The army has announced a change in the Agniveer recruitment process and candidates wanting to join the force will now have to first appear for an online common entrance examination (CEE), followed by physical fitness and medical tests.

While advertisements regarding the change in the process have been put out by the army in various newspapers, sources on Saturday said, the notification for this is expected to be issued around mid-February.

The first online CEE is slated to be held in April at nearly 200 locations across the country and for it all preparations have been finalised, a source said.

"The changed methodology will ensure increased focus on cognitive aspect

during selection. It will have wider outreach across the country and also reduce the large crowds seen during recruitment rallies to make them more manageable and easier to conduct," the source said.

An advertisement published in a leading newspaper with the title -- 'Transformational Changes in Recruitment in Indian Army' -- on Friday, lists the new three-step methodology for the recruitment process.

The first step will be the online CEE for all candidates at nominated centres, followed by physical fitness test for CEE-qualified candidates during recruitment rallies, and medical tests in the end, it says.

"For Agniveer recruitment process, earlier, candidates had to undergo physical fitness test, followed by medical tests, and appearing for the CEE was the last step. But, now, common online CEE is the first step. This will also help is easing screening process and the logistics involved," the source said.

The new process will apply to about 40,000 candidates who are willing to join the army from the next recruitment cycle of 2023-24, he said.