CDS 2020

CDS Exam Highlights

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is the main conducting authority organizes a national level entrance exam known as Combined Defence Services (CDS) Exam.The CDS examination is conducted to select potential male and female candidates for admission in Indian Naval Academy (INA), Indian Military Academy (IMA), Air Force Academy and Officers Training Academy (OTA).In this segment we will discuss details about CDS Exam Pattern that provides you the complete format in which the exam will be conducted.

NDA Exam Notification

UPSC releases its recruitment notification every year where it announces the vacancies under different category. Notification related to this exam contains all the relevant information regarding exam, eligibility criteria, age limit, nationality etc.

Exam Pattern

The CDS examination conducted in two stages-

  1. Written Examination
  2. Intelligence and Personality Test

Written Examination

Written examination consists of English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.Each paper is of 2 hours.Negative marking is applicable in the CDS exam. For every wrong answer, one-third mark will be deducted.


CDS Exam (I) Pattern

For Admission to Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy

Subject Duration No. of Questions Marks
2 Hours
100 Marks
General Knowledge
2 Hours
100 Marks
Elementary Mathematics
2 Hours
100 Marks

For Admission to Officers’ Training Academy

Subject Duration No. of Questions Marks
2 Hours
100 Marks
General Knowledge
2 Hours
100 Marks

Intelligence and Personality Test

Intelligence Test Assessment

Candidates who qualify the written exam by securing the minimum qualifying marks as decided by the UPSC will be called for Intelligence and Personality Test. The Intelligence and Personality test comprises two stages:

Stage 1

It comprises:

  • Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests, and
  • Picture Perception Description Test (PP&DT)

The candidates will be shortlisted for the stage 2 of the Intelligence and Personality Test based on the combination of performances in OIR Test and PP&DT.

Stage 2

Only those candidates who clear the Stage I of Intelligence and Personality Test are permitted to appear for Stage II. As per the Exam Pattern of the CDS, stage 2 will consist:

  • Interview
  • Group Testing Officer Tasks
  • Psychology Tests
  • Conference

Personality Test Assessment

The Personality Test Assessment is done by three officers as mentioned below:

  • There are no separate marks allotted for the personality test.
  • The marks are allotted by considering the performance of the candidate in all the personality tests.
  • Marks for the conference are allotted based on the initial performance of the candidate in the three techniques and decision of the assessors. Accordingly, the candidates are recommended.

CDS Qualification

Age Limit, Educational Qualification, Sex, and Marital Status

Course Age Limit Qualification Marital Status
Indian Military Academy (IMA)
19 to 24 years
Degree of a recognized University or equivalent
Indian Naval Academy (NA)
19 to 24 years
Degree in Engineering from a recognized University/Institution
Air Force Academy (AFA)
20 to 24 years
Degree of a recognized University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engineering
Officers' Training Academy (OTA - Men)
19 to 25 years
Degree of a recognized University or equivalent
Unmarried and Married
Officers Training Academy (OTA - Women, Non-Technical)
19 to 25 years
Degree of a recognized University or equivalent
Unmarried, Widow and Divorcee

Physical standard

  • Candidates must be physically fit as per the prescribed physical standard by UPSC.
  • Candidate must be in good physical and sound mental health and free from any disease/disability that can interfere with the efficient performance of duties.
  • There should be no evidence of weak constitution, bodily defects or overweight.
  • The minimum acceptable height for male candidates is 157.5 cm. for Army, 157 cm for Navy and 162.5 cm. for Air Force.
  • The minimum height of women candidates should be 152 cm.
  • For candidates belonging to Gorkhas and hills of North-Eastern region of India, Garhwali and Kumaon, the minimum acceptable height will be 5 cm. less. In case of candidates from Lakshadweep, the minimum acceptable height can be reduced by 2 cms.
  • For women candidates, if pregnancy is detected at any stage after selection at SSB or during training will debar the candidates from the grant of commission and cost recovered from the date of joining OTA till the date of debarring on confirmation of pregnancy from Military Hospital Authorities.
  • Candidates should have a sufficient number of natural and sound teeth. A minimum of 14 dental points will be acceptable. When 32 teeth are present, the total dental points are 22.
  • Internal examination of the eye will be done by means of an ophthalmologist to rule out any disease of the eye. A candidate must have good binocular vision. The colour vision standard will be CP-II for Army. A candidate should be able to recognize red and green colors.

