UPSC Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) – Exam Pattern, Syllabus and Topics covered

UPSC Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) – Exam Pattern

  •  Written examination. 
  •  Interview for intelligence and personality test.

CDS will be conducted in pen and paperbased mode. The subjects of the written examination, the time allowed and the maximum marks allotted to each subject will be as follows: 

CDS Exam Pattern for INA (Indian Naval Academy), IMA (Indian Military Academy) & IAF (Indian Air Force) :

Subjects Duration Marks
English 2 Hours 100
General Knowledge 2 Hours 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 Hours 100

CDS Exam Pattern for Officers Training Academy (OTA)

Subjects Duration Marks
English 2 Hours 100
General Knowledge 2 Hours 100


  • Candidates should note that there will be a penalty (Negative Marking) for wrong answers marked by a candidate in the Objective Type Question Papers. One-third mark will be deducted for each incorrect answer.

CDS Syllabus

The standard of the papers in Elementary Mathematics will be of Matriculation level. The standard of papers in other subjects will approximately be as may be expected of a graduate of an Indian University.

CDS Syllabus for Mathematics
Arithmetic Number Systems

Time and Work

Time and Distance

Ratio & proportion

Prime and composite numbers

Simple and compound interest


Euclidean algorithm

Algebra Basic Operations,

simple factors,

Remainder Theorem,

H.C.F., L.C.M.,

Theory of polynomials,

solutions of quadratic equations,

Relation between its roots and coefficients.

Simultaneous linear equations

Trigonometry Simple trigonometric identities

Use of trigonometric tables.

Heights and distances

Mensuration Areas of squares, rectangles, parallelograms, triangle and circle.

Surface area and volume of cuboids,

lateral surface and volume of right circular cones and cylinders, surface area and volume of spheres.

Statistics Collection and tabulation of statistical data,

Graphical representation frequency polygons, histograms, bar charts, pie charts etc.

Measures of central tendency.


CDS Syllabus  of  General Knowledge will comprise of the following:

CDS Syllabus for General Knowledge
Physics Biology
Political Science History
Geography Current Affairs
Economics,  General Knowledge


CDS Syllabus for English will comprise of the following:

CDS English Syllabus
English Basic Grammar



Comprehension Solving

Error Spotting

Para Jumbles

Idioms and Phrases, Cloze Test and Fill in the blanks

Selection Process of CDS

There are four stages in the CDS Selection Process which are as follows:

  • Written Test: MCQ
  • SSC Interview / Personality Test: Oral
  • Document Verification
  • Medical Examination

SSB Interview comprises two stages- Stage 1 Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) and Picture Perception Description Test (PPDT) and Stage 2- (Interview, Group Tasks, Psychology Test, and Conference). 

These tests are conducted over 4 days. The details of these tests are given on the website 

After stage-2 is completed, a final merit list is generated by the UPSC which gives the final recruited candidates. 

SSB Interview Stages

S. No Stages Activities conducted
1 Testing Screening
Verbal and Non-verbal test
2 Psychological Test Thematic Appreciation Test [TAT]
Word Association Test [WAT]
Situation Reaction Test [SRT]
Self Description Test [ SD]
3 Group Testing Officers Test Group Discussion (GD)
Group Planning Exercise (GPE)
Progressive Group Task (PGT)
Half Group Task (HGT)
Individual Obstacles Task (IOT)
Command Task
Snake race/Group Obstacle Race
Individual lecture
Final Group Task (FGT)
5 Personal Interview
6 Conference

CDS Document Verification

After a personal interview round the eligible candidates will have to appear for the verification round. The qualified candidates must bring the required original documents along with 1 set of photocopy/xerox of the required documents at the Services Selection Centre (SSC).

Below is the set of required original documents to be carried for the CDS Document Verification:

  • Qualification Certificate
  • Proof of Identity (Pan card, Voter ID, Aadhar Card, etc.)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport Size Photographs
  • Category certificate for the Reserved category candidates
  • Proof of Residence

Medical examination

A medical examination is a final round in the Selection process. The candidates will be referred to the Board of Service Medical officers by the SSB for medical examination. Candidates shall be deemed eligible for recruitment if and only if they are found to be medically fit by the medical officers.

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