Services Selection Board

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Services Selection Board (SSB), is the Personality and Intelligence Interview spread over 5 days which scientifically analyses each candidate's potential and compatibility for commission into the Armed Forces of India.


There are many ways of being Commissioned as an Officer in Indian Armed Forces, both for civilians (after 10+2, graduation, post graduation), as well as for Serving Personnel. Whatever be the mode, SSB is the step all have to clear, except for the Medical Corps. There is no limit on the number of attempts that can be made and the SSB Assessors encourage candidates to appear again for SSB.(India)

The interview exercise is mainly a Psychological tests of the personality quiz of the candidate, to gauge his/her potential as a future Officer in Indian Military. The tests conducted by the SSB aim at selecting individuals with OLQs (Officer Like Qualities).

The selection system is designed over a five-day process, Day 1 is the screening test, Day 2 is the Psychologist Tests, Day 3 & 4 is the group tasks and Day 5 is the Conference(Results). The personal interview will be conducted either in day 2,3 or 4 during the post lunch or evening hours.

These qualities include Effective Intelligence, sense of responsibility, initiative, judgment (under stress), ability to reason and organize, communication skills, determination, courage, self-confidence, speed in decision-making, willingness to set an example, compassion and a feeling of loyalty to the nation.

Most of the tests require average intelligence. The SSB attempts to gauge the natural responses of the individuals. The tests are graded into various categories of both individual and group variety and each batch of candidates goes through the subtle testing pattern in the course of a few days. They are under observation not only while they perform in various psychological tests but even as they conduct themselves during the course of their stay at the SSB headquarters, where they are billeted for that duration.

The SSB Board is not concerned with the number of vacancies. Its responsibility is to assess and then, recommend. After recommendation, the candidates appear for medical examination and after that is the Merit List. Those who finally make the grade join for training and hence become Commissioned Officers.

Origin of these type of testing belongs to first world war era. In the First World War, large numbers of casualties on battlefields necessitated recruitment of best fighting talent in armed forces. For this need, psychologists designed some scientific tests which assesses candidate's Officer Like Qualities (OLQs). Over the years SSB testing has been improved based on feedback and has been proved to be an effective and accurate way of selecting candidates who are capable of being at least an average officer after training, although SSB is the world's toughest army test.


  • Pick-up and Drop from reporting Railway Station.
  • Furnished accommodation.
  • Messing.
  • Medical facilities.
  • Game, Magazines and Newspapers

These and some other facilities for candidates to ensure that they feel at home.


The candidates who are declared by UPSC as having cleared the written exam or recommended by Preliminary Interview Board (PIB) in case of Territorial Army (TA), as well as those shortlisted in Direct Entries are called through Call Letters to appear for SSB (Allahabad/Bangalore/Bhopal/Dehradun/Mysore/Varanasi/Coimbatore/Gandhinagar/Kolkata/Rupnagar(Near Chandigarh) at the Centre allotted to the candidate. There have been instances when the call-up letter fails to reach the candidate and the onus lies on the candidate to be alert and contact the office after a reasonable amount of time if the letter is not received when UPSC written has been cleared. This is similar for service candidates, except that their movement is intimated to their seniors via movement orders.

Services SSB Center Location Name of SSB Center
Allahabad Selection Centre East (SCE) 11SSB, 14SSB, 18SSB, 19SSB, 34SSB, 36SSB
Bhopal Selection Centre Central (SCC) 20SSB, 21SSB, 22SSB
Bangalore Selection Centre South (SCS)
Ropar Selection Centre North (SCN)
Bhopal 33 SSB, SCC
Bangalore 12 SSB, SCS
Coimbatore Naval Selection Board (NSB), Agrani
Visakhapatnam NSB Visakhapatnam
Air Force
Dehradun 1 AFSB
Mysore 2 AFSB
Gandhinagar 3 AFSB
Varanasi 4 AFSB
Kanchrapara (Kolkata) 5 AFSB
  • Day 0 (Day of Reporting)

Reporting on the center is usually one day before first day of testing. Time of reporting varies from center to center. Sometimes the candidates need to report on the same day of testing i.e. DAY 1 or Stage I.

