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Examination Scheme

CDS 2021 Exam Pattern

Combined Defence Services 2021 Selection Pattern

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has prescribed CDS exam pattern 2021. The exam pattern provide details like different sections of exam, section-wise weightage of topics, marking scheme and total marks. Candidates should check CDS 2021 exam pattern before beginning with the preparation. This will give candidates an idea regarding the overall structure of CDS exam. Candidates can check below the detailed CDS exam pattern.The selection process of CDS recruitment includes two stages –

Written Exam

This is the first stage of the CDS selection process.

  • Candidates who register successfully for the exam are required to appear in the written exam.
  • According to the CDS exam pattern, the written exam for IMA, INA and Air Force comprises three sections, English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.
  • The total mark of the test is 300.
  • The written exam for Officers’ Training Academy consists of two sections – English and General Knowledge.
  • The total mark of the test is 200.
  • Candidates qualifying the written exam will be called for SSB Interview for intelligence and personality test.

SSB Interview
There are two stages in SSB Interview -

  • Psychological Aptitude Test and Intelligence Test. Candidates qualifying the stage one will be called for the second stage.
  • Final selection of candidates is done based on their performance in written exam and SSB Interview. Selected candidates will have to undergo training at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Air Force Academy, Hyderabad, Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai.


Highlights of CDS Exam Pattern 2021

Mode of exam


Number of sections

Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA) and Air Force Academy (AFA) – Three

Officers’ Training Academy (OTA) – Two

Total marks of the test

IMA, INA and AFA – 300

OTA - 200

Nature of questions

Objective type

Language of question paper

Hindi and English

Duration of the test

2 hours for each section of test


CDS Exam Pattern 2021 for Written Test

The written exam for IMA, INA and AFA comprises three sections - English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics. The test paper for admission to OTA comprises two sections – English and General Knowledge. Total exam duration for IMA, INA and AFA is 6 hours (each section is for 2 hours) while it is 4 hours (with section for 2 hours) for OTA. Total marks of the test for IMA, INA and AFA are 300 while it is 200 for OTA. The test paper will consists of objective type questions only. The standard of the topics in CDS syllabus 2021 for Elementary Mathematics will be of Class 10 level. The standard of papers for other subjects will be of graduation level.


Structure of question paper

The structure of CDS question paper for IMA, INA, AFA and OTA is as follows –




Maximum marks


2 hours


General Knowledge

2 hours


Elementary Mathematics

2 hours





Maximum marks


2 hours


General Knowledge

2 hours



CDS Marking Scheme 

  • Each question in CDS exam carries 4 options, out of which only 1 option will be correct
  • For incorrect answer, 1/3 marks will be deducted
  • More than one option marked will be treated as incorrect 
  • If a question is left unanswered there will be no negative marking 

The section-wise marking scheme of CDS exam is given below - 

Specifications  English  GK  Mathematics 
Maximum Marks 100 100 100
Marks for Correct answer +1 marks for each correct option +1 marks for each correct option +1 marks for each correct option
Negative marking -0.33 marks for each wrong answer -0.33 marks for each wrong answer -0.33 marks for each wrong answer


CDS Exam Pattern 2021 for SSB Interview

The SSB Interview for IMA, INA, AFA is for 300 mark each while for OTA it is 200. The SSB Interview procedure consists of two stages – I and II. Only those candidates who clear the stage I are permitted to appear in stage II. The details of both the stages are given below -

  • Stage I comprises Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and Picture Perception Description Test (PP&DT).  
  • Stage II comprises of Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and Conference. These tests are conducted for over 4 days.
CDS Exam 2021 Important Dates

CDS 1 2021 Important Dates 

 Events Dates Salient Features



The notification  released by UPSC 

Application form

28-oct- 2020

The CDS application form is available online now

Last date to apply


Candidates can fill their application form till this date

Application withdrawal 

17-Nov-2019 to 3-Dec 3-2019

The application withdrawal facility available for candidates who do not want to appear in the exam 

Admit card 

3 weeks before the Exam

CDS 1 admit card 2020 was released by UPSC

Exam date

7th Feb 2021

CDS 1 exam was conducted


March -April 2021

CDS 1 result 2021 for written exam will be announced on the official website of UPSC.


CDS 2 2020 Dates

Events Dates  Salient Features



The notification for CDS 2 will be released 

Release of CDS application form


Online registrations for the exam will begin

Last date to apply


Candidates can apply online for the exam till this date

Exam date


CDS 2 exam will be conducted across various cities 

CDS Exam 2021 Eligibility

CDS Eligibility Criteria 2021

To be eligible for CDS 2021 exam, candidates need to fulfil the following eligibility criteria.

Age Limits, Sex and Marital Status

For Indian Military Academy (IMA), unmarried candidates born not earlier than January 2, 1997, and not later than January 1, 2002, can only apply. 

