top of page

UPSC CDS Exam - Combined Defence Services Exam

UPSC CDS Exam: Combined Defence Services Exam

The UPSC CDS (Combined Defence Services) Exam is a highly prestigious and competitive examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) of India. It is held twice a year with the aim of selecting candidates for admission into various defence academies in the country. The CDS exam is a gateway for individuals who aspire to serve in the Indian Army, Navy, or Air Force.

Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for the UPSC CDS exam, candidates must meet certain criteria. They should be Indian citizens or subjects of Bhutan, Nepal, or Tibet (refugees who came to India before January 1, 1962). The age limit varies depending on the academy and the branch of service applied for. Generally, candidates must be between 19 and 24 years of age. Educational qualifications include a bachelor's degree for the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and Officers' Training Academy (OTA), while for the Naval Academy (NA) and Air Force Academy (AFA), candidates must have completed their 10+2 education with Physics and Mathematics.

Exam Pattern:

The UPSC CDS exam comprises a written examination followed by an interview conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB). The written exam consists of three papers: English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics. Each paper is of two hours duration and carries a maximum of 100 marks. The English and General Knowledge papers are common for all candidates, while the Elementary Mathematics paper is only for those applying to the IMA, NA, and AFA.

The interview conducted by the SSB is a comprehensive assessment of the candidate's personality, intelligence, and aptitude. It includes various stages such as the Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) test, Picture Perception and Description Test (PPDT), Group Testing Officer (GTO) tasks, and Personal Interview. The interview process evaluates the candidate's leadership qualities, communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and overall suitability for a career in the armed forces.

Preparation and Tips:

Preparation for the UPSC CDS exam requires a systematic approach and dedicated effort. Candidates should focus on building a strong foundation in English, General Knowledge, and Mathematics. Regular practice of previous year question papers and mock tests can help improve speed and accuracy. Additionally, physical fitness and mental agility are essential aspects that should not be overlooked. Candidates should maintain a healthy lifestyle, engage in regular exercise, and develop good communication skills.


The UPSC CDS exam is a gateway to a fulfilling and challenging career in the Indian Armed Forces. It requires dedication, perseverance, and a strong desire to serve the nation. By following the eligibility criteria, understanding the exam pattern, and preparing effectively, candidates can increase their chances of success. It is a journey that not only tests one's knowledge but also shapes one's character and instills qualities of leadership and integrity.

bottom of page