Combined Defence Services Examination

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The Combined Defence Services Examination (abbreviated as CDS Exam) is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment of Commissioned Officers in the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy. The Notification for the examination is usually released in the months of December and May, and the examinations are conducted in April and September respectively. Only unmarried graduates are eligible to sit for the exam. Examination is conducted twice a year. Successful candidates are admitted into the respective Academies after an interview conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB).

Age Limit[edit]

Indian Military Academy 19–24 years[1]
Air Force Academy 19–24 years[1]
Naval Academy 19–24 years[1]
Officers Training Academy 19–25 years[1]

Educational Qualifications[edit]

CDS Exam Educational Qualifications is given below.

For I.M.A. and Officers’ Training Academy Degree from a recognized University or equivalent
For Indian Naval Academy Degree in Engineering from a recognized University or equivalent
For Air Force Academy Degree of a recognized University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engineering

Physical Standards[edit]

Candidates must be physically fit according to physical standards criteria given in the official advertisement by the UPSC.

Union Public Service Commission has set the eligibility criteria For Combined Defence Services.[2] Before applying to the CDS exam Candidate must check the eligibility criteria. The basic physical standard for a candidate is:

  1. The candidate should be physically as well as mentally fit.
  2. Permanent tattoos on the body are prohibited.
  3. No hernia anywhere on the body.
  4. No hearing impairment, deformities/disabilities in-ears vestibule-cochlear system.
  5. There is no active congenital venereal disease.

Here are the requirements for the Height and Weight standards to qualify for CDS exam:

Height and Weight Standards (Males)
Height in Centimetres (Without shoes) Weight in Kgs.
18 years 20 years 22 years 24 years
152 44* 46 47 48
155 46 48 49 50
157 47 49 50 51
160 48 50 51 52
162 50 52 53 54
165 52 53 55 56
168 53 55 57 58
170 55 57 58 59
173 57 59 60 61
175 59 61 62 62
178 61 62 63 64
180 63 64 65 66
183 65 67 67 68
185 67 69 70 71
188 70 71 72 74
190 72 73 74 76
193 74 76 77 78
195 77 78 79 81

Scheme of Examination[edit]

CDS Exam Pattern[edit]

Stages of exam Written exam and SSB Interview
Mode of exam Offline / Pen and paper based
Subjects 1- English 120 questions

2- General Knowledge 120 questions

3- Elementary Mathematics 100 questions

Exam duration 2 hours for each paper
Number of questions 340 MCQs for – IMA, INA and AFA

240 MCQs for – OTA

Language of paper English & Hindi

Union Public Service Commission will release the admit card of CDS 2/2021 any time soon in online mode at Since the exam is slated to be conducted on November 14, 2021 in offline mode. After downloading CDS 2/2021 admit card[3] candidates should check for any discrepancy and if found then immediately report it to the exam conducting authorities to get it rectified.

Indian Military Academy / Air Force Academy / Naval Academy[edit]

All the papers are of objective type.

Subject Marks
English 100
General Knowledge 100
Elementary maths 100
Total 300

Officers' Training Academy[edit]

Each paper contains objective type questions.

Subject Marks
English 100
General Knowledge 100
Total 200

Intelligence and Personality Test[edit]

The SSB interview process consists of a two-stage Selection process – stage I and stage II. Only those candidates who successfully clear the stage I SSB interview are permitted to appear for stage II.

(a) Stage I comprises Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests are Picture Perception* Description Test (PP&DT). The candidates will be shortlisted based on the combination of performance in the OIR Test and PP&DT.

(b) Stage II Comprises Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests, and the Conference. These tests are conducted over 4 days. The details of these tests are given on the Indian Army career portal.[4]

The personality of a candidate is assessed by three different assessors viz. The Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO), and the Psychologist. There is no separate weightage for each test. The marks are allotted by assessors only after taking into consideration the performance of the candidate holistically in all the tests.

Test/ Interview by Air Force Selection Board[edit]

All candidates who apply for the Air Force through more than one source will be tested/interviewed at the Air Force Selection Boards only once for Air Force. Common candidates who fail in Computer Pilot Selection System (CPSS) and/ or Pilot Aptitude Battery tests as an NCC or Airmen candidate will be called again for OLQ testing for Army/Navy/OTA only if it is found that they have applied through CDS Exam.

CDS I 2020 Vacancy[edit]

Academy Total Vacancies
IMA 100
AFA 32
INA 45
OTA (Men) 225
OTA (Women) 16
Total 418

CDS II 2020 Vacancy[edit]

CDS 2 2020 Total number of vacancies[5] are given below.

Academy Total Vacancies
IMA 100
AFA 32
INA 26
OTA (Men) 170
OTA (Women) 17
Total 344

CDS I 2021 Vacancy[edit]

CDS 1 2021 Total number of vacancies[6] are given below.

Academy Total Vacancies
IMA 100
AFA 32
INA 26
OTA (Men) 169
OTA (Women) 17
Total 345

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Forthcoming Exams" (PDF). UPSC. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  2. ^ "CDS Eligibility 2023: Age Limit, Qualification & Physical Standards". 4 August 2022.
  3. ^ "CDS Admit Card: How to download". 11 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Join Indian Army official website".
  5. ^ "UPSC CDS official notification".
  6. ^ "UPSC CDS official notification".