How to Prepare for CDS Exams


FAST FACTS

Name of the exam: CDS (Combined Defence Services)

Conducted by: Union Public Services Commission (UPSC)

Number of times CDS exam is held in a year: Twice - February and November usually

Clearing CDS enables one to get into: Indian Army/ Air Force Academy/ Naval Academy

Age criteria:
  • Indian Military Academy (IMA): 19-24 years
  • Officers Training Academy (OTA): 19-25 years
  • Air Force Academy: 19-23 years
  • Naval Academy: 19-22 years
Marital status: Unmarried

Educational qualification:
  • IMA & OTA: Degree of a recognized University or equivalent
  • Naval Academy: B.Sc. with Physics & Mathematics or Bachelor of Engineering
  • Air Force Academy: B.Sc. with Physics and/or Mathematics or Bachelor of Engineering
Examination pattern: Written exam, followed by a personal interview (Intelligence and Personality Test) and a medical examination

Preparation time: Recommended a dedicated time of minimum of six months

Negative marking: Yes

A little about CDS

Combined Defence Services (CDS) is an exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). This exam enables candidates to get recruited into the:
  • Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun for permanent commission in the Indian Army
  • Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai for short-service commission in the Indian Army
  • Naval Academy Goa, for Commission in the General Services in the Indian Navy
  • Air Force Academy, Begumpet, Hyderabad for Commission in the Indian Air Force
A little about UPSC

The UPSC is the central agency of India authorized to conduct the CDS exam, among various other exams that it conducts.

Educational qualification to be eligible for CDS exam
  • IMA & OTA: Degree of a recognized University or equivalent
  • Naval Academy: B.Sc. with Physics & Mathematics or Bachelor of Engineering
  • Air Force Academy: B.Sc. with Physics and/or Mathematics or Bachelor of Engineering
All the candidates who are appearing for degree or equivalent examination are also eligible to take these exams. However, such candidates will be required to submit the proof of passing the requisite qualifying examination within a date as specified in the Commission's Notice for the Examination.

CDS exam pattern

The exam will have a written test, followed by a personal interview (Intelligence and Personality Test) and a medical test.

CDS question paper pattern - IMA, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy

Total marks: 300

Nature of question paper: Objective

SubjectTypeMarksDuration
EnglishObjective type1002 hours
General KnowledgeObjective type10050 marks
Elementary MathematicsObjective type1002 hours
Total marks 300 


CDS question paper pattern - OTA

Total marks: 200

Nature of question paper: Objective

SubjectTypeMarksDuration
EnglishObjective type1002 hours
General KnowledgeObjective type10050 marks
Total marks 200 


CDS examination centers

There are 30 examination centers, which are located in Agartala, Ahmedabad, Aizawl, Allahabad, Bangalore, Bareilly, Bhopal, Bombay, Calcutta, Chandigarh, Cochin, Cuttack, Delhi, Dharwar, Dispur, Gangtok, Hyderabad, Imphal, Itanagar, Jaipur, Jammu, Jorhat, Kohima, Lucknow, Madras, Madurai, Nagpur, Panaji, Patna, Port Blair, Raipur, Sambalpur, Shillong, Shimla, Srinagar, Tirupati, Trivandrum, Udaipur and Vishakhapatnam.

Preparing for CDS examination

English

The English question paper will consist of 100 marks and will be objective in nature. It will test the candidate's understanding of the language and will comprise basic grammar, spotting the correct sentences, antonyms, synonyms, and the like.

Preparation tips
  • To prepare for English, one can develop the habit of reading the newspaper regularly. Reading the newspaper improves not only one's vocabulary but also one's knowledge about the subject
  • One can refer to basic grammar books to clear the concepts
  • Try to learn a couple of new words on a daily basis. By doing this, you will soon find that you are developing a good hold over the language
  • When you are learning the new words, also try to learn their antonyms and synonyms and also how to use the words in sentences
  • Try solving past year's question papers so that you have an idea of what to expect
General Knowledge

The General Knowledge paper will consist of 100 marks and will be objective in nature. It will test the candidate about his knowledge on various subjects including current affairs, history, geography, scientific relation to day-to-day experiences, generic scientific observations as may be expected of an educated person who does not have specialization in any particular subject.

