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Preparation Strategy For NDA/NA Examination

“The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.”

These quotes of Philip Chetwode has become the philosophy of the Armed forces of the country. The Indian Army promises both professional and personal growth at every stage of the career. Opportunities to upgrade through various courses are abundant. The adventure and extra-curricular activities in the Army ensure an all-round development essential in today’s world. The army teaches you all, moulding the officers into leaders capable of leading from the front in any field. Joining the Army is possible both after school as well as after graduation.

One can join Indian Armed Forces as an officer through various entries. Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts National Defense Academy/Naval Academy entrance exam twice in a year in the months of April and February. The exams are conducted in offline mode through various centers around the country.
National Defence Academy is a tri-service training institute, which transforms training candidates into gentleman officers to join Indian Army, Navy and Airforce. It is in Khadagwasla, Pune. The Naval Academy is located at Ezhimala, Kannur district, Kerala.
The entrance exam consists two papers. The first paper is of the Mathematics. It comprises of 120 questions, for total marks of 300. The second paper is of General Ability. It comprises of 150 questions, for total marks of 600. Time allotted is two hours and thirty minutes for each paper. There is negative marking for incorrect responses. For every wrong answer, 0.33 marks will be deducted as negative marking.   Subject No. of questions Total Marks Time Paper: 1 Mathematics 120 300 2hr 30m Paper: 2 General Ability 150 600 2hr 30m As per difficulty level of this examination is concerned, it is not so difficult as compared to other 12th level examinations but it is also not too easy as it tastes your knowledge in various spheres. Apart from the overall cutoff, one also needs to clear sectional cutoff in both papers. Sectional cutoff varies from 20-30 % in each paper. To give you an idea of the overall cutoff, I have listed the cutoff of previous examinations:
1. NDA/NA Examination (I) 2017: 342 out of 900
2. NDA/NA Examination (II) 2016: 229 out of 900
3. NDA/NA Examination (I) 2016: 288 out of 900

Eligibility: All Unmarried male candidates Between the age of 16 years 6 months to 19 years in the final year of 10+2 or have passed 12th class under 10+2 pattern of school education are eligible to appear for NDA/NA entrance examination. To know about additional eligibility criteria, please refer to the official notification released by UPSC (http://www.upsc.gov.in/sites/default/files/Notice_NDAI_2018_Engl.pdf)
Syllabus:
Paper one is of Mathematics. The following topics are covered in NDA/NA examination:
1. Algebra
2. Matrices and Determinants
3. Trigonometry
4. ANALYTICAL GEOMETRY OF TWO AND THREE DIMENSIONS
5. DIFFERENTIAL CALCULUS
6. INTEGRAL CALCULUS AND DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
7. VECTOR ALGEBRA
8. STATISTICS AND PROBABILITY Apart from these topics the basic topics of arithmetic such as Number system, Average, Percentage, Profit and loss, Ratio and proportion, etc. are covered. Topics of mensuration also have small weightage. The syllabus of this paper is vast but questions mainly come from topics covered in class 11th and 12th.  If you have time to prepare for this examination, it’s better to solve NCERT textbooks of class Xi and Xii, but if you have less time, it would be better to buy a helping book which contains questions based in exam pattern of NDA. One of the books that helped me was, Mathematics for NDA/NA by R. S. Aggarwal (https://www.schandpublishing.com/books/competitive-books/competitive-exams/mathematics-nda-na/9789352535750/#.WtEy8C5uapo). This book contains chapter wise multiple choice questions. It has a huge collection of objective type questions with complete solutions. You can also refer to other books on the same lines but the point is of practice.
Mathematics is all about practice. There is no alternative to hard work, so work hard and solve as many questions as possible.
You also need to take care of time limit as you should solve 120 questions within two and half hours.
15 days before the examination day start solving practice set within the time limit. Once you start solving questions, attempt those which you can solve easily and mark the difficult questions to be done in the second review, in that way you will be able to get maximum output.
Also, try to opt for smarter ways to solve the question to save time, like you can try putting options to validate the question and find the answer by elimination method.
Additional Tips: Please avoid doing more negatives, as negatives may hamper your result. Most of the students fail to qualify because of doing negatives, remember you don’t necessarily have to top the examination, you just should secure marks above the cutoff. If you are comfortably solving 75-80 questions, then no need to take unnecessary risks.

