CDS ExamCombined Defence Services

Introduction - CDS

CDS (Combined Defence Services) is conducted for the selection to the post of Office Cadre in Indian Army, Navy and Airforce. Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is the conducting authority for the entire selection process. CDS Exam is a 3 level exam - Written Test followed by SSB (Service Selection Board) Interview and Medical Examination.

  • Candidates who clear all stages of CDS Exam are sent for orientation and training at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun (IMA), Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala (INA), Air Force Academy, Hyderabad (AFA), Officer’s Training Academy, Chennai (OTA)
  • All candidates recruited to IMA or INA or AFA get a permanent commission. While candidates recruited to OTA get short service commission
  • Female candidates are recruited to Officer’s Training Academy Chennai (OTA), 21st SSC Women (Non-Technical)

CDS 2017 - Exam Highlights

Conducting Authority UPSC
Mode of Exam Offline
Subjects English, General Knowledge and Mathematics
Total Marks 300 marks (100 marks for each section)
Marking Scheme Correct answer for (English and GK) is 0.8 and 1.0 for Maths
Incorrect answer -0.33 mark
Exam Duration 6 hours in three shifts (2 hours for each shift)
Official Website


Key Points - CDS Eligibility

  • Candidates of Indian Nationality are eligible to apply for the CDS exam. The academic qualification varies for different institutes - IMA, INA, and AFA candidate must have pursued Bachelor’s in Engineering while for OTA, a degree in any discipline is acceptable
  • Only Indian candidates are eligible to apply for the exam. Indian candidates from neighbouring countries who have settled in India can apply for the exam
  • The upper age limit varies for the different institutes and categories but the minimum age limit is 19 years
  • Married candidates can apply only for Air Force Academy (AFA) and OTA
  • Candidates have to be physically fit to apply for any post as per the physical standards set by the institute
  • Candidates must know the eligibility conditions as notified by UPSC in the notification. The eligibility is subject to verification anytime during the recruitment process
  • Male candidates can apply for recruitment to any institute among INA, IMA, AFA or OTA while female candidates can apply only for recruitment to OTA


  • Candidates must be citizens of India to apply for CDS
  • Candidates from neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, Burma, Sri Lanka & various East African Countries who have settled in India are also eligible for the exam
  • Candidates will have to produce a certificate issued by authorities of Government of India certifying the claim

CDS 2017 Educational Qualification

All the candidates should have completed their Graduation or should be appearing for the final year degree examination. The individual educational qualification required for each institution is discussed below:

  • I.M.A. and OTA: Degree of a recognized University or equivalent
  • Indian Naval Academy (INA): Degree in Engineering from a recognized university/institution
  • Air Force Academy: Degree of a recognized University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engineering
  • For recruitment to OTA, degree in any discipline is acceptable
  • Candidates appearing for the final year can apply for the exam on provisional basis.

    Note: The candidates who are in the final years of their Degree Course and have yet to pass the final year Degree examination are also eligible to apply. Such candidates are required to submit the proof of passing the requisite qualifying examination by a date to be specified in the Commission’s Notice for the Examination

Age and Marital Status Criteria

The candidate should go through the cut off dates for age limit and marital status criteria before filling the online Application form for CDS examination1:

  • Minimum age required to apply for CDS is 19 years. Upper age limit varies with the institute and caste
  • For OTA, the maximum age limit is 25 years. It is 22 years, 23 years and 24 years for INA, AFA and IMA respectively
  • Candidates applying for IMA, INA and AFA below 25 years of age should be unmarried
  • Male Applicants at OTA are exempted from this restriction while Unmarried women, issueless widows and divorcees can apply for OTA
  • For Indian Military Academy (IMA): The candidate falling in the age group of 19 – 24 Years i.e. they are born not earlier than January 2, 1993 & not later than January1, 1998 only. The candidate should also be unmarried to be considered eligible
  • For Indian Naval Academy (INA): The candidate falling in the age group of 19- 22 Years i.e. they are born not earlier than January 2, 1993 & not later than January 1, 1998 only. The candidate for this category should also be unmarried to be considered for eligibility
  • For Air Force Academy (AFA): the candidate falling in the age group of 19- 23 Years i.e. they are born not earlier than January 2, 1993 & not later than January 1, 1997 (Upper age limit for candidates holding valid and current Commercial Pilot Licence issued by DGCA (India) is relaxable up to 26 yrs. i.e. born not earlier than January 2, 1991 & not later than January 1, 1997) are eligible. The candidates below 25 years should be unmarried and above 25 years can or cannot be married

Physical Criteria

It is a very important eligibility criteria for a CDS 2017 candidate. He/ she should have good mental as well as physical health. It is important for the candidate to have a body, which is free from any disease as well as free from any disability.


CDS exam is held by UPSC. All the questions in the CDS entrance test are in the pattern of Multiple Choice Questions. The CDS test is divided into 3 papers: English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.

English Paper - Syllabus

English paper is based on Basic Grammar, Antonyms, Synonyms, Marking the correct sentence among the wrong choices and alike.

General Knowledge Paper - Syllabus

General Knowledge paper is based on Current Affairs, History of India, Geography, Politics, and Economy.

