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UPSC CDS Exam Pattern 2017

Updated On - October 18th 2017


The Union Public Service Commission or UPSC has scheduled Combined Defence Services Examination for November 19, 2017. CDS 2017 will be conducted in offline mode. In total 214 vacancies are to be filled through the exam this year. As the competition is high, it is advised to practice with our CDS Sample Papers.

Candidates qualifying CDS exam will be recruited to Permanent Commissioned Service as listed below:

  • Indian Military Academy (IMA)
  • Indian Naval Academy (INA)
  • Air Force Academy (AFA) and
  • Officer’s Training Academy (OTA)

Listed below are quick facts about CDS Exam Pattern:

  • CDS is conducted in two stages viz a written exam and Services Selection Board (SSB) Test. Prepare Better for CDS SSB
  • The exam pattern for IMA, INA and AFA is similar. Whereas, the pattern for OTA is different.
  • CDS Syllabus is designed to test candidates aptitude in Matriculation Mathematics, basic aptitude in English and awareness about the current scenarios.
  • Military, Naval and Air Force exams will have 3 sections – English, Elementary Mathematics and General Knowledge.
  • OTS exam will have only 2 sections – English and General Knowledge.
  • The written exam for all the papers will have objective type questions.
  • The duration to complete each section is 2 hours.
  • Every paper of CDS 2017 carries 100 marks.
  • CDS 2017 exam has a provision of negative marking. For every wrong marked answer, 1/3 of the marks allotted is deducted.

CDS is conducted twice every year once in the month of February and second in November. For the November session, the CDS Application Form filling window has now concluded. Aspirants can visit the official website of CDS i.e. to know more about the examination Check सीडीएस

CDS (I) 2017 Updates

  • The CDS (I)  concluded on February 05, 2017. Check CDS (I) Paper Analysis
  • UPSC released CDS Result 2017 for February session on March 20.
  • The official cutoff for CDS (I) 2017 will be released shortly by the conducting body. As per last year, CDS Cut Off marks for General category in Electrical Engineering is 769 marks while for Mechanical Engineering is 723 marks.

Highlights of CDS Exam Pattern

CDS Exam Pattern acts a blueprint of the scheme of written examination. It helps an aspirant with the overall exam structure viz. number of sections, section wise weightage, marking scheme, duration of exam etc. The following infographic will acquaint one with the general structure of CDS Exam. 


Mode of ExamOffline
Number of Stages2 namely written exam and SSB (Interview & Personality Test)
Number of papersIMA, INA and AFA – 3 Papers
OTA – 2 Papers
Questions TypeStage 1 – Objective Type
Exam duration2 hours for each section
Language of examBilingual except for English section

Stages in UPSC CDS Exam 

CDS Exam is conducted according to a proper plan defined by UPSC. The following infographic explains the same :


  • Stage 1: The exam is conducted in offline mode. The questions are Objective Type i.e. for each question four choices are given and you have to select the correct one. Through this exam, candidates are shortlisted for Stage 2. 
  • Stage 2: It is also referred to as SSB Tests. There are two papers under this stage – Intelligence Test and Personality Test. 

CDS Exam Pattern for IMA, INA and AFA

UPSC has framed the exam pattern for CDS in an organised form. The papers are conducted in offline mode i.e. it is a written exam. IMA stands for Indian Military Academy, NA stands for Naval Academy and AFA stands for Air Force Academy. It consists of 3 sections namely English Language, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.

  • Mode of Exam: All the exams are conducted in offline mode i.e. it is a written examination. Candidates are provided separate OMR sheets for all the three papers, wherein the correct answer needs to be colored with a black ballpoint pen. 
  • Number of Sections: - There are 3 sections in CDS Exam for IMA, INA and AFA. In English Language paper there will be around 7-8 sections. Whereas, in GK and Elementary Mathematics, questions will be asked in a mixed manner.  
  • Duration of Exam: - Each section needs to be completed within 2 hours (140 minutes)
  • Nature of Questions: -  Questions that are asked in the exam are of objective type. Each question will have 4 options wherein only 1 option will be correct.
  • Number of Questions: – In CDS, there is a total of 300 questions. These questions are further divided into 3 sections namely English and General Awareness section will have 100 questions each and Elementary Mathematics will have 100 questions each.
  • Marking Scheme: – UPSC has defined a proper marking scheme for the CDS exam. For English and GK section, +0.8 marks are awarded for each correct option and 0.33 marks are deducted for each wrong answer. Whereas, in Elementary Mathematics, 1 mark is awarded for each correct option and 0.33 marks are deducted for each wrong answer.
  • Medium of Exam: – Candidates will have an option to answer the questions in Hindi or English language as per their comfort. 
Note: Candidates who qualify the written examination will then be called for the Interview Round.

