CDS exam pattern – syllabus -question paper analysis

CDS Exam Pattern, analysis, syllabus and Topic wise question paper pattern:

UPSC will conduct a Combined Defence Services Examination for admission to the courses of Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Hyderabad Officers Training Academy and Officers Training Academy. For CDS exam pattern and topic wise questions details is given as under:

Scheme of CDS Exam:

The examination will consist two parts:
(i) Written Examination will be conducted by UPSC
(ii) Interview for intelligence and personality test will be conducted by Services Selection Boards (SSB).

Written Examination (Objective multiple choice type):

(a) For admission to Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy, exam scheme will be as:

Subject Duration No. of Questions Maximum Marks
English 2 Hours 120 100
General Knowledge 2 Hours 120 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 Hours 100 100

(a) For admission to Training Academy, exam scheme will be as:

Subject Duration No. of Questions Maximum Marks
English 2 Hours 120 100
General Knowledge 2 Hours 120 100

Medium of Examination:

The questions will be set in Hindi/English in respect of General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.

Negative Marking in CDS Exam:

There will be four alternatives for the answer to every question. There will be negative marking of one third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question for each wrong answer. If no answer is given by candidate there will be no penalty for that answer.

Standard of the CDS Exam:

The standard of the papers in Elementary Mathematics will be of Matriculation level. The standard of papers in other subjects will approximately be such as may be expected of a graduate of an Indian University.

Syllabus and CDS Exam pattern for written Examinations:

I. English:

Syllabus: The question paper will be designed to test the candidates’ understanding of English and workmanlike use of words.

Topic wise CDS Exam Pattern of English:

Topics/Exam2016 (II)2016 (I)2015 (II)2015 (I)2014 (II)2014 (I) 2013 (II) 2013 (I)
Spotting Errors2015152025201915
Sentence improvement252025202020--20
Word substitution------5--------
Selecting Words302025202020--12
Ordering of sentences 1410--10810189
Ordering of words in a sentence1115--711111613
Fill in the blanks--1010----4--6

II. General Knowledge Syllabus and CDS Exam pattern:

Syllabus: General Knowledge including knowledge of current events and of such matters of everyday observation and experience in their scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person who has not made a special study of any scientific subject. The paper will also include questions on History of India and Geography of a nature which candidate should be able to answer without special study.

Topic wise CDS Exam Pattern of General Knowledge:

Exam/Topics2016 (II)2016 (I)2015 (II)2015 (I)2014 (II)2014 (I)
Political Science21191818822
Environment /Polution434355
Current Awareness587494
Defence related111911114
Sport 22113--
Statement true/false3----47--

III. Elementary Mathematics Syllabus and CDS Exam pattern:



Number System-Natural numbers, Integers, Rational and Real numbers. Fundamental operations addition, subtraction, 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, H.C.F., L.C.M. Theory of polynomials, solutions of quadratic equations, relation between its roots and coefficients (Only real roots to be considered). Simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns-analytical and graphical solutions. Simultaneous linear in equations in two variables and their solutions. Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or in equations in two variables or quadratic equations in one variable & their solutions. Set language and set notation, Rational expressions and conditional identities, Laws of indices.


Sine x, cosine x, Tangent x when fr< x < 90°Values of sin x, cos x and tan x, for x = 0°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90° Simple trigonometric identities. Use of trigonometric tables. simple cases of heights and distances.


Lines and angles, Plane and plane figures, Theorems on (i) Properties of angles at a point (ii) Parallel lines, (iii) Sides and angles of a triangle, (iv) Congruency of triangles, (v) Similar triangles, (vi) Concurrence of medians and altitudes, (vii) Properties of angles, sides and diagonals of a parallelogram, rectangle and square (viii) Circles and its properties including tangents and normals, (ix) 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 and volume of right circular cones and cylinders, surface area and volume of spheres.


Collection and tabulation of statistical data, Graphical representation, frequency polygons, histograms, bar charts, pie charts etc. Measures of central tendency.

