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CDS Exam Syllabus

The Combined Defence Services (CDS) examination is a national level entrance exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) twice a year to recruit officers into the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA), and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA). It’s a path for young men and women aspiring to serve the nation in Indian Armed Forces.

Understanding CDS Exam

CDS exam consists of three section English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics but for Officers’ Training Academy (OTO), math is not included. The exam is objective type, with Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) format.

CDS Exam Overview 2024
CDS Exam ModeOffline
Total Sections

Air Force Academy (AFA), Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA – Three exams

Officers’ Training Academy (OTA)- Two exams

Exam LanguageHindi and English
Duration of the ExamTwo hours for each section
Total Marks

IMA, INA and AFA- 300

OTA- 200

Exam TypeMCQ 
Conducted byUPSC

CDS Syllabus

CDS Exam is not same for all, because exam conducted for the Officers’ Training Academy(OTA) is slightly different in terms of total number of sections it only has two sections English and General Knowledge but the syllabus is same for every exam. CDS written exam is divided into three sections English, Elementary Maths and General Knowledge.


This section tests candidates understanding of grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure. Here is the list of topics covered in English exam.

    • Synonyms & Antonyms.
    • Reading Comprehension.
    • Spotting the Error
    • Sentence Arrangement or Jumbled.
    • Idioms and Phrases.
    • Sentence Improvement or Sentence Correction
    • Ordering of words in Sentence.

General Knowledge

General Knowledge section of the CDS exam is broad, covering a variety of subjects. Its goal is to evaluate your awareness of current affairs, both national and international, as well as your understanding of history, geography, political science, economics, science, and basic military knowledge. Here is the list of topics covered in General Knowledge

  • Economics
  • Indian History
  • Political Science
  • Current affairs
  • Environment
  • Geography

Keep in mind, General Knowledge covers a lot of topics. Use reference books and make it a habit of reading newspapers daily to stay updated on current affairs.

Elementary Mathematics (Only for IMA,INA and AFA)

The Elementary Mathematics section is compulsory for candidates applying to the IMA, INA, and AFA. It checks your understanding of fundamental mathematical concepts and your ability to apply them to solve problems. Here’s a list of the topics covered in this section:

  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Mensuration
  • Statistics

CDS Exam Pattern

CDS Exam Pattern for IMA, INA, AFA

There will be total three sections in the exam English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics.

SubjectsExam Duration QuestionsTotal
Elementary Mathematics2 hours100100
General Knowledge2 hours120100
English2 hours120100

CDS Exam Pattern for

There are only two sections in this exam English and General Knowledge

SubjectExam Duration QuestionsTotal
General Knowledge2 hours120100
English2 hours120100

Tips For Effective CDS Exam Preparation

Here are some valuable tips to help you succeed in the CDS exam:

  1. Start Early and Make a Study Plan:
    A well defined study plan is vital for effective preparation. Allocate sufficient time for each subject based on its weightage and your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Understand the Syllabus: Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the CDS syllabus and the specific topics covered in each subject. This will guide your preparation and ensure you focus on the right areas.
  3. Collect the Right Resources: Invest in recommended textbooks, reference books, and previous years’ question papers. Utilize online resources like mock tests, video lectures, and current affairs websites.
  4. Develop a Reading Habit: Regularly reading newspapers, magazines, and informative articles can significantly improve your vocabulary, comprehension skills, and general knowledge.
  5. Practice Time Management: The CDS exam has a time limit. Practice solving questions within the stipulated time to improve your speed and accuracy.
  6. Take Mock Tests: Enroll in mock tests to simulate the actual exam environment and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Analyze your performance in mock tests and work on areas that require improvement.
  7. Stay Focused and Motivated: CDS exam preparation can be demanding. Stay focused on your goal, maintain a positive attitude, and don’t hesitate to seek guidance from mentors or teachers if needed.


Cracking the CDS exam requires dedication, discipline, and a strategic approach. By understanding the syllabus, following a well-structured study plan, and utilizing the right resources, you can significantly increase your chances of success. Remember, the CDS exam is a gateway to an honourable career serving the nation. So, start preparing diligently, and take that first step towards fulfilling your dream of joining the Indian Armed Forces. If you need help to prepare for your CDS exam Commandant Defence Academy can help you because we provides you Best CDS coaching centre in Dehradun.

Additional Tips

  • Group discussions with fellow aspirants can be beneficial for knowledge sharing and clearing doubts.
  • Focus on physical fitness alongside academic preparation, as there’s a physical fitness test as part of the CDS selection process.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and adequate sleep to stay energized throughout your preparation.

By following these tips and applying yourself diligently, you can confidently approach the CDS exam and emerge successful.


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