UPSC Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) – Age, Qualification, Eligibility

Combined Defence Service (CDS) is a national level exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) twice a year to recruit new cadets for post of Commissioned Officers  in the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Exam Name Combined Defence Service
Conducting Body Union Public Service Commission
Official Website
Exam Type National Level
Eligibility Criteria Only Unmarried Male candidates can apply
Mode of Application Online
Exam Mode Online
Duration 2 hours
Number of cities for exam centres 41
Exam helpdesk 011-23385271/011-23381125/011- 23098543
Official Website


CDS Eligibility: Nationality

All the candidates need to meet the criteria with regard to nationality to be eligible for application. To be eligible for CDS, a candidate must be either one of the following:

  • A citizen of India
  • A subject of Nepal or Bhutan
  • A Tibetan refugee who moved to India, before January 1, 1962, with the intention of settling here permanently
  • A PIO (Person of Indian origin) is someone who has migrated from the countries specified below, with the intention of permanently settling in India. The nationals from the following countries would fall under this category such as Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African Countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania (Formerly Tanganyika and Zanzibar ), Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia, Vietnam. 
  • For more details please refer to current official notification

CDS Eligibility: Age Limit and Marital Status 

To know the detail information about the age limit of CDS exam, go through the following table:

Academy Age (years) Gender Marital Status
Indian Military Academy (IMA) 19 – 24 Years Male Unmarried
Indian Naval Academy (INA) 19 – 22 Years Male Unmarried
Air Force Academy 19 – 23 Years Male <25 years unmarried or >25 years both married and unmarried.
Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Women Non-Technical Course) 19 – 25 Years Female Unmarried Women, issueless widows who have not remarried, and issueless divorcees (in possession of divorce documents) who have not remarried are eligible.
Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Course for Men) 19 – 25 Years Male Unmarried
  • Male divorcee/ widower candidates will not be treated as unmarried. So, they will not be considered eligible for the CDS Exam.
  • The date of birth that is entered in the Matriculation/Secondary School Examination Certificate or a certificate recognized by an Indian University as equivalent to Matriculation or any equivalent examination certificate will be accepted by UPSC.

CDS Eligibility: Educational Qualification

The academic qualifications vary slightly according to the post that the candidate has applied for. The details of educational qualification for different posts are specified below:

  • For Indian Military Academy (IMA). and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA), candidates should have a degree from a university or equivalent degree from institutions that have been recognized by the Central/State Government.
  • For INA( Indian Naval Academy), candidates will need to have a Degree in Engineering from a recognized University/institution.
  • To apply to the Air Force Academy, applicants need a degree from a recognized university( with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2) or a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. 
  • Candidates who are in their final year/ semester Degree course and have not completed the course yet can apply for the CDS Exam. They need to submit proof of passing the Degree by the prescribed date and no request for extending this date will be considered on any other ground whatsoever. 
  • Candidates who are studying in the final year/semester degree course are required to submit the authentic certificate of passing the degree issued by the University/College at the time of the SSB interview. The certificate of the Degree should contain the date of issue and the date of issue must be before the specified date declared by UPSC. Otherwise, their candidature will be canceled.
  • Candidates who are debarred by the Ministry of Defence from holding any type of commission in the Defence Services shall not be eligible for admission to the examination.

CDS Eligibility: Physical Fitness

There are certain requirements pertaining to the physical fitness or features that must be fulfilled by the candidate at the time of submitting CDS Application forms. 

The required physical criteria are listed below.

Undesirable Health Issues

The candidate must not be suffering from any of these minor conditions at the time of medical examination –

  • Wax (Ears)
  • Deviated Nasal Septum
  • Hydrocele / Phimosis
  • Condition of Overweight / Underweight
  • Piles
  • Gynaecomastia
  • Varicocele

Body Tattoos

  • The candidate must ensure that any permanent body tattoos are present only on the inner side of the forearm. 
  • Under no circumstances will UPSC accept tattoos on the inside of the elbow to the wrist and on the reverse side of the palm/back (dorsal) side of the hand. 
  • Permanent body tattoos on any other part of the body are also not acceptable.
  • In case the candidate happens to belong to a tribe where it is customary to have tattoo marks on the face or body, acceptance will be granted on a case to case basis, considering the traditions involved. The decision of authorities would be final in such instances.