Tabulated below is the distribution of questions as per the sections.

SectionDurationMaximum MarksReference Links
English Language2 hours100Prepare better for CDS English Section
General Knowledge2 hours100 Preparation Tips for CDS GK Section
Elementary Mathematics2 hours100Preparation Tips for Maths Section
Total6 hours300Last minute Preparation Tips for CDS

General Instructions Relating to CDS Written Examination

  1. SI units are used in the papers. While answering the questions one should use only International form of Indian numerals (i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6 etc.).
  2. The qualifying marks in all the subjects are decided by the commission.
  3. One must take note that use of calculators for answering objective type papers is prohibited.

CDS Exam Pattern for OTA

OTA stands for Officers Training Academy. The CDS Exam Pattern for OTA is different from IMA, NA and AFA. It consists of 2 sections only namely English Language and General Awareness

Highlights of CDS Exam Pattern for OTA

  • Mode of Examination– CDS is conducted in offline mode i.e. it is a pen-paper based examination.
  • Number of Sections- There are 2 sections in CDS exam for OTA
  • Duration of Exam- The exam is 2 hours (140 minutes) each
  • Nature of Questions-  Questions that are asked in the exam is of objective type. Each question will have 4 options wherein only 1 option will be correct.
  • Number of Questions- In CDS, there are a total of 200 questions These questions are further divided into 2 sections namely English and General Awareness section that will have 100 questions each.
  • Marking Scheme– UPSC has defined a proper marking scheme for the CDS exam. For English and GK section, +0.8 marks are awarded for each correct option and 0.33 marks are deducted for each wrong answer.
  • Medium of Exam–  Candidates will have an option to answer the questions in Hindi or English language as per their comfort. 
Note: Candidates who qualify the written examination will then be called for the Interview Round. Crack CDS SSB Interview Round

Tabulated below is the distribution of questions as per the sections.

SectionDurationMaximum Marks
English Language2 Hours100
General Knowledge2 Hours100 
Total4 hours200

CDS Interview

Candidates who are shortlisted from the written exam round, are then eligible to appear for Interview Round. Listed below are the highlights of the round:

  • The UPSC will declare a qualified list of candidates on UPSC Official Website i.e. This list is prepared on the basis of a candidate’s performance in the written examination.
  • Candidates who are shortlisted are required to appear before a Services Selection Board (SSB) for Intelligence and Personality Test.
  • The maximum marks allocated to the written exam and to the interview round is equal for each course. This means the maximum marks allotted to the written exam and to the interviews will be 300 (IMA), 300 (NA), 300 (AFA) and 200 marks (OTA).
  • Candidates for the Air Force wing and Naval Aviation will also undergo a Pilot Aptitude Test.
Check Here CDS Exam Cut Off

Intelligence and Personality Test for CDS 2017

SSB procedure consists of 2 Stages namely Stage I & Stage II. Candidates who clear Stage I will be called for Stage II selection process. Given below are the details for Stage I and Stage II selection process.

  • Stage I comprises of Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests such as- Picture Perception & Description Test (PP & DT). The shortlisting of the candidates will be on the basis of the combination of performance in OIR Test and PP & DT.
  • Stage II comprises of Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, and Psychology Tests and at last Conference. These tests are conducted in a time frame of 4 days. The details of these tests are mentioned on the official website-
Check Here Tips To Crack CDS SSB Interview
  • The personality of candidates is assessed by 3 different experts namely, the Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and the Psychologist.
  • There is no separate weightage for each test.
  • The marks are allotted by exports only after taking into consideration the performance of the CDS candidates holistically in all the tests.
  • In addition, marks for Conference are also allotted based on the initial performance of the Candidate in the 3 techniques and decision of the Board. All these carry equal weightage.
  • The various test of IO, GTO and Psychology are held to bring out the presence/ absence of the Officer Like Qualities and their trainability in a candidate.
  • Accordingly, candidates are Recommended or Not Recommended at the SSB.
Read About CDS Selection Process

CDS Exam Pattern: Marking Scheme 

CDS Test consists of only Objective Based Questions (Multiple Choice Questions). For getting into Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy, and Air Force Academy, candidates have to appear for all the 3 papers- English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.

  • Each of the paper carries 100 marks.
  • There is penalty for every wrong marked answer.
  • In CDS paper, each of the questions carry 4 options and out of which only 1 option is correct.
  • For each wrong marked choice, 1/3 of the marks assigned will be deducted.
  • Marking more than 1 answer, will be treated as incorrect.

The given below table consists the detailed marking scheme of the papers.

PaperMaximum MarksNegative MarkingMarks For Each Correct Answer
English1001/3 per wrong marked question0.8 Marks
General Knowledge1001/3 per wrong marked question0.8 Marks
Elementary Mathematics1001/3 per wrong marked question1 Marks

Candidates who are appearing only in OTA (Officers Training Academy), will be appearing only for 2 Papers- English and General Knowledge. In the following table, marking scheme of CDS Paper for OTA is mentioned.

