CDS Syllabus

The Combined Defence Services (CDS) exam is one of the most prestigious and sought-after exams for individuals aspiring to join the Indian Armed Forces. Conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the CDS exam provides a direct opportunity for candidates to enter the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA), or Officers’ Training Academy (OTA).

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the CDS exam pattern, syllabus, and important instructions to help you crack the exam with confidence. Let’s begin!

Syllabus: CDS

CDS Exam Overview

The CDS exam is conducted twice a year, and the upcoming exam is scheduled for 3rd September 2023. The mode of examination is offline, and candidates can choose between Hindi and English as the medium of the exam. The duration of each paper is 2 hours, and there is negative marking with 1/3rd deduction for every wrong answer.

The number of questions varies depending on the academy:

  • IMA/INA/AFA: 300 questions
  • OTA: 200 questions

CDS Syllabus 2023

To score well in the CDS exam, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the syllabus. Let’s explore the detailed syllabus for each section of the CDS exam.

CDS English Syllabus 2023

The English section of the CDS exam assesses the candidate’s comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, and writing skills. The syllabus includes:

  • Comprehension passages
  • Synonyms and antonyms
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Error spotting
  • Sentence improvement
  • Jumbled sentences
  • Idioms and phrases
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar and usage
  • Parts of speech
  • Direct and indirect speech
  • Active and passive voice
  • Rearrangement of sentences
  • Cloze test

To excel in the English section, it is recommended to engage in consistent reading of newspapers, books, and magazines to enhance both reading and writing proficiencies. Additionally, solving practice sets and taking online courses can significantly improve your performance.

CDS Maths Syllabus 2023

The Mathematics section of the CDS exam evaluates the candidate’s numerical and problem-solving abilities. The syllabus includes:

  • The Number System includes Natural, Integer, Rational, and Real numbers.
  • Elementary Number Theory (Division algorithm, Prime and composite numbers, etc.)
  • Algebra (Basic Operations, Quadratic Equations, Simultaneous Linear Equations, etc.)
  • Trigonometry (Sine, Cosine, Tangent, etc.)
  • Geometry (Lines and angles, Triangles, Circles, etc.)
  • Mensuration (Areas, Surface area, Volume, etc.)
  • Statistics (Collection and tabulation of statistical data, Graphical representation, etc.)

A thorough understanding of these topics, along with regular practice, will help you tackle the Mathematics section with confidence.

CDS General Knowledge Syllabus 2023

The General Knowledge section tests the candidate’s awareness of current events, history, geography, polity, economics, science and technology, environment, and defence-related issues. The syllabus includes:

  • Current Affairs (national and international events, sports, awards, etc.)
  • Indian history (Ancient to modern).
  • Geography (Physical, social, and economic aspects).
  • Indian Polity and Governance (Constitution of India, political system, etc.)
  • Economic and Social Development (Sustainable development, poverty, etc.)
  • Science and Technology (Developments in various fields)
  • Environmental Ecology and Biodiversity (Conservation, environmental impact, etc.)
  • Defence and Security Issues (National security, armed forces, etc.)

Staying updated with current affairs and dedicating time to study each subject thoroughly will help you excel in the General Knowledge section.

CDS Exam Pattern 2023

To prepare well, you must understand the exam pattern. Let’s explore the exam pattern for both the admission to Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, and Air Force Academy, as well as the Officers’ Training Academy.

A) Admission for IMA, INA, and AFA.

SubjectDurationMaximum Marks
English2 Hours100
General Knowledge2 Hours100
Mathematics2 Hours100
SSB Test/Interview5 Days300

B) For Admission to the Officers’ Training Academy:

SubjectDurationMaximum Marks
English2 Hours100
General Knowledge2 Hours100
SSB Test/Interview5 Days300

It is essential to manage time effectively during the exam and practice solving previous year question papers to get acquainted with the exam pattern.

CDS OTA Syllabus

The syllabus for the Officers’ Training Academy (OTA) is similar to that of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and Indian Naval Academy (INA), with the exception of one Mathematics paper. The OTA syllabus includes two papers: English and General Knowledge.

CDS OTA English Syllabus

The English syllabus for the OTA section includes topics such as:

  • Sentence arrangement
  • Spotting error
  • Selecting words
  • Synonyms and Antonyms
  • Comprehension
  • Ordering of sentences
  • Idioms and Phrases
  • Fill in the blanks

To excel in this section, it is recommended to focus on learning basic grammar rules, practicing previous year questions, and expanding vocabulary.

CDS OTA General Ability Test Syllabus

The General Ability Test for OTA covers a wide range of subjects, including:

  • Current Affairs
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Geography
  • History
  • Politics
  • Sociology
  • Economics
  • Defence-related topics
  • Awards
  • Sports and Culture
  • Environmental Science

A comprehensive approach to these subjects, along with regular reading and staying updated with current affairs, can greatly enhance your performance in this section.

CDS Exam Important Instructions

Following the instructions during the exam is crucial for a smooth experience. Important Instructions:

  1. Use a black ballpoint pen to write your Centre, subject, CDS 2023 test booklet series, subject code, and exam roll number on the answer sheet.
  2. Encode the CDS 2023 booklet series, subject code, and roll number in the circles provided on the answer sheet.
  3. If the CDS booklet series is not printed or the answer sheet is un-numbered, report it to the invigilator immediately.
  4. Ensure accurate encoding of details, as any mistakes may result in rejection of the answer sheet.
  5. Check the test booklet for any missing or torn pages, and request a replacement if necessary.
  6. Write only the specific items of information asked for on the answer sheet and refrain from writing on the reverse side.
  7. Handle the answer sheet with care, avoiding folding or damage.
  8. Follow all instructions provided by the invigilator during the exam.

By adhering to these instructions, you can avoid any unnecessary complications during the exam.


Preparing for the CDS exam requires dedication, hard work, and a clear understanding of the syllabus and exam pattern. By effectively utilizing the provided resources, such as online courses, practice sets, and staying updated with current affairs, you can enhance your chances of cracking the CDS exam.

Remember, consistency is key. Stay focused, manage your time effectively, and give your best effort. With determination and thorough preparation, you can fulfill your dream of joining the Indian Armed Forces through the CDS exam.