AFCAT was introduced in Jan 2011 for entry in the Indian Air Force. AFCAT provides an opportunity to be part of the elite Indian Air Force as Group ‘A’ Gazetted Officers in Flying and Ground Duty (Technical and Non –Technical) branches.Online examination is conducted twice a year all across India by the Indian Air Force in February and August. Advertisements inviting applications for AFCAT are out in June and December every year. Candidates are to apply as per the advertisement.


Joining Indian Air Force through AFCAT is a matter of great honour and pride for many young men and women. Especially in the present times of recession, IAF offers a stable and highly rewarding career. Being a government job, it is unaffected by any job instability. So, thousands of candidates compete for a few officer level vacancies offered through AFCAT.


This is a million dollar question! A very important question, though not very difficult to answer. Before we get into the nitty– gritty of answer, it is pertinent to note that as per the present pattern, the AFCAT question paper consists of only 100 questions and each question carries 3 marks. There is also a system of negative marking. One mark is deducted for each wrong answer. Keeping in view the vastness of syllabus vis – a – vis very limited questions based on each topic, it is significant to note that each and every part of the syllabus must be studied and revised thoroughly so that an examinee doesn’t lose on any question irrespective of the apparent remoteness of subject matter covered in any question.


By and large, the pattern of English questions is repetitive over the years. Questions are asked on comprehension, Error Detection, Sentence Completion / Filling in of Correct Word, Synonyms, Antonyms, Testing of Vocabulary and Idioms & Phrases. Regular reading of English newspapers, English periodicals and variety of English books will definitely help in doing well in the English comprehension and vocabulary part. There is a need to be thorough with the basics of English grammar and thereafter practicing grammar based questions from competitive exam books. Knowledge of basic roots of English language will help to score in the vocabulary part. Idioms and phrases should be studied from different resource books.


The syllabus of General Awareness is very extensive. There are topics from History, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, Life Science, Indian Polity, National & International Current Affairs, General Knowledge, Indian Armed Forces, National & International sports, Culture etc. To ensure maximum coverage of each topic, candidates must study from at least two different source books. Most of the candidates find unexpected questions in the final test. Thus it is always better not to leave anything to chance and cover the subjects in complete details. It must be appreciated that the current affairs cannot be covered in short span. There is a need to keep in touch with various national and international level events consistently for more than one year.


The topics are basically from elementary arithmetic and include questions on Number System, Simplification, HCF & LCM of Numbers, Decimal Fractions, Surds, Square Roots, Percentages, Average, Decimal Fraction, Time and Work, Average. Profit & Loss, Percentage, Ratio & Proportion, Simple Interest, Partnership, Time & Distance (Trains/Boats & Streams), Problems on Ages. All formulae pertaining to these topics must be memorized and variety of problems should be solved. Due to limited time availability, regular practice is essential to attain accuracy and perfection.


There is always a scope to read from diverse range of books keeping in view the multitude of syllabus. Candidates should always avoid restricting themselves to a single AFCAT guide. Since no guess can be made regarding the probable questions, it is always recommended to carry out wide reading from text books and competitive exam books. Reading basic text books will help the candidates to catch – up with their school level knowledge of Science, Social Studies, Maths. Once the basic topics are revised, then graduating to competitive exam books would be easy and interesting.


In my nine years experience of tutoring AFCAT aspirants, I have seen many bright candidates losing on AFCAT entry due to their inability to qualify in SSB Interview. Since selection through AFCAT involves two stages, ie. written exam followed by personality test, both aspects merit equal attention and should be an integral part of one’s preparations for AFCAT. One’s personality cannot be changed overnight, so conscious and consistent efforts would definitely help to enrich various personality traits.


Though there is no set template to calculate the result output based on the number of days of study input, but keeping in view the length, breadth and depth of syllabus, if a candidate study for minimum 3 to 4 hours every day, then about one year’s preparation time is required for AFCAT. Though a candidate is allowed to appear for AFCAT in the final year of graduation, basic preparation for the AFCAT must start from the first year of graduation. I have seen that most of the candidates who clear AFCAT written exam with good marks have prepared for at least one year plus.


In view of the foregoing, candidates should focus on completing their studies for AFCAT written at least a month before the final written exam rather than continuing with the studies till the day of exam. The last month should be utilized for solving various practice papers and full length mock tests. At least 10 online mock tests should be attempted. All practice papers / mock tests should not be attempted in one go or in a hurry. There should be some gap between the successive tests and this gap should be fruitfully utilized for improving upon the weaknesses observed in the previous mock test(s). Systematic efforts in right direction without any shortcuts would yield desired results in the final test.


Since AFCAT is an open all India competitive exam, candidates should aim to score maximum marks. It has been observed that many candidates qualify in the written exam with about 150 marks out of 300. They attend SSB Interview, but even if they qualify in SSB, there are bright chances of them losing out on final merit list. My experience is that if you score more than 200 marks in AFCAT written, it is a very good indicator of your capability and this is capability is bound to be reflected even in your SSB Interview. A candidate with more than 200 marks has bright chances of standing in all India merit depending on his performance in SSB Interview. Score of more than 200 is not easy to achieve due certain practical limitations but at the same time, single minded dedication would pave the way to high score. In mock tests if you score between 170 to 180, you can cross the number 200 by improving upon weaknesses.


In this article, I have shared my practical encounters with the AFCAT aspirants since 2011. Remember, every question in the final written exam will matter and every right answer will help you to inch towards the success. The examiners and paper setting body always ensures that the aspirants with ‘short cut’ attitude never ‘make a cut’ in the final exam. There is nothing like ‘smart work’ as far as joining the armed forces is concerned. Hard work always pays and that is what you are paid for once you join the Indian Air Force. I am sure that you will be able to encash on what I have enumerated through this article based on my hands on experience of training the AFCAT aspirants for the past many years. WISH YOU ALL THE BEST !

About Me

Lt Col MP Deshpande

"I am committed and passionate to motivate and guide the youth to join the armed forces of India"

Alumni of Indian Military Academy Dehradun

Army Officer