The National Defence Academy (NDA) is the Joint Services Academy of the Indian Armed Forces. Cadets are trained here together for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force before they join the pre-commissioning training in the respective academies. NDA is known to be the first screening process for a tri-service academy in the world.
Selections for this academy is done through a written examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission which is followed by an elaborate interview conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB). During the interview, cadets are also screened for overall health and physical fitness.
Every year nearly 5 lakh aspirants apply for the NDA exam, among which only 6,300 students are invited for the interview round. Only 320 candidates are accepted to the academy – 208 for the Army, 42 for the Navy and 70 for the Air Force, each semester.
Candidates appearing for this examination must be a maximum of 19.5 years of age and a minimum of 16.5 years of age. Only male candidates who are unmarried can appear for the NDA exam.
Understanding NDA Exam Pattern
Before we land on the preparation tips, let us understand the examination pattern for which you will have to prepare.
The selection process to the tri-academy service happens in two stages: Stage I – Written examination, Stage II – Intelligence and Personality Test.
Stage I: Written Examination
Candidates will have to attend two papers – Mathematics and General Ability. Mathematics is written for a maximum marks of 300 and candidates get two and a half hours duration for this. Topics covered in this paper are:
- Analytical geometry of two and three dimensions
- Different calculus
- Integral calculus and differential equations
- Vector algebra
The General Ability papers is bifurcated into 2 parts: Part A which is English and Part B is General Knowledge. This paper will carry a combined maximum score of 600 and again candidates will be given two and a half hours to solve this.
This paper will contain only objective type questions and is arranged in two languages – Hindi and English.
Stage 2: Intelligence and Personality Test
The second part of the examination is the interview round which is conducted by the SSB. This test is further divided into two stages which will be conducted over a period of four days. Stage I – Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and Picture Perception/ Description Test (PP&DT).
Candidates will be shortlisted based on their performance in OIR test and PP and DT test. Stage II of the interview test comprises of Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, psychology tests and conference.
Preparation Tips for NDA Exam
To crack the NDA Exam, a proper plan and strategy for preparation are necessary.
- Concentrate on the subjects which you know well than those you think you are weak. Instead of wasting time on the topics you do not know, it is always better to perfect yourself in the topics you know and understand already.
- Balance your preparation act; if you do not plan a strategy to answer your question papers, you will lose valuable time. If you start by answering all the difficult questions first, you will end up having no time to answer the easy and moderately tough questions. This will leave you scoring way less than you would have anticipated. Plan accordingly and finish all the easy questions first, then answer the moderately tricky questions and then try your luck on the most challenging problems.
- The syllabus is not your goal when it comes to preparing for competitive examinations conducted by the UPSC. It is not your school examination where you can expect questions only from the syllabus. Your objective during preparation should be to gain overall knowledge. Do not be surprised if you find questions that are completely out of the prescribed syllabus.
- Maintain your health and personality – NDA exam as you well understand by now is not only about the written exam but also about your personality and health. A medical examination is conducted during your interview round to test your physical fitness, mental stability, and health. It is always advised to the candidates aspiring to serve the country in the armed forces to keep fit and healthy both mentally and physically. Exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet, and have a stress free mind.
- During your preparation time, solve as many question papers of the previous years as possible. Take time to understand the examination pattern, and the time is taken to answer all the questions. On the day of the exam, it is easy to lose track of time. So, try to solve the practice question papers within the stipulated time.
- About one-third of the NDA question paper consists of memory-based questions. Mostly, questions from Indian History, current affairs, and geography are memory-based. Also, about 30 questions will be fill-in the blank spaces and antonyms-synonyms, which is the easiest part of the question paper.
Most importantly, gaining knowledge is key. Learn, do not memorise, memorising is for short-term, and remember there is no short cut to success. It is not always about what you know; it is mostly about what you know more than the others.
Self-assessment is the best tool to identify the cracks in your preparation. Resolve these gaps at the earliest, do not leave them unattended. Master every topic because every single drop of water makes a mighty ocean, and Rome was not built in a day.
Preparation tips for Mathematics Paper
The mathematics paper in the NDA exam will cover almost all the basic topics of mathematics that are studied under the Class 11 and Class 12 syllabus. Hence, the foremost step to prepare for this section is to get your basics right. Be clear on the concepts that are mentioned in the NDA syllabus.
If you are a little rusty in your basics, take a step back and take time to do a refresher course to brush up on your basic mathematics. Try to solve as many mathematical problems as possible with reference to your school syllabus. Solve as many mock tests as possible.
Effective time management skills are essential to score well in this paper. There will be 200 questions with a maximum of 120 minutes to solve all of them. Mathematically, you will have less than a minute to answer one question. Emphasising on time taken to solve these questions, learn to do the problems mentally to save valuable time.
Preparation tips for General Ability Paper
The General Ability paper is conducted for 600 marks, which is further bifurcated into two papers – English and General Knowledge. English is for 200 marks, while GK is for 600 marks.
Part I: English
This paper will usually contain questions from topics like vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension. This paper is to evaluate proficiency or the command a candidate has on the language. To prepare for this test, you need to pay a visit to your basic grammar textbook. Try to read English newspapers, magazines and learn new words and their proper usage. Take up as many English tests as possible. You will find many such tests online.
Part II: General Knowledge (GK)
The GK paper is conducted to evaluate a candidate’s understanding and knowledge about the current affairs both nationally and internationally. This paper will be further divided into six sections, namely: Current Events, General Science, Indian History, Physics, Chemistry, and Geography.
To score well in this paper, keep yourself updated with the latest happenings in the news, sports, literature, arts, and other sections. Be prepared with the milestones in the economic scenario of the country and policy changes and topics that will affect the day to day life of Indians and its neighbouring countries.
Preparation tips for Intelligence and Personality test
This test is all about your personality, sense of responsibility, your reaction to situations, adaptability, etc. Remember that this test is conducted for the future officers of the Indian Armed Forces, so try to develop qualities and a strong personality like that of an officer.
Practice on your psychological skills, understand yourself, control your emotions, your reactions, and groom yourselves to be a part of the elite force.
Best Books for NDA Exam Preparation
For the right preparation, referring the right books is necessary. There are numerous books in the market for NDA, not all books are worth your time nor do you get all the information in a single book. Make sure contrast and compare these books with your syllabus and requirements. Here are some popular books that might help in your preparation for NDA.
Books to Prepare for Mathematical Ability
|Book Name||Author/ Publisher|
|Mathematics for NDA and NA: National Defence Academy and Naval Academy||R S Aggarwal|
|Quantitative aptitude for competitive examinations||R S Aggarwal|
|Study Package MATHEMATICS NDA & NA Entrance Exam||Arihant|
|NDA Mathematics (Hindi)||RPH Editorial Board|
Books to Prepare for General Ability
|Book Name||Author/ Publisher|
|History Of Modern India (History)||Bipan Chandra|
|Science and Technology in India (Science and Technology)||Kalpana Rajaram : Spectrum|
|Oxford School Atlas (Geography)||Oxford|
|Social Problems In India (Indian Society – GS1)||Ram Ahuja|
|Objective General English for Competitive Exams||S.P. Bakshi|
|Manorama Yearbook 2019||Mammen Mathew|