Majority of the candidates were preparing their narration in that break time. And then, a sailor came and took the first group with him inside the building for narration and group discussion. And then, another sailor came and took our group too. Others were asked to wait till our discussion finished.
We went inside the hall where three officers were seated. We seated in serial order of our chest numbers. And then, our sheets on which we wrote our stories were returned to us for having a quick read. After that, they took back our sheets and the officer gave us some briefing about how to go about the test. And then the officer said, start! And the first chest number started his narration. I listened carefully to everyone’s story. Then, came my turn. I started my narration confidently. I fumbled a bit in between out of performance anxiety. But I recovered it in a satisfactory manner. When the last candidate finished his narration, we started our group discussion. All of a sudden, almost all of the candidates started to speak and created a really bad situation, nothing was comprehensible. I decided to keep mum for a moment. One candidate didn’t give up speaking and everybody got quiet and listened to him. After he made his point, I gently made my point which was accepted by the group. The group discussion was messy in between, but as a group of good members, we were able to make it a group discussion. I spoke about two to three times in the GD, giving some good points. In the end, we came to a common story. The officer didn’t ask us to present the common story. He said, “Alright Gentlemen, you can leave the hall.”
We left the hall. Some candidates were satisfied with their performance, some were disappointed. I was neutral there.
Then, we waited up till all the groups finished their group discussion. After all the candidates finished their group discussion, we went in the candidates’ ante hall which also happened to be the candidates’ mess. We had our lunch their.
After some time, the sailor called us upon to assemble in front of the ante hall. We assembled. After some time, the officer came with results in hand. He told us that the results are not in any order. Neither in order of any merit nor according to chest number.
He started calling out chest numbers. Heart started pounding out of the chest! For every next chest number he was calling, the heart beat was beating as a rapidly like a rattlesnake’s tail! After some chest numbers being called, I felt a frown on my brows. Being a fresher, I had no idea that how many candidates are usually selected in the Screening Tests. I didn’t wanted to call back home saying, I failed. More than that I wanted to spend some time at that beautiful military environs.
And then suddenly the officer called my chest number! And here I was, screened in! I felt like the king of the world! Just like I have been recommended and made it to merit list!
I got chest number 6. While the officer was calling out other names, I just wished that the officer called out the name of my friend during screening. He was looking at me, I was looking at him. And for the 25th candidate being called, he was the one! His and mine joys knew no bounds!
A total of 30 candidates were screened in out of around 220 reported.
After that, those who couldn’t make it were reimbursed for their travelling allowance and were sent back to the railway station.
Then, we were asked to go back to our luggage and get our documents and mobile phones with us.
We did the same. After that, our mobile phones were taken. And we were given numerous forms to fill. Our documents were also verified.
After all of that, by evening, we were allotted our barracks.
Since 30 candidates got screened in, so three groups of candidates were made. I was in the first group, chest number 6. Each group was provided one barrack. We were provided bedding and all other necessary items.
When finally we got some time with us, we chatted with each other in our barracks. There was also a previously recommended candidate from Sainik School. He became the ‘mentor’ for all the candidates in the group. After some time, we had our dinner and soon after dinner, the sailor came in and passed us the time and schedule for the next days. We retired to our beds for the next day, that is the Psychology Day.
The first morning at the NSB Coimbatore was memorable! Being freshers, we had so much concern about getting ready early in the morning. No doubt we still do.
But you won’t believe, candidates woke up at 3 in the morning to get ready and were already ready in their formals before any of us even woke up. Dedication level was above infinity we must say!
Anyways, we woke up and got ready well in time. We had our breakfast. Then, there was a fall in. A sailor came and took all of us to the same apartment where our Screening tests were conducted.
We went into a hall and settled over there. Soon, an officer came and briefed us about all the tests and procedures. Once everyone was clear, he began with the test.
The first test was TAT, i.e Thematic Apperception Test. I wrote good stories for all them. Regarding the blank picture. I didn’t memorize the story line by line, but yes, I was well aware about the theme on which I had to write.
