CDS (Combined Defence Services) Exam Pattern

The CDS Exam (I) for 2023 will take place on April 16th 2023 while CDS (II) will take place on September 3, 2023.

This article will give details about the Exam Pattern for the CDS. Knowing the Exam Pattern of any exam is highly recommended, as forehand knowledge will help the candidate prepare for anything that comes their way. To this end, the article will focus on the exam pattern for the CDS Exam.

Highlight of the CDS Exam

Before going into detail about the exam pattern for the Combined Defence Services, a brief highlight of the exam is given in the table below:

Highlights of the CDS Exam 2023

Parameters Details
Number of Sections Indian Military Academy (IMA) – 3

Indian Naval Academy (INA) – 3

Air Force Academy (AFA) – 3

Officers Training Academy (OTA) – 2

Mode of Exam Offline
Total Marks of the Test 200 (Applicable for IMA, INA, AFA and OTA)
Types of Questions Objective type
Language of the paper Hindi and English
Duration 2 hrs

Exam Pattern for Combined Defence Service

The CDS Exam is conducted in two stages:

  1. Written Examination
  2. SSB Interview

The Services Selection Board (SSB) is an organization that assesses the candidates for becoming officers in the Indian Armed Forces. The board evaluates the suitability of the candidate for becoming an officer using an evaluation system that analyses personality, intelligence via interviews and tests.

It should be noted that the written format for IMA, INA, AFA is different from that of the Officer Training Academy

A breakdown of the written exam pattern is given in the following tables:

CDS Written Exam Pattern for IMA, INA and AFA
Subject Duration Marks allotted
English 2 hrs 100
General Knowledge 2 hrs 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 hrs 100


CDS Written Exam Pattern for OTA
Subject Duration Marks allotted
English 2 hrs 100
General Knowledge 2 hrs 100

The marking scheme of the CDS exam is given below:

  • For the incorrect answer, 1/3 marks are deducted
  • Candidates marking more than one option are treated as incorrect
  • If a question is left unanswered, there will be no negative marking

To know more in detail about the topics in each subject of the exam, be sure to visit the CDS Syllabus page

CDS Exam Pattern – Interview

Once the candidate has qualified and passed the written exam of the CDS. They will have to appear for the SSB interview.

Although the examination of CDS is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the interview portion is conducted by the Services Selection Board. The SSB conducts interviews for both the CDS and NDA (National Defence Academy) exams.

The SSB Interview is conducted in three stages over a period of 5 days

Stage I – Comprises Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and Picture Perception Description Test (PP&DT)

Stage II – Consists of Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and Conference. Only the candidates shortlisted in Stage I of SSB Interview are called for this stage.

Stage – III There are tasks including group discussion; group (military) planning exercises; progressive group tasks; small (half) group tasks; individual tasks (obstacles); group obstacle or command task.

This stage is conducted by the Group Testing Officer (GTO). An individual candidate interview is conducted along with the GTO and the interviewing officer. The interview is based on questionnaires.

On the fifth day, the final assessment is done by a panel of assessors who will examine the overall personality of the candidate. Following this, the results will be announced, and the selected candidates will undergo a medical examination at a military hospital.

Frequently asked Questions about CDS Exam Pattern


What is a good score in an SSB interview?

The total marks of SSB Is 900. It Is Further Divided Into 4 Parts ( Psychology, GTO, Interview And Conference Round) I.E 900/4= 225 Marks for each Test Phase. Out Of This 225 marks, a candidate needs to get Minimum 90 marks to get A “Yes” from either of the assessors and getting less than 90 marks simply means “No”.

What are the subjects in CDS exam?

The syllabus is based on three subjects, namely English, Elementary Mathematics, and General Knowledge, and each of these is important. In addition to knowing the detailed syllabus, the CDS 2 exam pattern also plays a key role as it lists the total number of marks each section contains.

Is there any interview in CDS?

For better preparation, candidates should start previous years’ papers of the CDS Exam along with solutions. In the second stage of selection, they have to appear for an Interview which will test their intelligence, personality and psychological aptitude.

To know more about the CDS Exam, candidates can refer to the following links. To know more in detail about other Defence exams, visit the linked article.

Related Links

CDS Notification CDS Final Result.
Current Affairs Government Schemes
CDS Admit Card CDS Answer Key
CDS Eligibility CDS Books
CDS Age Limit SSC CPO Exam Pattern


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