11 Preparation Tips: How to crack CDS Exam

By Bibhor Mohanta

The “Combined Defence Services” (CDS) examination is conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) twice a year for recruitments into Indian Military Academy (IMA), Officers Training Academy (OTA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), and Indian Air Force Academy (IAFA). The examination notification is generally released in the month of October and June and the entrance exams are conducted in February and November. Only unmarried graduates are eligible for sitting in the entrance exam. Successful candidates are called for Interviews conducted by SSB (Services Selection Board). 

Know details about CDS exam, Click here

Exam Dates:  Important dates regarding CDS.

Events CDS-I Tentative Dates Events CDS-II Tentative Dates
Starting Date of Online Application Form  October Starting Date of Online Application Form June 
Closing Date of online application form  November Closing Date of online application form July
Issue of Admit card January Issue of Admit card August
CDS Written February CDS Written September
Declaration of Result  March Declaration of Result December

Age Limit: Certain age restriction for the different academy which is as follows:

Academy Years
Indian Military Academy 19-24 years
Indian Air Force Academy 19-24 years
Indian Naval Academy 19-24 years
Officer’s Training Academy 19-25 years

Exam pattern: 

All papers are objective types in the CDS exam.


For-  Indian Military Academy/ Indian Air force academy/ Indian Naval Academy:
Subjects  Marks
English 100
General knowledge 100
Elementary Mathematics 100
Total  300
For- Officer’s Training Academy:
Subjects Marks
English 100
General Knowledge 100
Total  200


After qualifying the entrance exam SSB call an interview. The Interview involves a 2 stage programme.




Stage I- It consists of Officer Intelligence rating, Picture perception, and Description Test.



Stage II- It involves Interview, Grouping Testing Officer Task, Psychology test and Conference.


  • Preparation Tips: 

    1. Thorough about the Exam Pattern and Syllabus:
    1. Going to the preparation the first step for a candidate to know the syllabus properly and thoroughly.
    2. This helps the student to know the question that occurs in the examination, previous year question. Every year there is a change in the syllabus. If you clear about the syllabus then you don’t have to miss any topic.
    3. The exam pattern is important because it tells about the selection procedure and the step.
    4. Aside from there is required of a physical standard test, which has to prepare very first the preparation and simultaneously a candidate has to prepare for intelligence test and personal interview test.


    2. Take coaching for CDS:

    The CDS exam is one of the tough defense exams in India conducted by UPSC. It should be better for a candidate to take coaching. But keeping in mind you have to choose the good coaching center because in this emerging time a lot of fake centers are there for making money, so you should care about. Good institution means reputed faculties, good materials, good experience, etc, which lead you to crack the exam.

3. Take the mock test for CDS:
As we know “Practice makes a man perfect” so regularly take the mock test check your ability, strength, time management capacity and your weakness. This mock test gives a complete idea of where a candidate has to work or where not. 
4. Collection Of Previous year Paper:
Once you get familiar with the exam pattern you should go for the previous paper which realizes about the real exam pattern. You get a basic idea about the exam question and about your preparation. 
5. Taking out the Cut-Off marks:
Before going for preparation it is very important to figure out the cut-off mark because only the cut-off mark can lead o the SSB round. Basic knowledge of Cut-off mark takes a student in the safe zone before publishing the result. 
6. Excellent in Mathematics:
The paper of mathematics is very important for those who are appearing for IMA, INA, and IAFA. This mathematics paper has 100 MCQs each contain equal mark for the right answer and the wrong answer there are 1/3 penalties. This is the only topic where a candidate can score well mark apart from English and GK.  A candidate has to keep eye on Arithmetic, Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Mensuration, and Statistics. For doing better in mathematics an aspirant has to keep something in mind, which is as follows:






1. Have speed with accuracy

2. Get a proper collection of notes

3. Use short-cut and techniques

4. Focus on time management

7. Master in English:

  • Some time it is very important for a candidate to clear about English. All interested candidates are not from English medium background, some are from their Local State Board, so it is very difficult for a student to understand the question because questions are in English format.  Topics asked in the exam includes Spotting Error, Sentence arrangement, Fillers, Synonyms & Antonym, selecting Words or Phrases, Ordering of Sentence, Comprehension, etc. For better English, students have to follow certain things:
    1. The habit of reading newspapers, books, magazines, etc.
    2. Enhance writing skills, Speaking Skills, Listening habits, etc.
    3. Take Primary grammar thoroughly.
    4. Taking online test of English series. 


    8. Strengthen the GK:
    Either this is the hardest or easiest topic among 3. This section is totally based on facts. Those candidates are regularly touched with a newspaper they must take good attempts in the GK section. Some smart ways of preparation for GK are as follows:
    1.Through with the NCERT books.
    2. Make a habit of revising the topic like Capital, Currency, Culture, Folk dances, Dynasties, Geography, Politics, Economics, History, etc.
    3. Keep in touch with General Science Physics, Chemistry, Biology, IT, Innovation and technology, etc.
    4. Take note of Sports award, World prizes, Contest winner, etc.
    5. Take newspaper regularly The Hindu, The Telegraph, Times of India, etc.
    6. A various website that gives an online test, touch with them.
    9. Take your Priority:
    Candidates should solve the sections and questions as per their priority. If a question seems easy and less time consuming, it must be attempted first. The questions which are seemed easy but calculative should be solved later.
    10. No new topic during the last week of exam:
    It is good to read, practice and revise that topic which you are through with. But don’t go for the new topics during the last time of the exam because that creates confusion. Because it is very difficult to remember topics without proper revision.
    11. Prepare self notes:
    Everyone has a different level of capacity for capturing, understanding, and perusing the information. So it is always better for a candidate to prepare their notes.
We have discussed some useful information on how to take prepare CDS. Hope this information helps you in the preparation. Always hard-working doesn’t take you to success, sometimes smart work with efficiency may take you to lead.
Read here: Tips to Crack CDS Exam
Also read: CDS (Combined Defence Service): Know the Exam Details and Syllabus
Read also : How to Prepare for NDA? Here are Some Tips to Crack


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