How to clear the CDS written Exam: On Your First Attempt

If we talk about influential and prestigious job, astounding personality, royal life with a great responsibility, the first picture which strikes to the mind is Indian Defence Forces. Indian forces are one of the best forces in the world. To be the part of this remarkable force, Combined Defence Services (CDS) examination is the best route. It’s a graduation level examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), followed by Staff Selection Board (SSB) interview. Indian Military Academy (IMA), Officer Training Academy (OTA), Indian Naval Academy (INA) and Air Force Academy (AFA) are the four academies of Indian Defence Forces. One of them is allotted to selected candidates according to their choice filled in examination form.

Combined Defence Services (CDS) examination is known be one of the toughest examinations in India, but it’s not true! Intelligence is not their main requirement; they are also looking for astuteness, presence of mind, good IQ level and awareness. Hence, it required a methodical and systematic way of preparation with lot of practice and revision to clarify this exam. How to clear the CDS written exam is the main matter to talk about.

Criteria of written examination:

Written examination is divided in three categories:

  1. Mathematics: It consists of 100 questions based on arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and statistics. (Not for OTA candidates)
  1. English: It consists of 120 question based on general English like synonyms, antonyms, finding errors and unseen comprehensions. (For all candidates)
  1. General Science: It consists of 120 questions based on current affairs, history, geography, Indian constitution, computers, physics, chemistry, biology and much more. (For all candidates)

How to prepare & crack the exam:

Methodical preparation and regular practice are the main requirements to clear this exam. Firstly, prepare a list of topics with respect to the number of days require for the topic.


Everybody should start the preparation with mathematics as it’s the highest scoring part of the examination. Most important topics in arithmetic are time and work, time and distance, compound interest, ratio and proportion; in geometry, lines and angles, triangles,  questions related to 3D structures such as cube, cuboids, cone, frustum of cone are most important. And linear equation in two derivatives is also important one. Give main focus to these topics and you have to answer 60 questions correctly to clear the mathematics exam.


Difficulty level of this section is not so much high. Good command of vocabulary can help you to answer more than 20 questions (synonyms and antonyms). Practice the grammar rules (subject verb agreement, preposition, tense, pronoun, adjective etc) on regular basis and solve practice exercises. Only 55-60 correct answers and you’ll clear this part also.

General science:

This section is known to be the toughest section of Combined Defence Services examination. But it’s not so! Establish a habit of newspaper reading on regular basis for solving the current affairs section. In history section, movements in-between revolt of 1857 and independence (1947), Vedic period, Maurayan kings, Magadh kings are the main topics; in geography, mountain peaks, rivers, average rain, folk dances required main focus; general knowledge about computers is also necessary. You can find more than 5 questions related to Indian Constitution in the exam. Proper knowledge of physics and chemistry of 11th and 12th level is sufficient to answer the question related to them.

Try to complete the syllabus before a month of the exam and solve more and more practice sets available in market and internet as well. Unquestionably, above tips will help you to clear CDS written examination. Best of Luck!

    1. Sumit Kumar August 28, 2013
    2. jagadeeswaran April 12, 2014

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