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CDS – Selection Procedure


CDS – Selection Procedure

First things first, let’s start with the simplest possible question: what exactly is the CDS exam?

“CDS” is an acronym for “Combined Defence Services” Examination. The “Combined Defence Services”Examination (CDS) is conducted twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment into the Indian Military Academy, officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy.
After completing our undergrad course most of us go through this dilemma of what next?? A post graduate degree in your subject of graduation, a UPSC or an MBA is the option that comes to mind. But have you ever explored the option of working for your nation? Then the Combined Defence Services exam is your chance to join the army, navy or air force. Think about it?? What can be more fulfilling than making working for your country and making a real difference to the lives of people, protecting civilians and feeling a sense of accomplishment that stays with you throughout your life? We get this opportunity twice in a year as the CDS Exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission twice in a year for recruitment to the Army, Navy and Air force. 


Written Exam consists of Objective Type questions and time duration 2hrs and maximum marks is 100 for each subject.
ii. For the candidates who are appearing for Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air force Academy written test comprising of English, General Knowledge and Elementary mathematics subjects and for candidates who are appearing for officers training academy the written test comprising of English and General Knowledge.
iii. Candidates who are declared successful in the written exam will be detailed for intelligence and personality test at the Service Selection Board based on their preference, by the respective service HQ.

CDS Eligibility Criteria:

Following are the eligibility criteria to apply for CDS Exam which includes nationality, educational qualification, age limit, physical and medical standards.

  • Must be a citizenof India or can be a subject of Nepal or Bhutan
  • Person of Indian originmigrated from the following countries with the intention of settling in India permanently and the countries are Zambia, Zaire, Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia and Vietnam.
  • Tibetan refugee came to India before 1st Jan 1962 with the
    intention of permanently settling in India

Academy wise Age Limit & Educational Qualification: 

Academy Educational Qualification Age Limit
Indian Military Academy Simple Graduation or Equivalent Degree 20-25 years
Indian Naval Academy Graduate in Engineering 20-24 years
Indian Air Force Academy Degree in B.E or with Physics & Maths in 10 +2 20-25 years
Officer’s Training Academy (Men) Simple Graduation or Equivalent Degree 20-25 years (Unmarried)
Officer’s Training Academy (Women) Simple Graduation or Equivalent Degree 20-25 years (Unmarried)

CDS Exam Pattern:

For Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air force Academy, 3 papers are conducted with 1 hour gap after each paper

Papers Duration Marks
English 2 hours 100
Mathematics 2 hours 100
General Knowledge 2 hours 100
Total 6 hours 300 Marks

For Officers Training Academy only 2 papers are conducted and which are:

Papers Duration Marks
English 2 hours 100
General Knowledge 2 hours 100
Total 4 hours 200 Marks

CDS  Exam Syllabus:

Subject Topics
English Reading Comprehension, Error Detection, Synonyms, Antonyms, Para Jumbles, etc.
Mathematics Unitary Method, Arithmetic, Algebra, Mensuration, Logarithms, LCM, HCF, etc.
General Knowledge Current Affairs, History, Geography, Civics, Political Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc.

CDS Admit Card:

  • Necessary document to get the entry in the examination hall
  • UPSC releases CDS Admit Card, 1 or 2 weeks before the exam date
  • To download admit card, one must have to fill the required fields in Registration ID or Roll Number, Date of Birth,etc

CDS Answer Key:

Answer key contains the correct answers regarding to the question and one can calculate the his/her marks. CDS Answer key, usually gets released within one week after the examination.

  • CDS Answer Keywill get published within 1 week of the examination
  • Answer key helps in getting the score of the candidate
  • It provides answers to the questions asked in the examination
  • Can also be changed if any answer is wrong

CDS Result:

  • Result of CDS (I)will be declared within 1 month after the examination which can be seen on the official website of UPSE (
  • Result will be declared online
  • Selected candidates, whose name is in the shortlisted pdf list, will be called for SSB Interview
  • Once,SSB is cleared then every candidate have to pass the medical test and then only the final result is declared

CDS  Previous Years Cut-Offs:

Year Cut-Off for IMA Cut-Off for INA Cut-Off for AFA Cut-Off for OTA (Men) Cut-Off for OTA (Women)
2014 (CDS II) 99 93 129 86 86
2015 (CDS II) 105 99 138 84 84
2016 (CDS II) 105 90 135 72 72

Interview/ Personality Test

The candidates who are selected in written test are called for interview. The SSB procedure consists of two stage selection process-Stage I and Stage II. Only those candidates who clear the stage I are permitted to appear for Stage II.
a. Stage I comprises of Officers Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests are Picture Perception Description Test (P&DT). The candidates will be shortlisted based on combination of performance in QIR Test and PP and DT.
b. Stage II comprises of Interview, Group Testing Officers Tasks, Psychology Tests and the conference. These tests are conducted over 4 days.
The personality of candidate is assessed by three different assessor’s viz. the interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and the Psychologist. There are no separate weightage for each test. The marks are allotted by assessors only after taking into consideration the performance of the candidate holistically in the entire test.

Document Verification will be conducted only after the candidate has qualified for Interview/Personality Test.

Medical Examination

A Candidate recommended by the Services Selection Board for CDS Exam Selection will undergo a medical examination by a Board of Service Medical Officers. Women candidates will undergo Medical Examination by a Medical Board comprising male/ female doctors/ specialists/ Gynaecologist. There will be a Lady Medical Officer as member of Board. Only those candidates will be admitted to the Academy who are declared fit by the Medical Board.


CDS  Complete Selection Procedure:

  • The complete selection procedure is divided into 2 parts
  • First is Written Examination which is conducted twice a year
  • After the written examination, those who have cleared, candidates are called for interview.
  • Second part is the SSB interview, which is a 5 day task including physical, psychological and medical tests
  • After the completion of SSB, document verification is done of every candidate and then a final merit list is produced which contains the selected candidates who are recommended for the respective academies


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