Know All About the Combined Defence Civil Services Exam (CDS)


CDS (Combined Defence Service): Know the Exam Details and Syllabus

There is a popular saying that “when one door closes, another opens”. So, instead of regretting for the closed doors one should search for new opportunities. This is applicable to our career as well as in our life. Combined Defence Service (CDS) is such an opportunity for the aspirant who wanted to join defence but could not make it in NDA after 12th. If you are very passionate to join defence and want to serve our nation then CDS is the right choice for you. This article is here for you to tell you that how to make a career in defence after graduation and what is the creamy side of this career. 

The "Combined Defence Services" (CDS) Examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.  To recruit the students into the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Indian Air Force Academy Officers Training Academy the exam is conducted twice in a year. The exam notification usually released in the months of October and June, and the examinations are conducted in February and November respectively.  The qualified candidates are invited for the interview conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB) and the successful candidates are admitted into the respective Academies. During the process of the interview, candidates have to undergo various physical, psychological and medical tests to ascertain whether or not he is fit for the defence services. 

Those who are planning to join tri-services of the Indian Armed Forces, they should know these basic differences and similarities in NDA and CDS. 

Parameter NDA CDS
Age 16.5-19.5 Years 19-25 Years
Eligibility Men only Men & Women
Educational Qualification 10+2 Degree
Scheme of Examination Written + SSB Written + SSB
Frequency of the Exam Twice/Year Twice/Year
Duration of Training
  • 4-4.5 Years
  • 3 Yrs at NDA and 1 Yr at IMA (For Army cadets)
  • 3 Yrs at NDA and 1 Yr at Naval Academy(For Naval cadets)
  • 3 Yrs at NDA and 1 & 1/2 Yrs at AFA 
  • 18 months for IMA Cadets
  • 37-40 months for Navy Officers
  • 74 months for Air Force Officers
Training Centres
  • National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune
  • Indian Military Academy, Dehradun
  • Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala
  • Indian Air ForceAcademy, Hyderabad
  • Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun for Army Cadets
  • Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala for Navy Cadets
  • Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad for Air Force Officers
  • Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai
Degrees awarded
  • Army Cadets - B.Sc./B.Sc. (Computer)/BA /B.Tech degree
  • Naval Cadets - B.Tech degree
  • Air Force Cadets - B.Tech degree
  • Army Cadets - B.Sc./B.Sc. (Computer)/BA /B.Tech degree
  • Naval Cadets - B.Tech degreeAir Force Cadets - B.Tech degree
Rank assigned after training Lieutenant Lieutenant
Stipend during training Rs. 21,000/- p.m. (fixed Rs. 21,000/- p.m. (fixed)

1. Selection Procedure:
In every exam, academic excellence is given more importance whereas for CDS candidates are selected on basis of intelligence, courage, confidence and physical fitness. 
2. Job Security:
Once you qualify all the rounds of the exam and join CDS training you secure a respectable job for you. You don’t have to search for jobs after passing from CDS. 
3. Monetary Benefit:
 CDS cadets are paid a good amount of salary along with this all facilities are provided by the government so what they earn that almost remains as saving. Apart from this they also get good stipend during the training period.
4. No Reservation Category:
For CDS there is no reservation category like other examinations. The candidates get selected only on the basis of knowledge, fitness and passion to serve the nation.
5. Opportunity to Serve the Nation with High Dignity:
Every honest and sincere citizen serves the country through his work. But by joining CDS you can serve your country and protect it from harmful forces as a hero. Because the Indian army is considered among the best armies in the world.   On the other hand, when a soldier martyrs, his body is covered with our national flag and utmost respect is given to him with a gun salute which is hardly given to the persons of other professions.

Defence guys work in very hard and painful conditions.
They also have tough physical training.
They have to stay away from their families for long.
There is heavy punishment for mistakes and undisciplined behavior. So, they have to lead a very disciplined life.
They always have life risk.
Educational Qualifications:
(i) For I.M.A. and Officers’ Training Academy-Degree of a recognized University or equivalent.
(ii) For Indian Naval Academy—Degree in Engineering from a recognized University/Institution.
(iii) For Air Force Academy-Degree of a recognized University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engineering.
Age Limits, Sex and Marital Status (For CDS 2018):
(i) For IMA-Unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 2nd July 1995 and not later than 1st July 2000 only are eligible.
(ii) For Indian Naval Academy-Unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 2nd July 1995 and not later than 1st July 2000 only are eligible.
(iii) For Air Force Academy—20 to 24 years as on 1st July 2019 i.e. born not earlier than 2nd July 1995 and not later than 1st July 1999 (Upper age limit for candidates holding valid and current Commercial Pilot Licence issued by DGCA (India) is relaxable up to 26 yrs. i.e. born not earlier than 2nd July 1993 and not later than 1st July 1999) only are eligible.
Note: Candidate below 25 years of age must be unmarried. Marriage is not permitted during training. Married candidates above 25 years of age are eligible to apply but during training period they will neither be provided married accommodation nor can they live with family out of the premises.
(iv) For Officers' Training Academy—(SSC Course for men) unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 2nd July 1994 and not later than 1st July 2000 only are eligible.
(v) For Officers' Training Academy—(SSC Women Non-Technical Course) Unmarried women, issueless widows who have not remarried and issueless divorcees (in possession of divorce documents) who have not remarried are eligible. They should have been born not earlier than 2nd July 1994 and not later than 1st July 2000. 

