The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Combined Defence Services (CDS) examination twice a year for the recruitment of candidates to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Officers Training Academy (OTA) and Air Force Academy (AFA). The exam notifications are released in the month of October and June, respectively.
Please note that, only unmarried candidates are eligible to take up this examination.
Candidates who qualify the written examination are shortlisted for the intelligence and personality test (interview) round conducted by the SSB (services selection board), where the candidates undergo evaluation for their fitness to be recruited to the Indian Armed Forces.
CDS Exam Preparation Tips
Any competitive exam requires a solid preparation process; it is not easy to crack the CDS exam when there are lakhs of candidates appearing for the examination. The very few intake numbers and the higher number of candidates fighting for the limited number of seats have increased the level of competition of these exams exponentially.
Understand your syllabus
The key to planning your study strategy is to understand what is it you have to study. The UPSC has listed out in detail the syllabus for the CDS exam. Go through the syllabus and list down the topics into two parts easy/difficult. You can use this list while making your study timetable.
Prepare a timetable and stick to it
Once you have had a grasp over the syllabus, allot time as per the difficulty level of the topics which you have sorted earlier. Stick to the timetable, do not stray. Making a timetable or a study plan is essential, but following the whole plan is as crucial.
Make notes of everything
Reading and repeating the entire syllabus from scratch is not the wisest of choices. While studying through the syllabus, make short notes of everything. These notes will help you a lot during your revision period and for the last minute preparations.
Keep ample time for revision
Do not take the whole time for just one-time preparation. Revision is more important for competitive exams than you care to realise. Revise as many times as possible. Do not give up until and unless you have revised the entire syllabus thrice.
Refer to previous CDS exam question papers
Many candidates refer to past question papers as a preparation method. Practicing previous years’ question papers by timing yourself is a perfect practice method. Practice as many question papers as possible. You will be able to gauge your preparation levels; you will find out which topics need more focus and which you are done.
Use different sources for preparation
Instead of relying on a single source, consider various study materials like e-books, online prep tests, logs, articles, NCERT books, and more. You will always discover new things, and it might be useful. A famous book for preparing for CDS is ‘Pathfinder’ by Arihant Publication. The book is a wholesome and extensive record of all the topics and covers all the three papers.
Develop the right attitude and personality
Develop a personality, character, and attitude befitting that of an officer. Learn to make the right judgment calls, learn, listen, and try to be a fair person. Your skills, along with the right attitude, will play a major role during your interview process and selection to the defence services.
In the end, what is going matter is for you to stay confident. It can sometimes be stressful to prepare for the examination; all you have to do is keep a positive attitude throughout to attain your goal.
Tips to face the Personal Interview
The personal interview round is conducted to check the intelligence and personality of any candidate who has cleared the written exam by the SSB. This round determines the ranks the candidate will hold as an officer in the defence forces.
The personal interview includes intelligence tests, outdoor activities, physical fitness, group discussion, psychological test, opinions, etc. This round can be difficult but do keep in mind the following tricks which will help you clear the interview:
- Be confident. Being anxious is normal, but you must be able to- express your thoughts sound and serene.
- Keep yourself updated with the latest and interesting happenings around the world.
- You are there to be an officer, so act like one. Be respectful and humble.
Last minute preparation tips for CDS Exam
After a hard preparation for a couple of months now, you would have studied all the topics, revised, answered previous years and mock question papers; the CDS will be somewhere just around the corner. Here are a few quick steps for you to get along the last few days successfully and ace the exam.
- I am sure that you have revised the short notes you have made during your preparation time; now, jot down the formulae and the concepts in a handy little piece of paper. Make these points carefully and in a way that you can save valuable time during the last minute.
- Do not start reading the textbooks all over again. Once you have studied, prepared short notes and revised them again. It is done. All you have to do now is refer to the important formulae you made a note and revise.
- If you haven’t worked on your time management skills, now is the time. If you get stuck in a particular question during the exam, leave it and move to the next. Attempt all the easier questions first and come back to start working on the tough questions. Do not waste your time on the questions, which takes too much time in the beginning.
- Keep in mind this paper has negative marking. So be clever about the things you answer and those you don’t.
- Take up as many mock tests as possible. There are many such tests available online.
All the best to all UPSC CDS aspirants! Hope we all achieve our dreams and make our nation proud.
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