Height and Weight Requirements for Army and Air Force

  • Candidates must note that the minimum height measurement specified is 157 cms (162.5 cms for Air Force). 
  • Women candidates’ minimum acceptable height is 152 cms.
  • For Gorkhas and those belonging to hills of the North-Eastern areas of India, Garhwal, and Kumaon, the minimum height will be 5 cms less than the usual figure. 
  • On the other hand, for candidates belonging to the Lakshadweep islands, the minimum height standard may be reduced by 2 cms.

General standards for Body :

  • Body Mass Index should be below 25.
  • The waist Hip ratio should be below 0.9 for males and 0.8 for females. 
  • Waist Circumference should be less than 90 cm for males and 80 cm for females. 
  • All biochemical metabolic parameters should be within normal limits

Height and Weight as per Age for Army and Navy Males:

Height in cm Weight in Kg
18 years 20 years 22 years 24 years
152 44 46 47 48
155 46 48 49 50
157 47 49 50 51
160 48 50 51 52
162 50 52 53 54
165 52 53 55 56
168 53 55 57 58
170 55 57 58 59
173 57 59 60 61
175 59 61 62 62
178 61 62 63 64
180 63 64 65 66
183 65 67 67 68
185 67 69 70 71
188 70 71 72 74
190 72 73 74 76
193 74 76 77 78
195 77 78 79 81


Heights and Weights as per Age for Air Force Male Candidates

The standards are different for Air Force and the particulars are summarized below:

Height in cm Weight in Kg
15 -17 years 18 -22 years 23- 27 years
152 46 47 50
155 48 49 52
157 49 50 54
160 51 52 56
162 52 53 57
165 53 55 59
167 54 56 61
170 56 58 63
173 58 60 65
175 59 61 66
178 60 63 69
180 61 64 70
183 63 66 72

CDS Height and Weight Standards for Females:

Height in cm Weight in Kg
18 years 20 years 30 years
148 39 41 43
150 40 42 43.5
153 42 43.5 45
155 43 44 46
158 45 46 48
160 46 47 49
163 47 48 51
165 49 51 53
168 50 52 54

CDS Other Physical Standards For CDS 2021 Exam

Physical Conditioning:

Prospective candidates are advised to keep themselves in good physical condition by following the under mentioned routine:

  • Running: 2 to 4 km in 15 minutes
  • Pushups & Sit-ups: Minimum 20 each
  • Chin-ups: Min. 8
  • Rope Climbing: 3 to 4 meters
  • Skipping

X-Ray Exam

There will be a separate presence of any of the following conditions will disqualify the applicant for posts of Armed Forces:

  • Granulomatous disease of the spine.
  • Arthritis / spondylosis
  • Scoliosis is more than 15 degrees as measured by Cobb’s Method (10 degrees for Army and Navy).
  • More than mild Kyphosis/Lordosis
  • Spondylolisthesis / Spondylosis / Spondylolysis
  • Herniated nucleus pulposus.
  • Compression fracture of Vertebra.
  • Sacralisation Disease
  • Cervical ribs with demonstrable neurological or Circulatory deficit.
  • Presence of Schmorl’s node at more than one level.
  • Atlanto-occipital and atlanto-axial anomalies.
  • Incomplete Sacralisation Unilateral or Bilateral
  • Spina Bifida other than SV 1 and LV 5 if completely Sacralised
  • Any other abnormality, if so considered by specialist

Visual Standards

For IMA and OTA:

  • The distance vision (corrected) of the candidate should be 6/6 in the better eye and 6/12 in the worse eye for both Male and Female. 
  • Myopia should not be more than minus 3.5 D for Male and not more than minus 5.5 D for Female.
  • Hypermetropia not more than 3.5 D, including Astigmatism for both Male and Female.
  • Lasik/equivalent surgery – Permitted
  • Color perception: CP II 

For Naval Candidates:

  • The distance vision (corrected) of the candidate should be 6/6 in the better eye and 6/12 in the worse eye 
  • Myopia should not be more than minus 1.5 D and Hypermetropia not more than 1.5 D
  • Binocular Vision: III 
  • Limits of Color Perception: I

For Air Force : 

Candidates who habitually wear spectacles are not eligible for the Air Force. Minimum distant vision 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other correctable to 6/6 only.

