How to Crack CDS Exam



‘Success starts with hard core preparation and ends with its perfect execution!’

The given rule works in every field be it employment, sports, education or a competitive exam like that of CDS. Focusing on the preparation part today, I am going to spill some strategies and key tips on how to prepare for the written exam of CDS.

Combined Defence Services (CDS) is a national level competitive exam. It aims to select most worthy candidates from all over India for Indian Air Force Training Academy, Indian Naval Training Academy, Indian Military Training Academy and Officer’s Training Academy.

The entrance exam is conducted twice a year and incorporates 2 parts:

  1. Written test held by UPSC
  2. SSB interview session

Talking about the written exam, the pattern is as follows:

IMA, NA, AFA– The subjects are English, Mathematics and General Knowledge. Time scheduled for each paper is 2 hour with 100 questions in English and General Knowledge and 100 in Mathematics. 100 marks are given for each paper.

OTA– If you are applying for OTA then there are only 2 papers, that is, English and General Knowledge, 100 marks each. Rest time schedule, question count and marks remain the same.

Now that you have got an idea of the exam pattern let’s jump to the methodology of a good preparation for CDS exam through these simple steps:

SYLLABUS: Scan the syllabus. No I don’t mean a literal scan, just get complete knowledge of the curriculum of each subject. Without knowing the topics well you can never mark the beginning of a proper preparation.


PLAN: Strategize your preparation for which you need a two tier plan:


Study schedule

First analyze your strong and weak points. See the areas, the subjects, the topics where you have an upper hand and separate it from the weak ones. Get started with the weak ones foremost and make yourself thorough with them.

Plan a study time table. Give time to each subject daily. Keep altering the schedule so that it does not get boring and most importantly keep time for break and relaxing yourself.

PREVIOUS PAPERS: Studying alone does not help until and unless you support it with practice. Solve last year question papers, take online mock tests, get some practice papers. All of these will help you get a feedback of your progress and scope of improvement.

TIME MANAGEMENT: Candidates will get 2 hours per paper so you need to look after time management. Although the hours are sufficient for other subjects but in Mathematics you need to speed up.

ENGLISH: English is highly scoring when it comes to CDS. It involves basic topics like antonyms, synonyms, phrases, error detection etc. Get started with a good grammar book followed by a habitual reading of newspaper or any book. Add to that work upon your vocabulary. Daily write 3 new words with its antonym and synonym. Read English, speak English and you will be a pro in this subject.

G.K: General Knowledge is a wide subject as it involves Humanities, General Science and of course Current Affairs. A little effort and regular attention is what you need here. For Humanities NCERT is the best source. Go back to your school books and brush up your Science. Above all, for current affairs be updated with current news, global events, national and international activities. Read newspaper daily, download news app and also keep a special check on Defence news.

MATHEMATICS: Although the level of Mathematics in CDS is elementary yet many students get stuck in this subject. First clear your concepts, polish your basics then move on to solving questions. Use short tricks, mental calculation and regular practice.

CONSISTENCY: To add finishing touch to your preparation just keep in mind to be consistent, to be regular. Don’t take long gaps in between. Little or a lot, daily study is must to crack CDS written exam.

Hope the above layout will help you to get through CDS successfully. All the best!

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