CDS Exam

The CDS (Combined Defence Services) examinations are conducted twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission for the recruitment into the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, the Indian Naval Academy, and the Indian Air Force Academy. The notification for these examinations is generally released in the months of October and June, and the examinations are conducted in the month of Feb and Nov respectively.

Only the unmarried graduates are eligible to sit for the exams. Candidates who become successful gets admitted into the respective Academies after an interview conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB).

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What are CDS Examinations?

As it is mentioned in the above two paragraphs that CDS exams are Combined Defence Services examinations which are conducted twice a year for the recruitment in the Indian Defence Squad. Here, in this article, you will find all the relevant details about the examinations like the syllabus for the exams, exam pattern, important dates, eligibility, and so on.

CDS Exams 2020 

The CDS Exams is conducted twice a year as CDS-I and CDS-II. CDS-I 2020 was held on Feb 2nd as per their schedule from 9-11 am for English Paper. 12-2 pm for the General Knowledge Paper and 3-5 pm for the Maths Paper.

As per the 2020 CDS exam pattern, the candidates who applied for IMA, INA, and AFA took all the three papers while the candidates seeking recruitment in the OTA courses appeared in only two papers i.e., English and G.K.

Also Read: CAT Syllabus

CDS Exam Syllabus 2020 

The CDS exams are conducted to facilitate admission to INA, IMA, AFA, and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA).

If you are seeking admission to OTA then you are required to study only G.K and English, and Maths is not required in it. The candidates who are seeking admissions to IMA, INA, AFA are required to study all three subjects that are English, General Knowledge, and Mathematics.

CDS Syllabus 2020 for Elementary Maths

Elementary Mathematics basically consists of the mathematics topics that were frequently taught at the primary or secondary school levels. It consists of Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Trigonometry, and Mensuration.


  • Natural Numbers
  • Integers
  • Rational and Real Numbers
  • Fundamental operations
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication 
  • Division
  • Decimal fractions
  • Square Roots
  • Unitary Method
  • Time and Distance
  • Time and Work
  • Percentage
  • Applications to simple and compound interest
  • Profit and Loss
  • Ratio and Proportion
  • Variation
  • Division algorithm
  • Prime and Composite numbers
  • Multiples and Factors
  • Factorization
  • Theorems
  • HCF (Highest Common Factor)
  • LCM (Lowest Common Multiple)
  • Laws of algorithm
  • Use of Logarithm Tables


CDS II Syllabus 2020 for Algebra

  • Basic operations
  • Simple Factors
  • Remainder Theorems
  • Highest Common Factor
  • Lowest Common Multiple
  • Theory of Polynomials
  • Quadratic equations
  • The relation between quadratic equation roots and coefficients
  • Simultaneous Linear Equations – Analytical and Graphical Solutions
  • Set Language and Set notion
  • Rational Expressions
  • Conditional identities
  • Laws of Indices


  • Sin x
  • Cos x
  • Tangent x when 0 degree < x > 90 degree values of sin x, cos x and tan x, for x= degree 0, 30, 45, 60 and 90
  • Simple Trigonometric identities
  • Use of trigonometric tables
  • Simple cases of heights and distance


  • Lines and angles
  • Plane and plane figures
  • Theorems on: properties of Angles at a point, parallel lines, sides and angles of a triangle, congruency of triangles, similar triangles, the concurrence of medians and altitudes, properties of angles, sides, and diagonals of a parallelogram, rectangle, and square, circles and its properties including tangents and normals, loci.


  • Area of the square, rectangle, parallelograms, triangle, and circle
  • Area of figures which can be split up into figures (Field Book)
  • Surface area and volume of cuboids
  • Lateral surface
  • The volume of right circular cones and cylinders
  • Surface area and volumes of spheres


  • Collection and tabulation of statistical data
  • Graphical representation
  • Frequency polygons 
  • Histograms
  • Bar charts
  • Pie charts
  • Measures of central tendency

Also Read: CLAT (Common-Law Admission Test)

CDS 2020 Syllabus For the English Language

  • Spotting errors
  • Sentence arrangement
  • Synonyms and antonyms
  • Selecting words
  • Ordering of sentences
  • Comprehension
  • Ordering of words in a sentence
  • Fill in the blanks.