For Indian Naval Academy (IMA), unmarried male candidates born not earlier than January 2, 1997, and not later than January 1, 2002, are eligible. 

Candidates applying for Air Force Academy should be between 20 to 24 years as on January 1, 2021 (born not earlier than January 2, 1997, and not later than January 1, 2001).    

For Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Course for men), unmarried male candidates born not earlier than January 2, 1996, and not later than January 1, 2002, are eligible for the exam.

For Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Women Non-Technical Course), candidates should be unmarried and born not earlier than January 2, 1996, and not later than January 1, 2002.

Educational Qualification

For IMA and Officers’ Training Academy, candidates must be a graduate.  

For Indian Naval Academy, candidates must have a degree in Engineering from a recognised university.

For Air Force Academy, a degree with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engineering is necessary.

Physical Fitness

Candidates must be physically fit according to physical standards for admission to CDS exam.

CDS Exam 2021 Syllabus

CDS-1 2021 -Exam Syllabus

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has prescribed CDS Exam  syllabus for Indian Military Academy (IMA), Air Force Academy (AFA), Indian Naval Academy (INA) and Officers' Training Academy (OTA). The syllabus of CDS Exam 2021  is broadly divided into three subjects – English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.

  • The standard of the questions in Elementary Mathematics will be of matriculation level.
  • The level of questions in other subjects will be of graduation level.

Candidates before beginning with their preparation must check the CDS syllabus 2021 as it will help them to know the topics which they need to cover for the exam.


CDS Syllabus 2021 for English Language

The questions in this section are designed to test the candidate’s understanding of English. Questions in this section are basically asked from the following topics –


Sentence improvement



Word substitution

Ordering of sentences

Spotting Errors

Selecting Words

Ordering of words in a sentence


CDS Syllabus 2021 for General Knowledge

The General Knowledge section tests a candidate’s knowledge regarding the current events. The paper include questions on History of India and Geography of a nature. Topics that candidates should prepare in General Knowledge section are given below.



Current Awareness 





Defence related








Statement true/false




CDS Syllabus 2021 for Elementary Mathematics

Questions in Elementary Mathematics are asked from Arithmetic, Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Mensuration and Statistics. Check below the topics for Elementary Mathematics.

Number System - Natural numbers, Integers, Rational and Real numbers. Fundamental operations, addition, substraction, multiplication, division, Square roots, Decimal fractions. Unitary method, time and distance, time and work, percentages, applications to simple and compound interest, profit and loss, ratio and proportion, variation.

Elementary Number Theory - Division algorithm. Prime and composite numbers. Tests of divisibility by 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 11. Multiples and factors. Factorisation Theorem. H.C.F. and L.C.M. Euclidean algorithm. Logarithms to base 10, laws of logarithms, use of logarithmic tables.


Basic Operations

Simple Factors

Remainder Theorem


Theory of Polynomials

Solutions of quadratic equations

Relation between its roots and Co-efficients (Only real roots will be considered)

Simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns—analytical and graphical solutions

Simultaneous linear inequations in two variables and their solutions

Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or inequations in two variables or quadratic equations in one

Variable & their solutions

Set Language and set notation

Rational Expressions and Conditional Identities

Law of Indices


  • Sine ×, cosine ×, Tangent × when 0°
  • Simple trigonometric identities
  • Use of trigonometric tables
  • Simple cases of heights and distances


Lines and angles, Plane and plane figures

Theorems on - Properties of angles at a point, Parallel lines, Sides and angles of a triangle, Congruency of triangles, Similar triangles, Concurrence of medians and altitudes, Properties of angles, sides and diagonals of a parallelogram, rectangle and square, Circles and its properties including tangents and normal and Loci


  • Areas of squares
  • Rectangles
  • Parallelograms
  • Triangle and Circle
  • Areas of figures which can be split up into these figures (Field Book)
  • Surface area and volume of cuboids
  • Lateral Surface
  • Volume of Right Circular Cones, cylinders and Surface
  • Area and volume of spheres


Collection and Tabulation of Statistical Data

Graphical Representation Frequency Polygons


Bar charts

Measures of Central Tendency


CDS -1 2021 How to apply

How to apply online for CDS?

The application form of CDS 1 is made available on the official website. Candidates can check below the steps to fill the application form.

  • Visit the official website of UPSC
  • In the home page, candidates will find the apply link -
  • CDS application form can be filled in two parts - I and II
  • In Part I, candidates need to enter details like personal details, address and educational qualification, preferred branch etc
  • On successful submission of application form, candidates will get their registration ID
  • In Part II of CDS application form, candidates can pay their fee, select exam centre and upload images
  • After final submission, candidates should take printout of the application form and fee receipt
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