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2 career avenues

Does it help to know that the entrance exams for the NDA and hotel management institutes have similar syllabi?

education Updated: Apr 20, 2011 09:15 IST
Pankaj Mullick

It is not often that you are able to prepare in one go for two entrance exams – both leading to prestigious careers, both driven toward service excellence, albeit in vastly different environments. Yet for aspirants (especially men) getting access to two career options without any extra effort is something worthwhile.

Sure, one can argue that the two career streams are very different; while one is all about serving the nation, the other is an entirely commercial endeavour.

The syllabi for entrance exams (written section) for the National Defence Academy (NDA), and over 30 institutes of the National Council of Hotel Management and Catering Technology (NCHMT) are surprisingly similar though the exam patterns are different (see box) and, after the written exam, the selection criteria changes vastly. The NDA entrance puts candidates through multiple interviews, group tasks and a thorough medical test, while for hotel management people who have passed the written test are put through just one personal interview.

Testing candidates on CBSE’s Class 11 and 12 mathematics and English syllabi, both exams’ schemes lay equal stress on scientific aptitude. NCHMCT’s entrance exam, however, is known to lean towards English and candidates who are looking at getting a high rank (thus the institute of their choice) would do well to concentrate on this subject.

“To a certain extent the emphasis of both the exams is on gauging how well-versed a candidate is with the language, general awareness and mathematics.

However, the hotel industry would focus more on language and a candidate’s customer relationship skills. While for NDA, the focus is on understanding a candidate’s comfort level with mathematics and physics. The syllabus is vast and would require candidates to revise their Class 11 and Class 12 syllabus well,” says Col Ashokan, director, Olive Greens, a Chandigarh-based institute that coaches aspirants for NDA’s written entrance exam, apart from delivering leadership programmes.

For aspirants of both careers, however, Col Ashokan adds a word of caution: “There might be similarities with these two diverse fields as far as the written exam is concerned, but one needs to remember that the entrance is just one step towards your dream. The journey (after) the entrance is very different.”

Renowned career counsellor and HT Horizons columnist Usha Albuquerque echoes his thoughts. “Students who sit for hotel management entrance test and those who take the NDA are different kinds of people. While both the tests have a similar content and judge their ability to analyse information, test their awareness level and check their communication skills, qualities required for the two professions are poles apart. The hotel industry selects candidates exhibiting and indicating characteristics that place the customer first while the defense services pick people with strong mental and physical strength, quick reflexes, loyalty to country and leadership qualities,” she says.

However, many Indian armed forces personnel encourage their children to try for both careers because of the levels of personality development they offer.

Col Ashokan agrees that there are some complementary aspects. “Some characteristics are similar, like good personality, clear diction, confidence, logical thinking with good etiquette and mannerisms. However, the Army wants candidates with incredible courage, a passion to serve the nation and an attitude to die for, while the hotel industry looks at extroverts with good PR skills.”

Why women chefs are rare
. You really need to rough it out. The work is physically demanding and taxing – imagine handling large cauldrons of simmering curries
. Long hours, late night duties and off-site catering
. Manpower management is challenging
. Being away from family especially on holidays and festivals (the busiest time for catering establishments)

Gabrielle Hamilton, celebrity chef-owner of Prune restaurant in New York, recently said that chef life can “grind you to a powder.” Hamilton, author of hermemoir Blood, Bones & Butter, however, qualified her comments saying “There’s no difference in what we (men and women) do. It’s not like sports where I take it that men have more muscles, they can hit the ball further.”

Guns and ladles

More on NDA and hotel mgmt exams
NDA and NA exam (II), 2011

Application deadline: May 9, 2011. May 16 for offline applications sent by post from candidates in certain remote areas and from abroad
Date of exam: August 21, 2011

The exam is held twice a year
Minimum qualifications required: Only unmarried, male candidates born not earlier than July 2, 1993 and not later than January 1, 1996, are eligible.
-For the army wing of the NDA - Class 12 under the 10+2 pattern or equivalent exam conducted by a State education board or a university. For air force and naval wings of the NDA and for the 10+2 Cadet Entry Scheme at the Indian Naval Academy - Class 12 pass of the 10+2 pattern or equivalent with physics and maths.
How to apply: Apply online through www.upsconline.nic.in or offline in the UPSC’s Common Application Form, available with an information brochure for R30 in cash, from the designated head post offices/ post offices throughout the country

The exam: n Administered by the UPSC, the written test comprises two papers with objective-type questions: maths (300 marks) and general ability (600), each of 2.5 hours.

Previous year’s question papers are given on www.upsc.gov.in
. An interview by the Service Selection Board to assess a candidate’s officer potentialities (intelligence and personality test).

Candidates for NDA’s army/ navy wings and the 10+2 Cadet Entry Scheme of INA are assessed on officer’s potentiality and those for the air force in a Pilot Aptitude Test and for officer’s potentiality.

More details in the UPSC notification on www.upsc.gov.in

JEE for BSc in hospitality and hotel administration
Application deadline: Over
Date of exam: Over (April 16)
Minimum qualifications required: Pass in 12th of 10+2 or equivalent with English as one of the subjects. Students from science; commerce; humanities and other recognised streams may apply
How to apply: Date over. More on the National Council for Hotel Management & Catering Technology website www.nchmct.org
The exam: The three-hour written test covers numerical ability and scientific aptitude (30 questions), reasoning and logical deduction (30), general knowledge and current affairs (30), English language (80), and aptitude for service sector (30)