NOTE: Male divorcee/widower candidates cannot be treated as an unmarried male for the purpose of their admission in IMA/INA/AFA courses and accordingly they are not eligible for these courses.
 A candidate must be unmarried and must either be:
 (i) A Citizen of India, or
 (ii) A subject of Bhutan, or
(iii) A subject of Nepal, or
(iv) A Tibetan refugee who came over to India before the 1st January 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or
(v) a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka and East African Countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, and Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.
Provided that a candidate belonging to categories (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) above shall be a person in whose favor a certificate of eligibility has been issued by the Government of India. Certificate of eligibility will, however, not be necessary in the case of candidates who are Gorkha subjects of Nepal. A candidate in whose case a certificate of eligibility is necessary may be admitted to the examination provisionally subject to the necessary certificate being given to him/her by the Govt. before the declaration of result by UPSC.

CDS Exam Pattern:

For the exam of Indian Military Academy, Air Force Academy, and Naval Academy
Paper Subject Name Marks Duration
1 English 100 2 hours
2 General Knowledge 100 2 hours
3 Elementary Mathematics 100 2 hours
  Total 300  
For the Exam for Officers’ Training Academy
English – 100 Marks
General Knowledge – 100 Marks
So there is no mathematics.
The standard of the papers in Elementary Mathematics will be of Matriculation Level. The standard of papers in other subjects will approximately be such as may be expected of a graduate of an Indian University.

The question paper will be designed to test the candidates’ understanding of
English and workmanlike use of words.

General Knowledge including knowledge of current events and of such matters of everyday observation and experience in their scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person who has not made a special study of any scientific subject. The paper will also include questions on History of India and Geography of nature which candidate should be able to answer without special study.

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. H.C.F. and L.C.M. Euclidean algorithm. Logarithms to base 10, laws of logarithms, use of logarithmic tables.

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 inequations in two variables and their solutions. Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or inequations in two variables or quadratic equations in one variable & their solutions. Set language and set notation, Rational expressions, and conditional identities, Laws of indices.


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.

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) Congruency 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 normals, (ix) Loci.

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.

Collection and tabulation of statistical data, Graphical representation frequency polygons, histograms, bar charts, pie charts etc. Measures of central tendency.
The SSB procedure consists of two-stage Selection process - stage I and stage II. Only those candidates who clear the stage I are permitted to appear for stage II. The details are:-
(a) Stage I comprises of Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests are Picture Perception*
Description Test (PP&DT). The candidates will be shortlisted based on a combination of performance in OIR Test and PP&DT.
(b) Stage II Comprises of Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and the Conference. These tests are conducted over 4 days. The details of these tests are given on the website
 The personality of a candidate is assessed by three different assessors viz.
The Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and the Psychologist.
There are no separate weightage for each test. The marks are allotted by assessors only after taking into consideration the performance of the candidate holistically in all the test. In addition, marks for Conference are also allotted based on the initial performance of the Candidate in the three techniques and decision of the Board. All these have equal weightage. The various tests of IO, GTO and Psych are designed to bring out the presence/absence of Officer Like Qualities and their trainability in a candidate. Accordingly, candidates are Recommended or Not Recommended at the SSB.
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11 Preparation Tips: How to crack CDS Exam...

