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CDS Exam Syllabus, Eligibility and Exam Pattern

CDS is the acronym for the ‘ Combined Defence Services Exam. This exam is conducted twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission(UPSC) for recruitment into Indian Military Academy(IMA), Officers Training Academy(OTA), Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy.


  • Indian candidates and candidates belonging to neighbouring countries but settled in India are eligible to apply
  • The minimum age limit to apply is 19 years
  • Female candidates can only apply for OTA
  • Married candidates are eligible only for OTA and AFA
  • B.Tech degree is acceptable for IMA, AFA, and INA
  • The degree of any discipline is accepted for OTA
  • Physical fitness is a must for all posts
  • IMA age- 19-24 yrs, unmarried males
  • INA 19-22yrs, unmarried males
  • AFA 19-23 years unmarried males and >25 years married or unmarried males
  • OTA(SSC for Men) 19-25 yrs, married or unmarried males
  • OTA (SSC Women)(Non-Technical) 19-25 yrs, unmarried women, widows who haven’t remarried and are issueless and divorcees who haven’t remarried and are issueless are eligible.


Candidates who have completed their graduation or are in their final year of graduation are eligible.

  • IMA and OTA- Degree from a recognized University
  • INA –Engineering Degree from a recognized University
  • AFA- Engineering Degree or Degree from a recognized University(having Physics and Maths at 10+2 level)

Candidates in the final year of their degree course are eligible to apply


Candidates wanting to join the Defence Services have to be both mentally and physically fit.

A candidate has to get medical fitness before filling out the application form. Disease and Disability are a strict no for applying to the forces.


It is in two stages-


Interview( for personality & Intelligence)

Written Exam for IMA, INA and AFA consists of

English- 2hrs-100marks

G.K- 2hrs- 100marks

Elementary Maths- 2hrs-100marks

Written Exam for OTA  consists of-

English- 2hrs- 100marks


Mode of the exam is an offline exam and pen-paper mode

IMA,INA, AFA- 300 MCQ questions

OTA-200 MCQ questions

  • The exam is both in English and Hindi medium.
  • There is a negative marking for every incorrect answer


Elementary Maths- matriculation level

English- testing usage of  English in  day to day life

G.K- based on current affairs, Science, History and Geography.

The final selection of candidates is based on marks secured in the interview. 300 marks are for the interview of IMA, INA and AFA candidates and 200 interview marks for OTA candidates.



This is the second part of the exam, only those candidates qualifying for the first part of the exam are called for the interview. This is called the SSB interview. This is in two stages.

Stage 1- the OIR( Officer Intelligence Rating)Test- This contains Picture Perception and Description Test. Only candidates who clear this stage are selected for Stage-2.

Stage-2- consists of Group Testing Officers Tasks, Interview, Conference and Psychology test

The tests take place in a four-day duration. INA and AFA candidates have to appear for a Pilot Aptitude Test.


CDS Exam GK ebook

CDS Exam Maths ebook

CDS Exam English eBook

Let’s Crack SSB Interview [Paperback]

Breaking the code of SSB Psychology [Paperback]

current Affairs Sep 2018 eBook

Current Affairs Aug 2018 eBook

Current Affairs July 2018 eBook

The regular study can help candidates clear the exam in flying colours.


Preeti TALWAR is a doctorate in science, who has worked as a Research Associate under a U.G.C fellowship, worked as a Proofreader with Thakur Publishers, Worked as a Content Writer for Planet Spark, India Go Social, Planet writer, Story Mirror, Student Star, Odds spaces. Well published on national and international media. Published for the Chicken Soup Series. Author on different forums like YourStory, Bonobology, Thrive Global, Women's Web, The Country esquire, Newsnviews, Sheroes, Different Truths. Writing is adrenaline for Preeti's soul.