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Know more in detail about CDS – Combined Defence Exam

05 February,2024  |  By Brainwonders

Know more in detail about CDS

About CDS Exam

CDS full form is Combined Defence Services conducts by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) to recruit individuals into the Indian Naval Academy, Indian Air Force Academy, Indian Military Academy and Officers Training Academy. The UPSC conducts the exam twice a year in the months of February and September. 

Candidates who focus on serving the nation by joining the defence forces can start applying for the CDS Examination. In order to apply online for the CDS examination, individuals need to meet all the eligibility requirements as laid by the Commission. The selection of the candidates will be based on the written exam along with an interview and personality test. The shortlisted candidates will be selected based on the exam score, interview, etc. 

CDS Exam Highlights

Particulars Details
CDS Full Form Combined Defence Services Exam
Conducting Body Union Public Services Exam (UPSC)
Exam Level National Level
Frequency Twice in a year
Mode of Application Online
Application Fees

UR/ OBC - Rs 200

Female- Exempted

SC/ST - Exempted

Exam Mode Offline
Exam Duration 2 Hours
Language English and Hindi
Official Website

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CDS Exam Eligibility

1. Nationality 

As per CDS eligibility 2024, the applicants must be able to fit into nationality criteria. The candidate applying must be- 

  • A citizen of India, or
  • A subject of Nepal, or
  • A subject of Bhutan, or
  • A Tibetan refugee who came to India before 1962 to permanently settle in India, or
  • An Indian refugee who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Sri Lanka, and East African Countries of Kenya, Uganda, Zaire, and Ethiopia or Vietnam to settle in India permanently.
2. Education Qualification 

Similar to the CDS age limit, the UPSC has also set a minimum educational qualification for candidates interested in the exam. The particular CDS qualifying requirements are shown in the table below. Examine the table to learn about the educational requirements for various positions.

Branch CDS Qualification
OTA (Officers’ Training Academy) & IMA (Indian Military Academy) Degree from a recognized university or equivalent.
INA (Indian Naval Academy) Degree in Engineering from a recognized university/institute.
IAFA (Indian Air Force Academy) Bachelor of Engineering or Degree from a recognized university (with Maths & Physics at 10+2).
3. Age limit & Marital Status
Academy Born Between Marital Status
Indian Military Academy (IMA) July 02, 1999- July 01, 2004 Unmarried men
Indian Naval Academy (INA) July 02, 1999- July 01, 2004 Unmarried men
Air Force Academy July 02, 1999- July 01, 2003   <25 years unmarried or >25 years both married and unmarried men.
Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Women Non-Technical Course) July 02, 1998- July 01, 2004 Unmarried women, widows with no issue who have not remarried, and divorcees with no issue who have not remarried are also eligible.
Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Course for Men) July 02, 1998- July 01, 2004 Unmarried men
4. Medical Ability 

Candidates who are going to apply for the CDS exam should be medically fit in order to be eligible for the job. In order to fulfil the CDS medical eligibility criteria, every candidate should know about their medical conditions. The following are the exact medical conditions that would prevent you from applying for the exam:

  • Condition of Overweight/Underweight
  • Under Sized Chest
  • Piles
  • Wax (Ears)
  • Deviated Nasal Septum
  • Tonsillitis
  • Gynaecomastia
  • Varicocele
  • Hydrocele / Phimosis
5. Physical Eligibility
  • They must be in excellent bodily and mental health and free of any sickness or handicap that might interfere with their capacity to fulfil their tasks.
  • There should be no signs of a weak constitution, physical abnormalities, or underweight. The applicant should not be fat or overweight.
  • Candidates must not have a history of mental breakdowns or fits.
  • Male applicants must have a minimum CDS height of 157.5 cms (157 cms for the Navy and 162.5 cms for the Air Force). The minimal CDS height for female applicants is 152 cm. However, after all, waivers/dispensations, the minimum height for all entrants is 148 cm.
  • For Male Candidates, the chest should be nicely developed.
  • Candidates should have a Body Mass Index of less than 25.