On the day of reporting, the candidates are required to verify their educational documents from assigned staff. Candidates are then allotted the SSB board and the chest numbers or a vest on which a number is printed on it. This vest or chest no. becomes the identity of a candidate, as it is easier to identify a person by a number than his/her name. The chest number is also used while interacting with fellow candidates during testing. The results are also announced by calling the chest numbers of recommended candidates. Candidates have to return their chest numbers whenever they leave the campus of a selection center. Sometimes the President of the board or the GTO officer gives a briefing to the candidates after successful verification of documents and allocation of chest numbers.

SSB is a two-stage process. To qualify for Stage II, a candidate needs to clear Screening Test or Stage I. On the date of reporting, the candidates are picked from the railway station and during the evening, certain Forms and Travelling allowance forms are filled. Candidates are also briefed on testing schedule and general instructions, which must be followed throughout the duration of stay in selection center.

  • Day 1 (Screening Tests)

On the next day, is the Stage I, in which candidates are given Intelligence Test (Verbal and Non-Verbal), then there is a Picture Perception test, in which a slide (hazy or clear) is shown for 30 seconds, the candidate has to observe it very carefully and in the next one minute he/she has to mark number of characters seen in the picture in a box made in the sheet provided to them and the main theme of their story. First the mood of character whether in positive, negative or neutral, then approximate age and sex. Candidates also need to identify one character which they saw first, which is often termed as Central character or main character of story they are going to write, this character's details should be encircled so that assessor can identify which character has been observed by the candidate as a main character. In a 4-minute time candidates need to write story, it is expected that a candidate should write a story in 70 words or more. Candidates are advised to write the story on the picture shown to them but some candidates describe the picture which gives them a disadvantage over others. Once the written part is over then comes the second part which is the continuation of first part i.e. written part, the candidates are given their sheets back to revise their stories and were told to sit in semicircular fashion for a Group Discussion. First each candidate will narrate his/her story in one minute without looking at sheet to the rest of candidates one by one, in the duration of one minute. Often the candidates take more than one minute to narrate their story, in that case the assessors give chance to next candidate. As individual narration of stories ends with the last candidate, it is expected that the group should start the discussion and come to a common story, as it is obvious that all candidates can perceive the same picture with different theme or background and a different story from one another. This sequence is popularly called PPDT- Picture Perception and Discussion Test. After the completion of these tests, results are announced and those who do not make it in this attempt are dropped back to the railway station and the successful ones are retained for 4 days of detailed assessment. A certain number of candidates are short listed based on their performance in screening round, rest are sent back. The screened candidates are required to fill the Bio Data forms known as “Personal Information Questionnaire” (PIQ). PIQ is very important- there must be no cutting and consistency in each of the four or five copies of PIQ you are to fill. PIQ is also the basis for the individual candidate interview, which is scrutinized by the Interviewing officer before the interview of the candidate.

  • Day 2 (Psychology Tests)
  1. Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)- Commonly known as Picture Story writing.

TAT is very similar to PPDT, but here the candidates are shown clear pictures, in which the candidate has to observe it for 30 seconds then needs to write a story on it in four minutes. There are total 12 slides are shown, 11 slides will be shown one by one i.e. after 4 minutes and 30 seconds the next slide will appear. There will be only one answer booklet for all the psychological tests, and will be provided only once, no supplementary sheets are provided. The twelfth slide will be a blank slide where a candidate is supposed to write any story of his own choice. But here candidates will not be marking the no of characters and related information, also there will be no group discussion on it.

  1. Word Association Test (WAT)

WAT is the second psychological test of SSB selection process, in this test the candidates are shown a word on a screen for a period of 15 seconds, in this time duration the candidate has to write the first thought that comes in his/her mind for that word. Total 60 words will be shown one after another( i.e. between each word the gap will be of 15 seconds). The answer sheets will be provided to candidates only once, candidates are required to make no mistakes such as unnecessary cutting or scribbling. There will be no blank slide, as in the case of TAT, so candidates should not write any response on a blank slide. The words shown will be very simple and of day to day use, this test will not assess a candidates proficiency in English language. If a candidate is not aware of meaning of a certain words he can skip that word and wait for next word to flash, and write the response for the next word. The main idea is to maintain the sequence of responses given to the word, the maintenance of sequence is important, as assessor can derive the result systematically for the respective response.

  1. Situation Reaction Test (SRT)
  1. Self Description Test (SD), or a variation of this like description from the point of view of parents, teachers, colleagues, neighbours, etc.

