CDS Exam Pattern 2024: Selection Process and Marking Scheme

May 8, 2024
CDS Exam Pattern

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

More than 5 lakh candidates appear for every  Combined Defence Services (CDS full form) Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. Only 7000 to 9000 candidates manage to clear it. If you are planning to appear for the next CDS exam 2024, here is all the information you would ever need about the CDS exam pattern 2024 and syllabus.

The CDS Recruitment 2024 examination is a national-level examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission to recruit commissioned officers into various CDS jobs and CDS posts:

  • The Indian Military Academy
  • The Officer’s Training Academy
  • The Indian Naval Academy
  • The Indian Air Force Academy

If you are ready to take the CDS exam, you need to understand the latest UPSC CDS exam pattern. This article will give you all the details about the latest exam pattern, its syllabus, as well as its marking scheme.

cds exam pattern

CDS Exam Pattern 2024 – Highlights

Every year UPSC attempts to recruit candidates for the officer posts of INA, IMA, OTA, and AFA. By formulating the CDS Exam Pattern, UPSC ensures that the selected candidates have the necessary basic level of knowledge and skills.

Here is an overview of the CDS exam 2024 in tabular format:

Exam NameCombined Defense Service (CDS)
Conducted ByUnion Public Service Commission
Frequency of the ExamTwice a Year
Stages of ExamWritten Exam, SSB Interview, Medical Examination
Official Website

To improve your chances of qualification, go through the complete exam pattern of CDS Recruitment 2024.

CDS Exam Selection Process

There are three stages you will have to clear if you wish to qualify for Combined Defence Services. Listed below are also the CDS exam 2024 changes:

  1. CDS Written Exam 2024: Each exam will be of a two-hour duration with multiple-choice questions. Once you pass your exam, you will be called for the SSB Interview.
  2. SSB Interview for CDS Recruitment: This stage involves a 5-day selection process, during which you will be tested for your intelligence, physical strength, personality, and so on. After you clear this interview, you will be called for a medical examination and document verification.
  3. Medical Examination & Document Verification: The medical examination for CDS is conducted by a Special Medical Board for about four to six days. You have to produce all the required documents when you appear for this medical examination.

Keep checking the official website of UPSC for the latest updates on the CDS exam pattern of 2024.

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CDS Written Test Exam Pattern 2024

The CDS exam pattern consists of three papers:

  • English paper 
  • General Knowledge Exam
  • Elementary Mathematics

CDS Exam Pattern for OTA

The CDS OTA Exam Pattern includes only English and General Knowledge papers.

  • You get two hours to attempt each of these papers.
  • Each paper will be for 100 marks.
  • There will be negative markings for wrong answers.
  • The mode of the exam is offline only. You will get an OMR sheet in which you will be coloring the right option.
  • The medium of the exam could be Hindi or English

Here is the CDS OTA Exam Pattern, with various subjects and their weightage, in tabular format:

SubjectDurationMaximum Marks
English2 hours100
General Knowledge2 hours100

*1/3rd of the total mark will be deducted for each wrong answer

CDS Exam Pattern for INA, IMA, AFA

CDS PaperEnglishMathematicsGK
Maximum Marks100100100
Marks for Correct answer+1 marks for each correct option+1 marks for each correct option+1 marks for each correct option
Marks deducted for an Incorrect answer-0.33 marks for each wrong answer-0.33 marks for each wrong answer-0.33 marks for each wrong answer

CDS Exam Marking Scheme for 2024

The CDS Exam pattern involves negative markings for each wrong answer that you attempt. This makes it crucial for you to understand the CDS Exam marking scheme if you wish to clear the exam successfully.

Here is a table showing the total marks and deductions for negative marking for each paper of the CDS Exam:

CDS PaperMaximum MarksMarks for Each Correct AnswerNegative Marking
General Knowledge100+10.33
Elementary Mathematics100+10.33

Instructions to Fill CDS Exam OMR Sheet

Candidates should follow the below instructions to fill the OMR sheet very carefully as these sheets are evaluated on the machine and any violation of these instructions can result in a reduction of scores. After receiving the CDS 2024 OMR Answer Sheet, candidates have to check, if it is numbered at the bottom. If it is not numbered, it has to be replaced by a numbered one by the officials.

The following points should be kept in mind while filling CDS answer sheet:

  • Carry with you a good quality black ball pen for marking your responses on the answer sheet
  • The test Booklet Series will be indicated by Alphabets A, B, C, or D at the top right-hand corner of the Booklet.
  • Find out the appropriate subject code from the test booklet. Thereafter, encode the test booklet series, subject code, and roll number by using a black pen.
  • Candidates have to make sure that they have carefully encoded their subject Test Booklet series and Roll Number.
  • Do not write your name or any information other than the specific items requested on the CDS answer sheet/test booklet/sheet for rough work.
  • Avoid folding, or damaging the CDS OMR Answer Sheet.

Important Points about the CDS Exam

  • Darken the circles completely using a black ball pen to mark your responses in the answer sheet.
  • Although there are four choices in each question, make sure you choose only one response. Choosing two answers or darkening two circles for one question will be considered a wrong answer, for which a 1/3rd mark will be deducted.
  • If you don’t know the answer or aren’t sure about the answer to any question, it is better to leave it blank. There is no negative marking for blank answers.


Clearing the CDS exam is the first step you would take towards joining the Combined Defence Services of India. Before you attend the exam, make sure you understand everything you need to know about the CDS exam syllabus and pattern. Go through all the points mentioned above and take note of the CDS Exam Pattern and its marking scheme.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs )

How many exams are there in CDS?

There are 3 sections in CDS Exam – English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics. If you are attending CDS OTA Exam, you will have only 2 sections – English and General Knowledge.

What are the passing marks in the CDS exam?

You have to achieve at least 20 marks (out of 100) in each section if you wish to clear the CDS exam.

What are the maximum marks of CDS?

The maximum marks that you can achieve in each section of CDS are 100. If you are attending CDS for INA, IMA, and AFA, you can achieve total maximum marks of 300 (3 sections of 100 each). For CDS for OTA, the total maximum marks are 200 (2 sections of 100 each).

Is CDS a difficult exam?

The level of difficulty of the CDS exam depends entirely on your level of preparation. Give it some time and put in all your efforts to prepare for the exam.

How many attempts are in CDS?

There is no ceiling on the number of times you appear for CDS. However, the maximum age limit is 25 years.

Can I clear CDS on the first attempt?

Yes, you can clear CDS on your first attempt if you are well-versed with the CDS syllabus. It requires six months of dedicated hard work since the syllabus is vast.