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CDS Exam Pattern 

The Central Defence Services develops the CDS Exam Pattern to recognise applicants' brains and screen them based on their performance. Before beginning the preparations, read through the entire paper pattern shown below. Knowing the UPSC CDS test pattern 2024, marking scheme, and total marks can help you develop an accurate strategy for preparing for and taking the CDS exam.

CDS Exam Pattern 2024 Attributes
Organisation Central Defence Services
Exam CDS
  • For IMA, INA and AFA- 6 hours
  • For OTA- 4 Hours
Mode Offline, pen and paper mode
Maximum Marks
  • For IMA, INA and AFA- 300
  • For OTA- 200
Standard of the papers
  • For Maths- Matriculation level
  • Other subjects- Graduation level
Language General Knowledge and Elementary Maths will be in Hindi and English
Type of Questions Objective

CDS Exam Pattern for INA, AFA, & IMA

Name of the Subject Total Duration Number of Questions Maximum Marks
English 2 hours 120 100
General Knowledge 2 hours 120 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 hours 100 100

CDS OTA Exam Pattern 

Name of the Subject Total Duration Number of Questions Maximum Marks
General Knowledge 2 hours 120 100
English 2 hours 120 100

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CDS Exam Syllabus

Topic Description
Arithmetic Number System (natural, integers, rational & real numbers), Fundamental operations (subtraction, addition, division, multiplication), Time & Distance, Ratio & Proportion, Profit & loss, Elementary number theory, Composite & prime numbers, Divisibility tests, Unitary Method, Percentages, Time & Work, Simple & Compound Interest, Theorem of factorisation, Factors & Multiples, laws of algorithm, Euclidean algorithm & algorithmic tables, etc.
Algebra Basic operations, Remainder theorem, L.C.M. & H.C.F., Polynomial theories, Quadratic equations (relation between roots & its coefficients), Set language and set notation, Laws of indices, Linear equations in 2 variables, Conditional identities, Rational Expressions, etc.
Trigonometry All about Sine a, Cos a, Tan a when 0° < a < 90°, Sin, Cos and Tan values of important angles like 0°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90°, Trigonometric tables, Heights and distance, Simple trigonometric identities, etc.
Geometry Plane & plane figures, Lines, and angles, Important theorems (like angle property based), Medians & Altitudes, Similar triangles, Parallel lines, Congruence of triangles, Parallelogram, Circles, Rectangle, Square, etc.
Mensuration Areas of circles, Rectangles, Squares, Triangles, Parallelograms, Volume, Surface area of cuboids, Cones, Cylinders, Spheres, etc.
Statistics Tabulation of statistical data, Graphical representation of frequency polygons, Histograms, Pie charts, Bar graphs, Measures of central tendency, etc.
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Vocabulary (Synonyms/ Antonyms/ Phrases)
  • Sentence Rearrangement (Jumbled sentences)
  • Spotting Error
  • Sentence Improvement/ Correction
General Knowledge
Topic Description
Current Affairs Sports-related news, books, and authors, cover news of important international and national summits/ conferences, awards, etc.
Political Science Important facts of the Indian constitution, powers of the president and prime minister, constitutional bodies, Indian judiciary,  fundamental rights, and directive principles, etc.
Indian History Questions related to Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern India must be asked
Indian Polity Prepare important facts of Indian and world geography.
Economics Prepare topics like Budget, foreign trade, Five-year plan, etc.
General Science

Physics: Focus on topics like optics, motion, temperature, force, units, heat, electricity, etc.

Chemistry: Prepare important topics of organic, inorganic, general and physical chemistry.

Biology: Focus on the topics of important diseases, botany, zoology and human biology.

Defence Related News Questions in this section include important defence-related topics like Army Day, Navy Day, recent developments, etc.

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