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4 Things to know about UPSC CDS exam

About UPSC CDS exam

The Combined Defence Services Examination (CDS) is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruitment into the Indian military academy (IMA), Indian naval academy (INA), Indian air force (IAF), and Officers training academy (OTA). UPSC CDS exam is a national level examination. UPSC conducts a CDS exam twice a year. Candidates willing to serve the nation can apply for the UPSC CDS exam.

photo for cds exam eligibility

Eligibility Criteria


  • -Candidate must be a citizen of India,
  • -A citizen of Nepal or of Bhutan,
  • -A Tibetan refugee who settled in India before Jan 1, 1962,
  • -Or a person of Indian origin who has migrated to settle in India permanently.

Candidates other than the citizen of India have to submit proof issued by the Indian Government specifying their nationality.


To be eligible for the CDS exam certain age limit has been set up by the UPSC which is as follows-

photo for age
  • -For Indian Military Academy’s age limit is 19-24 years.
  • -For Indian Naval Academy’s age limit is 19-24 years.
  • -For Indian Air force age limit is 19-24 years.
  • -For the Officers Training Academy age limit is 19-25 years.

The date of birth mentioned in the High school examination pass certificate or any equivalent examination certificate will only be accepted by UPSC. Once the DOB is recorded in the records of the Commission for the purpose of admission will not be allowed to change. During the verification process or in any stage of the Exam, if the DOB which the candidate has entered, does not match with the High school pass certificate, disciplinary action will be taken against them.

Education qualifications

To be eligible for the CDS exam education qualification required is-

  • -For Indian Military Academy and Officers Training Academy, the candidate must have a graduation degree.
  • -For Indian Naval Academy, a candidate must have a degree in engineering.
  • -For Indian Air Force, the candidate must have a bachelor in engineering and must have studied physics and mathematics in class 12th.
photo of cds cleared candidates

Candidates who are in their final year of the degree course and have not completed the course yet can also apply for CDS Exam. They are required to submit the certificate of passing the degree issued by the University at the time of the interview.

Marital Status

The candidates need to be unmarried and should not be a widower or should not be a divorcee any of these will lead to the non-eligibility of the candidate. Married candidates above 25 years are eligible to apply but will not be allowed to live with their families during the training.

Physical standards

The basic physical standards to be eligible for a CDS exam are-

gif for physical fitness
  • -Candidate must be physically and mentally fit.
  • -No permanent tattoos on the body.
  • -No impairment of vision.
  • -No hearing impairment.
  • -No hernia anywhere on the body.
  • -No disease of the digestive system.
  • -No impediment of speech
  • -Height and body weight should be according to the rules.

Briefly, the candidate should be free of any medical conditions which leads them to visit medical facilities i.e. the candidate must be fully fit.

Selection process

To get into the defence field one has to go through a written exam and an SSB interview in order to be selected.

Written exam

The primary level is to give a written examination. The duration of the exam is 2 hours and is an objective type paper. For IAF/IMA/INA questions related to English, General knowledge, maths are asked and is of 300 marks in total whereas for OTA questions related to English and General knowledge is asked and is of 200 marks in total. Each question is of 1 mark and 1/3 marks are deducted for every wrong answer.

photo of cut off for cds written paper

SSB interview

After qualifying the written exam the candidate is eligible for an SSB interview. SSB interview is conducted in two stages. Stage1 is an officer intelligence rating test and Stage 2 comprises interview, Psychology test, conference, and Group Testing Officer Tasks. These tests are conducted over 4 days. Candidates who pass stage1 are only eligible for stage 2.

photo of ssb cds interview

Final selection

The final selection is done on the basis of their performance keeping in mind the written exam and the interview.

After getting shortlisted candidates are sent to academies for further learning. Below mentioned are the academies-

-Indian Military Academy, Dehradun
-Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala
-Air force Academy, Hyderabad
-Officer Training Academy, Chennai

photo of passing out parade

The job in the defence field is challenging but it has much more to offer you. If you get selected in any of the branches you are set for the entire life, you are paid good, pensions and, a lot more benefits is what you and your family get.

Tips for UPSC CDS exam

CDS exam is tough to crack because of the level of the competition. Below mentioned are a few tips for you to crack a CDS exam-

  • -Know the syllabus thoroughly
  • -Give mock tests
  • -Practice previous years papers
  • -Focus on important topics
  • -Keep your fundamentals clear
  • -Be physically fit
  • -Get timely sleep

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