3:21 pm - Sunday December 11, 2016

How to prepare for the CDS – Combined Defence Services exam

How to prepare for the CDS - Combined Defence Services examHow to prepare well for Combined Defence Services exam – Tips to Clear CDS Exam

CDS exam preparation tips

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

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

It’s a jungle out there with competition sky rocketing and cut-offs going higher each year.

CDS exam preparation guide

Time Table :- The key to success in a competitive exam such as Combined Defence Services is to ensconce yourself in a regimented time-table for a few months prior to the exam.

Success in the Combined Defence Services exam rests on the three pillars of English, General Knowledge and Mathematics for entry into IMA, NA and AFA. Maximum marks are 300 for the aforementioned and 200 for OTA due to the exclusion of Mathematics from the paper. There are 120 questions for English and general knowledge and 100 for the mathematics portion. Each portion is scored out of a total of 100 marks.

Negative marking in the exam is to the effect of 1/3rd or 0.33.

Time management :- The emphasis should be on accurately answering the questions as well as on effective time – management. Students should first attempt the questions of which they are sure and try to minimize guesswork.

English :- The English paper mandates that the candidate must have a good command over concepts of grammar and a fairly decent vocabulary. Since mastery over these cannot be achieved overnight, preparation must be planned over a few months. cds exam preparation Books by Thorpe & Thorpe and General English by A.K. Bhardwaj are good for concept clarity & practice. The importance of Wren & Martin for grammar cannot be stressed enough.

Mathematics :- For Mathematics, books on quantitative Aptitude by and those authored for CAT preparation are excellent tools for preparation. For General Studies and Humanities, students are advised to read NCERT books for classes VIII to XII thoroughly as they are incomparable, vast store houses of knowledge.

General Knowledge :- A strong grasp of General Knowledge and that of Current Affairs is an instrumental part of success in the CDSE. The best way to prepare is to read an esteemed newspaper daily to stay abreast of national and international events of significance. Alongside, books and magazines like Competition Success Review, Manorama, India Yearbook, Pratiyogita Darpan etc. are invaluable assets to a CDSE aspirant.

CDS Exam Papers :- For all the subjects, it is imperative that a student solves previous year papers for at least the last ten years if not more as this will acquaint the student with the paper pattern and ease his/her mind while attempting the actual Exam.

Private Academies  :- For extra help and a nudge in the right direction, one may join one of the private Academies for preparation of CDS exam.

SSB  Interview :-SSB is the Personality and Intelligence Interview spread over 5 days which scientifically analyses each candidate’s potential and compatibility for commission into the Armed Forces of India. The exercise is mainly a psychological evaluation of the personality of the candidate to gauge his/her potential as a future officer in the Indian Armed Forces. The tests conducted by the SSB aim at selecting individuals with officer like qualities (OLQ’s).

The selection system is designed over a five day process which given as belows :-

  • Day 1 is the screening test
  • Day 2 is the psychological test
  • Day 3 and Day 4 involve group tasks
  • Day 5 is the conference.

The personal interview is conducted on either day 2, 3, or 4.

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

A career in defence has a lot to offer, but it takes dedication and work. The perks are endless – there is rock solid job security, there are no pay cuts and only increments throughout life. If you are a freshly passed out and commissioned officer in the Armed forces, you will make about Rs. 42000 per month. Other allowances vary between Rs 6000 and Rs 16000 plus DA of 60% is
given. Facilities like free schooling for children, free medical facilities to dependents,canteen facilities, official vehicle for senior Officers, loan facilities for Officers, excellent accommodation wherever you are posted are icing on the cake. Facilities like swimming pool, tennis courts, squash courts etc are part of your accommodation. A healthy lifestyle is ensured because physical fitness is given utmost priority. On retirement, apart from the handsome amount that you will receive, you will get a pension throughout your life. Today, an officer with 22 years of service after retirement will get a pension of approximately Rs. 30,000 per month. Hence, a second innings post retirement is very probable and equally attractive. Moreover, one develops a tolerance to pain and tedium which holds one in good stead all through life

One must realize that a career in the Armed Forces is the privilege of a few. It is not merely a job – it is a noble profession that you will always treasure having served in. Being a soldier is more than just
courage, it is sacrificing yourself for something GREATER THAN YOURSELF!

Filed in: Defence Exam Guide, Exam Guide, Indian Army Exam Guide, Indian Navy Exam Guide

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