CDS Syllabus 2020 For GK

CDS II syllabus for GK 2020 includes knowledge of current affairs and events happening in the day to day lives. The GK paper also includes questions on Geography and History of our country which the aspirants should be able to answer without a specialized study of that matter. 

CDS Exam Pattern 2020 

  • The Indian Military, Indian Navy, and the Air Force is divided into 3 parts, whereas Officers’ Training Academy (OTA) is divided into 2 parts.
  • Each part in both the examination consists of 100 questions.
  • Each question carries one mark each.
  • There is a negative marking. One-third mark will be deducted for each wrong answer.
  • The time allotted for the examination is 2 hours. 
  • The competitive exam of CDS 2020 comprises of two stages:
    1. Written exams and
    2. Interview for intelligence and personality test.

Also Read: CMAT

CDS Examinations Important Dates

UPSC had released the registration and the exam dates for CDS 2020. The exam is scheduled twice in a year, the details of both the exams are given below:

  • CDS Exam Session I is scheduled for Feb 2, 2020.
  • The registration for CDS II 2020 will be open from the month of Aug 5th, 2020 to Aug 25th.
  • CDS II exams are scheduled to be held in November.
  • The admit card for CDS 2020 can/could be downloaded from the official website of UPSC.
  • Note: No hard copies will be provided for admit cards.
  • The results for CDS exams I will be declared in the month of May 2020.
  • All The Best.

CDS Eligibility Criteria 2020  

UPSC prescribes the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria of CDS exams highlight some parameters such as nationality, educational qualification, physical standards, and age too.

CDS Criteria as per Nationality 2020 

Only the unmarried candidates who are:

  • A citizen of India, or
  • A subject of Bhutan, or
  • A subject of Nepal or 
  • A Tibetan refugee who came to India before Jan 1, 1962, with the motive of permanently settling in India.
  • A person of Indian origin migrated from Pak, Burma, Sri Lanka, Malawi, Zaire, and Ethiopia.
  • Certificates of eligibility are necessary for the Gorkha candidates of Nepal.

Also Read: CSIR NET

Eligibility Criteria as per Educational Qualification

AcademiesEducational Qualification
IMA and OTAGraduation from a recognized university
INAEngg degree from a recognised university
AFAGraduation with Phy and Maths at class 12 or Bachelor of Engg.
1. The graduates with first choice as Army/Navy/Air Force are required to submit provisional certificates of graduation on the date of announcement of SSB interview at SSB centres.
2. Candidates those who are n their final year of graduation can also apply.

CDS Eligibility Criteria as per Age Limit

AcademiesAge Limit
IMA, INABorn not earlier than Jan 2, 1997, and not later than Jan 1, 2002.
AFAApplicants should be between 20 to 24 years.


The CDS Examinations are conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for the recruitment of Commissioned officers in the Indian Army and Air Force. These exams are held twice in a year usually in the month of Feb and Sep. Many candidates appear for the national level defense entrance examination.

Also Read: GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering)

CDS Examinations For Girls

Yes, the girls of our society can appear for this examination. Female aspirants who want to apply for these examinations have to meet the given criteria that have been mentioned above.

The eligibility is as follows:

  • Unmarried woman
  • Born not earlier than 2nd Jan 1987 and not later than 1st Jan 1993.
  • Must have a degree from a recognized university.
  • The candidate must complete 10+2 with the science depts.
  • If your age is 19 years and above then you will not be eligible for the exams.

CDS Exams Qualification


  • Age Limit- 19-24 years
  • Qualification–  Degree from a recognized university.


  • Age Limit- 19-24 years
  • Qualification: Degree in engineering from a recognized university.

Air Force

  • Age Limit- 20-24 years
  • Qualification: Degree from a recognized university with Physics and Maths at 10+2 or Bachelor in Engineering.

OTA: Men 

  • Age Limit: 19-25 years
  • Qualification: Degree from a recognized university

OTA: Women

  • Age Limit: 19-25 years
  • Qualification: Degree from a recognized university.

Also Read: How to Convert CGPA to Percentage?

CDS Exams Full Form: Combined Defence Services

CDS Exams Books

  • High school English Grammar and Composition Edition by Wren and Martin 
  • Objective General English by S.P. Bakshi.
  • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis.

