Tips to Crack NDA Exam Pattern with Interview Procedure, Syllabus and Marks Distribution

The NDA Exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, which allows the candidates to join Indian Army, Navy and Air Force wings. This exam is conducted twice a year. Most of the students start their NDA exam preparation journey without having proper knowledge of the NDA Exam format.

So, here in this article, we will provide you with complete and concise information about the NDA Exam Pattern with Interview Procedure.

Overview of Exam Pattern and Syllabus

The selection process for the NDA exam will be done in two parts – a written exam and an interview. The written exam consists of two papers: the Mathematics paper, accounting for 300 marks, and the General Ability Test (GAT), which accounts for 600 marks.

The SSB interview session will also be divided into two stages. The first stage will have OIR and PP&DT tests, whereas the second stage will have psychology tests and the conference. The marks allotted for the interview session is also 900 marks.

Syllabus for NDA Exam

The syllabus for the Mathematics paper usually includes topics upto 12th Grade. Broadly the following topics will be included:

  • Integral Calculus
  • Differential Calculus
  • Trigonometry
  • Probability
  • Vector
  • Algebra
  • Determinants
  • Mensuration
  • Arithmetic
  • Statistics

The syllabus for the GAT paper usually includes the following subjects and topics:

  • Geography
  • Current Affairs
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • English Grammar, Vocabulary, Comprehension
  • Indian and International History

Important points that will help you Acing at  Written Exams 

Mathematics Paper

The Maths paper will have 120 questions that need to be attempted within 2 hours 30 minutes. Every correct answer will be awarded 2.5 marks, whereas each wrong answer will have a negative marking of 0.83 marks.

General Ability Test

The GAT paper will have 150 questions. The allotted timing to complete the paper is the same as that of the Mathematics paper. Each of these questions carries 4 marks, wherein each wrong answer will have a negative marking of 1.33 marks.

You need to obtain passing marks on both papers. The most important point to note is that you need to obtain at least passing marks in the Mathematics paper, otherwise, your GAT paper will not be evaluated. And for both the papers, candidates have to obtain a minimum of 25% to qualify.

The Interview Round

Once the candidate clears the Written based test, they will be eligible to appear in the interview round. The interview session is conducted by the Service Selection Board and is also known as SSB Interview. This session is considered to be the most vital part of your NDA journey. This NDA SSB interview is also conducted in two stages. Once you Qualify for this interview stage, you will have to undergo a medical examination process, following which your dream to join the NDA process begins.

1. Stage-1

Stage 1 for the NDA exam basically includes a screening test and a PP&DT test. The screening test is considered the simplest of all as it includes questions related to verbal and non-verbal topics such as sentence making, correct spellings and so on. Under PP&DT evaluation, you will be shown a picture for 30 seconds, and you will have to write a short paragraph or story within 3 minutes. Then the candidates will be divided into groups and asked to discuss the write-up written with them.

After this evaluation, there would be a few basic Psychological Tests under stage 1, which includes:

  • Thematic Apperception Test: This test is similar to the picture test, whereas here, you will be shown multiple pictures and asked to frame a story out of it.
  • Word Association Test: In this test, basically, the pictures will be replaced by words and would be asked to make a sentence out of each word.
  • Situation Reaction Test: As the name suggests, under this test, you will be given certain situations, and your responses on the same will be evaluated.
  • Self Description Test: In this test, you are asked to speak about your personal life, aims, ambitions and so on. Here, your interactive skills are

2. Stage 2

Once the candidates are done with Stage 1, a few will get selected and then appear for Stage 2. Stage 2 of the selection process is a Group Testing Officers Test or the GTO test. Here, even the candidate has to attempt multiple tests such as:

  • Group Planning
  • Group Discussion
  • Half Group Task
  • Progressive Group Task
  • Individual Obstacles Task
  • Snake Race
  • Command Task
  • Individual Lecture
  • Final Group Task

Generally, Stage-2 evaluation is usually done to monitor the candidates’ presence of mind, sporting and team spirit, capability to work under stressful situations, their leadership quality and so on. Even Stage 2 is allotted with 900 marks. So, to clear these selection criteria, the candidate has to obtain minimum passing marks in this too.

3. Personal Interview Session and Conference

Once the candidates are done with Stage 2 of evaluation, they have to sit for a personal face-to-face interview session with the interviewing officer.

Here, the IO will ask questions on various topics, such as personal to professional life, from political to psychological questions. Here, the answers to these questions must be given with utmost intelligence and logic, as clearing this round will be the final stage for NDA Evaluation and will open the doors for your NDA training.

Important points that will help you Acing at  SSB interview round:

  • You can start practising for the picture test at your home itself as many such options are available online.
  • Staying updated on current affairs on a daily basis will not only help you in the SSB interview session but will also help you in the Written based test too.
  • Honesty and Sincerity will help you in the long run under this training session.


Now, you have a complete idea of the general and basic knowledge required in the NDA exam pattern, Syllabus and Interview session. So, start planning your study schedule and successfully crack this examination.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. How many candidates appear for the NDA examination?

Ans. On average, 4-6 Lakh candidates appear for the NDA examination each year.

Q2. How many papers are there in the NDA examination?

Ans. There are 2 papers in NDA Examination: Mathematics and GAT paper. The candidates have to score at least 25 % marks to pass the examination.

Q3. What are the materials to be referred to while preparing for the examination?

Ans. You can refer to various authors’ books, such as NCERT books and Manorama Yearbook.