CDS Exam Syllabus

  • The syllabus for CDS-I and CDS-II is same and there is no change at all. The candidates are not to worry about the syllabus for the two different exams.
  • The standard of the papers of the CDS exam in the Elementary Mathematics will be of Matriculation level while the standard of the papers in other subjects will be of a graduate level of an Indian University. Syllabus of different subjects are given below-


This section will test the understanding of English as well as word usage. Questions in this section will be asked from the following topics:

  • Fillers
  • RC Passages
  • Synonyms/ Antonyms/ Phrases
  • Sentence Rearrangement (Jumbled sentences)
  • Spotting Error
  • Sentence Improvement

General Knowledge

This section will check the candidates’ knowledge of the current events. Under the GK section, students need to study the following topics:

  • Current Affairs
  • News of important international and national events, awards, sports news, books & authors
  • Indian constitution, fundamental rights and directive principles, powers of the president and prime minister, constitutional bodies, Indian judiciary etc.
  • History of Ancient, Medieval and Modern India
  • Important facts of Indian as well as world geography
  • Economy of India
  • In Physics, topics like optics, motion, force, units, heat, electricity, temperature etc.
  • In Chemistry, topics of organic, inorganic, physical and general chemistry
  • In Biology, topics like important diseases and human & plant biology
  • Questions from defence like Army Day, Navy Day, recent developments etc.
  • International Organisations like IMF, WHO, World Bank, UN, BRICS, and SAARC etc.

Elementary Mathematics

  1. Arithmetic
  • Number System-Natural numbers, Integers, Rational and Real numbers
  • Fundamental operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, Square roots, Decimal fractions
  • Unitary method, time and distance, time and work, percentages, applications to simple and compound interest, profit and loss, ratio and proportion, variation
  • Elementary Number Theory—Division algorithm
  • Prime and composite numbers
  • Tests of divisibility by 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 11
  • Multiples and factors
  • Factorization Theorem
  • C.F. and L.C.M.
  • Euclidean algorithm
  • Logarithms to base 10, laws of logarithms, use of logarithmic tables
  1. Algebra
  • Basic Operations, simple factors, Remainder Theorem, H.C.F., L.C.M.
  • Theory of polynomials, solutions of quadratic equations, relation between its roots and coefficients (Only real roots to be considered)
  • Simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns—analytical and graphical solutions Simultaneous linear in equations in two variables and their solutions
  • Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or in equations in two variables or quadratic equations in one variable & their solutions
  • Set language and set notation, rational expressions and conditional identities, Laws of indices
  1. Trigonometry
  • Sine ×, cosine ×, Tangent × when 0° < × < 90° Values of sin ×, cos × and tan ×, for × = 0°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90°
  • Simple trigonometric identities
  • Use of trigonometric tables
  • Simple cases of heights and distances
  1. Geometry
  • Lines and angles
  • Plane and plane figures,
  • Theorems on (i) Properties of angles at a point, (ii) Parallel lines, (iii) Sides and angles of a triangle, (iv) Congruence of triangles, (v) Similar triangles, (vi) Concurrence of medians and altitudes, (vii) Properties of angles, sides and diagonals of a parallelogram, rectangle and square, (viii) Circles and its properties including tangents and normal, (ix) Loci
  1. Mensuration
  • Areas of squares, rectangles, parallelograms, triangle and circle
  • Areas of figures which can be split up into these figures (Field Book)
  • Surface area and volume of cuboids, lateral surface and volume of right circular cones and cylinders, surface area and volume of spheres
  1. Statistics
  • Collection and tabulation of statistical data
  • Graphical representation frequency polygons, histograms, bar charts, pie charts etc.
  • Measures of central tendency

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