CDS Syllabus

CDS Syllabus 2020: Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is going to conducts Combined Defence Services (CDS) Exam for recruitment of various vacancies under Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and Officers Training Academy. The CDS syllabus details is given below.

CDS Syllabus 2020 – Complete CDS Syllabus For The Written Exam

CDS Syllabus 2019: CDS Syllabus 2020 is declared on the official Website of UPSC CDS ( is conducted for recruitment to Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA) and Officer’s Training Academy (OTA). The syllabus and exam pattern for all the exams is similar, except for OTA paper.

  • CDS 2020 (session 1) is scheduled for 7th February 2021 in offline mode.
  • Candidates appearing for OTA exam can check the exam pattern for this session.
  • All the questions in recruitment entrance test are objective type in nature.
  • The Competitive examination comprises:
    • Written examination
    • Interview for intelligence and personality test

Attempt UPSC CDS Free Mock Test

Important Highlights of CDS Exam

Mode of Exam Offline only (Pen and paper mode)
Number of Questions asked 300 MCQ Type
Number of questions in OTA 200 MCQ Type
Maximum Marks 300 and 200 (OTA)
Duration of Exam 2 hours (120 minutes) for each paper
Medium Hindi or English
Negative Marking One third mark deducted for every incorrect response

CDS Exam Pattern 2020

The subjects of CDS written exam, the time allowed and the maximum marks allotted to each subject is tabulated below:

For Indian Military, Indian Naval and Air Force Academy
Subject Duration Max. Marks
English 2 hours 100
General Knowledge 2 hours 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 hours 100
For Officers’ Training Academy
Subject Duration Max. Marks
English 2 hours 100
General Knowledge 2 hours 100

Note: The maximum marks allotted to the written exam and to the interviews will be equal for each course i.e. the maximum marks allotted to the written exam and to the interviews will be 300, 300, 300 and 200 each for admission to the IMA, INA, AFA and OTA respectively. Check CDS Exam Pattern

CDS Syllabus 2020 – English

Antonyms Sentence improvement Comprehension
Synonyms Word substitution Ordering of sentences
Spotting Errors Selecting Words Ordering of words in a sentence

English question paper will be designed to test the candidates understanding of English language. As per previous year analysis, following are the important topics asked in English paper.

Topic Number of Questions Level of Difficulty
Sentence Improvement 20 Easy
Reading Comprehension 23 (5 passages) Easy to Moderate
Synonyms 8 Moderate
Antonyms 7 Easy
One Word Substitution 5 Moderate
Para-Jumble 10 Easy to Moderate
Sentence-Jumble 7 Moderate
Spot the Error 20 Easy
Cloze Test 20 Easy

Recommended Books 

CDS Exam Preparation English books are mentioned below:

  1. Objective General English by Arihant
  2. Objective General English by RS Aggarwal
  3. Word Power Made Easy: Norman Lewis

CDS Syllabus 2020 – General Knowledge

For GK paper, candidates can cover the following topics:

  • Latest Current Affairs
  • Indian Constitution
  • Indian History
  • Indian Economy
  • Indian Geography
  • Indian Politics
  • Indian Navy & Military
  • Religions
  • Books & Authors
  • Sports, Awards, etc

As per previous year analysis following are the important topics for GK paper:

Topic Number of Questions Level of Difficulty
History 19 Difficult
Science 27 Easy (Concept based questions)
Geography 22 Moderate (Analytical based questions)
Ecology 06 Moderate (Fact based questions)
Polity 20 Easy to Moderate
Economy/Trade 11 Moderate (Fact based questions)
Miscellaneous /Armed Forces 15 Moderate (Fact based questions)

Preparation Books

  1. Manorama Yearbook 2018
  2. Lucent’s General Knowledge
  3. Competition in Focus (Half Yearly and Yearly)

CDS Syllabus 2020 – Elementary Mathematics

Mathematics paper covers topics from diverse topics. Following are the topic covered in CDS 2020 Mathematics paper.

