CDS Exam 2021: The full form of CDS is Combined Defence Service. 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 418 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. This article gives detail information about UPSC CDS 2021 notification that includes exam date, eligibility criteria, application process, syllabus, exam pattern, admit card, result and more.
UPSC CDS 2021 – Highlights
|Official Name of the exam||Combined Defence Services Examination|
|Conducting body||Union Public Service Commission|
|Exam Mode||Offline (Pen & Paper)|
|Mode of Application||Online|
|Exam frequency||Twice a Year|
|Total Number of Vacancies||418|
|CDS Helpdesk||011-23098543 / 23385271 / 23381125 / 23098591|
CDS Exam Date 2021
UPSC CDS (I) 2021 Dates
|Release of notification||October 28, 2020|
|Availability of Application Forms||October 28, 2020|
|Last date for Submission||November 17, 2020|
|Admit Card availability||January 2021|
|Exam date||February 07, 2021|
UPSC CDS (II) 2021 Dates
|Release of notification||August 04, 2021|
|Availability of Application Forms||August 04, 2021|
|Last date for Submission||August 24, 2021|
|Admit Card availability||October 2021|
|Exam date||November 14, 2021|
CDS 2021 Application Form
The process of application for CDS is completely ONLINE. 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 I and registration part II.
Below, we explain the step by step process of application for Part – I Registration:
- Visit to the official UPSC website – [upsc.gov.in]
- Traverse and locate the ‘Examination Tab.’
- Click on the option Combined Defence Services Examination – 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 exam.
- 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-II 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 2021 Application Fees
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 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 exam 2021, 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 (I) and CDS (II) 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 Combined Defence Services Examination.
- 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 2021 is 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 authorising the same from their educational institution.
- 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 2021 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 cm.
- 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 2021 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 CDS Admit card:
- Browse through the official website of UPSC.
- Select the Combined Defence Services Examination 2021 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
The exam pattern is common for both CDS (I) and CDS (II). The CDS exam follows a three-tiered exam structure. The three stages of the exam are:
- Written Test
- Intelligence and Personality Interview
Please Note: Negative marking applicable for wrong answers.
Exam Pattern for IMA, INA and AFA
|General English||2 Hours||100|
|General Knowledge & Current Affairs||2 Hours||100|
|Basic & Elementary Mathematics||2 Hours||100|
English and General Knowledge papers have 120 questions totally. Math’s paper has 100 questions totally.
CDS Exam Pattern for Officers Training Academy (OTA)
|General English||2 Hours||100|
|General Knowledge & Current Affairs||2 Hours||100|
English and General Knowledge paper has 120 questions totally.
The Personality 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.
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 Syllabus PDF.
CDS 2021 Cut Off
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.
|IMA||115 – 125|
|AFA||130 – 140|
|OTA – for males||75 – 85|
|OTA – for females||75 – 85|
CDS Result 2021
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 exam.
- 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.
The detailed list of vacancies is listed below for reference:
|Indian Military Academy||100|
|Indian Naval academy||45|
|Air force academy||32|
|Officers training academy (for men)||225|
|Officers training academy (for women)||15|
- For Indian Military Academy – 150th DE course shall commence from January 2021 for CDS (I). 151th DE course shall commence from July 2021 for CDS (I). This includes 13 vacant seats that are especially reserved for NCC ‘C’ certificate holders of the Army Wing.
- For Indian Naval Academy – Course shall commence from January 2021 for CDS (I) and July 2021 for CDS (II). This also includes 6 vacancies for NCC ‘C’ certificate holders of the naval wing through the special entry.
- For Air force academy – Pre- flying training course shall commence at Hyderabad from January 2021 for CDS (I) and July 2021 for CDS (II). Only 3 vacancies are reserved for NCC ‘C’ certificate holders via special entry.
- For officers training academy – 113th SSC men’s course shall commence in April 2021 for CDS (I) and October 2021 for CDS (II) at Chennai. The breakdown of vacancies are:
- 170 vacancies to be filled up by UPSC
- 5 vacancies through Non-UPSC process
- 50 vacancies through NCC ‘C’ certificate special entry.
- For officers training academy – 27th SSC women’s course shall commence in April 2021 and October 2021 for CDS (II) at Chennai. This is a non-technical course.
CDS Selection Process
The UPSC is responsible for conducting the CDS exam through its various stages and induct commissioned officers into the INA, IMA, AFA, and OTA. Here are the detailed steps of selection explained below:
1. Written Test
- Exam consists of objective types of questions.
- Maximum marks applicable for each subject are 100.
- Exam time duration is 2 hours.