PaperNumber of MarksNegative MarkingMarks For Each Correct Answer
English1001/3 per wrong marked question0.8 Marks
General Knowledge1001/3 per wrong marked question0.8 Marks

No marking scheme for non-attempted questions.

Interview Marking Scheme 

  • The selection of candidates will be based on the marks scored in the interviews.
  • Total marks for interview for Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy, and Air Force Academy is 300 marks.
  • While the total marks for interview for OTA are 200 marks.       

CDS Exam Pattern: Time Duration 

  • Each of the paper has to be completed within 2 hours.
  • No extra time will be provided to the candidates to complete the CDS 2017 Exam.
  • The sectional duration is not determined in the CDS paper as it is conducted in offline mode.
  • Candidates can set their own priority to complete the sections of any CDS 2017 paper.

In the following table, the time duration for the CDS 1 2017 papers is mentioned.

CDS 2017 PaperDurationNumber of QuestionsExpected allotted time per Question
English2 hours12045 sec/question
General Knowledge2 hours12040 sec/question
Mathematics2 hours1001 min/question
  1. English and General Knowledge papers do not contain any calculation work. If you know the correct answer, then it will not take more than 30 seconds per question to answer it and mark the choice in the CDS 2017 answer sheet.
  2. Candidates should boost up their speed in reading and analyzing the questions in one go so that it will not waste their time in re-reading the questions.
  3. Solving English paper in a manner of solving each question in 45 seconds will save 30 minutes. This remaining 30 minutes can be utilized in solving those questions which are not attempted and have ambiguity in choosing the options.
  4. In a similar way, general knowledge paper can be solved. It is the section where questions are asked from different diversities. If you are damn sure about the choice, then go with it else it may lose your points.
  5. Giving 40 seconds per question in CDS 2017 GK paper can save your 40 minutes and you can make use of in attempting questions that are left for consideration. 
  6. Mathematics paper consists of questions that are to be solved most of the time to get the answer and only a few questions exits which are direct. 100 questions have to be solved in a time limit of 120 minutes.
  7. In the total allotted time, verification of the candidate, marking the bubbles, filling the answer sheet, all has to be done. And it leaves almost 1 min to solve each question.
  8. High speed in solving questions correctly will help you in fetching more marks. 
Know More About How To Crack SSB?

CDS Syllabus 2017

  1. English Syllabus: English section tests the candidates’ understanding of English language. The English paper consists of 100 marks and it is an objective test. This section comprises basic grammar, spotting errors, sentence improvement, word substitution, comprehension, ordering of sentences, antonyms, synonyms, marking the correct sentence among the wrong choices and alike.
  2. General Knowledge Syllabus: General Knowledge paper of CDS consists questions based on current affairs, History of India, Geography, Science, Defence, Politics, Awards, Books and Economy. A regular update of at least 3 months or so is necessary to score good marks. Given below are the topics, on which the questions are asked.
  3. Elementary Mathematics Syllabus: Given below is the list of topics, on which questions are based on:
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra 
  • Trigonometry
  • Geometry
  • Mensuration
  • Statistics

CDS Previous Year Question Papers

Solving previous years’ papers provides a prudent approach for the main entrance test. Candidates can familiarize themselves with the CDS paper pattern. It helps in knowing the number of questions, kinds of questions, sections, marking scheme, and alike.

Solving last year CDS papers and sample papers actually increases the speed, enhances the time management skills, short tricks, of solving questions and improves the attempt in final CDS test. Solving sample papers helps in knowing the level of preparation that really needs improvement.

Check Here CDS Previous Year Question Papers

Paper Analysis CDS (I) 2017

The CDS 1 2017 paper was conducted in 3 parts- English, GK and Mathematics. The duration of each of the paper was 2 hours. This objective type paper has 120 questions in each English & GK and 100 questions in Elementary Mathematics. Given below is the detailed analysis of CDS 2017 paper which was held on February 05, 2017.

