Combined Defense Services (CDS) exam is organized by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) twice a year. The exam is a requirement for anybody who is interested in joining the defence services. Through this exam, one can get admission to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Indian Air Force Academy (IAFA), and Officers Traning Academy (OTA). In this article, we will discuss what is OTA in CDS? Read the article till the end know all about Officers Training Academy (OTA).

What is OTA in the Army?

There is only one goal of an Indian army aspirant, which is part of the Indian Military Academy (IMA). They imagine themselves doing the passing day parade and the time when they get the stars on their shoulder. These are ones who are solely dedicated to serve the nation. But sometimes aspirants want to serve the nation and at the same time, they have their own personal goals which they want to achieve. For those, there is a different type of commission.

Types of Commission in the Army

Basically, there are two types of commission in the Army. Those are:

  1. Permanent Commission
  2. Short Service  Commission

Aspirants who want to be officers right after passing IMA can work permanently as an IMA officer. Short Service Commission is where a candidate is trained in Officers Training Academy (OTA). As the name suggests in Short Service Commission the candidate can be an officer for 10 years which can be extended till 14 years. After 14 years the officer will be given the option to shift to the permanent commission which is the Indian Army. Here he or she can choose to continue working in the Indian Army or move on to live a civil life that is filled with respect and honour.

What is OTA?

OTA is Officers Training Academy which was established on 15 Jan 1963 in Chennai. This academy is similar to IMA and National Defense Academy (NDA).  OTA has a 49-week course which prepares graduates from all different branches for the Indian Army.  The training period is less than the IMA therefore it is more intense than the IMA. Apart from OTA, Chennai there is another OTA in Gaya which was established in 2011. It currently trains 350 cadets. Females can also be a part of OTA in Chennai.

How Can You Join OTA?

For Joining OTA, they have two types of entry.

  1. Technical Entry
  2. Non-Technical Entry

Non-Technical entry is through the CDS exam which is followed by an SSB interview. For candidates who have done NCC are directly called for the SSB interview.

Why Join OTA?

OTA training can develop the cadets analytical thinking, planning skills, administrative and organization abilities which can also be applied in your personal goals that to want to achieve after.

Your Promotions will be as followed:

  • Rank of Captian after two years of service
  • Rank of Major after six  years of service
  • Rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 13 years of service

CDS OTA Salary

The stipend given during the OTA training is around 56,100 per month. The salary increase as you are promoted up in rank.

Rank Pay Scale
Lieutenant 56,100-1,77,500 INR
Captain 61,300-1,93,900  INR
Major 69,400-2,07,200  INR
Lieutenant Colonel 1,21,200-2,12,400  INR

There are further promotions in the IMA  or if the cadet is deciding to shift in the Indian Army after 14 years of service.

Combined Defense Services Exam

The Combined Defense Services exam consists of two stages:

  1. Written Exam
  2. Interview for Intelligence and Personality test

The Written Exam will have Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs). There will be a deduction of ⅓ marks for every wrong answer. No deduction of marks in case if a question is left unattempted.

The pattern of the written test will be as following:


Subject Duration Marks
English 2 Hours 100
General Knowledge 2 Hours 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 Hours 100

Note: Candidates who are opting for OTA, don’t need to appear for Elementary Mathematics.

Also Read: UPSC CDS 1 2021 Age Limit: Exam Pattern and Important Dates

OTA Combined Defense Services Syllabus for English

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

OTA Combined Defense Services Syllabus for GK

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 the History of India and Geography of nature which the candidate should be able to answer without special study.

CDS OTA Cut-off

The cut-off depends on many factors. The factors are:

  • The difficulty of the paper
  • Number of candidates appearing for the paper
  • Number of seats available

Some previous year cut-off were:

Years Cut-off (Men) Cut-off (Women)
CDS 2 2019 95 95
CDS 1 2019 78 78
CDS 2 2018 80 80
CDS 1 2018 69 69
CDS 2 2017 86 86
CDS 1 2017 82 82
Combined Defense Services Question Paper

Here are question papers for English:

For the year 2020:

  • CDS-I English
  • UPSC CDS exam date for CDS-II is November 8, 2020

For the year 2019

For the year 2018

Combined Defense Services GK Question Paper

Here are some previous year question papers for CDS GK.

For the year 2020:

  • CDS I General Knowledge 
  • CDS II is set to be on November 8, 2020

For the year 2019:

For the year 2018

Also Read: Guide to Fill UPSC CDS-1 2021 Application Form: CDS-1 2021 Exam Date and Registration Process


OTA is a good option for people who want to work in the defence all well as want to do their own thing after serving the nation. The exam is relatively easier than the exam of IMA or another defence academy because of the absence of Elementary mathematics.  Girls cannot opt for IMA however they can be the part of Officers Training Academy as an officer.

Are you also thinking of choosing Officers Training Academy? Let us know in the comment section below.

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What Is OTA In CDS?: Know All About UPSC CDS exam for OTA
Do you know what is OTA in UPSC CDS? If no, then click here to get all information about Officers Training Academy (OTA) including cut-off, syllabus, salary, and many more.
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