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SSB - Services Selection Board

Services Selection Board is five level process for assessing officers for the Indian Armed Forces. The name is self-explanatory. Breaking of the sentence will give you the meaning. 'Services' include three services which are the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force, and the Indian Navy. That means officers are commissioned in these three services. 'Selection', candidates are selected for the armed forces after passing the test, which is conducted for 5 days. 'Board', is a board of members which asses the candidates for the armed forces. The board members come from three services.

Every defense aspirant aspires to become Gazetted Officer in the Indian Armed Forces. They are various ways to get commissioned into the Armed Forces. But every aspirant has to pass SSB to become an officer in the Indian Armed Forces. As such, there is no limit to appearing for the SSB. However, there are age restrictions for the candidate giving written exams. Board is tasked with selecting the candidate who has officer-like qualities. It tests a candidate at various levels. Psychologists are from the armed forces, or he is from the civil department.

Selection Tests

The board conducts test for five days in various stages. The screening test is conducted on Day- 1. The psychology test is reserved for the second day. While day third and fourth is allocated to the Group Tasks, and day five, which is the last stage of the SSB, is Conference. The interview is conducted on the second, third and fourth day. It is conducted post-lunch or in the evening.

They search for qualities like compassion, self-confidence, speedy-decision making, courage, intelligence, effective communication, and loyalty to the nation. Some of the tests demand basic intelligence to qualify. It tries to evaluate candidates based on their prompt responses when subjected to extreme conditions. The selection process is designed so that it can examine the mental ability of a candidate. Several vacancies are lying vacant due to a shortage of officers in the armed forces. Still, the Board is not concerned about it because they want to recommend the most suitable candidates to the Indian Armed Forces. They cannot compromise with the quality just for filing up the vacancies. The idea of such a selection process came after World War -1 when the need was felt to have a best-trained mind in the armed forces. SSB is considered to be a tough test. SSB is under the control of the ministry of defense. The present defense minister is Shri Rajnath Singh.

SSB provides some facilities to the candidates. You are allotted fully furnished accommodation. They will pick up candidates from the railway station and drop you at the station. You will also be provided with mess facilities. You can also get newspapers, games, and magazines.

Eligibility criteria for appearing in the SSB

There are many ways through which an aspirant can appear in the SSB and can become part of the Armed Forces. Aspirants have to qualify for the written National Defence Academy (NDA) Exam conducted twice a year, and it is the responsibility of the Union Public Service Commission. After clearing the written exam, they are asked to report to the respective SSB centers. A call letter is sent to the qualified candidates from the defense ministry.

One can appear before the SSB after giving Combined Defence Services (CDS) Exam. It is a written exam conducted for the Indian Army, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Air Force. For appearing in the exam, candid must have a bachelor's degree. Technical Entry Scheme is another way to appear before the SSB. Indian armed Forces provide immense opportunities to our youth.

Location of the SSB Centers

Indian Army

  • Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
  • Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
  • Banglore, Karnataka

The Indian Navy

  • Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
  • Banglore, Karnataka
  • Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

The Indian Air Force

  • Dehradun, Uttarakhand
  • Mysore, Karnataka
  • Gandhinagar, Gujrat
  • Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Testing Procedure

Reporting day is also called Day-0. Every qualified candidate has to report to their respective SSB centers. When you report to the center, they will verify your documents. After verifying the documents, they will give you the chest number and SSB board. Board will recognize you through the chest number. It is used to make acquaintance with the other candidates. The GTO will brief you about the procedure and details. Results are declared through your chest number. SSB also provides you with a travel allowance after filling out the form. Day-1 starts with a process called Screening Tests. SSB is a two-stage process.

Stage I: In Stage-1, the candidate intelligence test is measured. It will be verbal and non-verbal. Then, the picture perception test is taken by the candidates. They will show you a blur-type picture on the dashboard for 30 seconds. Sufficient time will be given to you. Aspirants have to look at the pictures carefully and make observations. Time of around four minutes will be given to the candidates in which they have to write a story and theme of the story. Board expects to write the story in around 70 words. Then they have to narrate their stories in one minute without seeing the sheets. Every candidate will perceive the picture differently. Results are announced, and rejected candidates are informed accordingly.

Remaining candidates are moved to the next level. Those who have passed the screening tests are asked to fill out the Personal Information Questionnaire. These PIQs form the basis for the interview. The Interviewing officer will scrutinize the PIQ thoroughly and will ask the questions. Remaining students proceed for the second day, called Psychology Tests. The day starts with Thematic Apperception Test. It is also called Picture Story writing. A clear picture is shown to the candidate, and 30 seconds will be observed. You will be given 4 minutes to write the story. 12 slides are shown to candidates one by one. These slides will be blank, and the candidate can write their own story. No group discussion is conducted on it.

