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Things You Should Know About CDS Examination

Hello Defence Lovers, When it comes to the Armed Forces, Everybody feels the special vibes. Many of us want to join the glorious institutions of Army, Navy and Air Force. There are various entries to join the Indian Armed Forces. Combined Defence Services is one such entry that provides us with the opportunity to join the Armed Forces as an Officer just after passing out from college. Let us see the necessary information regarding the Combined Defence Services Exam which every candidate aspiring for defence must be aware of.

‘Indian Armed Forces’

The Selection Process of the CDS Entry:  

Basically, The CDS entry is consists of two stages.

 1. A Written Examination

 2. An Interview

MCQ based Written Examination with Negative Marking System is conducted by Union Public Service Commission and An Interview is conducted by Services Selection Board.

The examination is conducted by UPSC twice in a year, generally in the months of February and November (sometimes September).

Eligibility Criteria:

Any Male or Female Unmarried Candidate with the following criteria can apply for this entry.  However the following criteria varies according to your choice of service, nature of commission and your gender. Here we provided you the minimum criteria required to apply for this entry.

1. Graduation (Last Year Appearing/ Passed)

2. Age 19 to 25 years.

3. Nationality:

 (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.

Exam Pattern:

The written examination consists of 3 papers.

1. English (100 marks, 120 Questions)

2. General Knowledge (100 marks, 120 Questions)

3. Elementary Mathematics (100 marks, 100 Questions)

For Air Force Academy (AFA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), And Indian Military Academy (IMA) all the three papers are required to be appeared whereas for Officers Training Academy (OTA), only English And General Knowledge i.e. first two papers are required to be appeared. Yet, Girls candidate can appear only for OTA.

Marking Scheme:

  • Total Marks for written exam – 300
  • Every paper has 100 marks,
  • English, and GK, each paper has 120 questions for 100 marks, means 0.83 marks for each question. Mathematics Paper has 100 questions for 100 marks, that is 1 mark for each question. The Examination has negative marking system. For every wrong answer, penalty of 1/3rd of the marks of each right answer will be reduced.

Syllabus, Booklists and Preparation Tips:

For English:

  • Topics like Spotting the Errors, Vocabulary, Synonyms-Antonyms, Comprehension, Idioms and Phrases, Fill in the Blanks and Close Test, Ordering of Words and Sentences, Sentence Improvement, etc.
  • One can find Arihant’s Pathfinder for CDS helpful as it has covered all these topics and practice sets for these topics. The Book is quite sufficient for the preparation of English paper.

 For General Knowledge:   

  • The syllabus for Paper 2 is quite vast, it includes History of India (ancient, medieval, modern) World History, Geography of India and The World, Indian Polity, Indian Economy, Environment and Ecology, Current Affairs, other GK questions.
  • As this paper covers many subjects, one single source is not sufficient for the preparation of this paper. Though the GK paper for CDS is not so tough as compared to civil services prelims’ GS paper but the UPSC seems to be increasing the level of GK paper day by day. So we would suggest the reading of NCERT Books from 6th to 10th. std for History, Geography, Polity, Economics, and General Science. And also of NCERT of 11th, and 12th std for History, Geography, Polity, and Economics.
  • For current affairs, one can find the various current affairs monthly compilation books helpful for the preparation.
  • Also one can refer to Arihant’s Yearly GK book for other GK must know stuff questions, and for quick revisions of the topics mentions above.

For Elementary Mathematics:

  • Number systems, HCF – LCM, Decimal Fractions, Square and Square Roots, Cube Roots, Time And Distance, Time and Work, Percentage, Simple and Compound Interest, Profit and Loss, Ratio And Proportion, Logarithms, Polynomials, Linear Equations, Quadratic Equations, Set Theory, Angle and T- Ratios, Height and Distance, Lines and Angles, Triangle, Circle, Polygons, Locus, Surface Area and Volume, Statistics, and all other basic topics of maths up to 10th std.
  • One can prepare all the topics mentioned above from school level maths books along with the practice for CDS previous year question paper.
  • Or one can go for S Chand Publication’s Mathematics For CDS Book which can be available in the market.


  • Here comes the twist in the CDS written examination. In this examination, one must get scored at least 20 marks in each paper and the total marks scored of the 3 papers must be above cut off level in respect of the choices provided by us.
  • English paper is generally easy and can score maximum marks in English. One can easily score 60 – 70 and even 70+ marks with preparation
  • Mathematics papers are easier that one can easily score 35-40 marks with preparation.
  • But for GK paper, many aspirants find it tough to score at least 20 marks in it. But with proper preparation one can score minimum 30 and even more.
  • With these minimum marks mentioned above one can clear the cut off of the examination.

About CDSE This Year:

  • This year CDS I 2020 has already been conducted and its interview process will be initiated soon. But CDS II 2020 is yet to be conducted, As per the UPSC’s Revised calendar 2020, notification for combined defence services II 2020 has been already released on 05 Aug 2020, and the last date for application is 25th Aug 2020. The exam will be commenced on 8th Nov 2020. You can also read the specific details of CDS II 2020 by clicking here.
  • All this information will provide an important sight to the aspirants of especially to the new aspirants of Combined Defence Services. This is how an aspirant can clear this examination and can go a step closer to his dream. It is necessary to have knowledge for preparation as they say

“Success needs to have some preparation, Preparation needs to some knowledge.”

Also Check, CDS 2 2020 Notification


Dinesh Mahajan

Defence Aspirant. Student of Defence And Strategic Studies. NET Qualified in Defence Studies.

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