The Combined Defence Services Exam or the CDS Exam is one of the biggest exams for the defence aspirants. The exam, as the name suggests, opens the gate for admissions into all three services of the Indian Armed Forces, i.e. Army, Navy and Airforce. Candidates after clearing this exam gets an opportunity to appear for SSB interview. After clearing that he/she gets a chance to train at the one of the training academies, IMA, OTA, INA or AFA. Here, we are going to see all the aspects related to this examination.
The Examination and eligibility
The exam is conducted by Union Public Service Commission and is held twice a year. The exam takes place these days in the month of April and November, so there remains enough time for preparations.
- For IMA – Unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 2nd January, 1999 and not later than 1st January, 2004 only are eligible.
- For Indian Naval Academy (INA) – Unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 2nd January, 1999 and not later than 1st January, 2004 only are eligible.
- For Air Force Academy – 20 to 24 years as on 1st January, 2023 i.e. born not earlier than 2nd January, 1999 and not later than 1st January, 2003 (Upper age limit for candidates holding valid and current Commercial Pilot Licence issued by DGCA (India) is relaxable upto 26 yrs. i.e. born not earlier than 2nd January, 1997 and not later than 1st January, 2003 only are eligible.
- For Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Course for Men) – Unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 2nd January, 1998 and not later than 1st January, 2004 only are eligible.
- For Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Women Non-Technical Course) – Unmarried women, issueless widows who have not remarried and issueless divorcees (in possession of divorce documents) who have not remarried are eligible. They should have been born not earlier than 2nd January, 1998 and not later than 1st January, 2004.
The minimum qualification required to appear for the CDS exam is Graduation from a government recognised university. The specific educational qualifications for all three services are given below.
|Indian Military Academy (IMA) and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA)||Bachelor’s Degree From a recognised university|
|Indian Naval Academy (INA)||Bachelors in Engineering from a recognised University|
|Air Force Academy (AFA)||Graduation (with Physics and Mathematics at Class 12) or Bachelor of Engineering|
Exam Pattern and marking scheme
The exam pattern varies depending on the services.
- For IMA, INA and AFA the written test comprises three sections i.e. English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.
- For OTA there are two sections in the written exam; English and General Knowledge.
The written exam for IMA, INA and AFA is of total 300 marks (100 for each section). For OTA, the exam is of 200 marks, each section carrying 100 marks.
The exam for IMA, INA and AFA takes place in 3 shifts, each of 2 hours. The OTA exam takes place in 2 shifts of 2 hours each.
It is important to know the marking scheme for candidates to devise an effective strategy and prepare accordingly for the exam.
- 1 mark is awarded for each correct answer
- 0.33 marks are deducted for each wrong attempt
- Questions left unanswered are not covered under negative marking
- If two answers are marked for one question. It will be considered wrong and negative marks will be deducted.
The CDS exam has a vast syllabus to cover. Knowing the exam syllabus is helpful to make a strategy for preparation.
Below given is a detailed exam syllabus for CDS.