The “Combined Defence Services” (CDS) examination is conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) twice a year for recruitments into Indian Military Academy (IMA), Officers Training Academy (OTA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), and Indian Air Force Academy (IAFA). The examination notification is generally released in the month of October and June and the entrance exams are conducted in February and November. Only unmarried graduates are eligible for sitting in the entrance exam. Successful candidates are called for Interview conducted by SSB (Services Selection Board). Know details about CDS exam, Click hereExam Dates:  Important dates regarding CDS.Events CDS-ITentative DatesEvents CDS-IITentative DatesStarting Date of Online application Form OctoberStarting Date of Online application FormJune Closing Date of online application form NovemberClosing Date of online application formJulyIssue of Admit cardJanuaryIssue of Admit cardAugustCDS WrittenFebruaryCDS WrittenSeptemberDeclaration of Result MarchDeclaration of ResultDecemberAge Limit: Certain age restriction for the different academy which are as follows:AcademyYearsIndian Military Academy19-24 yearsIndian Air Force Academy19-24 yearsIndian Naval Academy19-24 yearsOfficer’s Training Academy19-25 yearsExam pattern:  All papers are objective type in CDS exam.For-  Indian Military Academy/ Indian Air force academy/ Indian Naval Academy.Subjects MarksEnglish100General knowledge100Elementary Mathematics100Total 300For- Officer’s Training AcademySubjectsMarksEnglish100General Knowledge100Total 200After qualifying the entrance exam SSB call an interview. The Interview involves a 2 stage programme.Stage I- It consists of Officer Intelligence rating, Picture perception and Description Test.Stage II- It involves Interview, Grouping Testing Officer Task, Psychology test and Conference.Preparation Tips: 1. Thorough about the Exam Pattern and Syllabus.Going to the preparation the first step for a candidate to know the syllabus properly and thoroughly. This helps the student to know the question occurs in the examination, previous year question. Every year there is a change in the syllabus. If you clear about the syllabus then you don’t have to miss any topic.The exam pattern is important because it tells about the selection procedure and the step.Aside from there is required of a physical standard test, which has to prepare very first the preparation and simultaneously a candidate has to prepare for intelligence test and personal interview test. 2. Take coaching for CDS:The CDS exam is one of the tough defence exam in India conducted by UPSC. It should be better for a candidate to take coaching. But keeping in mind you have to choose the good coaching centre because in this emerging time a lot of fake centers are there for making money, so you should care about. Good institution means reputed faculties, good materials, good experience, etc, which lead you to crack the exam.3. Take mock test for CDS:As we know “Practice makes a man perfect” so regularly take the mock test check your ability, strength, time management capacity and your weakness. This mock test gives a complete idea of where a candidate has to work or where not. 4. Collection Of Previous year Paper:Once you get familiar with the exam pattern you should go for the previous paper which realizes about the real exam pattern. You get a basic idea about the exam question and about your preparation. 5. Taking out the Cut-Off marks:Before going for preparation it is very important to figure out the cut-off mark because only the cut-off mark can lead o the SSB round. Basic knowledge of Cut-off mark takes a student in the safe zone before publishing the result. 6. Excellent in Mathematics.The paper of mathematics is very important for those who are appearing for IMA, INA, and IAFA. This mathematics paper has 100 MCQs each contain equal mark for the right answer and the wrong answer there are 1/3 penalties. This is the only topic where a candidate can score well mark apart from English and GK.  A candidate has to keep eye on Arithmetic, Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Mensuration, and Statistics. For doing better in mathematics an aspirant has to keep something in mind, which is as follows:Have speed with accuracyGet a proper collection of notesUse short-cut and techniquesFocus on time management7. Master in English: Some time it is very important for a candidate to clear about English. All interested candidates are not from English medium background, some are from their Local State Board, so it is very difficult for a student to understand the question because questions are in English format.  Topics asked in the exam includes Spotting Error, Sentence arrangement, Fillers, Synonyms & Antonym, selecting Words or Phrases, Ordering of Sentence, Comprehension, etc. For better English, students have to follow certain things:The habit of reading News paper, Books, Magazine, etc.Enhance the writing skills, Speaking Skills, Listening habit, etc.Take Primary grammar thoroughly.Taking online test of English series. 8. Strengthen the GK: Either this is the hardest or easiest topic among 3. This section is totally based on facts. Those candidates are regularly touched with a newspaper they must take good attempt in GK section. Some smart ways of preparation for GK are as follows:Through with the NCERT books.Make a habit of revise the topic like Capital, Currency, Culture, Folk dances, Dynasties, Geography, Politics, Economics, History, etc.Keep touch with General Science Physics, Chemistry, Biology, IT, Innovation and technology, etc.Take a note of Sports award, World prizes, Contest winner, etc.Take news paper regularly The Hindu, The Telegraph, Times of India, etc.A various website who give an online test, touch with them.9. Take your Priority: Candidates should solve the sections and question as per their priority. If a question seems easy and less time consuming, it must be attempted first. The questions which are seemed easy but calculative should be solved later.10. No new topic during last week of exam:It is good to read, practice and revise that topic which you are through with. But don’t go for the new topics during the last time of the exam because that creates confusion. Because it is very difficult to remember topics without proper revision.11. Prepare self notes: Everyone has a different level of capacity of capturing, understanding, and perusing the information. So it is always better for a candidate to prepare their notes.We have discussed some useful information on how to take prepare CDS. Hope this information helps you in the preparation. Always hard-working doesn’t take you to success, sometimes smart work with efficiency may take you to lead.Read also : How to Prepare for NDA? Here are Some Tips to Crack

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