About CDS Entrance


  1. What is CDS ?

  2. CDS or "Combined Defence Services"Examination provides a way for the graduates to get into the Indian Armed Forces. The exam is conducted twice a year by UPSC for recruitment into one of the following five courses of the Armed Forces:

    1. Indian Military Academy, Dehradun -only males
    2. Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala -only males
    3. Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad -only males
    4. Officers Training Academy (Males), Chennai
    5. Officers Training Academy(Females), Chennai
  3. What is the Selection Procedure ?

  4. Combined Defence Services Exam comprises two stages as a part of the selection procedure.


    As per the earlier years' data, approximately 1.5 lakh candidates appear for STAGE I (for each of the two exams in a year), out of which approx 9000 candidates get shortlisted for STAGE II. Finally, close to 450 candidates get recommended for different courses.

  5. Who are eligible to appear for the exam ?

  6. Any graduate or those in the final year are eligible to write the exam. The age limit/educational qualifications are specified below.

    Eligibility Criteria

    SNo Course Age Limit Gender/Marital Status Educational Qualifications
    1 Indian Military Academy 19-24 Years Unmarried Male Degree of a recognized University or equivalent
    2 Naval Academy 19-22 Years Unmarried Male Degree in Engineering
    3 Air Force Academy 20-24 Years Unmarried Male Degree of a recognized university (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engg
    4 Officers-Training Academy (SSC Course for Men) 19-25 Years Married or Unmarried Male Degree of a recognized University or equivalent
    5 Officers-Training Academy (SSC Course for Females) 19-25 years Unmarried Female Degree of a recognized University or equivalent
  7. How many vacancies are there for recruitment through CDS ?

  8. Through CDS exam, approx 450 candidates are finally recruited into Armed Forces.

    The tentative break -up is specified below. It is to noted that the number of vacancies is NOT fixed. It is tentative in nature and is liable to be changed at any stage by Services H.Q.

    Course Vacancies
    Indian Military Academy, Dehradun 200
    Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala 45
    Air Force Academy, Pre Flying Training Academy, Hyderabad 32
    Officers' Training Academy, SSC Course for Men 175
    Officers' Training Academy, SSC Course for Women 11
  9. What are the details of Stage I (Written Test) ?

  10. STAGE I

    The entrance for Combined Defence Services comprises a Written Exam followed by Intelligence and Personality Test (SSB Interviews). The details of the Stage I are specified below:

    Written Examination for Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy

    Paper Subject Duration Number of qs Maximum Marks
    I English 2 hours 120 100
    II General Knowledge 2 hours 120 100
    III Elementary Mathematics 2 hours 100 100


    SSB Interview(Intelligence & Personality Test) comprises 300 marks.

    Written Examination for Officers' Training Academy

    Paper Subject Duration Number of qs Maximum Marks
    I English 2 hours 120 100
    II General Knowledge 2 hours 120 100

  11. What are the details of Stage II (SSB Interviews) ?


    The Link gives a detailed overview of SSB Interviews in the form of 30 mins movie. This stage comprises two sub-stages.

    STAGE – A

    Stage one selection system includes the following:-

    (a) Intelligence Test (verbal and non verbal).

    (b) Picture Perception and Description Test: Picture is flashed for 30 seconds. The candidates have to broadly note down seven basic parameters viz number of characters, age, gender, mood, action relating to past, present and future for each character in one minute. Time for story writing is four minutes.

    (c) Discussion of the picture – 30 Minutes In this phase batch is divided into different groups. Strength of group is around 15 candidates. Each candidate narrates his individual written story verbatim. Subsequently, in Part-II all the candidates have to discuss amongst themselves and achieve a common consensus about the characters and theme of the story.

    After all candidates have undergone stage one. The results for stage one testing are declared. Recommended candidates are retained for stage-II testing and those not recommended are dispatched back.

    STAGE - B

    It comprises psychological tests, group tests, and group tasks. These three tests are conducted on three consecutive days.


    Thematic Apperception Test: 12 Pictures including one blank are shown. Candidates are asked to write a story around what led to the situation? what is going on and what would be the outcome ?. Each Picture is shown for 30 seconds and candidates are asked to write it in 4 minutes. In the blank slide, they have to think a picture of their own choice and write a story around that.

    Word Association Test: In this test, a series of 60 words are shown to the candidates one after another for 15 seconds each. The candidate is required to write down the first thought or idea that comes to his mind.

    Situation Reaction Test: This test consists of 60 routine life situations regarding day to day activities. The situations are printed in a booklet and the candidate is asked to write his reactions by completing the sentences, as to how they would feel, think and act in these situations.

    Self Description Test: Candidate is asked to write five separate paragraphs on each context about the opinion of his parents/guardian, friends, teachers/superiors.


    GTO – Day 1 This includes the following:-

    Group Discussion: Two topics of common interest (social issues and current events) are discussed. It is an informal discussion and not a debate. Each topic is allotted 20 minutes each. No definite conclusion is required to be deduced.

    Group planning exercise: It comprises of five stages viz., explanation of the model, reading of the narrative by GTO, five minutes for self reading by candidates, 10 minutes for individual written solutions and 20 minutes for group discussion. Narration of the group solution and definite conclusion is required.

    Progressive group task: It is the first outdoor task. A set of four obstacles with progressively increasing level of difficulties are to be completed in 40 to 50 minutes. Structures, helping material and load are provided to the group.

    Group obstacle race: In this task the group is pitched against each other over a set of six obstacles with a snake like load to carry.

