When I was a child, I used to dream of joining the Air Force. I didn’t exactly wish to be a pilot unlike what most other kids would do. I just wanted to be in Air Force because I liked the uniform of Air Force more than Navy and Army. Army uniform looked like jungles to me and Navy uniform, well, looked like restaurant waiter to me. FYI, Bangladesh Navy’s uniform is plain white.
I know the reasons are childish. I was a child, you know.
But I didn’t know that I would happen to be admitted into a college that is under the direct supervision of Bangladesh Air Force.
Half Inside Air Force
Somehow, after my Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exam, I got myself admitted into BAF Shaheen College Dhaka. It’s been almost two years. My final exams are just ahead and I’m going to miss a lot of the moments I spent in this college. It’s beautiful, the campus filled up a large space of my memories.
Towards the end of my college life we were offered to attend the admission test of 76th Flight Cadet Course (through which I could get into Commission Rank in Bangladesh Air Force). The circular is made public after the Higher School Certificate (HSC) exam due next month. But as we were Shaheens (student of BAF Shaheen College), we were half inside the Air Force. So, we were given the opportunity before students from other colleges.
The first phase of the Air Force selection process was pretty straightforward. We had to go through a number of tests. The written test, called IQ exam, came first. We were queued up and an officer of the Air Force was testing our heights as we entered the main building. Anyone above or below the preferred height was being stepped aside.
We had 100 MCQ at hand with 50 minutes to finish them all. The first 70 questions were somewhat mathematical. Like “2,3,5,8,..; write the next number in series” type questions. Most of them required general knowledge and a little bit of thinking. Others needed pretty simple maths to be done for which I had no time. I had to randomly answer them.
The last 30 questions were never seen before. I don’t know what they are called so I couldn’t look up for an example on the web. Without an example, it’s impossible to describe. Each question had a total of 7 hand-drawn images. The first line had 3 images with the four being a big question mark. The second line had 4 different choices from where we had to make our answer.
Questions were simple (though hard to answer). On the first line, we had to figure out the difference between the 1st and 2nd image. And then, that difference needs to be applied to the third image. What will be the result if the difference is applied to the third image was the image that should be picked up from the second row of 4 images.
I know, give it a second read. You’ll get it.
To make it sound better, let’s just say there are 7 clocks. If the 1st clock shows 12’O Clock and the second shows 12:30; then imagine the third clock is shown 12:45. What will be the fourth photo?
If I were you? I’d look for 1 O’ Clock in the second row of image.
Oh, did I make it sound too simple? Yeah, it does require a bit of intelligence to find out the difference. But trust me, the questions were much harder with very little time for you to think and figure out the difference.
After the IQ result was published within hours, (we didn’t get to leave the college ground) I was surprisingly selected. Like the audition rounds of those talent-hunting reality shows, we were given numbers. And then the waiting began.
As part of the first phase of selection process, we had to go through PPDT and Medical Test. Medical test is pretty straightforward. You get to get naked in front of a military doctor who will run a quick checkup on your full body. But the PPDT test is kind of interesting and not so hard to explain.
I don’t know what PPDT stands for. In a room with 12 participants, we were given a slightly blurred out black-and-white photo to give a closer look. Everyone had 10 seconds to look at it. After that, we had two psychologists in front of us to whom we had to answer what we saw in the picture and why we think we saw that.
For example, in my PPDT test, we saw a picture of some people gathered around a man with some heavy camera and a boom (mic) on top. There appeared to be a white board or something large in the back.
Now, I though it was a dressing room of some filmmaking/shooting spot where reporters went it for interview. Other students besides me thought that this was just a random class party or rag day.
On the second phase of PPDT, we had to hold a discussion between the 12 of us about why we think we saw what we had said in the first phase. It’s more like a debate. The point [probably] was to figure out how capable you are of forcing people to get to believe your idea in a gentle way.
This was the hardest part of PPDT because most students didn’t have a clue what to do here. Sit there idle and you’re out. Talk less and show a bit of shyness and you’re out. Give up on your idea and you’re out. It’s just too easy to get out of there.
On top of all, English language was preferred, though not necessary, which seemed to scare off many students.
Luckily though, I passed PPDT test and went ahead for the final round.
Medical test is the only test where you totally rely on your luck. You don’t know if your knee bones come in contact when you put both of your ankles together. If they do, you’re probably out of luck.
Similar weird tests are taken inside the medical room. Students were afraid and was very angry at the fact that their underwear had to be taken off although at the last moment no one seemed to step away because of that.
When my turn came, I went inside and I was told to put my glasses away and read the sign that was at about 5 feet’s distance. I couldn’t read. So, they gave me a receipt and I was not allowed.
Jeez! I should’ve known. I suspected, though.
How I feel as an Ex-Military Admission Test Participant 😐
The thing that annoyed me most was why they didn’t state in the first place that anyone with eyesight issue would not be allowed. I knew it would be the case still I wanted to take a shot at it. I didn’t have a 100% wish to get into Air Force until I passed both IQ and PPDT test. As I passed those tests throughout the whole day, my confidence level including my hope began to rise. My mom at home was really hopeful. Everyone was. Passing the IQ test without any preparation (I didn’t know what to study) was more than just luck.
But as the sun was setting down, I found myself crossing the college ground with a receipt in my hand that states my current eyesight power and a mark next to the checkbox, “Disallowed.”
An elderly came by and told me that I should give it another try after the HSC exam; when the circular is made public. They don’t even take the PPDT test from general people. But I don’t think I’m going to. The same test was taken another time at our college but I didn’t go. Why should I waste another time anyway?
There were 400 participants at the beginning of the day taking part in the IQ exam. Only about 7 made to Inter-Services Selection Board (ISSB) where they’ll get a [probably] 4 day training before getting a confirmation. As far as I know, if one’s confirmed, they will go to the scary 6-month long training outside Dhaka after the HSC. And if they fail even before that, they’ll just have a little more disappointment in their minds than I have.
But I’m not so very sad after all. Who knows, perhaps the universe has better plans with me! (I’m already getting huge public response on a local website I made. Even companies are beginning to join in. Maybe this can turn out to be a business someday!)
What I want to be in my life is a question I haven’t known for long. Now I do. I’ll write about that someday later.
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