Second Paper is a test of general ability. This paper is off 600 marks. It consists of two parts: Part-A and Part-B. Part-A consists of 50 questions of English language and grammar. Part-B consists of 100 questions of general knowledge. In total, this paper contains 150 questions of 600 marks. The general English topics covered as part of Part-A of this paper are:
1. Antonyms and Synonyms
2. Spotting Errors
3.  Fill in the Blanks (Selecting Words)
4. The ordering of Words of a Sentence
5. Sentence Improvement
6. Comprehension
Apart from these Cloze test is also asked. In total, the syllabus of English for this exam is limited to six topics listed above. The questions are of easy-medium range and this part is one of the potential scoring areas, if you prepare well. So, how to prepare for this part?

Since the syllabus is limited, it’s better to practice topic-based questions from any objective English book, alternatively, you can also solve previous year question papers and practice from practice sets available in the market.
One of the proper way to prepare for this topic if you don’t have constraint if time is by reading newspapers. Regular newspaper reading can boost your vocabulary and will also help in developing comprehension skills. You can also read some English novels or watch English movies to develop language-related skill, they will not only improve your written language but will benefit your spoken language too (which will come handy in SSB interviews).
Tips: Prepare English well and practice a lot.

Part-B of second paper deals with a web of interconnected yet distinct subjects/topics. Things can get confusing here as 100 questions are asked from Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Environment, Modern History, Geography, Current events, Political Science and a variety of other topics. However General science gets more weightage than any other subject. The questions here are not theory related but related to its practical use, like they may not ask you about total internal reflection but they can ask whether mirage happens due to total internal reflection or not. Questions can be asked from broadly three areas: General Science, Social science and current events.
It’s true that you cannot develop knowledge about these overnight, you learn about them over a period. If you don’t have much time to prepare and you want to score well in this paper, you must choose your strong areas and study them thoroughly. If you have time, I will suggest you refer to your NCERT books of 10th,11th, and 12th to prepare for science portion. Concern yourself more with basic theories, formulas and their application. Read and understand the summary at the end of each chapter. Please don’t ignore science portion as it has maximum weightage in part-B of paper-2.
For those with non-science background, I suggest you buy Lucent’s General Knowledge Book or Arihant’s General Knowledge Book, they are concise general knowledge books with enough material required for this paper. They can be used to study Indian History and Geography portion too.
In history, questions are asked mostly from modern India but it’s always better to have a fair idea of ancient and medieval India but focus should be more on Modern India.4-5 questions are asked from history. For geography, Topics related to Indian Geography is mostly asked like Indian climate, Soils of India, Rivers of India, Physical features of India etc. Lucent’s general knowledge covers all these portions.
In Polity, the questions are confined to Constitution: its making and working.
For current events, you can either study newspaper daily or read any current affairs magazine to stay updated with happenings around the globe.
Tips: Paper 2 consists of a variety of subjects/topics. If you start preparing for all, you may end up prepared for none. So, it’s always advisable that you choose the areas of your liking and study them thoroughly.

Important Points to remember:
1. 
Avoid giving wrong answers and getting negatives. Solve as much as you know and take calculated risks only if required.
2. There is no substitute to hard work. If you dream of joining the armed forces and of living a life of dignity and adventure, you must earn it through your efforts.
3. Self-Evaluation is an important part of this process and I suggest you start maintaining a diary to track your preparation or keep writing test series to check your preparedness. 4. Indian Armed forces are one of the best in the world and to be among the best, you must also be the best. So, strive to become the best version of yourself. 5. Avoid burdening yourself with thick volume of books, instead purchase subject specific book and practice sets for NDA/NA examination.
6. Some Important books are: –
Mathematics for NDA/NA Examination
Arihant’s Objective English
Lucent General Knowledge
NCERT Books if you ample time and interest to read them.
NDA/NA practice sets by different publishers.

It’s not difficult to crack this written exam, the only thing you need is motivation and hard work. Keep practicing more and more because:

“The More You Sweat in Peace, the less you bleed in war”

All the best!
Raubnish Kumar.

November 7, 2019