FOR those of you who dream of an officer's career in the armed forces, an NDA/ NA is the best entry point. Conducted twice a year in April and August, the examination is the first hurdle to cross. An SSB interview, followed by a medical board would lead you to the august portals of National Defence Academy/Naval Academy. Remember, though the eligibility for the course, is Class 12 pass, all those of you appearing for the exam could also apply for the entrance. Applying when you are in the 12th can you save a year.
Click here to Enroll NDA & NA Complete Test Package for NDA preparation. An early start is good for cracking any exam. The NDA is no exception. Determined students start studying soon after the X standard exam. This is not a rule, but the NDA has a slant for students in the science stream with a combination of physics, chemistry and mathematics. And there is an entire mathematics paper for 300 marks. Have a look at the previous years' question papers to gauge the level of mathematical difficulty in the questions (see the model question paper in the special supplement along with this issue). They do not always match the Class 12, CBSE level. Mathematics is not a cause of concern for PCM students, but many often overlook other areas they are tested in - geography, history, economics and English.
Start with your basics Attending school, doing homework and a few minutes of recreation leaves very little time for the NDA candidate to study. However, do revise the social science you studied in the X standard every now and then. Set aside time, at least once a week and revisit your X standard textbooks and focus on geography and history. Maneck Mistry, who plans to appear for it in June next year, says that he makes an extra effort to study the atlas as well. "Several questions asked can be answered only if you can visualize terrain and locate areas. Whether Bangalore a coastal city is a question you can crack only if you study the map regularly." You should also understand the basic principles of geography. So don't let your X standard books collect dust.
Brush up General Knowledge Ideally, you should be reading the news paper everyday. But that doesn't always happen. In that case, you should pick up a copy of any authentic yearbook which covers general areas such as sports, international politics, popular books and authors. You could also buy a current affairs monthly digest. This will keep you updated. Crashing through a pile of issues a month before the exam is not the best way to absorb information. If you have the time, keep a diary to classify information into three categories - economics, civics and history.
Improve your English The section on English is of 200 marks and should not be taken lightly. With a bit of daily reading you could score quite well. There are a few areas which you should work upon specifically for this exam: English usage, subject-verb relationship, tenses and prepositions. You should also be trained in identifying grammatical errors. Questions on error finding and un-jumbling are asked regularly in the exam, points out Nanu Singh, CEO Olive Greens, a coaching academy in Chandigarh. The usage of articles has always been a weak point for Indian students, so work hard on that.
Notes on the syllabus Mathematics: The mathematics syllabus consists of Arithmetic, Mensuration, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Statistics. The questions test your conceptual understanding. While preparing for the exam, get your fundamental concepts very clear. Also learn speed solving techniques. They come in handy since you solve about 120 questions in two hours. The questions are evenly balanced across the syllabus so never leave out any one section. Quadratic equations are another area which always sees questions in every exam. Solve as many as your can. Algebra and geometry are high scoring, if you get your basics correct. Time yourself and practise math's model papers, as you could solve most of the questions if you have time. The trick is in solving them in less than a minute. General Ability: This has two parts, Part A.English and Part B. General Knowledge. Part B has five sections namely Section A (Physics), Section B (Chemistry), Section C (General Science), Section D (History, Freedom Movement etc) , Section E (Geography) and Section F (Current Events). The website informs you that out of the maximum marks assigned to Part B of this paper, questions on Sections A, B, C, D, E and F carry approximately 25%, 15%, 10%, 20%, 20% and 10% weightage respectively. Remember, depending upon the streams you choose, in the higher secondary classes, your preparation plans must vary. The science students have an edge here, since 50% of the marks are allocated to the science subjects. So if you are from social sciences give extra attention to the sciences.
Know yourself The written exam however, is only the first hurdle. The interview is phased into two sections. Candidates are screened on the first day of the five-day programme and only those who survive are assessed for "officer like qualities". A few of these qualities, one is born with. But mercifully, the rest can be inculcated. Personality traits like social adaptability, social intelligence and a sense of responsibility can always be worked upon. Practice again makes you prefect. The battery of tests they use at SSB are quite sophisticated and cannot be cracked that easily. But practising on psychological Tests like Word Association Test (WAT), Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Situation Reaction Test (SRT) and Self Description (SD) does help you clarify your thinking and enable you to present a better picture of yourself. After all, constantly striving for improvement is one of the most important qualities of an officer. It's clearly a question of mind and matter. Get going!
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