The Combined Defence Services is popularly known as the CDS exam. As the name suggests, this national level exam is mainly to select commissioned officers and induct them into the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force through a recruitment process carried out by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). The commission holds the defence entrance exam two times in a year in almost 41 exam centers across the country. The exam is conducted for around 417 vacant seats and is most likely to be held in February and September/November.
The exam is carried out in two phases CDS – 1 and CDS -2. The official website for applying online to the exam is upsc.gov.in. In this article, we will provide full details about the CDS 2020 exam dates, various eligibility criteria, online application form, and the steps to apply for the same, the detailed exam pattern, complete syllabus, and the list of reference books that will help the candidates. We also present some handy tips for preparation, which students can strategize in the right way so that they can get very high scores in the exam.
CDS 2020 – Exam Dates
The notification for CDS 1 was released on 30th October 2019, and CDS 2 will be released on 5th August 2020. The registration for CDS 1 will begin from 30th October 2019 and will end on 19th November 2019. In the following section, we tabulate all the relevant details that candidates need to note down to apply for the exam:
The official dates with regard to CDS 1 are given below:
|Official gazette notification released by UPSC||30th October 2019|
|Commencement of online application submission||30th October 2019|
|Last date to submit completed application form||19th November 2019|
|Admit card available for download from||11th January 2019|
|CDS 1 exam date||02nd February 2020|
|Announcement of CDS 1 results||May 2020|
The official dates with regard to CDS 2 are given below:
|Official gazette notification released by UPSC||5th August 2020|
|Commencement of online application submission||5th August 2020|
|Last date to submit completed application form||25th August 2020|
|Admit card available for download from||October 2020 (Tentative)|
|CDS 2 exam date||08th November 2020|
|Announcement of CDS 2 results||December 2020 (Tentative)|
CDS 2020 Application Form – Apply Online
The process of application for CDS is completely online. Interested candidates need to apply using online methods only as there is no other mode to apply for the exam. The online application form is available to candidates on the official UPSC website. Since there are two stages in the examination CDS 1 and CDS 2, the application also has to be done in two stages, namely, registration part 1 and registration part 2.
Below, we explain the step by step process of application for part -1 registration:
- Log into the official UPSC website https://upsc.gov.in/
- Traverse and locate the ‘Examination Tab.’
- Click on the option CDS – 1. In the first phase of the registration form, the registration part -1 form will be displayed.
- Fill the form with all relevant personal details like candidate name, date of birth, age, educational qualifications, category details, etc.
- The most important part of the application form is where the candidate needs to select his preferences for the division he is interested in. Candidates get to select between IMA (Indian Military Academy), INA (Indian Naval Academy), AFA (Air force academy), and OTA (Officers Training Academy). You will find a series of numbers from 1 to 4 that indicates priority for selection. Candidates have to suggest their priority from 1 to 4. 1 indicates the highest priority, and 4 suggest the least priority.
- Candidates also have the option to mention whether they have an NCC grade C certificate, which will be value addition in case of CDS exams.
- UPSC also asks candidates if they are already serving in any post in the Indian Army.
- Cross check the information that you have entered in the application form and submit the form.
- Save the reference ID that is displayed after form submission.
After completing part – 1, we move on to the next stage, registration part- 2 steps:
- Click on the tab ‘registration part-2’.
- The registration number that you obtained in the part-1 process will be used now. Enter relevant registration 1 and date of birth.
- Now the candidate has to pay the application fee. Fees can be paid both in offline and online modes.
- Keep scanned copies of your photos and signature ready to be uploaded now.
- Next, you have to select your preferences for the examination centre. Select the centre from the drop down box.
- After you are done with all the steps, a confirmation page displaying all details will be shown to you. Submit the page if all details are correct.
- It is very essential to save a pdf copy of the submitted application or take a print out of the same for all future references.