Preparation tips:
  • Read newspapers regularly and watch television for the latest happenings in and around the world.
  • Read magazines that cover varied topics ranging from economy to business to trade policies to the latest awardees in the fields of sports, art, literature. In short, just be aware of all the topics because questions can come from anywhere.
  • Refer to past question papers and see the pattern of occurrence of the questions. That will give you an idea as to which topics to concentrate on.
Elementary Mathematics

The Elementary Mathematics paper will cover topics like Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Mensuration and Basic statistics. Usually the standard is that of matriculation.

Preparation tips

  • Revise all the topics thoroughly
  • First, pick up the topics that you are strong at and practice thoroughly. Later move on the difficult ones and try to practice as much as possible
  • Concentrate on having a clear concept on all the topics
Personal interview: Intelligence and Personality test

A candidate is eligible to take the Intelligence and Personality test only if he or she clears the written test. The Intelligence and Personality test is conducted by Services Selection Board (SSB). The SSB has the sole authority to conduct this test, which is usually spread over 3 to 4 days. This test judges a candidate of his intelligence, personality, and his ability to be chosen as an officer in the Defence Forces. There are several components included in the test like Psychological Tests, Group Discussion, Intelligence Tests, Outdoor activities, Opinion on issues, Physical Fitness, and the like. Through this test, a candidate has to prove that he is just not intelligent and academically qualified, but also possesses qualities that will make him a worthy officer.

Preparation tips
  • Concentrate and develop reasoning ability, written and oral expressions, self-confidence, courage, a positive and a cheerful attitude
  • Train your mind to think clearly, rationally and logically
  • Try to improve the way you can influence people through logical arguments
  • Improve your communication skills
  • Try to have a very strong hold over English
  • Train yourself to respect your seniors and juniors
  • Develop a cooperative and responsible attitude, which will help in successfully carrying out team work
  • Improve your general awareness regarding national and international issues
  • Begin to think and behave like an officer
Medical interview

Candidates will undergo medical examination only when they clear the SSB interview. The test is usually conducted at the nearest Military Hospital and spreads over 3 to 4 days. The test is a long one and is different for all the three forces - Army, Navy and Air Force.

Preparation tips
  • Have yourself medically examined before you take the CDS exam, just to avoid any surprises
  • Exercise regularly and keep your weight in check
  • Take all the steps that will help you remain healthy
Generic tips

Syllabus: Just be completely in sync with the syllabus and start preparing the subjects accordingly.

Past question papers: Solve as many past question papers as possible. Previous years' question papers will give you an insight into what to expect.

Maintain routine: It is a good idea to maintain a routine so that you completely cover all the subjects and also have the time to have a quick revision.

Clear concept: Have a clear understanding about the topics. This will help you solve the paper easily.

Time management: How to solve and answer all the questions in the examination hall is something that you have to plan and prepare well. Having a strategy in place helps. The strategy will differ from person to person. You can choose your own strategy. For instance, identify the topics you are strong at and tackle those questions first. Then move on to questions you are less confident about. Also time yourself and mentally have a certain amount of time fixed for answering the questions and stick to it.

Study material: You can refer to good study materials. They are available in book stores or online. They certainly help a lot.

Coaching: You can opt for personal coaching if you feel the need to. Or maybe you can get in touch with candidates who have cleared the CDS exam and take tips from them.

Officer's attitude: Begin to think and behave like an officer. You can practice by putting yourself in the shoes of an officer every time you face a situation. This will certainly play a vital role in developing your personality. Just a word of caution - be sincere when you think and behave like an officer, because superficiality is not going to pay here.

Build confidence: Have the confidence that you will clear the CDS exam. After all the Defence Forces is all about courage and confidence. So, having a positive attitude will go a long way in ensuring that you clear the CDS exam.

Useful link

http://upsc.gov.in/general/cds.htm

Useful books

  • CDS Chapterwise - Sectionwise Solved Papers 1st Edition
  • Pathfinder CDS: Combined Defence Services Entrance Examination 1st Edition
  • Combined Defence Services Exam Guide written by R.P. Datason
  • Arihant CDS Entrance Examination (Self Study Guide) written by Dr. Satyajeet Rawat, Brijesh Tripathi & Neetika Goyal



Last Updated on : January 19, 2016

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