UPSC National Defence Academy (NDA) – Age, Qualification, Eligibility

National Defence Academy (NDA) is a national level exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) twice a year to recruit new cadets for the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Exam Name National Defence Academy
Conducting Body Union Public Service Commission
Official Website upsc.gov.in
Exam Type National Level
Eligibility Criteria Only Unmarried Male candidates can apply
Mode of Application Online
Exam Mode Offline
Duration Mathematics: 2 hours 30 minutes
General Ability Test: 2 hours 30 minutes
Number of cities for exam centers 41
Exam helpdesk 011-23385271/011-23381125/011- 23098543
Official Website https://www.upsc.gov.in/


NDA Eligibility: Nationality

All the candidates need to meet the criteria with regard to nationality to be eligible for application. To be eligible for NDA, 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

NDA Eligibility: Age Limit and Marital Status 

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

Age Limit Age (years)
Minimum Age 15.7 years / 16 years during the commencement of course
Maximum Age 18.7 years / 19 years during the commencement of course
  • Only unmarried male candidates are eligible to apply
  • Married candidates and female candidates are ineligible to apply for the NDA Exam.

NDA 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 Army Wing of National Defence Academy: Pass certificate in 10+2 exams via recognized board or a University.
  • For Air Force and Naval Wings of National Defence Academy and for the 10+2 Cadet Entry Scheme at the Indian Naval Academy: Candidates should have passed Class 12th exam in the 10+2 pattern of School Education or equivalent with Physics and Mathematics conducted by a State Education Board or a University.
  • It must be noted that candidates studying in Class 11 are not eligible for appearing in the NDA exam. 
  • Those candidates who have failed INSB / PABT earlier will not be considered eligible for recruitment in the Air Force.
  • Those candidates, who are currently studying in Class 12 at the time of application, must submit proof of passing the exam by the deadline. Requests for extending the due date would not be entertained on any grounds.
  • It must also be noted that the candidates who have been debarred by the Ministry of Defence from holding any type of Commission in the Defence Services will be considered ineligible for admission to the exam.

NDA 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 NDA 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
  • Under Sized Chest
  • Piles
  • Tonsillitis
  • 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). 
  • 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.
Height in cm Weight in Kg
16 years 18 years 20 years
152 44 45 46
155 45 46 47
157 46 47 49
160 47 48 50
162 48 50 52
165 50 52 53
167 52 53 55
170 53 55 57
173 55 57 59
175 57 59 61
178 59 61 62
180 61 63 64
183 63 65 67

Height and Weight Requirements for Navy

The standards are different for Navy posts and the particulars are summarized below:

Height in cm Weight in Kg
16 years 18 years 20 years
152 44 45 46
155 45 46 47
157 46 47 49
160 47 48 50
162 48 50 52
165 50 52 53
167 52 53 55
170 53 55 57
173 55 57 59
175 57 59 61
178 59 61 62
180 61 63 64
183 63 65 67

In case the candidate wishes to be pilot in the Air Force, the following requirements will have to be kept in mind, due to constraints of the flying vehicle:

  • Leg Length: Minimum of 99 cms and Maximum of 120 cms
  • Thigh Length: Minimum is not applicable while Maximum of 64 cms
  • Sitting Height: Minimum of 81.50 cms and Maximum of 96 cms

Spinal Conditions:

Presence of any of these conditions will disqualify the candidate immediately:

  • Granulomatous disease of the spine
  • Arthritis/spondylosis (Rheumatoid arthritis and allied disorders / Ankylosing spondylitis / Osteoarthritis, spondylosis and degenerative joint disease / Non-articular rheumatism (e.g. lesions of the rotator cuff, tennis elbow, recurrent lumbago, etc.) & Miscellaneous disorders including SLE, polymyositis, vasculitis.
  • Spondylolisthesis / spondylolysis.
  • Compression fracture of vertebrae.
  • SC Heuerman’s disease (Adolescent kyphosis)
  • Loss of cervical lordosis when associated with clinically restricted movements of the cervical spine.
  • Unilateral / Bilateral cervical ribs with demon stable neurological or circulatory deficit.
  • Scoliosis is more than 15 degrees as measured by Cobb’s method.
  • Degenerative Disc. Disease.
  • Presence of Schmorl’s nodes at more than one level.
  • Atlanto-occipital and atlantoaxial anomalies.
  • Hemi vertebrae and/or incomplete block (fused) vertebrae at any level in cervical, dorsal or lumbar spine and complete block (fused) vertebrae at more than one level in cervical or dorsal spine.
  • Unilateral Sacralisation or lumbarisation (Complete or incomplete) at all levels and bilateral incomplete sacralisation or lumbarisation.

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 Sacralization Unilateral or Bilateral
  • Spina Bifida other than SV 1 and LV 5 if completely Sacralized
  • Any other abnormality, if so considered by specialist

Visual Standards

  • The distance vision (corrected) of the candidate should be 6/6 in the better eye and 6/9 in the worse eye. 
  • Myopia should not be more than 2.5 D and hypermetropia not more than 3.5 D, including Astigmatism.
  • It must be remembered that an internal examination of the eye will be done by means of an ophthalmoscope to rule out any possibility of eye diseases. 
  • Candidates must possess good binocular vision. The color vision standard for the Army is (CP-III).
  • The ability to recognize red and green colors is vital. 
  • Certificate that neither the candidate nor any member of his family has suffered from congenital night blindness, will have to be produced.
  • Another noteworthy point is that candidates who have undergone Radial Keratotomy, to improve their visual acuity, or Laser Surgery, will be permanently rejected for all Services. 
Condition Naval Air Force
Uncorrected without glass 6/6 6/6, 6/9
Corrected with glass 6/6 6/6 (only for Hypermetropia)
Limits of Myopia -0.75 Nil
Limits of Hypermetropia 1.5 2.00 D Sph
Limits of Colour Perception I Nil
Binocular Vision III Nil
Manifest Myopia N.A. Nil Re
Retinoscopic Myopia N.A. 0.5
Colour Vision N.A. CP-I (MLT)
Astigmatism N.A. 0.75 Cyl (within + 2.0 D.Max)
Near Vision N.A. N-5 each eye

NDA 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.

  • No symptoms of a weak constitution or bodily defects.
  • A well-developed chest; fully expanded chest should not be less than 81cms. The minimum range of expansion after full inspiration should be 5 cms.
  • No mal-development or impairment of the function of the bones or joints.
  • No past history of mental breakdown or fits.
  • Normal hearing capabilities – Candidate should be able to hear a forced whisper with each ear at a distance of 610 cms. in a quiet room.
  • No impediment of speech.
  • Normal Blood Pressure with no signs of functional or organic disease of the heart and blood vessels.
  • No enlargement of liver or spleen.
  • No abnormality in urine examination
  • No presence of any kind of skin disease, likely to cause disability or disfigurement
  • No abnormalities in USG abdomen examination
  • A sufficient number of natural and sound teeth. A minimum of 14 dental points will be accepted.
  • Routine ECG for Air Force candidates must fall within normal limits.

Who is Not Eligible For Applying NDA Exam?

  • If the aspirants are married, they are not eligible to apply for the exam.
  • If the candidates have withdrawn or resigned from the disciplinary grounds of training academies of armed forces, they cannot apply for the NDA exam.
  • The aspirants, who have not cleared their PABT/CPSS exam, can’t apply for the Air Force exam.
  • If the aspirants are debarred by the Defence Ministry, then the NDA exam is not for them
  • Lastly, the 11th standard pursuing students cannot apply for the NDA exam. 

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