Joining defence forces and serving one’s nation with pride is the dream of many students across India. This fascinating career option comes with immense dignity, respect and adventure. There are a lot of ways to become a part of the armed forces family. The NDA/NA (National Defence Academy and Naval Academy) exam, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission twice a year, is one such method to qualify for a career in defence forces.
This article will underline all the important information related to this exam that aspirants must take cognizance of. Along with this, here are also a few tips that will help students in preparing themselves for the exam.
NDA/NA Exam: An Overview
This exam is a 10+2 level exam wherein students who have qualified for their class 12th board exams recently or are going to appear for it can attempt this exam. As already mentioned before, this exam is conducted twice a year by UPSC across India. The first phase of this exam is conducted in April every year while the second phase of the exam is conducted during September. Generally, the notification for the exam is released by UPSC four to five months before the exam date. The mode of application is made online for the convenience of aspirants.
Recently, women candidates have also been made eligible to sit for this exam. Along with this, all candidates must meet certain other eligibility criteria like age limit which are notified in the official notification. Students are also advised to keep note of educational qualifications as they vary for different academies.
- For Air Force and Naval Wing of National Defence Academy and Indian Naval Academy along with 10+2 NCC cadet entry, candidates must have passed their 10+2 exam conducted by the National Board/State Board/any equivalent University.
- For the Army wing in the National Defence Academy, candidates must have passed their 10+2 exam conducted by the National Board/State Board/any equivalent University with Physics and Mathematics as compulsory subjects.
Additionally, the exam is conducted via pen and paper mode and there are two parts of the NDA/NA exam – written and interview process which is popularly known as SSB interview. The written exam comprises two papers – Mathematics and General Ability Test (GAT). The former carries 300 marks and GAT carries 600 marks, making a total of 900. The papers are to be solved within five hours- two hours and thirty minutes for each paper.
The written step of this exam will include questions from Mathematics, English, General Knowledge and General Science. For a detailed NDA Exam Syllabus, students are advised to refer to the official notification released by UPSC. Since this is a 10+2 level exam, its syllabus is generally similar to the syllabus followed by CBSE in grades 11 and 12.
Exam Pattern for NDA/NA written phase
In the first paper which is based on mathematics, there will be 120 questions. Each question will carry 2.5 marks but for every wrong answer, there will be a deduction of 0.83, which is one-third of 2.5.
Similarly, in the second paper, there will be 150 questions. For every right answer, candidates will be awarded 4 marks but as negative marking, in case of any wrong answer, 1.33 marks can be deducted.
Aspirants need to attain passing marks in both these papers separately.
Preparation strategy for NDA/NA written phase
Having outlined the basic structure of the exam, let’s have a look at some of the important tips that will help aspirants score better in the exam.
- This exam demands an all-round knowledge from aspirants in a variety of subjects and thus it is imperative to give equal importance to every one of them. For this, aspirants should get an idea of the detailed NDA syllabus and what all topics within each subject need to be studied. Alongside, they should also analyse past years’ papers to ascertain important topics and trends. This should be the very first step towards the preparation.
- Most of the syllabus, as already said, is based on classes 11 and 12. Thus, students should begin with the most trusted of the studying materials i.e. NCERTs. A lot of questions are directly from these books. Normally, these books are sufficient to help candidates sail through the exam, however, for extra clarity they can refer to several of the pathfinder books available in the market that include summarised versions of each subject.
- Students should make sure to keep the list of their reading material short. Instead of reading too many books for each subject, pick one and stick to it. Revising the same selected material multiple times will be much more beneficial than reading many books for once. Information retention is a crucial factor in this exam so revision should be given priority.
- Students must note that current affairs also form a significant part of the GAT exam. Thus, reading a newspaper every day, thoroughly, should become a habit. The last one-year current affairs before the exam date are considered enough. If for any reason, candidates can not go through a full newspaper every day, they can also take help from weekly, monthly and yearly news compilations available. They are a convenient way to learn current affairs in less time. Make sure to especially focus on defence-related national and international news.
- Instead of mugging up facts, focus on creating ways to understand and learn them in a way that your mind remembers them for a longer term. This is especially important for this exam because not only in the written exam, a candidate’s knowledge of any subject can be tested during the interview process as well. For the current affairs portion, try creating a holistic picture by deciphering- what, where, why and how, for every incident.
In conclusion, the NDA/NA exam is considered one of the toughest exams in the defence field but, by any means, it is not an impossible one to crack. Candidates can score good marks with the help of determined and regular efforts in the right direction.