CDS Exam : Simple and Exclusive Information


The Combined Defence Service is commonly known as the CDS exam conducted twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruitment of the candidate into the following academy :


  1. Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun.
  2. Officer’s Training Academy for Women (OTA), Chennai.
  3. Officer’s Training Academy for Men (OTA), Chennai.
  4. Indian Naval Academy ( NNA), Ezhimala.
  5. Indian Air Force Academy (IAFA), Hyderabad.



Highlights of CDA (I) & (II) Exam

Exam Combined Defence Service (CDS) Examination
Organizing body Union Public Service Commission
Exam Mode Paper & Pen (Offline)
Number of Vacancies Approx.. 400
Frequency Twice a year
Selection Process Written Test & SSB Interview
Official website



UPSC generally releases the notification of the Combined Defence Service Examinations in the month of August. Aspirants willing to appear for the CDS (I) & (II) exams can apply online by visiting the official website of UPSC.

Notification Month
CDS (I) Notification October
CDS (II) Notification August
CDS (I) Exam February
CDS (II) Exam November
CDS (I) Result March
CDS (II) Result December
CDS SSB Post the result of CDS(I) & CDS (II)


Eligibility Criteria of CDS Exam




1.Nationality for CDS Exam

The candidate must be a citizen of India to be eligible for the Combined Defence Services (CDS) must be either of the following :

Candidates must be a citizen of India

Candidates must be a citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan.

Candidates must be Tibetan refugees who came to India before January 1, 1962, for settling permanently in India.

Candidates must a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Burma, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Myanmar, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Vietnam, Zaire with the motive to settle permanently in India.


2. Educational Qualification Criteria for CDS Exam

Academy Qualification
Indian Military Academy IMA & Officer’s Training Academy Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from a recognized University
Indian Naval Academy ( NNA)


Bachelor’s degree in Engineering or its equivalent from a recognized University/Institution
Indian Air Force Academy (IAFA) Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent (with Physics & Mathematics at 10+2) from a recognized University or Bachelor’s of Engineering.


3. Age, Sex, and Marital Status for CDS Exam

Academy Age Sex Marital Status
Indian Military Academy IMA 19-24 years Male Unmarried
Officer’s Training Academy- Men SSB 19-25 years Male Unmarried
Officer’s Training Academy-Women SSB 19-25 years Female Unmarried
Indian Naval Academy ( NNA)


19-22 years Male Unmarried
Indian Air Force Academy (IAFA) 19-23 years Male Unmarried
Note: Candidate below 25 years of age must be unmarried. Married candidates above 25 years are eligible to apply. Marriage is not allowed during the training period.


4. Physical Criteria for CDS Exam

The candidate needs to be physically and mentally fit for applying in the Combined Defence Service Examination( CDS I & II ). Candidates are advised to get themselves medically examined before applying for this examination as many candidates fail to qualify for the physical test.



UPSC conducts exams in two-level as mentioned below. The candidate who clears the written test will be called for the SSB Interview exams.


CDS Exam Stage 1: Written Test 


CDS Exam (I)  & CDS Exam (II)
Category Type Negative Marking Subject Duration Maximum Marks
Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy Objective Yes English 2 hours 100
General Knowledge 2 hours 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 hours 100
Officer’s Training Academy Objective Yes English 2 hours 100
General Knowledge 2 hours 100
Note: Exam mode is offline. Question paper for Mathematics & General Knowledge will be in both the language that is English and Hindi


CDS Exam Stage 2: Intelligence & Personality Test.


SSB will conduct the Intelligence & Personality Test. The candidates who clear the written exam will be called for the Intelligence & Personality Test which comprises of the following steps to get to the final result.

Step Name of the test
Step 1 Officer Intelligence Rating (OTR) Test + Picture Perception Description Test (PP&DT)
Step 2 Interview + Group Testing Officer Tasks + Psychology Tests + Conference
Note: The personality of a candidate is assessed by The Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) & Psychologist. Based on their review the final letter is issued.


Career Graph of CDS Officer

Post Promotion
Lieutenant Upon Training completion.
Captain 2 years of Service
Major 6 years of Service
Lieutenant Colonel 13 years of Service
Colonel 15 years of Service
Colonel (TS) 16 years of Service
Brigadier 23 years of Service
Major General 25years of Service
Lieutenant General 28 years of Service
General No restrictions as such


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