After that was our WAT, i.e Word Association Test. I must say, this is the test I struggled in, in all the series of the Psychology Tests. Although, I was able to do all the 60 WATs, but there weren’t many ‘quality’ sentences. For instance, if the word was Bomb, then I wrote that- “Job of Bomb disposal squad is risky, hence respected.”
After that, was our SRT, i.e Situation Reaction Test. This test is always the most enjoyable part of the entire Psychology Series for me. I did all the SRTs well in time. And was quite satisfied with my performance in it.
After that was the last test in the Psychology Series, i.e SD or Self Description. I didn’t prepare any material before hand. I just thought, and wrote what I deemed right. And yes, it was satisfactory for me.
So, with this, all our Psychology tests ended and hands got a relief from writing!
We were sent back to Candidates’ Mess. We had our lunch. And then we were told that we could visit the city after the commencement of the testing day. But due to some reasons, we weren’t allowed to go out that day.
So we decided to have some fun time in the center itself. We killed all the indoor games in the center. From table tennis, to carom, to chess, all of them. After enjoying all of that, still the quota of enjoyment wasn’t satisfied, so we went in our barracks and had a good time joking around and pranking with each other. Good times!
With same routine, we had our dinner, retired to beds after fall in.
GTO Day 1-
Now was the time to shine bright and show some ‘josh’! We woke up, got ready, had our breakfast and fall in. After roll call, we were taken to the GTO ground running.
Just imagine, group of candidates, wearing white shorts and tees, running over the place- A complete officer’s training feel!
We crossed the parade ground of sailors and reported in front of GTO ground. Before we entered the GTO ground, we were given clear instructions that we are not allowed to walk on the ground. Wherever we have to go, we would have to run! Good rules.
After giving us a few instructions, we were taken into the GTO ground.
We ran straight towards place on the ground where the officer of our group was seated.
We reported to him, and he made us stand in a semi circle.
Then, he started chatting with us. He was a quite friendly officer. He asked us about the stay at the NSB. Cracked some jokes. And then began with his introduction to the entire GTO series spanned over the next two days.
After that, the first task which we had was group discussion. He gave us two topics, we had to choose one. We did. Discussed the topic. Unlike the PPDT’s GD, we don’t have to come to a common conclusion in these GDs.
I spoke well according to me. Didn’t dominate the group discussion, yet gave some good points where I was supposed to. I gave examples too, where I had to. And overall, it was a good healthy discussion. Although, there would always be some candidates who would tend to dominate or spoil the group discussion in their own interest, but as a leader’s responsibility, you have to ensure that all the efforts of the group don’t go down the drain.
The topic for next GD was given by the GTO himself. And that GD was good enough too.
The next task in the GTO series was the GPE, that is, group planning exercise. In this test, candidates are given a situation which has some problems in it. And as a group of people, candidates have to utilize all the resources, given or assumed in such a way that all the problems are solved without any loss of life or property. Candidates have to write down the individual solution on a paper. And after that, they have to discuss the most practical solution amongst themselves to present it to the GTO.
Our discussion was not so constructive, but still, it was good. I was selected by the group members to present the common solution to GTO. I did that. And everybody was satisfied.
After that, GTO told us that, “Now is the time for some action on the ground!”
PGT, it was. Progressive Group Task. In this, there is a set of four obstacles, and we have to cross all the obstacles as a group with all the helping material that we are provided.
Our group’s performance in the PGT was not so good. We were able to complete only two obstacles within the given time and that too with aid from the GTO.
After PGT, we had our HGT, that is, Half Group Task. Here, the group was divided into two on the basis of odd and even chest number. And they had to cross just one obstacle within the given time with half the members. Here everybody gets a chance to perform and speak. Fortunately, this time 2-3 people got good ideas for crossing the obstacles. I was also one of them. We did it well in time.
After that! We moved on from these slow paced tasks to some real ‘action’. Yes, the Group Obstacle Race! The time at the SSB when you will be at the peaks of your josh! All the groups compete with each other to win the group obstacle race. We have to cross all the obstacles to reach the finish line. Screaming the war cries out loud. Carrying the ‘snake’ with us in the group. It’s real fun!
