Prepare for the CDS Exam with Ease!

Every year, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the prestigious Combined Defence Services (CDS) Examination, which is used to select qualified applicants for admission to the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Indian Air Force Academy and Officers’ Training Academy. The UPSC holds the Combined Defence Service test twice a year. As one of the most competitive government exams, the CDS exam demands a lot of strategic hard work and devotion.

Every year, more than 3 lakh people apply to take the CDS exam, but only a select handful make it to the final merit list. Candidates must approach their preparation strategically because the CDS Exam syllabus is fairly extensive. Candidates can make a successful preparation plan for themselves if they are aware of the most recent exam pattern and syllabus. Only those candidates with the best CDS preparation advance to the final selection rounds, which are based on how well they perform on the written exam and in the interview. 

Effective exam preparation would include time management techniques and study techniques that would help students learn more effectively. Below, we have provided similar useful tips and suggestions for candidates to ace the CDS exam in one go.

Tips to Ace CDS Exam

The UPSC CDS exam has a distinctive examination format, so it is important for candidates to be completely committed to their preparation efforts because it is difficult to clear the exam without the right CDS preparation strategies and tips. Candidates can check the following tips to crack the CDS exam:

  1. Understand the CDS exam pattern:

For any competitive exam, it is important to be well aware of the syllabus and exam pattern. According to the CDS Selection Process, candidates are chosen for all academies in two stages: the Written Test and the SSB Interview.

  • The Written Test is objective in nature and generally consists of three papers: General Knowledge, Mathematics and English.
  • The SSB Interview is an Intelligence and Personality Test.
  • Document Verification
  • Medical Examination

The CDS selection process has the same stages for all academies, but certain academies have a distinct marking system and subject distribution. The exam pattern is given below:

SubjectsDurationMaximum Marks
Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy & Air Force Academy: Exam Pattern 
English2 hours100
General Knowledge2 hours100
Elementary Mathematics2 hours100
Total6 hours300 Marks
Officers’ Training Academy: Exam Pattern
General Knowledge2 hours100
English2 hours100
Total4 hours200 Marks
  1. Identify important topics for each subject:

To excel in any examination, it is important to know the topics that are important from the exam’s point of view. Candidates should go through the previous year’s papers and syllabus to understand these important topics. Some of the important topics for each subject are listed below:

  • Maths: 
    • Number System
    • Polynomials
    • Quadratic equations
    • Simple & Compound Interest
    • Law of indices
  • English: 
    • Basic Grammar
    • Idioms & Phrases
    • Synonyms & Antonyms
    • Comprehension
    • One-word Substitution
    • Error Spotting
  • General Knowledge: 
    • Economics
    • Defence-related issues
    • Physics
    • Geography
    • Sports
    • Environment
    • Current Affairs
    • Politics
  1. Select the best CDS books for preparation:

Choosing the right books for the examination makes the journey to success less difficult. As the market is full of various books for all kinds of examinations, candidates should be able to choose the important and limited books for covering the syllabus and revise the same book multiple times rather than referring to multiple books. A few relevant books for each subject are:

Best Books for CDS Exam
EnglishHigh School English Grammar & CompositionWren and Martin
General KnowledgeGeneral AwarenessManohar Panday (Arihant Publications)
Elementary MathematicsMathematics for CDSR.S. Aggarwal
  1. Solve previous years’ papers and mock tests: 

Candidates can learn more about the exam format, question types, topic weighting and other exam-related information by solving previous years’ papers. Solving mock tests also helps to learn the types of questions that will be asked in the exam, and it also helps to improve time management. Additionally, candidates can evaluate their exam performance and focus on their weak areas by solving mock tests and previous years’ papers.

  1. Know subject-wise preparation tips:

There are some essential points which must be kept in mind to prepare for each subject individually, to prepare better for the exam:

  • English: One needs to revise the grammar rules to improve their English paper score. Improving vocabulary and knowing idioms and phrases in advance helps to have the edge over others.
  • General Knowledge: Revising the current affairs of the last four to five months properly helps to score well in this section. Reading the newspaper every day is the best way to prepare for this section.
  • Maths: Review key formulas for Algebra, Arithmetic, Trigonometry, Geometry, Mensuration and Statistics, and the ways to apply them is the key to performing well in this subject. Practising as many questions as one helps to increase the final score.

Tips For SSB Interview

After clearing the CDS written exam, candidates are invited to go through a personal interview with the SSB.  A candidate’s intelligence, personality and capacity to hold ranks in the Defence Forces are evaluated during the SSB interview. Therefore, candidates must speak and act in the manner of an officer. Here are some tips on how to ace the interview:

  • Focus on improving their communication skills: Candidates must be able to communicate their thoughts to the interview panel.
  • Keep calm and composure: Candidates must maintain their confidence and avoid being nervous throughout the personal interview.
  • Be physically fit and exercise regularly: An applicant must be mentally stable and physically fit to be prepared for the SSB. Practising body fitness helps to increase stamina.
  • Prepare for Group Discussions: Discussions and debates with friends and relatives are useful as it helps to open up with the views and to have strong and unambiguous viewpoints.
  • Stay updated with the recent news: An aspirant should have an awareness of everyday happenings, both nationally and internationally. This also helps to interlink and understand various viewpoints and dimensions of various global issues.

Tips for Physical and Medical Exams

Both cognitively and physically strong applicants are required for jobs in the defence sector. In addition to the written test, candidates must also go through a physical and medical examination. None of the candidates should have a history of mental illness. The following tips can be used by candidates for the physical examination:

  • To stay fit, candidates must train and exercise on a regular basis.
  • Check the weight and height using the common scale to meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Candidates must have a comprehensive physical examination to ensure they are healthy and free of any diseases or illnesses before taking the exam.

After going through the above article, it is evident that passing the CDS exam requires a lot of hard work and dedication. The most important thing in the preparation journey for the exam is to be thorough with the CDS Syllabus. Along with a good preparation strategy, candidates also should know how to manage their time in the examination hall to be able to score good marks. For each incorrect answer, the exam has a negative marking. So, it is best to avoid making guesses while marking the questions.

Thorough revision before the exam using short notes contributes immensely to the overall performance. Candidates must remain calm and confident in the exam, which is a very important attribute of personality. A good preparation strategy and dedicated hard work can easily help the aspirants to pass the exam with flying colours.