CDS Syllabus 2023 - Latest Exam Pattern & Book List for CDS

CDS Syllabus 2023 – Knowledge of the syllabus and the latest CDS exam pattern is important to plan out the preparation of the Combined Defense Services exam in a strategic manner. 

UPSC conducts CDS exam to recruit candidates for the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Officers Training Academy and the Indian Air Force Academy. Further information regarding the CDS exam is given in the linked page. 

Aspirants willing to get into the Defense Force through CDS exam must upkeep themselves with the CDS Syllabus and exam pattern. Therefore, for candidates convenience, the article aims to provide the latest CDS exam pattern as well as the detailed CDS Syllabus as prescribed by the UPSC along with the important Booklist for CDS exam.

CDS Syllabus 2023 PDF- Download PDF Here

Aspirants of other Government exams can check the link provided for the latest information on upcoming examinations. 

Wondering how to do a comprehensive study of CDS Syllabus? Check the links for assistance in the preparation of CDS exam- 

CDS Exam Pattern

The CDS exam pattern is prescribed by the Union Public Service Commission. UPSC mentions the exam pattern of CDS in detail in the official notification of the exam. 

The CDS Selection Process is divided into two stages:

  1. Written examination
  2. SSB Interview

CDS exam pattern for Written Exam

The written examination of CDS is further divided into parts.

  • For IMA, INA and AFA the written test comprises three sections i.e. English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.
  • For OTA there are two sections in the written exam i.e. English and General Knowledge.

** Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA) and Officers Training Academy (OTA).

Important points for CDS Written Exam

  1. Total marks for the written exam is 500. 300 marks for the written test of IMA, INA and AFA, while 200 for the written exam of OTA.
  2. Time duration allowed to complete the exam is 6 hours (each section 2 hours) for IMA INA & AFA. 4 hours are given to complete the written test for OTA.
  3. The question paper in the written exam will be objective type only. 
  4. For mathematics, the standard of questions will be of 10th level whereas for other subjects the standard of the paper will be of graduation level. 

CDS Exam Pattern for IMA, INA, AFA

Sections Duration Maximum marks
English 2 hours each section 100 marks each section
General Knowledge
Elementary Mathematics Total – 300 marks

CDS Exam Pattern for OTA

Sections Duration Maximum marks
English 2 hours each section 100 marks each section 
General Knowledge Total – 200 marks

CDS Marking Scheme

It is important to know the CDS marking scheme for candidates to devise an effective exam-taking strategy. The CDS marking scheme as prescribed by UPSC is as follows:

  1. 1 mark is awarded for each correct answer
  2. 0.33 marks are deducted for each wrong attempt
  3. Questions left unanswered are not covered under negative marking
  4. If two answers are marked for one question. It will be considered wrong and negative marks will be deducted. 

Note – as per CDS negative marking scheme 1/3 of the marks will be deducted for each wrong answer. 

CDS Exam Pattern – SSC Interview

Candidates who qualify in the CDS written examination will have to appear for SSB Interview. The examination of CDS is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission but the interview is held by the Service Selection Board – SSB. 

The SSB Interview is conducted in two stages over a period of 4 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. 

Now that you are aware of the CDS exam pattern, let us move ahead to the section-wise and topic-wise CDS Syllabus.

CDS Syllabus 

The notification of the Combined Defense Service examination mentions in detail the CDS syllabus. 

CDS Syllabus is prescribed by the exam conducting body i.e. UPSC and generally remains the same each year.

Broadly, the syllabus of CDS is divided into three sections-

  1. English
  2. General Knowledge
  3. Elementary Mathematics

Let’s check out the topic-wise CDS syllabus for each section-

CDS Syllabus Mathematics

The topics covered in the CDS syllabus of mathematics are Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, Trigonometry, Mensuration and Statistics. Candidates preparing for CDS exam can check the links given below to complement their mathematics preparation.

  1.  Shortcut tricks for Squares and Cube Roots 
  2.  Maths Tricks & Shortcuts for Competitive exams

Important topics from each chapter to be covered for the exam are mentioned below-

CDS Syllabus – Elementary Mathematics
Algebra Basic Operations, Simple factors, Remainder Theorem, HCF/LCM, Theory of polynomials, 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 inequations in two variables and their solutions, Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or inequations in two variables or quadratic equations in one variable & their solutions, Set language and set notation, Rational expressions and conditional identities, Laws of indices
Arithmetic Number System: Natural numbers, Integers, Rational and Real numbers.