Hypermetropia Color Vision CP-1 :

  • Hypermetropia: +2.0 d Sph 
  • Manifest Myopia: Nil 
  • Retinoscopic Myopia : –0.5 in any meridian 
  • Astigmatism : +0.75 D Cyl (with + 2.0 D- Max)
Condition IMA/OTA Naval Air Force
Uncorrected without glass 6/12 6/12, 6/12 6/6, 6/9.
Corrected with glass 6/6 6/6 6/6 (only for Hypermetropia)
Limits of Myopia -3.5 D M / -5.5 D F -1.5 D Cyl Nil
Limits of Hypermetropia 3.5 #ERROR! 2.00 D Sph
Limits of Color Perception II I Nil
Binocular Vision III III Nil
Manifest Myopia N.A. N.A Nil
Retinoscopic Myopia N.A. N.A 0.5
Color Vision CP II NA CP-I (MLT)
Astigmatism #ERROR! #ERROR! 0.75 Cyl ( within +2.0 D.Max)
Near Vision N.A. N.A N.A
LASIK/Equivalent Surgery Yes Yes Yes
 LASIK may be allowed subject to the following conditions:
  • Age more than 20 yrs at the time of surgery.
  • Minimum 12 months post LASIK
  • Central corneal thickness equal to or more than 450 µ 
  • The axial length by IOL Master equal to or less than 26 mm 
  • Residual refraction of less than or equal to +/- 1.0 D incl cylinder, (provided acceptable in the category applied for). 
  • A normal healthy retina. 
  • Corneal topography and ectasia markers can also be included as additional criteria

Hearing Standards for Air Force :

  1. Speech test: Free Field hearing loss is a cause for rejection. Any reduction of less than 600 cm in CV/FW is not acceptable. 
  2. Audiometric Test: Audiometric loss should not be greater than 20 dB, in frequencies between 250 and 8000 Hz. On the recommendation of an ENT Specialist, an isolated unilateral hearing loss up to 30 DB may be condoned provided ENT examination is otherwise normal. 
  3. A radical/modified radical mastoidectomy entails rejection even if completely epithelialized and good hearing is preserved. Cases of cortical mastoidectomy in the past with the tympanic membrane intact, normal hearing, and presenting no evidence of disease may be accepted. 
  4. Cases of chronic otitis externa accompanied by exostoses or unduly narrow meat will be rejected. Exaggerated tortuosity of the canal, obliterating the anterior view of the tympanic membrane will be a cause for rejection.
  5. Tympanoplasty Type I is acceptable twelve weeks after surgery, provided the ear clearance test in the altitude chamber is normal. The following middle ear conditions will entail rejection:- 
  6. Attic, central or marginal perforation. 
  7. Tympanic membrane scar with marked retraction.
  8. Tympanoplasty Type II onward but not type I. 
  9. Calcareous plaques (tympanosclerosis) if occupying more than 1/3 of pars tensa. 
  10. Middle ear infection. 
  11. Granulation or polyp in the external auditory canal. 
  12. Stapedectomy operation. 
  13. Otosclerosis 
  14. Meniere’s disease
  15. Vestibular dysfunction including nystagmus of vestibular origin.
  16. Bell’s palsy following an ear infection

Dental conditions:- 

Conditions related to Dental standards and problems for CDS candidates are: 

  1. Incipient pathological conditions of the jaws, which are known to be progressive or recurrent. 
  2. Significant jaw discrepancies between upper and lower jaw may hamper efficient mastication and/or speech will be a cause for rejection.
  3. Symptomatic Temporo-Mandibular Joint has clicking and tenderness is subject to rejection. 
  4. A mouth opening of less than 30 mm measured at the incisal edges, Dislocation of the TMJ on wide opening.
  5.  All potentially cancerous conditions.
  6.  Clinical diagnosis for submucous fibrosis with or without restriction of mouth opening.
  7. Poor oral health status in the form of gross visible calculus, periodontal pockets and/or bleeding from gums.
  8.  Loose teeth: More than two mobile teeth will render the candidate unfit.
  9. Cosmetic or post-traumatic maxillofacial surgery/trauma will be UNFIT for at least 24 weeks from the date of surgery/injury whichever is later.
  10. If malocclusion of teeth is hampering efficient mastications, maintenance of oral hygiene or general nutrition or performance of duties efficiently. 

