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Prepare to march

education Updated: Jul 28, 2009 14:06 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi
Vimal Chander Joshi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The NDA Entrance Examination (II) is slated for August 30 for admission to the defence forces. The exam has two parts — mathematics (300 marks) and general ability (600 marks). One gets two-and-a-half hours for each test. The difficulty level is not very high but one has to keep their wits about themselves and finish the test fast.

There are many noble reasons to join the defence services. But even if you see it as just a job, the revised stipend and pay packages will make you happy to join the NDA in Pune. During post-NDA training at the service academies, cadets will now get Rs 21,000 a month as against Rs 8,000 paid till last year.

The gentleman cadet

You can take the NDA entrance exams while in class XII. Once you clear this exam, the next step is a Services Selection Board (SSB) interview. The last step is a medical test. After this, you have to wait for the NDA merit list. If you are in it, you will be in NDA.
Three years at NDA, and you will become a gentleman cadet ready for the final phase of training at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, before you are commissioned as an officer.

Paper-I (mathematics)
Algebra; matrices and determinants; trigonometry; analytical geometry of two and three dimensions; differential calculus; integral calculus and differential equations; vector algebra; statistics and probability

Paper-II (general ability)
Part ‘A’ (English): The paper tests the candidate’s understanding of English.
Part ‘B’ (general knowledge): The paper covers physics, chemistry, general science, history, geography and current events. It is broken up in parts A to F. Details on

Intelligence and personality test

In addition to the written test, the candidates will be put to intelligence tests, both verbal and non-verbal. They will also be put to group tests such as group discussions, group planning, outdoor group tasks, and asked to give brief lectures on specified subjects. This is an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities, but also social traits and interests in current affairs. The idea is to test the candidate’s officer-like qualities (see box).

Win the battle
To improve your chances, check out these tips from Dr Nidhi Pawar, faculty member at Cavalier India, Dhaula Kuan, and Lt Colonel (retd) Ashokan, Olive Greens Academy, Chandigarh, both coaching centres for the NDA entrance test.

n Rigorous preparation is essential, especially in physics, chemistry and mathematics.
n Focus on biology, as it makes up a big chunk of the general ability test.
n In biology, the big topics are diseases and causes, animal kingdom, plant anatomy and morphology.
n In chemistry, stress on equivalent weights, chemical analysis, inorganic compounds, periodic tables, concepts of physical chemistry, equilibrium, thermodynamics and quantum mechanics.
n In physics, stress on electromagnetism, mechanics, thermo dynamics.
n The science questions are mainly from class XI, CBSE syllabus.
n The best way to brush up on general knowledge is to go through The Competition Success Year

n Read newspapers and magazines thoroughly and underline words you do not know and look these up in the dictionary.
n Add 15-20 English words daily to your vocabulary. This prepares you not just for the written exam but also for the interview. Use of Hindi in the Services Selection Board interview is accepted.
n No question is repeated in the test papers, so it is pointless to scan previous years’ questions. But do check out some test papers to understand the pattern, and to assess your level of knowledge and understanding of the papers.

Who makes it finally?
Of the hundreds of thousands who apply, about 3,000 are called for the next round. According to the UPSC, selectors are expected to pick about 335 contenders — 195 for the army, 39 for the navy, 66 for the air force and 35 for the

Naval Academy’s executive branch for the courses slated to start in 2010.

Officer Traits
Effective intelligence:
One must solve problems of a practical nature

Organising ability:
One must match the available resources with the problem and use them to solve it

Social adaptability:
One must adapt to the needs of a group and its members

For the team’s goals, one must sacrifice personal gains

Ability to influence:
A leader must carry the group along by persuading members to accept a line of action

One must keep trying to attain the goals, defying countless barriers

‘Life at the nda is hectic but full of excitement’A former NDA student talks about the prestigious academy

When Mridul Kumar* cracked the NDA exam eight years ago, he was elated, as his career path now had a ‘shape’, unlike that of his peers.

He found that his new life was full of excitement and gave him the adrenaline surge. Though there were bouts of homesickness at first, Kumar soon adjusted. It was not that hard; there is so much to do at the NDA that one is

spoilt for choice.

“Besides academics, one can indulge in polo, sky diving, sailing, water scooter, rappelling and much more. You name a sport and it’s there. That makes the NDA experience quite enriching,” says Kumar. Cultural and extra-curricular activities add to the enjoyment of the cadets’ “college life”.

Time to adapt
The NDA training instils toughness in the cadets, physically and mentally. The level of training rises gradually, so that one does not get a “disciplinary shock” at the academy, which trains officers of the world’s third largest army. A fresh batch at the NDA is straight out of school, so they are given time to adapt to this lifestyle.

There is a breather as one gets to come home on vacation. There are two vacations of 20 days each in a year. “The academy even sends an A-C shuttle that drops the cadets at the station closest to their hometown from Pune,” says Kumar.

Helping hand
From seniors to teachers to instructors, everyone lends a helping hand to the cadets. “Ragging is out of the question there,” says Kumar. “One gets support from all quarters but one has to clear the tests. If you fail, you get two more chances.”

He is content with his life in the Army, which he joined five years ago. “There are several kinds of army professionals — doctors, engineers and normal graduates. Aim right and this life would give you immense excitement,”

he sums up.
*name changed on request
Interviewed by Vimal Chander Joshi