Mathematics section is thought-out as a scoring CDS Exam. To score good marks, candidates should know its complete syllabus. Mathematics paper consists of questions from arithmetic, algebra, mensuration, geometry, trigonometry and statistics. Given below is the detailed syllabus, on which questions are based on:

  • Algebra: Basic Operations, simple factors, Remainder Theorem, H.C.F., L.C.M. Set language and set notation, rational expressions and conditional identities, Laws of indices. Theory of polynomials, solutions of quadratic equations, relation between its roots and coefficients (Only real roots to be considered). Simultaneous linear inequations in two variables and their solutions. Simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns-analytical and graphical solutions. Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or inequations in two variables or quadratic equations in one variable & their solutions.
  • Trigonometry: Simple cases of heights and distances. Use of trigonometric tables. Sine x, cosine x, Tangent x when fn< x < 90° Values of sin x, cos x and tan x, for x = 0°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90° Simple trigonometric identities.
  • Geometry: Lines and angles, Plane and plane figures, Sides and angles of a triangle, Similar triangles, Concurrence of medians and altitudes, Congruency of triangles, Theorems on Properties of angles at a point Parallel lines, Properties of angles, rectangle and square Circles and its properties including tangents and Normals, sides and diagonals of a parallelogram, Loci.
  • Mensuration: Areas of squares, parallelograms, rectangles, triangle and circle. Surface area and volume of cuboids, Areas of figures which can be split up into these figures (Field Book), lateral surface and volume of right circular cones and cylinders, surface area and volume of spheres.
  • Statistics: Collection and tabulation of statistical data, Graphical representation, pie charts, histograms, bar charts, frequency polygons, etc. Measures of central tendency.
Number System Simple interest HCF&LCM of polynomials Area
HCF & LCM of numbers Compound interest Linear Equations in one and two Variables Surface area and volume of solids
Decimal fraction Ratio and proportion Quadratic Equations and Inequations Lines and angles
Square roots and cube roots Average Set theory Triangles
Time and distance Profit and loss Measurement of angles and trigonometric measurement Quadrilateral and polygon
Time and Work logarithm Height and distance Circle
percentage Basic operations and factorization Ratio Expressions Statistical Data Analysis

In the following table, previous year paper analysis of mathematics paper is mentioned.

Topic Number of Questions Level of Difficulty
Mensuration 14 Easy
Algebra 7 Easy to Moderate
Mean-Median-Mode (Frequency Distribution Table) 4 Easy
Time speed and Distance 6 Easy
Number System 20 Easy to Moderate
Simple interest/Compound interest 5 Easy
Percentage 2 Easy
Profit/Loss 1 Easy
Mixture 1 Easy
Time and Work 3 Easy
Trigonometry 14 Moderate to Difficult
Set Theory 1 Easy
Clock 2 Easy
Geometry 20 Easy to Moderate

Recommended Books

  1. Arihant Pathfinder
  2. Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma
  3. Mathematics for CDS by RS Aggarwal
  4. Quantitative Aptitude for examinations paperback 2018 by RS Aggarwal

CDS Syllabus 2020 – Intelligence & Personality Test

The SSB test is the selection stage after the written examination. It consists of Stage I and Stage II. Aspirants who clear Stage I will go ahead for Stage II. Below are its details:

Stage I: This stage has tests based on Picture Perception(PP), Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) and Description Test ( DT). Aspirants are shortlisted on the combined performance in OIR Test and PP and DT.

Stage II: This stage comprises Interview, Psychology Tests, Group Testing Officer Tasks and the Conference. This stage takes over 4 days to get over.

Instructions to Fill CDS Answer Sheet

Applicants are advised to follow the instructions to fill OMR sheet very carefully as the answer sheets are to be evaluated on the machine and any violation of these instructions may result in the reduction of scores. Before marking responses on the Answer Sheet, applicants have to fill in various particulars in it.

After receiving CDS 2020 Answer Sheet, applicants have to check that it is numbered at the bottom. If it is un-numbered, it has to be replaced by a numbered one. The top of the answer sheet will have the particulars shown in the figure below.


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

  • Write with black ball pen only.
  • 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 the roll number by using black pen.
  • Write and encode test booklet series after receiving the Test Booklet. For example, for English paper of ‘A’ Test Booklet Series you have to encode the subject code, which is 01 as shown below:


  • In the next step, you have to encode the Roll No. An example to encode the Roll Number is shown below.


  • Candidates have to make sure that they have carefully encoded their subject Test Booklet series and Roll Number.