CDS 2020 Application Fees
In the below section, we explain details regarding application fees for CDS-1 and CDS-2 exams. Candidates can choose to make payments in online or offline modes. Online payment can be made via net banking/credit/ debit cards. For offline payment, visit a nearby SBI branch and pay the requisite fee to obtain a challan or pay-in-slip. The number displayed in the challan or pay-in-slip has to be entered in the application fee details area.
The fee details are listed below:
- The general application fee for the CDS exam 2020 is INR 200/-.
- Candidates belonging to SC/ST categories are exempt from fee payment.
- Female candidates are also exempt from fee payment.
CDS Eligibility Criteria
Candidates who are interested in applying for the CDS 2020 exam need to satisfy minimum eligibility conditions to qualify for the exam. Below, we explain the eligibility criteria in detail based on age limit, nationality, marital status, educational qualifications, and physical standards. The eligibility criteria for both CDS 1 and CDS 2 exams are common and applicable to both of them. Eligibility criteria only vary depending on the post applied for.
- Citizens of India are eligible to apply for the CDS exam.
- Candidates from foreign countries, namely Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, Burma, Sri Lanka, and East African countries, are also eligible to apply, subject to certain statutory conditions. Such candidates have to provide an authorized certificate issued by the Government of India.
CDS Age Limit
- The general age criteria for applying to CDS are that candidates have to be more than 19 years of age to qualify.
- The age calculation is to be considered as on 01st of January 2020.
- Different divisions have different age specifications, and we list them here:
- For IMA – 19 to 24 years.
- For INA – 19 to 23 years.
- For AFA – 19 to 22 years.
- For OTA – 19 to 25 years.
The minimum educational qualifications for CDS 2020 exam are different for each category. A candidate who is likely to apply for a particular post of preference has to first check his eligibility for that post and only then proceed. Interested candidates who are in their final year of graduation/ finished final exams and awaiting results can also apply for the CDS exam subject to a provisional letter authorizing the same from their educational institution.
We list the different educational qualification requirements based on the post:
- For IMA – Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a recognized university of India.
- For INA – Bachelor’s degree in Engineering/ Technology/ equivalent from a recognized university of India.
- For AFA – Bachelor’s degree in Engineering/ Technology/ equivalent with Physics and Mathematics as subjects, from the any recognized university of India.
- For OTA – Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a recognized university of India.
- Only unmarried candidates can apply for IMA, INA, and AFA.
- Male candidates have an exception to apply for OTA even if they are married.
- Unmarried women, widows, and divorcees without any issues are also eligible to apply for OTA.
As per the guidelines formulated for CDS 2020 in the official gazette, only physically fit candidates are eligible to apply.
- As per standard specifications, minimum height acceptable for males is 157.5 cm for navy and 162.5 cm for the air force.
- For females, the minimum height requirement is 152 cms.
- For Gorkhas and candidates from the northeastern parts of India, the minimum height requirement is less than the standard specification by 5 cm.
- For Lakshadweep candidates, the minimum height requirement is less than the standard specification by 2 cm.
CDS 2020 Admit Card
The candidates appearing for the CDS exam should carry the admit card with them at every stage of the examination. It is an important document that displays the personal details of the candidate together with an ID card and exam venue.
Kindly follow these steps to download admit card:
- Browse through the official website of UPSC.
- Select the Combined Defence Service Examination 2020 tab.
- Browse through to locate the link that would allow you to download the admit card.
- After downloading, take a hard copy of the same and check for the correctness of all details.
- For any discrepancies, immediately contact the CDS Help desk: 011-23098543 / 23385271 / 23381125 / 23098591.
CDS Exam Pattern
We present the detailed exam structure for both CDS 1 and CDS 2 in the following section. The exam pattern is common for both CDS 1 and CDS 2.
The CDS exam follows a three-tiered exam structure. The three stages of the exam are:
- First round – Written test
- Second round – SSB interview
- Third round – Medical examination
Let us understand each phase of the CDS examination in detail.
Negative marking applicable for wrong answers.