Chest Conditions

Tuberculosis, or evidence of tuberculosis, lesions of lungs, heart, musculoskeletal lesions of the chest wall are subject to rejection.

Abdominal and Genitor-urinary System: Problems like Hernia, undescended testis, varicocele, organomegaly, solitary kidney, horseshoe kidney & cysts in the kidney/liver, Gallbladder stones, renal and ureteric stones, lesions/deformities of urogenital organs, piles, sinuses, and lymphadenitis/pathy can make a candidate rejected on medical grounds. 

Nervous system:- 

  • Tremors, and speech impediments, as well as imbalance, are not allowed.
  • Skin Problems: Vitiligo, hemangiomas, warts, corns, dermatitis, skin infections
  • growths and hyperhidrosis are not allowed. 

CDS Eligibility: Miscellaneous Conditions

There are a few other physical conditions besides the above-mentioned criteria that candidates should fulfill. These criteria are specific to specific wings of defence forces.

  • The candidate also should be free of any medical conditions which lead them to visit medical facilities or use any aid/drugs.
  •  There should be no proof of a weak constitution, imperfect development of any system, any congenital deformities/ diseases/syndrome, or malformation. 
  • No swelling/s including tumors/cyst/swollen lymph node/s anywhere on the body will be allowed. 
  •  No sinus/es or fistula/es anywhere on the body will be considered as good health.
  •  No hyper or hypopigmentation or any other disease/syndrome/disability of the skin. 
  • No hernia anywhere on the body. 
  • No scars which can impair the functioning and cause significant disfigurement.
  • No arterio-venous malformation anywhere in/on the body.
  • No malformation of the head and face including asymmetry, deformity from fracture or depression of the bones of the skull; or scars indicating old operative interference and malformation like sinuses and fistulae, etc. 
  • No impairment of vision including color perception and field of vision. 
  • No hearing impairment, deformities/disabilities in-ears vestibule-cochlear system
  • No impediment of speech due to any etiology. 
  • No disease/disability/ congenital anomaly/syndrome of the bones or cartilages of the nose, or palate, nasal polyps, or disease of the nasopharynx, uvula, and accessory sinuses. There should be no nasal deformity and no features of chronic tonsillitis. 
  •  No disease /syndrome/disability of the throat, palate tonsils or gums, or any disease or injury affecting the normal function of either mandibular joint. 
  • No disease /syndrome/disability of the heart and blood vessels including congenital, genetic, organic incl hypertension, and conduction disorders. 
  • No evidence of pulmonary tuberculosis or previous history of this disease or any other disease /syndrome/disability chronic disease of the lungs and chest including allergies /immunological conditions, connective tissue disorders, musculoskeletal deformities of chest.
  • No disease of the digestive system including any abnormality of the liver, pancreas including endocrine, congenital, hereditary, or genetic diseases /syndromes and disabilities. 
  • No diseases/syndrome/disability of any endocrine system, reticuloendothelial system. 
  • No diseases/syndrome/disability of genito-urinary system including malformations, atrophy/hypertrophy of any organ or gland. 
  • No active, latent or congenital venereal disease. 
  • No history or evidence of mental disease, epilepsy, incontinence of urine, or enuresis. 
  • No disease/deformity/syndrome of the musculoskeletal system and joints including skull, spine, and limbs. 
  • There is no congenital or hereditary disease/ syndrome/disability.

Who is Not Eligible For Applying for the CDS Exam?

  • Male divorcee/ widower candidates will not be treated as unmarried. So, they will not be considered eligible for CDS Exam and Chennai courses.
  • Candidates who are debarred by the Ministry of Defence from holding any type of commission in the Defence Services shall not be eligible for admission to the examination
  • Lastly, CDS is a graduation level exam and hence cannot be applied for after class 12 

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