    Half group task: It has one obstacle similar to progressive group task with helping material and load to be carried. Group is divided into two Sub Groups and assigned the same obstacle in turn in such a way that when one group is working, the other is not allowed to watch it. Time allotted to each sub group is 15 minutes.

    Lecturette: It is an individual task and the candidate is required to give a short talk to the group. Three minutes are allowed to prepare any chosen topic from the four given in the Lecturette Cards for the talk.


    Individual Obstacles: A set of 10 obstacles is set to be tackled individually. Obstacles are numbered from one to ten, denoting the points each one carries. Each individual is given three minutes.

    Command Task: Each individual is nominated as commander for one task consisting of one obstacle similar to the Progressive Group Task Time given is 15 minutes.

    Final Group Task: Task consisting of one obstacle similar to the Progressive Group Task . Time given to complete this task is 15 - 20 minutes

  13. What is the Cut-Off Marks for CDS ?

  14. There is NO fixed cut-off marks for any year. It varies from year to year depending on the level of difficulty of the paper. The data below gives the cut-off marks for the earlier years.

    CDS(I) 2014 CDS(II) 2013

    Written (out of 300) Final (out of 600) * Written Final
    Indian Military Academy, Dehradun 99 222 111 231
    Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala 99 222 111 231
    Air Force Academy, Pre Flying Training Academy, Hyderabad 129 250 135 266
    Officers' Training Academy, SSC Course for Men 78 159 76 158
    Officers' Training Academy, SSC Course for Women 78 160 76 160

    (*) Subject to min of 40% marks in SSB Interviews (Stage -II)

  15. What are the key dates for CDS ?

  16. EVENT Date *
    CDS(II) -Date of Notification 25th July 2015
    CDS (II) -Last date of application 14th Aug 2015
    CDS(II)- Written Exam Date 1st Nov 2015
    CDS(II) -Written Exam Results announcement date Feb 2016
    CDS(II) Interview Date April 2016
    CDS(II) FINAL results date June 2016
    CDS(II) Course Commencement date -IMA (Dehradun), INA(Ezhimala), AFA (Hyderabad) July 2016
    CDS(II) Course Commencement date -OTA (Males & females), Chennai Oct 2016

    * It is to be noted that some of these dates are tentative and are liable to change.

  17. What is the syllabus for CDS ?


    I) English Syllabus

    The question paper is designed to test the understanding of English and workmanlike use of words.

    Questions in English are from Synonyms, Antonyms, Reading Comprehension, Para Jumbles, Error Spotting, Jumbled Sentences, Sentence Correction and Fill in the Blanks.

    II) General Knowledge Syllabus

    General Knowledge including knowledge of current events and of such matters of everyday observation and experience in scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person who has not made a special study of any scientific subject. The paper also includes questions on History of India and Geography of a nature.

    III) Elementary Mathematics Syllabus


    Number System - Natural numbers, Integers, Rational and Real numbers. Fundamental operations addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, Square roots, Decimal fractions.

    Unitary method - time and distance, time and work, percentages, applications to simple and compound interest, profit and loss, ratio and proportion, variation.

    Elementary Number Theory - Division algorithm. Prime and composite numbers. Tests of divisibility by 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 11. Multiples and factors. Factorisation Theorem. H.C.F. and L.C.M. Euclidean algorithm, Logarithms to base 10, laws of logarithms, use of logarithmic tables.

    1. Algebra

    Basic Operations, simple factors, Remainder Theorem, H.C.F., L.C.M. Theory of polynomials, solutions of quadratic equations, relation between its roots and coefficients (Only real roots to be considered). Simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns-analytical and graphical solutions. Simultaneous linear equations in two variables and their solutions. Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or inequations in two variables or quadratic equations in one variable & their solutions. Set language and set notation, Rational expressions and conditional identities, Laws of indices.

    • Trigonometry Sine x, cosine x, Tangent x when 0
    • Geometry Lines and angles, Plane and plane figures, Theorems on (i) Properties of angles at a point (ii) Parallel lines, (iii) Sides and angles of a triangle, (iv) Congruency of triangles, (v) Similar triangles, (vi) Concurrence of medians and altitudes, (vii) Properties of angles, sides and diagonals of a parallelogram, rectangle and square (viii) Circles and its properties including tangents and normals, (ix) Loci.
    • Mensuration Areas of squares, rectangles, parallelograms, triangle and circle. Areas of figures which can be split up into these figures, Surface area and volume of cuboids, lateral surface and volume of right circular cones and cylinders, surface area and volume of spheres.
    • Statistics Collection and tabulation of statistical data, Graphical representation frequency polygons, histograms, bar charts, pie charts, etc. Measures of central tendency.
  19. How is the Career Progression within Armed Forces ?

  20. A career with Armed Forces is truly enriching. The career progression is specified below.

    Time Frame Indian Army Indian Air Force Indian Navy
    Highest Recognition Field Marshal Marshal of AirForce Admiral of Fleet
    By Selection General Air Chief Marshal Admiral
    After 28 years by selection Lt. General Air Marshal Vice Admiral
    After 25 years by selection Major General Air Vice Marshal Rear Admiral
    After 23 years by selection Brigadier Air Commodore Commodore
    After 26 years (OR 15 years by selection) Colonel Group Captain Captain
    After 13 years Lt. Colonel Wing Commander Commander
    After 6 years Major Squadron Leader Lt. Commander
    After 2 years Captain Flight Lieutenant Lieutenant
    After 18 months of training Lieutenant Flying Officer Sub Lieutenant