Fundamental operations: addition, substraction, multiplication, division, Square roots, Decimal fractions

Unitary method, Time and Distance, Time and work, Percentages, 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 and use of logarithmic tables

Geometry Lines and angles, Plane and plane figures, Theorems on Properties of angles at a point, Parallel lines, Sides and angles of a triangle, Congruence of triangles, Similar triangles, Concurrence of medians and altitudes, Properties of angles, Sides and diagonals of a Parallelogram, Rectangle and square, Circles and its properties including tangents and normals and Loci
Trigonometry Sine ×, cosine ×, Tangent × when 0° < × < 90°

Values of sin ×, cos × and tan ×, for ×= 0°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90°

Simple trigonometric identities

Use of trigonometric tables

Simple cases of heights and distances

Statistics Collection and tabulation of statistical data, Graphical representation frequency polygons, Histograms, Bar charts, Pie charts, etc., Measures of central tendency
Mensuration 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

Check out a few concept-based articles that will be helpful to cover up the maths syllabus of CDS conveniently- 

  1. Alligations and Mixtures
  2. Number Series 
  3. Quadratic Equations
  4. Time and Work

For more such articles on various mathematics topics, check the Quantitative Aptitude page linked here.

CDS Syllabus – English

The questions in the English section of the CDS exam are designed to test the candidate’s understanding of basic grammar, vocabulary and knowledge of English. Questions in this section are framed from the following topics: 

CDS Syllabus – English
  1. Antonyms
  2. Sentence improvement
  3. Comprehension
  4. Synonyms
  5. Word substitution
  6. Ordering of sentences
  7. Spotting Errors
  8. Selecting Words
  9. Ordering of words in a sentence

To start with the preparation of the English syllabus of CDS exam refer to the links of relevant English language topics that are asked frequently in the examination:

For more important topics on English For Competitive exams, such as Precis and Letter writing format, rules and list of prepositions, articles, conjunctions etc. check the link provided.

Also, go through important questions and answers on English topics for practice and preparation.

More question and answer articles on important topics of the Verbal Ability section can be found on the linked page.

CDS Syllabus – General Knowledge

The General Knowledge section tests the knowledge candidate related to the current events and happenings around the world.. The questions in this section are included from the History of India, Geography of nature and science as well. Topics that candidates should prepare in the General Knowledge section are given below.

CDS Syllabus – General Knowledge
Current Awareness, Economics, Physics, Biology, Sociology, Chemistry, Award and honours, books and authors, History, Politics, Geography, Environment, Defence, Sport and Culture.

For the preparation this section important topics that candidates must go through are listed below:

More such topics on general awareness are given on the Static GK page, check the link provided. For the preparation of current affairs candidates can check the following links

Knowledge of detailed syllabus and having good books handy is very important for good preparation of CDS exam.

CDS Booklist

Candidates after knowing the topic-wise CDS syllabus must be willing to know the CDS books they should refer to for effective preparation. Dedicated books for the CDS exam will help candidates have a better knowledge of the subjects and ultimately bag a good score in the examination.

Hence, below mentioned are some of the important books for the CDS exam that candidates must keep handy.

CDS Books – Mathematics
  1. Mathematics for CDS by RS Aggarwal
  2. Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive examination by RS Aggarwal (S Chand Publication)
  3. Quantitative Aptitude for examinations paperback by RS Aggarwal
  4. Pathfinder for CDS by Arihant Publications
CDS Books – General Knowledge
  1. Newspapers like, The Hindu, Indian Express, etc.
  2. General Awareness by Manohar Panday
  3. Manorama Yearbook
  4. Magazines such as Pratiyogita Darpan, Competition Success Review (CSR), and Yojana
CDS Books – English
  1. Wren and Martin – High School English Grammar & Composition
  2. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
  3. Objective General English by SP Bakshi

CDS Booklist and Syllabus PDF- Download PDF Here

The most common mistakes that candidates make is they start their preparation for the Combined Defense Services exam without completely understanding the CDS syllabus and exam pattern. 

Knowing in detail the Syllabus of CDS is important as it confines the preparation and helps to strategise the study plan that is the key to attain success in any exam.

Check details related to Government exams after 12th in the given link. 

Also, go through the Competitive Exam Preparation Strategies to plan out a good study schedule and leave no stone unturned for exam preparation.

Aspirants of other exams conducted by UPSC can go through the given links for assistance-

UPSC Syllabus UPSC CAPF Syllabus UPSC NDA Syllabus
UPSC Books UPSC 2023 NDA Exam

Government Exam 2023


Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.



  1. Hey! I am Palak Sharma,and I want to clear OTA exam but I use specs so am I eligible with specs for the exam?
    If not , can I go with Lasik treatment?