Elementary Mathematics Paper - Syllabus

Mathematics section is thought-out as a scoring CDS Exam. To score good marks, candidates should know its complete syllabus. Mathematics paper consists questions from Arithmetic, Algebra, Mensuration, Geometry, Trigonometry and Statistics.

  • Algebra: Simple Factors, Basic Operations, Remainder Theorem, H.C.F., L.C.M., Rational Expressions, Laws of Indices, Theory of polynomials, solutions of quadratic equations, simultaneous linear in equations in two variables, and simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns-analytical and graphical solutions
  • Trigonometry: Usage of trigonometric tables, simple cases of heights and distances
  • Geometry: Plane and plane figures, Lines and angles, Sides and angles of a triangle, Similar triangles, Concurrence of medians and altitudes, Congruency of triangles, Theorems on Properties of angles at a point Parallel lines, Properties of angles, sides and diagonals of a parallelogram, Loci
  • Mensuration: Areas of triangle, squares, rectangles, circle and parallelograms, surface area and volume of cuboids, lateral surface and volume of right circular cones and cylinders, surface area and volume of spheres
  • Statistics: Graphical representation, bar charts, histograms, pie charts, frequency polygons, etc., collection and tabulation of statistical data, Measures of central tendency

Exam Pattern

  • There are 3 exams of 2 hours duration each. English, General Knowledge and Mathematics with 120 questions in each section
  • Each section carries a weightage of 100 marks. Each correct answer is awarded 0.8 mark in English and GK section while 1 mark is given in Mathematics section
  • The written test will be conducted for 3 subjects - English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics
CDS 1 Paper English General Knowledge Mathematics
Exam Duration 2 hours (120 minutes) 2 hours (120 minutes) 2 hours (120 minutes)
Total number of questions 120 questions 120 questions 100 questions
Total Marks 100 Marks 100 Marks 100 Marks
Marking Scheme +0.8 marks for each correct option
-0.33 marks for each wrong answer
+0.8 marks for each correct option
-0.33 marks for each wrong answer
+1.0 marks for each correct option
-0.33 marks for each wrong answer
Language English English & Hindi English & Hindi


UPSC will release the CDS Result on its official website The result is expected to be declared in April, 2017. However, no official date has been announced yet. Before the declaration of the CDS results, answer sheets will be available.

After the results are announced, candidates will be shortlisted for Interview Session. Candidates will have to qualify to the cut off marks set by the commission. Candidates will be asked to register themselves on the recruiting directorate website to receive a call for SSB interview.


Candidates are selected for the SSB Interview session on the basis of the cut off decided by UPSC. CDS Cut Off will be declared after the scores of the written examination will be declared online.

The factors affecting the CDS 2017 Cutoff are: Level of Difficulty of the examination, Number of available seats, previous trends in CDS cutoffs and number of candidates in the CDS Exam 2016.

Let us take a quick look at UPSC CDS Cutoff:

  • CDS Cutoff is on the rise over past few years and is expected to be in range of 65-85
  • UPSC CDS 2016 Cutoff: The level of written was moderate followed by intense 5-day Psycho-physical test at Service Selection Boards spread across the country. The Cutoff of CDS 2016 was other than its previous counterparts supporting the hypothesis of rising cutoff

UPSC CDS caters over 2 lakhs students every session for total seats of around 400 spread across IMA, INA, AFA and OTA.

CDS Vacancy 2017

Almost a total of 450+ vacancies have been released by UPSC for selection through CDS (II).

CDS Salary 2017

UPSC announces the salary allowance for different posts through CDS. Different ranks in Army, Navy and Air force have different pay scale. Check the table below for the pay scale of Army officers and equivalent ranks in Navy and Air Force:

Rank Pay Band
Lt. to Major 15.6k - 39.0k (PB-3)
Lt. Col. to Major Gen. 37.0k - 67.0k (PB-4)
Lt. Gen. HAG Scale
HAG Scale* (*Admissible to 1/3rd of total strength of Lt. Gens)
67.0k/- (annual increment @ 3%) – 79.0k
75.5k/- (annual increment @ 3%) – 80.0k
VCO / AS / Army Cdr / Lt Gen (NFSG) 80.0k/- (Fixed)
COAS 90.0k/- (Fixed)

Selection Procedure

The candidates will be placed in the order of merit on the basis of the total marks secured by them in the written examination and in the SSB tests. The final selection will be made in order of merit subject to medical fitness and suitability in all other respects and number of vacancies available.

Service Selection Board For Army

  • Allahabad – 11SSB, 14SSB, 18SSB, 19SSB and 34SSB
  • Bhopal – 20SSB, 21SSB and 22SSB
  • Bangalore – 17SSB and 24SSB

Service Selection Board For Navy

  • Bhopal – 33SSB
  • Bangalore – 12SSB
  • Coimbatore

Service Selection Board For Air Force

  • AFSB, Dehradun
  • AFSB, Mysore
  • AFSB, Gandhinagar
  • AFSB, Varansai



CDS Exam Trends

Exam Highlights


Key points - Eligibility

Eligibility - Nationality

Eligibility - Academic Qualification

Eligibility - Age & Marital Status

Eligibility - Physical Status

CDS Syllabus

English Paper Syllabus

General Knowledge Paper Syllabus

Elementary Mathematics Paper Syllabus

Exam Pattern



Vacancy 2017

Salary 2017

Selection Procedure