About CDS

The candidates who are aiming to appear for the CDS exam should refer to this page to get more detailed information such as eligibility criteria, exam pattern, etc.


To crack the Combined Defence Services (CDS) exam and secure a position in the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Officers Training Academy, or Indian Air Force Academy, it is crucial to be well-versed with the syllabus and the latest CDS exam pattern.

Aspirants who are interested in joining the Defense Force through the CDS exam must keep themselves updated with the exam’s syllabus and pattern. To assist the candidates in their preparation, this article provides detailed information about the latest CDS exam pattern and syllabus as prescribed by the UPSC. The aspirants can access the linked page to know more about the CDS exam and its requirements.

Exam Pattern for CDS:

The Union Public Service Commission prescribes the exam pattern of CDS and further describes the details in its official notification of the exam.

The process of selection of CDS is divided into two stages:

  1. Written Examination
  2. Service Selection Board (SSB) Interview

The written examination is further divided into two categories;

ExamSubjectMarksTime Allocated
1. Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFAEnglish3002 hrs
General knowledge2 hrs
Elementary Mathematics2 hrs
2. Officers Training Academy (OTA).English



2 hrs
General knowledge2 hrs
Total5006 hrs

**Objective type questions will be followed for this written exam;

  • Standard of paper will be of 10th level for Mathematics and graduation level for the other subjects.

CDS Marking Scheme

It is important to know the CDS marking scheme for candidates to devise an effective exam-taking strategy. The CDS marking scheme as prescribed by UPSC is as follows:

  1. 1 mark is awarded for a correct answer and 0.33 marks are deducted for a wrong one.
  2. If two answers are marked for one question, it will be considered as wrong and negative marks will be deducted.

** no marks will be deducted for unanswered questions.

CDS SSB Exam pattern:

Once the candidates pass the written exam, they will be eligible for the SSB interview held by the Service Selection Board (SSB).

The selection process is divided into two stages, where only after being shortlisted from the 1st stage, the candidates can appear for the 2nd stage of interview over a period of 4 days.


1.Stage I

Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests
Picture Perception Description Test (PPDT)


2. Stage II

Group Testing Officer Tasks
Psychology Tests

CDS Syllabus

The exam conducting body, UPSC, prescribes the syllabus of the Combined Defence Services and it generally remains the same every year.

Broadly, the syllabus of CDS is divided into three sections:

  1. English
  2. General Knowledge
  3. Elementary Mathematics

CDS aspirants can apply for the exam online by visiting the UPSC website. They have to fill out the application form available on the website and pay an examination fee of Rs. 200 to any branch of SBI through debit or credit/MasterCard/Rupay card or cash. Female/SC/ST candidates are exempted from payment of the application fee.

Eligible candidates for the CDS exam will get their e-admit cards on the UPSC website three weeks before the commencement of the examination.

Get the learning app

Download lessons and learn anytime, anywhere with the Unacademy app