And apparently, each team wins in the group obstacle race. ( Repeaters would know what I mean! )
After our group obstacle race, out of procedure of GTO series, GTO asked us- “Thak toh nahi gaye?” ( means, You aren’t tired, right? )
Obviously we replied with a No. So, he asked shall we have Individual Obstacles today itself. We replied to this one with a Yes! And there we were, all ready with the Individual Obstacles.
He took us to the Individual Obstacles. One thing I would like to tell the freshers here is that, the Individual Obstacles ground is quite small at Coimbatore which gives you a good advantage for less running between the obstacles and getting a chance to repeat the obstacles once you are done.
There are a total of 10 obstacles. I was able to do 9 of them. Obstacle number 3 which is the balancing beam, I wasn’t just able to balance over there!
After Individual Obstacles, we had our lecturette.
I spoke on an above average topic with above average delivery. I said above average here, because I expected myself to deliver somewhat better than that. Other candidates were impressed by that though. ( Being ‘not modest’ here. )
After that was the end of GTO day 1 leaving only FGT (Final Group Task) and CT (Command Task) for GTO Day 2.
We were sent back to our barracks. Some candidates had their interview in the evening time. Their names were told to them before hand by the sailor and were asked to dress up in formals for the personal interview.
I, just out of something wanted my interview to happen on the GTO Day 2. And since my name was not there in the candidates to be interviewed today, so my happiness knew no bounds.
But that happiness knew all the bounds when the Sailor came in told, “Chest number 5, your interview date has been rescheduled, you have your interview in one hour. Go get dressed.”
I told to myself- “Go chest number 5, go!”
I changed my GTO dress and got dressed up in formals for the personal interview. I waited for my interview. After one hour of time, the bell rang. Chest number 6 flashed up on the LED board. It was my turn for the interview.
I asked for the permission to come in and walked into the Interview room. There was a clock right in front of the entry and the Officer was seated to the right. I stood besides the chair and wished the interviewing officer. After that, I sat down when he asked me to.
Interview began with few general questions about how was your stay, how was your journey to the selection center, where have you come from and all that stuff. After that, he began with the interview. He told me that in the next 30 minutes or so, he’ll talk about me.
He reserved the first comprehensive round of questions about my education. I was able to give the answer of almost, I repeat, not all, but almost all questions.
Next round of comprehensive questions was pertaining my family and hobbies. In this too, my performance was satisfactory.
Then, he asked about some general knowledge questions and some other questions. I got stuck in some simple general knowledge questions too which was the worst thing which could ever happen with any candidate in a personal interview.
If I consider my performance in the personal interview upto the point when it was about the comprehensive questions and cross questions, then my interview was very good.
But I must admit, that it was my weakness that I couldn’t absorb the stress laid on me properly due to which I fumbled and didn’t perform in a manner in which I was supposed to.
It wasn’t a really pleasant experience, but learning happens when there is a will to perform. I learnt from that, still do.
GTO Day 2-
So, the next morning, I forgot my ‘not so good’ performance in the Personal Interview, and focused on performing well in the GTO Day 2. Same routine again. And reported to the GTO ground. Now, the tasks in hand were Final Group Task(FGT) and Command Task (CT).
The first task was Command Task. I was being called at the second last number. And around 3 or 4 people called me as their subordinate. The task given to me was that of bomb diffusal. I called two subordinates and explained them the task crisply. I did the task first with all the helping material I got easily. Then, the GTO told me that, “Good Commander, that’s a workable idea. Now, suppose you don’t have the rope with you, then what would you do?”
I thought calmly for a while. I started using all the left helping material. I even made a solution, but that solution wasn’t very stable. While I was doing it, GTO gave me a clue and it striked to me that the circular ring could be used to stop the plank from going up. And I fitted the ring in there and task was completed. Then, the GTO asked me to leave the helping material and go to the shed.
After commencement of the CT, now, it was the final and last task of the GTO series of the SSB Interview- Final Group Task.