Total 15 minutes are given to write their responses.

  • Day 3 and Day 4 (GTO Tasks)
Students at GTO Task
Recommended dress for GTO Tasks

Group Testing Officers (GTO) Test (Third and Fourth day)

The following tests are conducted in this category :-

  1. Group discussion
  2. Group Planning Exercise (sometimes known as Military Planning Exercise)
  3. Progressive Group Tasks
  4. Half Group Tasks
  5. Individual Obstacles
  6. Group Obstacles Race or Snake Race
  7. Command Task
  8. Lecturette
  9. Final Group Task

Note:Interview :- (Held during afternoon/evening hours on 2nd/3rd/4th day)

  • Day 5 (Conference)

On the final day, every Assessor and the candidate sit together for and have a chat- the fate of the candidate for that SSB is decided by the Assessors collectively there. The candidates are required to appear before the complete Board of Examiners composed of President, Deputy President, all the psychologists, all the GTOs, and Technical Officer.

After the Board Meeting of every candidate is over,the final result is declared within ½ an hour. Selected candidates are required to stay back for their medical examination (takes about 3 to 5 working days) in the Military Hospital nearby or at a different place and the remaining candidates are dropped at the Railway Station.

For all the tasks one has to face at the SSB, confidence of speech and expression is one thing that is heavily noted. Making your weaknesses as your strong points is an art which can be done only through positive attitude. Truth is something regarded at every point of life and SSB is all about how one views life, a realistic wonderland or a pessimistic terror land. Be true and confident, it is a fool proof system of testing checked through experiments over a long period of time.

General points[edit]

  • Candidates appearing for the first time for a particular type of entry are paid AC-III tier (Train) to-and-fro journey fare from the place of their residence (or nearest Railway Station) to the place where they have come for the interview. For normal entry, a candidate appearing for the first time is entitled to an AC III- tier railway fare.
  • Candidates are requested to have their food before reporting to the centre. After then the messing facilities are arranged.
  • Candidates are requested to bring their original certificates from tenth to college. After reporting to the SSB Centre they will have session called certificate verification. If you are liable to any of the situation you will be eliminated at that second even you have been commissioned to defence.
  • No Need of any materials to prepare for it. This is the test to test your ability and originality. Your personality is the key to get through.

Pilot Aptitude Battery Test[edit]

Pilot Aptitude Battery Test also called PABT is conducted for the candidates who aspire to join flying branch of Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, Indian Army and Coast Guard of Indian Armed Forces.

Pilot Aptitude Battery Test is aimed at assessing a candidate’s aptitude to be trained as a pilot.[1] It is conducted during Services Selection Board.

One can only take Pilot Aptitude Battery Test once in lifetime.

Newer format of PABT comprises three tests viz Instrument Battery Test (INSB), Sensory Motor Apparatus Test (SMA) and Control Velocity Test (CVT). PABT was recently replaced by CPSS(Computerized Pilot Selection System)

Instrument Battery Test[edit]

Instrument Battery Test also called INSB is a paper pencil and machine based test.[2]

The Instruments Battery Test (INSB) comprises two parts. It assesses assimilation of the briefing and the ability of an individual to read and interpret the dials of an instrument panel of an aircraft. The candidates who score the minimum laid down criteria are subjected to the machine test.

The machine test includes Sensory Motor Apparatus Test (SMA) and Control Velocity Test (CVT).

These tests measure the psychomotor co-ordination skill of the individual. These tests are conducted on a single day and administered only once in life time.

It is part of PABT which is conducted at Services Selection Board and comprises three tests viz Instrument Battery Test (INSB), Sensory Motor Apparatus Test (SMA) and Control Velocity Test (CVT).

Indian Coast Guard Selection Board[edit]

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is the maritime Para Military Force (PMF) of the Union of India operating under the Ministry of Defence. ICG officers selection is similar to SSB and is conducted in two phases. Phase 1 is called Preliminary Selection Board (PSB) which is similar to SSB screening tests. Phase 2 is called Final Selection Board (FSB) that includes Psychology Tests, GTO Tasks, Personal Interview and Conference. PSB centers are located at Noida, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. FSB center is located only at Noida. Candidates are called for screening test at any one of the PSB centers. Shortlisted candidates from PSB are instructed to report at the FSB center for the further tests at a later date.


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