  1. CDS 2017 English Paper- This paper has 8-9 sections. The whole paper was dominated by grammar and vocabulary. It also consisted 5 short passages which had some tricky questions. In the following table, analysis of English paper is mentioned.
TopicNumber of QuestionsLevel of Difficulty
Sentence Improvement20Easy
Reading Comprehension23 (5 passages)Easy to Moderate
One Word Substitution5Moderate
Para-Jumble10Easy to Moderate
Spot the Error20Easy
Cloze Test20Easy
  1. General Knowledge- The questions that were asked from science section, were of NCERT level while the questions that belonged to history were mainly from art and culture of the 18th century. This section was marked moderate. The following table consists the analysis of CDS GK paper.
TopicNumber of QuestionsLevel of Difficulty
Science27Easy (Concept-based questions)
Geography22Moderate (Analytical based questions)
Ecology06Moderate (Fact-based questions)
Polity20Easy to Moderate
Economy/Trade11Moderate (Fact-based questions)
Miscellaneous /Armed Forces15Moderate (Fact-based questions)
  1. Elementary Mathematics- It is the paper where questions are asked from diverse topics. Arithmetic, mensuration, geometry, and trigonometry covered the major part of the mathematics paper. It was marked easy to moderate in the level of difficulty.  In the following table, paper analysis of mathematics paper is mentioned.
TopicNumber of QuestionsLevel of Difficulty
Algebra7Easy to Moderate
Mean-Median-Mode (Frequency Distribution Table)4Easy
Time speed and Distance6Easy
Number System20Easy to Moderate
Simple interest/Compound interest5Easy
Time and Work3Easy
Trigonometry14Moderate to Difficult
Set Theory1Easy
Geometry20Easy to Moderate
Check Here Detailed CDS 2017 Paper Analysis

CDS 2017 Preparation Tips

CDS is considered as one of the most competitive entrance examination for recruitment for office cadre. CDS 2017 is meant to get into Officers Training Academy (OTA), Indian Military Academy (IMA), Air Force Academy and Naval Academy.

This entrance test is conducted twice a year and nearly 2.5 lacs of applicants applied for CDS 2017. It is expected a rise in the range of the candidates applying for CDS 2017. To get selected in the officer cadre, CDS 2017 aspirants should be thorough with the studies and it requires a dedicated level of practice.

Here, we are providing preparation strategies to the CDS 2017 aspirants to excel the CDS 2017 Written Examination-

  1. Be thorough with the syllabus- It is the very first step to start preparing for any entrance exam. Candidates appearing for CDS 2017 entrance test should study well all the topics and should cover each and every topic. Completing syllabus and that too thoroughly enhances the chances of selection of candidates. The thorough study of syllabus helps the aspirant to prioritize the kinds of questions at the time of solving test.
  2. Speed & Accuracy: Man makes a practice perfect. Candidates should do die-hard practice to hone the speed and accuracy. Doing regular practice enhances the time management skills. Consistency should be maintained for the best results. Try recalling common formulae, trigonometric ratios, cube roots, square roots, short-tricks, and percentage fractions as it helps to maintain the accuracy in the mathematics section.
  3. Time Management: Don’t just jump over the options and butterfingered to get the solution before reading and understanding the question. Try to get the question in just one read as it helps in managing time. Candidate should read each question delicately before running for the solution. Firstly, answer the questions that seems easy to get the solution and are less time consuming. Make your strategy and accuracy to that level that you can re-examine the paper before the final submission.
  4. Regular Practice: Whether it is English, GK or Elementary Mathematics, regular practice is a must thing. It helps the CDS 2017 aspiring candidates to identify the weak and strong areas. Practice made on a regular basis makes the tricky topics as simple as cakewalk. So, spend quality time in practice. Practicing sample papers as much as you can, familiarizes with the main exam. Solving last years’ papers also helps in realizing the weaknesses and strengths. It gives the confidence to perform better in the CDS 2017 entrance test.
  5. Maintain the confidence level: Being nervous drops the preparation level to ‘0’. So, during the exam time, try to be focused, calm and confident and later, watch all your hard work get paid.
  6. General Knowledge: Be aware of the latest events running around in all the fields such as in awards, business, current affairs, ecology, history, geography, science, politics and so more. Reading textbooks, newspapers, magazines and listening news daily is good habit and it also helps in nurturing the level of general awareness.
  7. Make a schedule: Create your schedule in a way that you refer it often. Make it in a way that fixed commitments cannot be changed. Organize your peak study times as at that time you are more alert. Make sure, you add a column of refreshing brain cells such as exercises, meeting friends and spending time with family.
Check Here How To Make Accurate Guesses in CDS?

Preparation Books for CDS 

Amidst fierce competition, candidates must wisely plan strategies to prepare. It is equally important to refer to eminent books for good preparation. Given below is the list of CDS Preparation Books recommended to the candidates:

Name of the BooksISBN Number
Objective General English by Arihant9351768449
Objective General English by RS Aggarwal8121915317
Word Power Made Easy: Norman Lewis8183071007
Manorama Yearbook 2016 (Available in Hindi and English)9383197900
Lucent’s General Knowledge (Available in Hindi and English)9384761540
Competition in Focus Half-Yearly/Yearly (Available in Hindi and English)9385929178
Arihant Pathfinder8183481590
Quantitative Aptitude for examinations paperback by RS Aggarwal8121924987
Mathematics for CDS by RS Aggarwal8121925827



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