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Combined Defence Services (CDS) Exam

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Combined Defence Services (CDS) Exam

Updated: Feb 28, 2024

The CDS exam 2024 will be held in April. UPSC has already released the official notice which consists of all the exams regarding information starting from the syllabus to eligibility criteria. 

What is CDS?

CDS or Common Defence Services is an admission test for the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, and Officers' Training Academy.

Individuals who aspire to join one of these academies and become well-respected officers must appear for this examination. The CDS exam takes place twice a year, therefore candidates have plenty of chances to crack the same and place themselves in the most respected and powerful defense academies. 

However, it should be noted that each of these schools has a unique set of eligibility requirements, ranging from educational to physical. As a result, to join the AFA, one must first obtain the necessary education.

Because the exam is also there, knowing the crucial dates, schedule, and question pattern will help you plan your preparation more strategically. Applicants should consider their age, educational degree, physical suitability, and medical eligibility.

Defence is a location where everything will be tested, from your cognitive abilities to your physical fitness abilities; therefore, it is best to be aware of them ahead.

Dates to Remember for CDS Exam 2024

CDS  1 will take place in April and the estimated date for part 2 is September. Dates for the other important events related to CDS 2024 are as follows: 

Events Happened/ to Happen


First Notification Released

December 20th, 2023

Starting of the Application Process

December 20th, 2023

End of the Application Process

January 9th, 2024

Fee Payment Deadline

Sam as Above

Form Correction Period

January 10th - 16th 2024

Admit Card Upload

A week Before the Exam Date

CDS I Exam date

April 21st, 2024

Answer Key

Yet to Be Updated

Final Results

No Updates Until Now

CDS 2 Exam Notification 

June 2024

Starting Date of Application Process

Same as Above

Ending Date of Application Process

July 2024

Corrections in Application Form

Same as Above

Admit Card Upload

August 2024

Date of CDS II Exam

1st September 2024

Answer Key Release

Yet to Be Updated

Final Result Date

No Update Until Now

CDS 2024 Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for CDS 2024 would be the same as the previous year as it merely focuses on age, education, nationality, etc. However, there are physical and medical criteria as well. The detailed information is written below. 


The candidates who are under the age group of 19 to 25 are the only ones considered eligible for the examination. If a candidate is older than 25 or younger than 18, he/she will be considered not eligible.

Educational Qualifications:

The educational qualifications have been specified for different academies. Candidates aspiring to join INA or the Indian Naval Academy must have a Bachelor’s in engineering degree. On the other hand, those who want to join the AFA or Air Force Academy must have a graduation degree with Physics and Maths as main subjects or a degree in engineering. 

For IMA or Indian Military Academy and OTA, Officers' Training Academy, applicants having any graduation degree will be considered eligible. 

National Identity:

Only Indian candidates can apply for this examination which also includes refugees from Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Burma, Vietnam, Zaire, Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Zambia who settled down in India before 1962.

Marital Status:

Only unmarried candidates are allowed to appear. However, those applying for OTA, divorcee, or widow candidates can also apply. 

Physical Fitness:

  • There should be no sign of physical or mental illness.

  • The male candidates’ height must be 157.5 cm. For Gorkhas, it is 152 cm, and for Lakshwdeep, it is 155 cm.  Female candidates must be 152 cm in height.

  • Eyesight eligibility for male candidates should be: 1) Better eye 6/6 and worse eye 6/12, 2) Myopia should not be more than minus 3.5D, 3) Manifest Hypermetropia more than 3.5 D including astigmatism will not be accepted.

  • Eyesight eligibility for female candidates should be: 1) Better eye 6/6 and worse eye 6/12, 2) Myopia should not be more than minus 5.5D, 3) Manifest Hypermetropia more than 3.5 D including astigmatism will not be accepted.


There is no restriction regarding the attempts. If a candidate is eligible as per his/her age, education, and nationality, they can apply as many times as they want.

Application Process Completion

Just like any other civil service examination application process, candidates need to register, fill in the details, and pay the fees. 


First, you need to visit and click on the registration button. After that, you need to click on the new registration button and fill in the asked details along with setting up 2 security questions and a password. After typing the captcha code, click on the submit button. You have registered.

Filling Application Form

Look for the CDS application link and click on that. Then, fill out the form with your details and upload the documents like mark sheets, ID proofs, photographs, signature copies, etc.

Fee Payment

In the end, you need to pay the fees allocated to you as per your cast category

Admit Card Collect

Once you get the CDS 2024 admit card notification, you can log in to your account and collect the same. 

CDS 2024 Application Fee Structure

Male candidates from General, OBC, and PWD have to pay a fee of 200 rupees. While female candidates, SC/ST, and Physically Handicapped (HP) people are exempted from paying any fees. 

CDS Vacancy List

In 2024, there will be 457 vacancies covering different Academies situated in different localities. The vacancy list is as follows: 



Indian Military Academy, Dehradun

100 (Includes 13 reserved vacancies for NCC “C” certificate holders.

Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Executive Branch 

32 ( Includes 6 reserved vacancies for NCC “C” certificate holders)

Air Force Academy, Hyderabad

32 (Includes 3 reserved vacancies for NCC “C” certificate holders)

Officers' Training Academy. Chennai/Madras, 121st SSC Men's Course


Officers' Training Academy. Chennai/Madras, 35th SSC Women Course


Total= 475

CDS 2024 Salary Range

The salary range depends on the designation and the responsibilities. The same is mentioned below: 

  • Lieutenant - INR 56,100 - 1,77,500

  • Captain - INR 61,300 - 1,93000

  • Major - INR 69,400 - 2,07,200

  • Lt Colonel - INR 1,21,200 - 2,12,400

  • Colonel - INR 1,30,600 - 2,15,900

  • Brigadier - INR 1,39,600 - 2,17,600

  • Major General - INR 1,44,200 - 2,18,200

  • Lieutenant General - INR 1,82,200 - 2,24,100

  • HAG+Scale - INR 2,05,400 – 2,24,400

  • VCOAS/Army Cdr/ Lieutenant General (NFSG) - INR 2,25,000

  • COAS - INR 2,25,000

Exam Centers (CDS 2024)

You can appear for this examination from any state in this country. CDS exam will be conducted at various exam centers covering all the states and union territories. You will see them once you fill out the application as you must choose one to get the admit card. 

Common Defence Services Exam Pattern (2024)

Candidates need to qualify for one written exam and one interview before they are called for the medical examination after which the final merit list of selected candidates is released. The exam will be the same for all three academies. However, the pattern or OTA is a bit different. 

Pattern for IMA, INA, AFA Academy:

Exam Mode: Written

Total Papers: 3 (English, General Knowledge, Elementary Mathematics)

Marks: 100 Each

Time: 2 hours per paper

Negative Marking: ⅓ per wrong answer

Pattern for OTA Academy:

Exam Mode: Written

Total Papers: 2 (English, General Knowledge)

Marks: 100 Each

Time: 2 hours per paper

Negative Marking: ⅓ per wrong answer


The interview will be conducted in 2 parts. The first part is about OIR. It means that the candidate’s Officer intelligence will be tested and rated. In part 2, there will be group discussions and other group tasks.

CDS 2024 Syllabus

The CDS 2024 syllabus is available on the first notification PDF available on It is better to download the syllabus from the official website as the version there is much more detailed. Keep a copy of the syllabus with you.

Moreover, if you want more information regarding physical and medical eligibility, everything is mentioned in the same PDF in a very detailed format. 

CDS 2023 Cut-Off

INA: 233 – 245

OTA: 162 – 170

AFA: 268 – 270

OTA: 164 – 170

IMA: 245 – 255

How Many Students Appeared for CDS 2023?

More than 5 Lakh people appeared for CDS 2023.

CDS 2024 Response Sheet

The CDS 2024 response sheet will come after the exam is concluded. Candidates can download the same from the official website of UPSC. 

CDS 2024 Answer Key Challenge

Candidates can raise objections against the answer key by paying a fee per question. They need to log in to the UPSC website and challenge the answer key.

CDS 2023 Toppers List

The list below includes toppers from all the academies.

  • Tushar 

  • Chetan Bhal

  • Prikshit Dehiya

  • Varun Lajji Pandey

  • Inderpreet Singh

  • Lokesh Singh Bhindwar 

  • Vimal Pandey 

  • Gaurav Upadhyay 

  • Gagan Deep Bharti 

  • Arpit Aggarwal

  • Aman Somra 

  • Rahul Singh Tanwar 

  • Vikrant Singh Shekhawat

  • Ajay Singh Rajput 

  • Nikhil Kapri 

  • Arohi Baloda 

  • B Aditya 

  • Ayush Raj

  • Gokul Girish

  • Vimal Pandey

  • Kartik Sharma Amogh Singh Pathania 

  • Varun Lajji Pandey 

  • Aalok Bhanot 

  • Mayank Kumar Tripathi 

  • Shubham Thakur

  • Arohi Baloda

  • Amogh Singh Pathania

  • Aalok Bhanot 

  • Mayank Kumar Tripathi 

2024 Preparation Guide

As there is only one written exam, it becomes easier for the students. Cracking exams that have stages like the prelims and mains becomes a bit more tough and challenging. 

  • The best advice from teachers is to stick to your school and college education. Choose books that clear your concepts. And take coaching if needed as teachers can simplify the concepts faster than self-study and easily. 

  • Try to finish the chapters that are not clear to you. However, you need to keep practicing the easy ones simultaneously. 

  • Take mock tests only after you have completed your syllabus. It will boost your confidence while exposing you to various questions. 

  • Keep practicing answers as it is not an MCQ-based exam.

You can join any institute that gives the best coaching for CDS. Remember, if you don’t have any in your state, do not hesitate to shift to another. Cities having top Institutes are Gurugram, Kota, Mumbai, etc. There are more on the right-hand list on your screen.





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