Stage II: The second stage is called Word Association Test. It is a powerful test. In this process, you will be shown a word for 15 seconds, and you have to write your thought on that word. A total of 60 words will be shown, and 15 seconds will be given to you. Answer sheets will be given once, and scribbling and rewriting on the sheets is not allowed. In Word Association Test, the word will be simple and easy. If someone does not know the meaning of the word, candidates are expected to skip that word. The emphasis should be on the maintenance of the sequence of the word. It gives assessors an easy hand to check the test. Fifteen minutes are given for the Situation Reaction Test and Self Description Test.

Next comes the GTO tasks, and it is conducted for 3-4 days. GTO stands for Group Testing Officers. It has various layers of testing in these tasks that involve Group discussion, Group Planning Exercise, Final Group Tasks, Lecturette, Command Task, Group Obstacles Race, Individual Obstacles, Half Group Tasks, and Progressive Group Tasks. It is important to note that Interviews are conducted in the afternoon and evening hours.

Group Discussion (GD) -Discussion is conducted for 20-30 minutes each. Topics are shortlisted on general issues. The candidates have to share their opinion on topics given by the Board. The tests your communication skills, speaking abilities, and assertiveness.

Group Planning Exercises (GPE): They divide the group of 10-15 people. They are presented with a model which has some defects. Candidates are expected to find the defect and recommend appropriate solutions for the defects. It is conducted so that SSB can assess the analytical and problem-solving skills of the candidate.

Progressive Group Task: In this task, candidates are given 4 obstacles and some necessary material to provide some clues. Candidates are expected to use those clues and solve the obstacles as a group.

Group Obstacle Race: 6 obstacles are there for the candidates in the group. The group has to perform as a team. The SSS wants to assess the candidate's competitiveness, sports spirit, and team management.

Half Group Task: Further, the group is broken into many tiny groups, and they are made to complete each other.

Lecturette: It is sometimes called an Impromptu speech competition. It will contain 4 topics, and candidates have to select one topic from it and are allowed to speak for 3 minutes. They are expected to select topics from the placard.

Individual Obstacles: Individual candidates are given a total of 10 obstacles, and they are 1-10 range in which 1 is the lowest difficult and 10 is the hardest. It aims to see the individual ability to overcome the obstacles. This should be completed in 3 minutes.

Command Task: Candidates are given the role of leadership. It is conducted because SSB wants to judge your leadership abilities and skills. They will act as a commander have to choose their junior (subordinates) who could assist them in solving their problems.

Final Group Task: They are joined to a bigger unit. They are given obstacles and are expected to solve them in a given time frame.

Personal Interview: The interviewing officer conducts the interview and simultaneously goes with other events. These questions are based on the questionnaire field by them. Questions could be from the general awareness, and they are judged on the expression, body language, and speaking skills.

The Conference is the last stage of the SSB. It is the last day, and assessors discuss the candidates in detail. They decide the fate of the candidates. The Board comprises of Board of Examiners that includes President, Deputy President, all the psychologists, all the GTOs, and Technical Officer. When the meeting is over, the result is announced in half-hour, selected candidates are retained, and others are left to the railway station. Then selected candidates to proceed to the medical test, conducted to a nearby military hospital. It takes 4-5 days for the medical test, and those who failed to pass the test are given a chance to apply.

All task of the SSB tests the candidate confidence and expression is widely observed. They expect you that you make your weakness your strong point. It can do it with your positive attitude. Truth is a part of our life, and how individual views it depends. It is considered to be a full-proof system that evolved over a period of time.


For candidates who are appearing for the first time are given AC-3 Tier tickets from their residence to the SSB centers. It is also available for the first-time for candidate in other schemes.

Candidates are rejected on the first day and fifth day. Those candidates who are shortlisted are only entitled to the accommodation.

Those candidates who want a commission for Indian Air Force for Pilot Flying Branch. These candidates have to clear a test called Pilot Aptitude Battery Test. It is conducted in two phases- written (MCQs) and machine tests.

Indian Coast Guard Selection Guard

It is a force that protects the maritime coast of India under the Ministry of Defence. Officers of ICG are selected through similar lines on SSB. It is conducted in two stages- Preliminary Selection Boards (Screening tests called in SSB) and stage two is called Final Selection boards (FSB). This consists of Psychology Tests, GTO tasks, Personal Interviews and Conference. Their centers are located in Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, and Noida. Screening tests happen at PSB centers, and further processes happen at FSB centers.

There is direct entry to the SSB centers through -

  • Technical Graduate Course
  • Tech Entry Scheme
  • Join Advocate General
  • Technical Short Service Commission Courses
  • NCC Special Entry Scheme
  • Navy's Education Branch Entry
  • Navy's Pilot/ Observer Entry
  • Navy's Executive and Technical Branch Entry
  • IAF's Meteorology Branch Course

Medical Examinations

Day- 1 Blood Test, Urine Test, Chest, Ultrasound, and X-ray

Day-2 Ear, Nose, and Tongue

Day-3 Surgical examination

Day- 4 Eye and Dental

Day-5 General Medical and Medical Conference

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