Topic wise CDS Exam Pattern of Elementary Mathematics:

Topic/Exam2016 (II)2016 (I)2015 (II)
ArithmeticTotal = 28 QuestionsTotal = 27 QuestionsTotal = 33 Questions
Number system9117
Average 12
Time, Speed and Distance686
Time and work23
Profit and Loss31
LCM and HCF113
Factor, Age, Project111 each
AlgebraTotal = 17 QuestionsTotal = 24 QuestionsTotal = 17 Questions
Basic Operation647
Polynomial/Linear Equation8108
Quadratic Equation8
TrigonometryTotal = 15 QuestionsTotal = 10 QuestionsTotal = 11 Questions
Simple Trigonometrics1189
Height and Distance422
GeometryTotal = 11 QuestionsTotal = 26 QuestionsTotal = 19 Questions
Theorems of angles/lines/triangles3125
Circles and its properties667
Lines and Angles141
MensurationTotal = 19 QuestionsTotal = 8 QuestionsTotal = 17 Questions
Area of square/rectangle/triangle683
Volume of cuboid17
Volume of Cone31
Volume of Cylinder33
Volume of Sphere21
Surface Area42
StatisticsTotal = 10 QuestionsTotal = 5 QuestionsTotal = 3 Questions
Data Tabulation213
Pie Chart1

Intelligence and Personality Test for CDS:

SSB procedure in CDS consists of two stage Selection process-stage I and stage-II. Those candidates who clear the stage I are permitted to appear for stage II.

The details of Intelligence and Personality Test is as under:-

  • Stage I comprises of Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests are Picture Perception *Description Test (PP & DT). The candidates will be Shortlisted based on combination of performance in OIR Test and PP and DT.
  • Stage II Comprises of 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 website The personality of candidates is assessed by three different assessors viz. the Interviewing Officer (10), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and the Psychologist.
  • There are 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 test.
  • In addition, marks for Conference are also allotted based on the initial performance of the Candidate in the three techniques and decision of the Board. All these have equal weightage.
  • The various test of IO, GTO and Psych are designed to bring out the presence/ absence of Officer Like Qualities and their trainability in a candidate.
  • Accordingly candidates are Recommended or Not Recommended at the SSB.

Previous years CDS question papers:

Here are direct links of CDS previous years question papers (posted at UPSC’s officials website for easy downloading.

  1.  English:  CDS Exam-II, 2016
  2.  General Knowledge: CDS Exam-II, 2016
  3. Elementary Mathematics: CDS Exam-II, 2016
  4.  English:  CDS Exam-I, 2016
  5.  General Knowledge: CDS Exam-I, 2016
  6. Elementary Mathematics: CDS Exam-I, 2016
  7.  English:  CDS Exam-II, 2015
  8.  General Knowledge: CDS Exam-II, 2015
  9.  Elementary Mathematics: CDS Exam-II, 2015
  10.  English : CDS Exam-I, 2015
  11. General Knowledge : CDS Exam-I, 2015
  12. Elementary Mathematics: CDS Exam-I, 2015
  13. English : CDS Exam-II, 2014
  14.  General Knowledge : CDS Exam-II 2014
  15.  Elementary Mathematics :  CDS Exam-II 2014
  16.  English : CDS Exam-I, 2014
  17.  General Knowledge : CDS Exam-I, 2014
  18.  Elementary Mathematics : CDS Exam-I, 2014
  19.  English : CDS Exam-II, 2013
  20. General Knowledge : CDS Exam-II 2013
  21.  Elementary Mathematics : CDS Exam-II 2013
  22.  English : CDS Exam-I, 2013
  23.  General Knowledge :  CDS Exam-I, 2013
  24.  Elementary Mathematics :  CDS Exam-I, 2013

Combined Defence Services (CDS) Examinations previous years Cut Off Marks;

Comparative list of CDS exam previous years Cut Off Marks of candidates for the course of  Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA) and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA) and  minimum qualifying marks in each paper may be checked here.

Note: Candidates should go through UPSC’s official web page for detailed Examination Notification and date of examination for CDS Examination.

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