Books for GK

  • General Awareness by Manohar Pandey.
  • Manorama Yearbook
  • Magazines like CSR, Yojana
  • Newspapers like The Hindu, The Telegraph.

Books for Elementary Maths

  • Mathematics for CDS by R.S. Agarwal
  • Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by R.S. Agarwal
  • Pathfinder for CDS by Arihant Publications.

CDS Application Form

The form for CDS II will be released on August 5th, 2020. The application for CDS was closed on Nov 19, 2019. The form can be filled by the applicants online. However, the fees for the exams can be paid both online and offline mode. The registration fees for general candidates is Rs 200. Whereas there are no registration fees for the reserved category and for the female candidates.


  • Release of UPSC CDS II Notification – August 5th, 2020
  • UPSC CDS 2020 Registration Begins on – Aug 5
  • Last day to fill CDS II Application form 2020 – Aug 25 
  • Issue of CDS Admit Card – 3 weeks before the exams
  • CDS II 2020 Exam Date – Nov 8th, 2020.

Also Read: ICAR Exam

CDS Expected Cut Off 2020


  • Written Exams- 130 
  • Final Selection- 255


  • Written Exam – 85
  • Final Selection – 170

OTA Women

  • Written Exam – 85
  • Final Selection – 170


  • Written Exam – 150
  • Final Selection – 270

CDS Admit Card 2020

CDS I admit card for this year has been released on Jan 9th by the UPSC. The registered candidates can download their admit card from the official website by logging either with their registration number or roll number. CDS II admit card will be released in October 2020.

Also Read: MAT

How TO Prepare for CDS?

  • Know the syllabus: candidates needs to go through the syllabus properly. This will give them an idea about the topics covered for the exam. Candidates should jot down all the topics that they are confident about while they are studying. Try to focus on weaker areas.
  • Previous year papers and mocks: solve previous years and papers. This will give you an idea about the type of questions and you can also check your knowledge.
  • Keep the fundamentals clear: it is clear to keep the concepts clear. Since tricky questions are asked, be thorough with your concepts in order to understand and solve the questions.
  • Focus on important topics: focus only on the relevant topics. Do not waste time on others.
  • Attempt easier question: yes, attempt the questions that are easy for you to solve.

CDS Exam Centres

  • Agartala – Tripura
  • Ahmedabad – Gujarat
  • Bengaluru- Karnataka
  • Delhi
  • Gangtok – Sikkim
  • Kolkata – West Bengal
  • Mumbai – Maharashtra

Every city and state has their centers so that it is easy for the candidates to appear for the exams.

Also Read: NEET

How To Crack CDS?

  • Know The Importance Of CDS Exam Pattern and Syllabus.
  • Solving some previous year papers.
  • Knowing your strength and weakness.
  • Figuring out the recent cut-off.
  • Master the Mathematics paper.

Just follow the above points and do some relevant studying for this examination. You will be able to achieve your goal. 

Also Read: NET Syllabus


OTA is conducted in offline mode with a pen and paper. This test consists of objective type questions to test a candidate’s English and General Knowledge. Total marks for IMA, INA, and AFA are 300 while it is 200 for OTA. OTA(Officer Training Academy).

Highlights of OTA Paper:

  • Mode of Examination – offline paper and pen-based.
  • Total number of questions asked – 240
  • Types of questions – objective or multiple-choice questions
  • Maximum marks – 200
  • Duration of examination – 240 minutes
  • Section – 2 ( Eng & GK)
  • Negative marking – 1/3rd incorrect answer. 


✅ Who are eligible for the CDS exam?

The eligibility criteria of CDS 2020 consists of age limit, nationality, and educational qualification. According to CDS eligibility criteria 2020, candidates’ age must be between 20 to 24 years.

✅ What is the salary of a CDS officer?

You will get 21000 as fixed Stipend which includes 15,600/- as pay in Pay Band plus Grade Pay of 5,400/- for the entire duration of training

✅ Can a girl give CDS exam?

Girls are eligible to apply for CDS Examination, But for this, you have to complete your Graduate degree course in any discipline from a recognized University

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About the Author

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world’s # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.

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