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Combined Defence Services – CDS - Dream Institute

Combined Defence Services – CDS

The Combined Defence Services or CDS as it is popularly known as a national level exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The exam is conducted twice a year to select candidates for admission to the prestigious Indian Naval Academy (INA), Indian Military Academy (IMA), Air Force Academy and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA)..

CDS is a highly competitive exam and preparation for it needs one to be thorough with the CDS Syllabus and CDS Exam Pattern. In this article, we will provide you with detailed information about the CDS Exam Pattern, selection process, marking scheme, etc. Read on to find out.

Before getting into the details of CDS Exam Pattern 2019, let’s have an overview of the exam:

CDS 2018: An Overview
Name of the Exam Combined Defence Services  2019
Conducting Body Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
Purpose of the Exam Selection of candidates for Admission to IMA, INA, AFA, and OTA
The frequency of the Exam Twice a Year
Mode of Exam Offline
Language English and Hindi
Number of Phases Two Phases – Written Exam and SSB Interview
Number of Questions 340 (240 for Admission to OTA)
Number of Subjects Three (Two for Admission to OTA)
Time Duration 2 hours for each Subject
Type of Questions Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Negative Marking Yes
Official Website

As mentioned above, CDS exam has two phases:

  • Phase I– Written Examination
  • Phase II– SSB Interview

Phase II has two more stages.

Let us now look into the detailed CDS Exam Pattern for each of these phases.

For admission to Indian Naval Academy, Indian Military Academy and Air Force Academy, the CDS Exam Pattern includes three subjects, namely, Elementary Mathematics, English and General Knowledge. For admission to Officer’s Training Academy, Elementary Mathematics is not included in the CDS Exam Pattern.

CDS Exam Pattern 2019
For Admission To INA, IMA, and AFA
Subjects Number of Questions / Maximum Marks Time Duration
English 120 / 100 2 hours
Elementary Mathematics 100 / 100 2 hours
General Knowledge (GK) 120 / 100 2 hours
Total 340 / 300 6 hours
For Admission To OTA
Subjects Number of Questions / Maximum Marks Time Duration
English 120 / 100 2 hours
General Knowledge (GK) 120 / 100 2 hours
Total 240 / 200 4 hours

Each question in the CDS Written Exam carries 1 mark. There is negative marking of 1/3 for every wrong answer.

Shortlisted candidates from the Written Exam (who qualifies in the CDS Written Exam) will be called for the next phase of the selection process – SSB Interview (Intelligence and Personality Test). This will be conducted by the Service Selection Board (SSB).

The SSB Interview for INA, IMA, and AFA will be conducted for 300 markswhereas, for OTA, the total marks is 200.

The SSB Interview is most likely to be conducted in 3 SSB centers – Allahabad, Bangalore, and Bhopal, over a period of 5 days. Candidates will have to appear in any one of the centers.

SSB Interview has two stages:

SSB Interview Stage 1

Called as Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR), this will be conducted on Day 1. This stage involves a Picture Perception and Description Test (PP & DT) wherein candidates will be shown a picture for 30 seconds. After that, 4 minutes will be given to them to write about the picture. Then several groups will be formed each having 15 candidates. They will have to discuss the picture and arrive at a conclusion.

Candidates who clear this round will be eligible to appear for Stage 2.

SSB Interview Stage 2

Selected candidates from Stage 1 will appear for Stage 2 which will be conducted for four days. A variety of tests and activities are conducted in this round through which the personality of the candidates is judged. Three different people will be involved in this round to testing you – an Interviewing Officer (IO), a Group Testing Officer (GTO) and a Psychologist.

The Psychological Test will include the following:

  1. Word Association Test
  2. Thematic Appreciation Test
  3. Situation Reaction Test
  4. Self Description Test

The various Group Activities include:

  1. Group Discussion
  2. Group Planning Exercise
  3. Progressive Group Task
  4. Half Group Task
  5. Group Obstacle Race
  6. Lecturette
  7. Individual Obstacles
  8. Command Task
  9. Final Group Task

Final selection of candidates will be made based on their performance in Stage 2 of SSB Interview.

Now that you have a clear idea about how CDS exam is conducted – CDS Exam Pattern, stages, marking scheme, etc. do not waste your time. Finish the CDS syllabus and solve as many CDS practice questions as possible. Take CDS mock tests as well.