The candidates who have passed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) written examination, or who, in the case of the Territorial Army have been recommended by a Preliminary Interview Board (PIB), or, who have been asked to present to the Service Selection Board are allocated a SSB centre to attend. Service candidates attend via movement orders made by their superiors.
On the day candidate has to report, he has to follow the instructions as mentioned in the SSB call letter. Generally, the candidate has to report at the railway station in the morning between 7 Am – 8 Am, and from there candidates are escorted to the board by one of the SSB official. On the very same day, candidates are made to sit in the testing hall where they have to present their educational documents for verification and are allotted a number (called as Chest Number) by which they will be able to identify the candidates throughout the process. A briefing about the schedule, various tests and general instructions is given.
Day 1, Screening test – Stage I
On Day 1, stage one of testing is administered. This includes a verbal and non-verbal intelligence test (About 50 questions each) and then a Picture Perception and Description Test (PPDT). In this test, a picture, either hazy or clear is shown to the candidates for 30 seconds. Each candidate observes it and then, in the next one minute, must record the number of characters seen in the picture. Then, in four minutes, each candidate must in over seventy words, make a story from the picture (and not just describe the picture). The candidate must record the mood, approximate age and gender of the first character they saw, known as the "main character". In stage two of the PPDT, the candidates are given their stories, which they may revise. Then, in a group, each candidate must narrate his story in under one minute. The group is then asked to create a common story involving each or their perceived picture stories.
After the completion of these tests, unsuccessful candidates are dismissed. Other candidates are short-listed. They must complete the first of up to five personal information questionnaires which must each be recorded in the same manner. The personal information questionnaire is the basis for the individual candidate interview.
Day 2, Psychology test – Stage II
On Day 2, a Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) or picture story writing is administered. It is similar to the PPDT, but the picture used is clear. Again the candidates are shown a picture for thirty seconds and then write a story in the next four minutes. Twelve such pictures are shown sequentially. The last picture is a blank slide inviting the candidates to write a story of their choice. Candidates do not need to remember the number of characters in each picture and there is no group discussion.
Also administered on the second day is a Word Association Test. The candidates are shown sixty simple, everyday words in sequence. Each is shown for fifteen seconds. For each word, the candidates write the first thought that come to mind in response to the word.
Other tests administered on day two are the Situation Reaction Test in which a booklet of 60 situations is given in which responses are to be completed in 30 minutes. and the Self Description Test which consists of 5 questions asking about the candidate's parent's, teacher's, friend's and his own perception about himself.
Days 3 and 4, Group test by GTO (Group Testing Officer) – Stage II
On the third and fourth days, there are tasks including group discussion; group (military) planning exercises; progressive group tasks; small (half) group tasks; individual tasks (obstacles); group obstacle or "snake race"; command tasks; a lecturette and a final group task.
Days 2, 3 & 4, Interview by IO (Interviewing Officer) – Stage II
On day 2, 3 or 4 along with GTO, individual candidate interview The interview is conducted by the interviewing officer. It is based on the personal information questionnaires filled by the candidates on day 1 and other general knowledge.
Day 5, final assessment and results(Conference)
On day five, All the officers in Proper Uniform to attend the conference each candidate has a conversation with a panel of assessors. The assessors look for confidence and expression when speaking; a positive attitude in adversity and in life; and honesty. Following this, the final results are announced. Successful candidates remain for an intensive medical examination taking three to five days at a military hospital.