Services Selection Board (SSB) is an organization that assesses the candidates for becoming officers into the Indian Armed Forces. The board evaluates the suitability of the candidate for becoming an officer using a standardized protocol of evaluation system which constitutes personality, intelligence tests, and interviews. The tests are of both types i.e. written and practical task-based. An SSB comprises the panel of assessors, who are officers in the Indian Armed Forces and having their specialization as Psychologist, GTO (Group Task Officer), and Interviewing Officer.
In total there are thirteen Service Selection Boards across India, out of which four boards are for the Indian Army, four boards are for Indian Air Force, and five boards for the Indian Navy.
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SSB Selection Process
The candidates who have passed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) written examination, or who, in the case of the Territorial Army have been recommended by a Preliminary Interview Board (PIB), or, who have been asked to present to the Service Selection Board are allocated an SSB center to attend. Service candidates attend via movement orders made by their superiors. Various entries like Technical entry and NCC special entry gets direct call letter to attend SSB.
The selection is based on the concept of Manasa, Vacha, and Karmana. The personality of the candidate is observed by the officers using various tests for candidates like psychology test, interview, and GTO tasks. There are no right or wrong answers in SSB as every individual acts in a different way to the same situation. The aim is to check whether the candidate is the right fit to become an officer in the defense force.
Day 1, SSB Screening test – Stage I
On Day 1, stage one of testing is administered. This includes a verbal and non-verbal intelligence test (About 50 questions each) and then a Picture Perception and Description Test (PPDT). In this test, a picture, either clear or hazy is shown to the candidates for 30 seconds. Each candidate observes it and then, in the next minute, must record the number of characters seen in the picture. Then within a given time, each candidate must write nearly seventy words, make a story from the picture (not just describe the picture). The candidate must record the mood, approximate age and gender of the first character they saw, known as the “main character”. In stage two of the PPDT, the candidates are given their stories which they may revise. Each candidate in the group must narrate his or her story within one minute. The group is then asked to create a common story involving each of them or their perceived picture stories.
After the completion of these tests, unsuccessful candidates are dismissed. Other candidates are short-listed. They must complete the first of the five personal information questionnaires which must be recorded in the same manner. The personal information questionnaire is the main basis for the individual candidate interview.
Day 2, SSB Psychology test – Stage II
On Day 2, a thematic apperception test (TAT) or picture story writing is administered. It is similar to the PPDT, but the picture used is clear. Again the candidates are shown a picture for thirty seconds and then write a story in the next four minutes. Twelve such pictures are shown sequentially. The last picture is a blank slide inviting the candidates to write a story of their choice. Candidates do not need to remember the number of characters in each picture and there is no group discussion.
The next test will be the Word Association Test (WAT). The candidates are shown sixty simple everyday words in sequence. Each is shown for fifteen seconds. For each word, the candidates write the first thought that comes to mind in response to the word. Other tests administered on day two are the Situation Reaction Test (SRT) in which a booklet of 60 situations is given in which the responses are to be completed in 30 minutes and finally the Self Description Test (SDT) which consists of 5 questions asking about the candidate’s parent’s, teacher’s, friend’s and his or her own perception.
Days 3 and 4, SSB Group test is conducted by a GTO (Group Testing Officer) – Stage III
On the third and fourth days, there are tasks including group discussion; group (military) planning exercises; progressive group tasks; small (half) group tasks; individual tasks (obstacles); group obstacle or “snake race”; command tasks; a lectorate and a final group task. Along with GTO, an individual candidate interview is conducted by the interviewing officer. It is based on the personal information questionnaires filled by the candidates on day 1 and other general knowledge.
Day 5, SSB final assessment and results (Conference)
On day five, All the officers in proper uniform will attend a conference with each candidate. They will also have a conversation with a panel of assessors. The assessors will look for confidence and expression when speaking; a positive attitude in adversity and in life; honesty. Following this, the final results are announced. Successful candidates will remain for an intensive medical examination which takes four to five days at a military hospital.
WHAT IS CPSS?
CPSS is an intelligent tool for pilot aptitude testing in consonance with the advanced IAF aircrafts like Su-30, Tejas etc. It has been jointly developed by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research and the Air Defence Establishment; premier organizations of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
Fifth generation fighter planes would place tremendous physical and mental workload on pilots and system operators and only the best will be allowed to occupy these cockpits. CPSS, is a concrete step in the right direction towards meeting these objectives.
CPSS was intended to address the IAF’s long-standing demand for a scientific selection system on par with advanced nations, which can screen pilot aspirants to meet the demands of the latest aircraft.
CPSS places special emphasis on psychomotor skills and cognitive abilities of aspirants. It ensures objectivity in results. Only one chance in CPSS Test
Just like in the PABT test, candidate will get only one chance to clear the CPSS test. Once failed, the test cannot be taken again and the candidate can never be eligible for flying in the armed forces (Air force, army, navy or coast guard). Aspirants will get only one chance to take the test under the Computerized Pilot Selection System.
CPSS machine simulates an aircraft cockpit. Video games played by the candidate on a screen in front of him are scored best of three games. It tests hand, leg, vision, and hearing coordination.
INSTRUMENT BATTERY TEST
The Instrument Battery Test (INSB) is a paper, pencil, and machine-based test. It has two parts. The candidate must listen to a briefing and then interpret the dials of an instrument panel of an aircraft. If the candidate does well, they proceed to the machine part of the test. The machine test includes the Sensory Motor Apparatus Test (SMA) and the Control Velocity Test (CVT) which examine a candidate’s co-ordination. The tests are administered in one day and candidates may only ever attempt the tests once.