Published: 09th September 2023
NDA exam: Dates, eligibility, post-selection process, and other important details
The vacancy for each wing is advertised in the NDA exam notification by the UPSC
The National Defence Academy and Naval Academy (NDA & NA) exam is held twice a year, and the second phase of the exam (NDA II 2023) was on September 3. The exam is meant for those who wish to join the Indian Armed Forces (IAF). Approximately, two to three lakh candidates appear for the exam per session, taking the number to over six lakh every year.
What are the important dates?
The registration for NDA II is completed. The results are expected later in September after the exam ends. The answer key will be released after the selection process is completed, according to the trend.
Students who wish to appear for it next year should note that the official schedule has been released. NDA I will be held on April 21. The notification for the exam will be released on December 20, 2023, and the last date to apply is January 9. On the other hand, the notification for NDA II will be released on May 15, 2024. The last date to apply is June 4, 2024, and the exam will be held on September 1.
What is the exam pattern and process?
The NDA exam is a three-tier exam.
First, the candidates have to appear for the written test, which is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). It carries 900 marks in total and has two papers, the General Ability Test (GAT) and Mathematics. Both papers are MCQ-based and will be held for 2.5 hours each on a single day.
GAT carries 600 marks, and has 150 questions, out of which 50 are language-based questions (English) and the rest are questions from subjects like Science, History, Polity, Geography and current affairs. Each question carries 4 marks and 1.33 marks will be deducted for wrong answers. The Mathematics paper carries 120 questions and 300 marks. Each question carries 2.5 marks and 0.83 marks will be deducted for wrong answers. Only when students score the qualifying marks in the Math paper, their GAT paper is evaluated.
Next, candidates who qualify for the written exam have to appear for the Personality and Intelligence Test conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB). In this round, candidates have to undergo a potentiality test/interview, which carries 900 marks. Candidates appearing for the Air Force have to additionally appear for the Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS) test.
The interview is conducted for five days, and the first day decides if a candidate would stay at the centre for the rest four days. Candidates have to undergo verbal, physical, psychological and non-verbal screening tests, followed by a personal interview. They will be tested for 15 Officer-like Qualities (OLQs), and assessed on their thinking and attitude. Some OLQs are honesty, leadership, flexibility, adaptability and communication.
After qualifying for the SSB interview, candidates are subjected to a thorough medical examination.
What are the eligibility criteria?
The NDA exam comes with extensive eligibility criteria, which must be strictly adhered to. The first four following criteria are checked before writing the exam, while the rest are checked before admission to the NDA.
Citizenship: An aspirant must be a citizen of India, a subject of Nepal, or a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka and East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire and Ethiopia or Vietnam, with the intention of permanently settling in India.
Age: The aspirants must be between 16.5 to 19.5 years old. For NDA II 2023, the candidate must have not been born earlier than January 2, 2005, and not later than January 1, 2008. Only the date of birth mentioned in the Class X certificate will be accepted.
For Army - The aspirant must be appearing or have passed Class XII or equivalent examination from a recognized board.
For Air Force and Navy - The aspirant must be appearing or have cleared Class XII or equivalent examination with Maths and Physics subjects.
Marital status: Both boys and girls need to be unmarried in order to be eligible for the exam. They also have to remain unmarried until they have completed their training at the academy. If they get married, they shall be disqualified.
Height and weight:
The minimum acceptable height and weight for men is 157 cm and 152 cm for women for all three branches of the IAF. For candidates belonging to the North East and hilly areas (like Gorkhas, Nepalese, Assamese and Garhwalis) the height is relaxed by 5 cm. For candidates from Ladakh, Andaman/Nicobar, Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands the minimum acceptable height is reduced by 2 cm. Consideration of 2 cm growth is made for those candidates who are below 18 years. However, for the flying branch of the Air Force, the minimum accepted height for both men and women is 163 cm. The minimum and maximum accepted body weights are calculated using the ideal BMI scale, depending on the age and height of the candidates.
Vision: For all candidates, the distance vision (corrected) should be 6/6 in the better eye and 6/9 in the worse eye, while myopia should not be more than 2.5 D and hypermetropia should not be more than 3.5 D including astigmatism. Candidates who are applying for Air Force must not wear spectacles.
Fitness: Candidates have to undergo vigorous physical fitness and medical tests during the selection. Based on the results, they would either be selected to join the NDA or be disqualified in case of ailments/defects. There are two types of rejections — temporary and permanent. Temporary rejection (TR) is for those whose ailments can be cured, by minor surgery or otherwise, within a month. However, for ailments which can't be cured, like colour blindness, it is permanent rejection (PR).
What happens after selection?
Once the merit list is published, the selected candidates have to move to NDA in Khadakwasla, Pune, for a full-time residential study-cum-training programme for three years. On completion, they are awarded a UG degree and sent for a six-month specialised training.
Those joining the Army train at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, Uttarakhand; those joining the Navy move to the Indian Naval Academy (INA), Ezhimala, Kerala and those who choose Air Force go to the Air Force Academy (AFA) at Dundigal, Telangana. After the specialised training, the cadets are commissioned into the IAF.
How many selections are made each year?
Out of the total number of candidates who appear for the exam, about 8,000 qualify for the SSB interview per session. Then, about 400 candidates are selected, totalling to about 800 selections per year. This number includes selections for all three wings of the IAF.
The vacancy for each wing is advertised in the NDA exam notification by the UPSC. Based on this, and the candidates' performance, selections are made. Usually, a gap is allowed after the first selection, in case any candidate wants to withdraw, meets with an accident or any other such circumstance. Then, if required, the second merit list is published.