As mentioned in the previous article, in this and the following one I have described all the tasks which will take place in the group testing in detail. The four tasks in this phase are Group Discussion, Group Planning Exercise, Progressive Group Task and Group Obstacle race. Let’s take a look at each of these tasks individually.
1) Group Discussion (GD)
This is the first activity in the GTO series. There are two rounds of GD for 20 minutes each and the candidates will sit in a circle according to their chest numbers, numerically. In the first round, a choice will be given to the candidates to choose one between two topics given which will usually be based on current affairs or latest happenings, and this is where reading the newspaper regularly and being updated about happenings in the world comes in handy. The second topic will be somewhat a social issue and only one topic will be given, without choice.
Each topic will be accompanied by three leads given by the GTO, each of which can steer the direction of the discussion in a different way. You should be clear about the lead you want to stick with and ensure you don’t change course midway. After all, a leader “influences” others, doesn’t himself get “influenced.”
Some examples of current affairs topics are given below:
1. India is facing several challenges on its path to becoming a superpower. Which of these in your opinion is the most complex problem which needs to be urgently addressed?
2. India is a country of over one billion and yet the defence services are finding it difficult to attract right talent. What do you think is the cause for this?
- Tough and risky lifestyle
- Poor pay and perks
- Lack of patriotism in the youth
Similarly, some social topics can be as follows:
1. Indian women have been deprived of their rights since time immemorial. Which of these measures do you think will truly empower them?
- Job Reservation
- Political Reservation
2. India is known for being one of the most corrupt nations. What do you think is the main reason behind this?
- Financial insecurity
- Poor law and order
- Degrading moral values
These examples serve to give you an idea of how you will get a topic and the three leads which will kick-start the discussion.
There will be a lot of suggestions you receive from a lot of people and coaching centres telling you how to sit and how to talk and how not to use your hands too much. I will simply say that be a part of the discussion, don’t be just a listener, rather be both a speaker and listener and don’t argue with others. You don’t even have to keep coming in, again and again, build a strong point, come in once or twice and keep shut. Talking repeatedly isn’t important, giving strong ideas is.
2) Group Planning Exercise (GPE)
The second activity in the GTO tasks, in this the candidates are given some problems on a wooden model and asked to first write down individual solutions and then discuss at the group and come at a consensus for the final solution. Unlike the GD, where a consensus doesn’t have to be arrived at, in this task the group has to conclude the discussion and offer a solution. The five stages of this task are as follows:
- The model will be explained by the GTO to the candidates first and then they can clarify their doubts.
- The GTO will read out a story from a card which will give out the problems to be tackled. The story can then be read by the candidates through the story cards given to them in five minutes after which the cards will be taken back.
- The candidates will then be allowed 10 minutes to write down their individual solutions to the problem and the written work will be taken back.
- Then the candidates have to discuss among themselves and arrive at a conclusion for solving the problem.
- The group will nominate one member to explain the agreed common plan to the GTO.
The discussion stage is more or less like that in the GD but what’s important here is the written stage where you should come up with a logical and realistic plan. The problems should be prioritised based on importance and your solution should be arrived at using all the resources available, both obvious and hidden ones. Also, after giving solutions of the problems, you should keep in mind the initial aim for which the group came and continue with that.
You should use your imagination to a reasonable and realistic degree, make use of resources fully, estimate time and distance correctly and not get swayed by the problems in your way.
3) Progressive Group Task (PGT)
This is the first practical task in the series in which the group has to cross four obstacles in 45 minutes. The group also has to carry a load in the form of a drum, barrel or a box which has to be transported to the other side along with all the group members. There is a certain area of ground between the start and finish line which is declared out of bounds and which the candidates have to cross by using the helping materials which are a ‘plank,’ ‘balli’ and a rope. There are certain structures placed in this area to help the candidates crossover which can be used along with the helping material to reach the finish line. The five rules which should be followed while tackling this task are as follows:
- Group Rule- This implies that all candidates of the group have to cross an obstacle before anyone can move on to the next one.
- Distance Rule- This implies that any distance more than more than 3-4 feet cannot be jumped and has to be bridged.
- Colour Rule- This refers to the colour of the structures in the out of bound area. Painted red means out of bounds completely, painted white means inbound completely and painted blue means inbound for the group but out of bound for the helping material.
- Rule Of Rigidity- This states that two rigid objects, generally the plank and balli cannot be tied together with the rope.
- Rule Of Infinity- This rule implies that the start and finish lines have to be imagined as extending infinitely on either side and hence one cannot walk through the sides of the task and have to tackle it head-on.
While tackling this task simply keep in mind the fact that you should use your resources constructively and come up with helpful ideas instead of shouting and screaming. Help everyone cross over, stick to the path once chosen, try leading the group and be supportive of everyone else. Remember, your ability to work in a group is being tested, not your individual smartness.
4) Group Obstacle Race (GOR)
This is the last task in the basic series of GTO tasks. It’s essentially a race where one group is made to race against the other groups through a series of six obstacles. This race is also called the snake race as the group has to carry a rolled up tent called the snake (because it looks like one). Each group is assigned one channel to cross the obstacles and they have to stick to the same throughout. The objective of the race is the same like all races, to reach the finish line first and won the race. However there are some rules which need to be kept in mind:
- Once picked up, the snake shouldn’t touch the group before completion of the race.
- The snake shouldn’t be shortened or folded in any manner.
- All candidates should hold the snake while running and at least three should hold it while crossing the obstacle.
- The snake shouldn’t be passed from the side and should also cross the obstacles.
- The group and colour rule of PGT are applicable here. (Ref. Pt 1 and 3 under PGT)
- The group can only use the channel assigned to them by the GTO.
The most important thing to be remembered while running the race is to keep your calm and not get frustrated. The race will automatically instill enthusiasm and the need to win in you but you must focus on your group and ensure the morale stays high. Keep cheering the members, take initiative, pull up the weaker ones, accept any penalties given and work together as a team.