For selection into IMA, INA and AFA, the breakup of subjects are as follows:
|General English||2 Hours||100|
|General Knowledge And Current Affairs||2 Hours||100|
|Basic And Elementary Mathematics||2 Hours||100|
English and General knowledge papers have 120 questions totally. Math’s paper has 100 questions totally.
For selection into OTA, the breakup of subjects is as follows:
|General English||2 Hours||100|
|General Knowledge And Current Affairs||2 Hours||100|
English and general knowledge paper has 120 questions totally.
The SSB interview stage consists of two rounds – stage 1 and stage 2.
- Stage 1 – Candidates are tested for visual perception and picture grasping, descriptive and comprehension skills testing, IQ rating.
- Stage 2 – Candidates are tested based on personal interviews. They are also tested for group discussion skills, psychology perception skills, and conference/ meeting management skills.
Medical examination round
The medical examination round will be conducted by the team from the Board of service medical officers. Candidates can note the following points during conduct of medical exam:
- Female candidates will be tested by female medical examiners and gynecologists or specialists in the field.
- All medical reports will be maintained confidentially by the authorities.
- The president of the Medical Board will decide on the medical fitness of the candidate.
- Candidates must be physically and mentally fit according to medial standards. Those declared not so fit will be disqualified even if they have qualified in the other two rounds of examination. However, candidates can appeal for a review of the decision with the commission.
- Candidates also have to satisfy certain medical standards related to vision, teeth, and ear and nose conditions too. Height and weight parameters are also taken into account.
In this section, we present some of the most important topics under each subject that the aspirants cannot afford to miss out on. A preparation, according to the prescribed syllabus, is very essential to get higher marks in the examination.
- Synonyms and antonyms
- Sentence improvement patterns and word substitution questions.
- Ordering sentences in a sequence
- Spotting errors in paragraphs.
- Current awareness through newspapers and magazines.
- General science and social science subjects.
- Sports, important awards, and personalities.
- Defence related knowledge
- Cultural insights.
- Local, national, and international news.
- Environment awareness.
- Number systems
- Metrics of measurement
- Ratio and proportions
- Height and distance, time, and work problems.
Click here to download the complete CDS 2020 Syllabus PDF.
CDS Cut off
The cut off marks is prescribed for the written examination round of CDS 1. Aspiring candidates need to score more than the prescribed cut off the range in the written examination round to be eligible for the SSB interview round. The commission decides the cut off percentage based on a number of factors such as vacancies available, number of applications received competition and toughness level in the exam, etc.
Below, we list the approximate cut-off marks that can be expected in CDS 2020:
|Academy applied for||Approx. cut off marks|
|IMA||115 – 125|
|AFA||130 – 140|
|OTA – for males||75 – 85|
|OTA – for females||75 – 85|
CDS Results 2020
CDS results will be declared on the official website, and the steps to check the result and download the scorecard are mentioned below:
- Go to the homepage of the official UPSC website.
- Click on the examination tab and traverse the active examination section.
- Click on CDS exams.
- Click on the relevant exam result link.
- Download the result file that is presented in pdf format and locate your result with your corresponding roll number.
- Take a print out of the mark sheet for future references.
CDS Preparation Tips
Most candidates face an acute shortage of time when it comes to CDS preparation. Hence applying the right strategies and good time management is the best effective method to clear the exam with high scores:
- Have complete knowledge of the syllabus.
- Look for timely updates on the official website.
- Topics are not too extensive; most of them are of matriculation standards.
- Basic and elementary knowledge in all subjects is compulsory.
- Learn the short cut formulas and the best method to apply them.
- Practice well with previous year question papers and answer mock test series.
Best books for CDS Exam
The most important and standard books that candidates can refer to the exam are listed below:
- NCERT Books
- Objective General English by Arihant publications
- Objective General English by R S Agarwal
- Word Power made easy by Norman Lewis.
- Manorama yearbook
- Lucent’s general knowledge
- Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Sharma.
- Mathematics for CDS by R S Agarwal.