CDS Exam Pattern

Combined Defence Services Exam

UPSC conducts Combined Defence Service or CDS twice in a year to select candidates and admit them in prestigious defence Institutions.

The selected students join one of the Institutions below:

  • Indian Military Academy
  • Indian Naval Academy
  • Air Force Academy
  • Officers Training Academy

These defence institutions train selected candidates to become officers of Indian defence services.

Educational Qualifications

(i) For I.M.A. and Officers Training Academy: Degree of a recognized University or equivalent.

(ii) For Indian Naval Academy: Degree in Engineering from a recognized University/Institution.

(iii) For Air Force Academy: Degree of a recognized University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engineering.

Every year lakhs of students appear for Combined Defence Services Exam. To get an edge over competitors a student must start his preparation early and focus on the exam pattern and its syllabus.

CDS Exam Pattern

The CDS exam comprises:

(a) Written examination.

(b) Interview on intelligence and personality test.

The subjects of the written examination, the time allowed and the maximum marks allotted to each subject will be as follows:

(a) For Admission to Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy:

S. NoSubjectDurationMaximum Marks
1English2 Hours100
2General Knowledge2 Hours100
3Elementary Mathematics2 Hours100

(b) For Admission to Officers Training Academy:

S. NoSubjectDurationMaximum Marks
1English2 Hours100
2General Knowledge2 Hours100

Intelligence and Personality Test

The SSB procedure consists of the two-stage Selection process - stage I and stage II. Only those candidates who clear the stage I are permitted to appear for stage II. The details are:

Stage I: It comprises of Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and Picture Perception Description Test (PP&DT). The candidates will be shortlisted based on a combination of performance in OIR Test and PP&DT.

Stage II: It comprises of Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and the Conference. These tests are conducted over a period of 4 days. The details of these tests are given on the website

The personality of a candidate is assessed by three different assessors viz. The Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and the Psychologist. There is no separate weight for each test. The marks are allotted by assessors only after taking into consideration the performance of the candidate holistically in all the test. In addition, marks for Conference are also allotted based on the initial performance of the Candidate in the three techniques and decision of the Board. All these have equal weight.


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