In this task, there is only one, comparatively larger obstacle than the PGT single obstacle. And we have to cross that obstacle as a complete group.
Strangely, the FGT given to our group was quite easy or maybe we got the right idea at the right time. As soon as GTO gave a Go! We put the helping material together and crossed the obstacle within no time. GTO too, was surprised to see that. And with this, the FGT came to an end. (Quite Early though!)
After all of the GTO tasks, the GTO (Group Testing Officer) sits there for a while with the candidates, haves a little chat with them and wishes them luck for the next day. He also asks if candidates have any queries.
In our group, few candidates asked some decent questions to the GTO. But we overheard that in the other group, there was a candidate who asked the GTO whether he is married or not! (Oops!)
We couldn’t control our laughter about it when we reached our barracks. With this, we reached our barracks with laughs. Now, all tests being done, it was time to relax and have some fun.
Other candidates who didn’t have their interview the previous day, that is on the GTO 1 day went out to the city yesterday itself. Those who didn’t go out yesterday, today was their turn. (And there were some good noble souls like me who went out to visit the city both the days.)
We submitted our chest numbers at the gates. Signed the register and there we were, birds set free!
And guess where we went after that?
Hint- The favorite place of every SSB candidate when they travel to SSB.
Yes, your answer is correct. To the mall!
We hung out there, relaxed, ate, lived it up fully! But doing all of that, we couldn’t manage the time properly!
We had to return before 1930 Hrs and we moved from the mall at 1845 Hrs. To us, it was fine. But traffic got the better of us. The bus dropped us near Laxmi Mills. And from there, there was about 2.5 Km distance to the selection center. We were already late. So, we ran back our way to selection center. There were a few fat candidates who couldn’t or wouldn’t want to run. At that time, me and the Sainik School candidate took up the charge and made sure that all of the group travels together. (I realized at that time, what OLQs are!)
Somehow, we were able to reach back to the selection center just about two or three minutes before the given time! And the satisfaction of making it back to the selection center was unparalleled! Sigh of relief. Smile of satisfaction. Laugh of friendships.
The morning of the conference day is most relaxed. Candidates wake up late (comparatively late) in the morning, have their breakfast in peace, pack their luggage, and wait- wait for the thing which they have been waiting for the previous five days or months if they are a repeater.
Some do make it, some don’t.
Fall in in the morning again. Sailor took us to the room where conference was scheduled. It wasn’t a room exactly. It was like a box lying on vehicle or something. The sailor took us inside the room and told us how to enter the room and all the other instructions.
Also, on the conference day, all the accessors wear their uniforms.
That was for the first time I saw a Navy Officer in uniform in person. I must say, the Navy’s Uniform is just excellent! Bright white colored, black and golden ranks! Too good.
I waited for turn. They called me in. Asked a few general questions, any suggestions and a thank you.
I came back and we waited in the ante room.
We also got our mobiles back by then.
After the commencement of the conference of all the candidates, a senior officer came in with a file. The file carrying the chest number of those candidates who have made it in the Naval Selection Board’s Recommendation.
He told the candidates that those who don’t make it, do come again. This is not the end and you can always come back to SSB any number of times you want.
After that he gave the examples of few famous personalities who wanted to join the defence forces but couldn’t. And then, he started calling out the chest numbers of the recommended candidates.
Out of the 30 screened in candidates, 7 candidates got recommended.
The remaining were provided lunch and were dropped back to the railway station.
I must say, the experience at NSB Coimbatore for me was quite pleasant. Infact, it was my first SSB, so, first love is always special.
Specially, the food there is too good. Pudding was divine! And the much coveted aloo parathe during the GTO Day 1 came to rescue after the physically demanding GTO tasks.
Moreover, Coimbatore is a nice clean place to travel too. The weather is always pleasant. Neither too hot, nor too cold. The selection center is nice. More than that, the people there are very good.
So, whatever the results may be, make sure you enjoy your stay at the lovely place called NSB Coimbatore!
If you have any queries, do ask in the comments section below.