Are you appearing for the UPSC CDS exam next month? Are you thorough with your preparations for the exam? Are you aware of the exam pattern for this year? Would you like to access CDS previous year question papers but don’t know how to find them? Do you know how the selection process works for different posts? What are your strategies for the last minute revision? What is the vacancy for different posts? What follows the selection process in CDS?

If you’re not familiar with the UPSC CDS exam, find out more about the exam in the article below. Find additional details along with the answers to the above questions.

What is CDS? Where can you Find Previous Year Question Papers?

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Combined Defence Services examination for the posts of commissioned officers in the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.

The candidates who qualify for the examination are then selected for training under the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA), and Officers Training Academy (OTA). The exam is usually conducted twice a year in February and September, however, due to the pandemic situation, it is being conducted in November in 2020.

Also Read: Current Affairs for CDS and Tips for Studying Current Affairs

Previous Year Question Paper

The candidates need to practice previous years’ questions before they appear for the exam. It not only helps them understand the paper pattern but also gets them acquainted with the type of questions they can expect in the exam and the kind of concepts that are recurring in the exam in the previous years. This gives the candidates a fair idea of what they should be focusing up more while preparing for the exam.

Why Solve Previous Year Question Papers?

Solving the question papers also gets the candidates into a habit of writing the exam, making it easier for them while appearing for the final exam. Most importantly, practicing helps the candidate plan and manage their time according to the sections, thus saving them from missing out on questions by running out of time on the main day, The previous years’ question papers of UPSC CDS can be obtained from the official website of UPSC.

Exam Pattern for UPSC CDS Exam

The exam is conducted offline, There are 3 subjects (English, Elementary Mathematics, and General Knowledge)  that carry 100 marks each. The candidates are allotted a total of 6 hours for the examination. The correct answers are rewarded with 1 mark each and there’s a negative marking of ⅓ marks for every wrong answer.

The pattern is followed for the posts in Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, and the Indian Air Force Academy. The exam for the Officer’s Training Academy includes only two subjects namely English and General Knowledge. Click here for a detailed analysis of the paper pattern for the CDS.

Selection Process

The candidates who qualify for the written examination are then supposed to appear for the SSB (Services Selection Board) Interview or Intelligence and Personality Test. The test is divided into two stages.

Stage 1 conducts an Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) that uses Picture Perception and Description Test to test the intellectual abilities of the candidates.

Stage 2 tests candidates who qualify the first stage and includes various tasks, interviews, psychological tests, etc. that are conducted on a group of officers together.

The final selection of the candidates is based on their merit and the number of vacancies available.

What follows the Selection Process?

After they’re selected for their respective posts, the officers undergo a period of training. During the training period in the IMA and OTA, they are provided with a stipend of around ₹56,000. The officers in the Indian Military Academy and the Indian Naval Academy are provided a training period of 18 months each, while those under the Indian Air Force undergo a training period of 74 weeks.


According to the official notice published on CDS II, the approximate number of vacancies are as follows-

Name of the Course Vacancies
Indian Military Academy, Dehradun (including 13 vacancies reserved for NCC ‘C’ Certificate Army Wing Holders 100
Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala (including 6 vacancies for NCC ‘C’ Certificate Naval Wing) 26
Air Force Academy, Hyderabad (including 3 vacancies for NCC ‘C’ Certificate Air Wing) 32
Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai 169
Officers Training Academy, Chennai 17


Now that you’re familiar with the exam pattern and the process of the CDS, how many of you are considering taking the exam next year? If you are planning on taking the exam, you should know that the minimum eligibility for the exam is a degree in graduation, in the case of INA and IAF, a degree in engineering is mandatory.

For the readers who are appearing for the upcoming exam, daily current affairs can be found here.

Also Read: Who Appoints the Governor of the State in India? Here’re Some Interesting Facts to Know for UPSC

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UPSC CDS Previous Year Question Paper: Exam Pattern and Selection Process
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UPSC CDS Previous Year Question Paper: Exam Pattern and Selection Process
What is the paper pattern for UPSC CDS? How are the candidates selected for different ranks? Where can you find the previous years’ papers?
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UPSC Pathshala
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