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What is UPSC CDS?

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. The next approaching date for the Combined Defence Services Examination (UPSC CDS) is 19th November 2017.

Stages of the Recruitment process involve:

  1. Qualifying the written test.
  2. Appearing for an interview with the Service Selection Board.
  3. If selected, you get admitted to one of the following-
  4. Indian Military Academy, Dehradun – Permanent Commision
  5. Naval Academy, Goa – Permanent Commission
  6. Air Force Academy, Begumpet – Permanent Commission
  7. Officers Training Academy, Chennai – Short Service Commission
  8. Officers Training Academy, 18th SSC Women(Non-technical) – Short Service Commission

On the basis of your preferences and ranking in the merit list.
One small thing though, Women candidates are eligible for the Officers Training academy only!

CDS Exam: Recruitment Process

Elaborating the recruitment process:

1. Qualifying the written test

Before writing the exam you need to check if you fulfill the eligibility criteria for CDS. These are mentioned in detail on the website

The CDS is an objective paper that tests your general knowledge, elementary Math and English aptitude. There are two different exams:

A. One for the Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy aspirants.

The pattern for this exam is

SectionNo. of questionsMaximum marks
General Knowledge120100
Elementary Mathematics100100

The questions are in the MCQ format with 4 options for each question. There is a negative marking of 0.33 marks for every wrong answer. The 340 questions need to be attempted in 360 minutes (3 hours).

B. The second is for the Officer Training Academy aspirants

This exam does not have a Mathematics section and is of 200 marks with each section of 100 marks each.

SectionNo. of questionsMaximum marks
General Knowledge120100

The English section is aimed at testing a candidate’s basic English skills. Questions in the English section include Synonyms, Antonyms, Reading comprehension, Jumbled sentences, Sentence correction and Fill in the blanks.
The General Knowledge section requires you to have up-to-date knowledge of Current Affairs, scientific inventions, History, Geography and any other topics of importance.
The Elementary Mathematics section tests your knowledge on all topics that have been taught up to the class 10 level.

Cut Offs: Combined Defence Services Exam?

 The cutoffs for the past few years and the expected cutoffs for 2016 are given below.

OTA (Men)158158160
OTA (Women)159160158

Clearing the cut-offs ensures an interview call.

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What happens after the CDS Exam?

2. The Interview

  • The Union Public Service Commission will declare the list of candidates short-listed for the interview based on the written test.
  • The Selected candidates will be appearing before a Service Selection Board for the Intelligence and Personality test. The candidate will also be put through a series of group activities and asked to give lectures and brief topics. These tests are aimed at getting an overall assessment of your intellectual and social traits.
  • Candidates for the INA and IAF will also have to undergo a Pilot Aptitude Test.
  • Based on their performance in these tests the candidates will be evaluated out of 200 marks for the OTA and 300 marks for the IMA, INA and IAF.
  • Candidates who qualify the minimum cutoff requirements for the SSB and written examinations will be placed in order on the basis of the marks received.

The final selections will be made on the basis of the vacancies available.

Wish you all the best for the exam!


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