- For candidates applying to IMA, INA, and AFA – Written tests consist of General English, general knowledge, mathematics.
- For candidates applying to OTA – Written tests consist of General English and General Knowledge only.
- Those candidates who are deemed successful in the written test shall be called in for personality test at the next level by the respective Selection service board members.
2. SSC Interview / Personality Test
- Successful candidates in the written test are called in for the interview round.
- The interview process consists of Stage 1 and stage 2.
- Those who clear stage 1 successfully shall move to stage 2.
- Stage 1 test is also called the Intelligence rating test or IR test. This test consists of activities like picture perception tests, description tests. The combined score in both these tests shall decide the merit ranking of Stage 1.
- Stage 2 test consists of actual interview and group testing tasks. Also included is the psychology test and conference skills test. Three different kinds of experts shall handle stage 2. They are the interviewing officers, group testing officers, and a psychologist. The combined score obtained in all these tests shall determine the score for stage 2 of the exam.
3. Document Verification
- Once the candidate clears the interview round, he shall be called in for document verification.
- Candidates are advised to carry originals plus attested copies of their documents to support their application.
- All details given by the candidate at the time of application shall be verified by a team of officers to establish their authenticity and validity.
4. Medical Examination
- This is the last round in the CDS selection process.
- Medical officers shall examine those candidates whose names are referred by the SSB after the document verification round.
- For women candidates, the medical officer’s team shall include male and female doctors/ specialists and gynaecologists. A lady medical officer will oversee the medical board.
- Candidates who pass the medical fitness test shall be admitted to the academy after final discussions and merit list announcement.
CDS 2021 Exam Centres
Candidates have to list their exam center preference in the application form without fail. Later requests to change the center shall not be entertained whatsoever.
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.
UPSC CDS 2021 Reference Books
The most important and standard books that candidates can refer to the exam are listed below:
- NCERT Books
- Pathfinder CDS Examination Conducted by UPSC
- Objective General English by Arihant publications
- Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis.
- Manorama Yearbook
- Lucent’s General Knowledge
- Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Sharma.
- Mathematics for CDS by RS Aggarwal.
Role and Responsibilities of CDS Officers
CDS officers have very important roles and responsibilities that are of national interest. Some of the common ones are listed below in detail:
- They are responsible for maintaining the national security and integrity of the nation.
- Provide critical and important military advises on strategic issues regarding the defence of the country.
- Coordinate the planning and implementation of activities pertaining to the procurement and logistics of services.
- Take part in activities related to nuclear issues of the subcontinent.
- Exercise commands in services and authorities at the respective ranking order.
- Actively coordinate and co-operate as a member who is responsible for the efficient functioning of the three forces.
- Ensure optimal utilization of military resources.
- Procuring services as per existing rules and regulations of land/territory.
- Organising cyber activities and ensuring smooth operations, handling communications, repairs, and maintenance activities.
Salary of CDS Officer
|Rank||Pay Scale (INR)||Level|
|Lieutenant||56,100 -1,77,500||Level 10|
|Captain||61,300- 1,93,900||Level 10B|
|Major||69,400 – 2,07,200||Level 11|
|Lieutenant Colonel||1,21,200 – 2,12,400||Level 12A|
|Colonel||1,30,600-2, 15,900||Level 13|
|Brigadier||1,30,600-2, 15,900||Level 13A|
|Major General||1,44,200-2,18,200||Level 14|
|Lieutenant General HAG Scale||1, 82, 200-2,24,100||Level 15|
|HAG + Scale||2,05,400 – 2,24,400||Level 16|
|VCOAS||2,25,000 (fixed)||Level 17|
|COAS||2,50,000 (fixed)||Level 18|
- An additional allowance of INR 6000 shall be provided to all ranks from lieutenant till brigadier as Military service (MSP) allowance
- For training cadets inducted newly into CDS service, a fixed stipend of INR 21,000 shall be provided.
- Other officers who are in possession of additional prescribed qualifications also receive a grant of INR 6000, INR 9000, INR 12,000, and INR 15,000 as per their qualification.
Apart from basic and grade pay, CDS officers receive what is known as allowances that are permissible according to present rules and regulations. The detailed list of allowances is listed below:
- Dearness allowance [according to present rules]
- Maintenance allowance [INR 400 per month]
- Highly active field area allowance [INR 6780 to INR 8400 per month]
- High altitude allowance [for selected candidates living at high altitudes – INR 1060 to 11,200 per month]
- Uniform allowance [one time kit at INR 14000 and INR 3000 every 3 years once]
- Free ration facility
- Transport allowance [INR 3200 plus dearness allowance]
- Education allowance for children
- Other benefits are also applicable as per present government regulations