UPSC CDS Exam Pattern Marking Scheme for All Posts

UPSC Exam Pattern PDF Download CDS Exam Pattern for IMA OTA

Combined Defense Service CDS Exam is conducted by Union Public Service UPSC every year. Huge number of aspirants fills up the forms to get admissions in IMA, NA, OTA and AFA. As you all know by this time CDS is the one of the biggest exam in India. Male candidates can join Indian Military Academy, Navy, and Air force but for Female candidates OTA in army is available. After giving the examination, candidates who clear is eligible for the SSB interview. This article is all about the CDS Exam Pattern so read all the sections carefully.

CDS Written Test Pattern

Well exam question paper consists of objective type questions and divided in three sections English, General Awareness and Mathematics. Each of the paper contains 100 marks and total of 300 marks. Every section consists of 120 questions in which 2 hours duration is given and in between 1 hours break is given. If any candidate gives any incorrect answers there will be negative marking of 1/3 which will be deducted from your score. From this we can conclude that 0.33 is negative marking and 0.8 marks will be rewarded for every correct answer.


Candidates who are thinking to apply in CDS OTA exam are looking for the exam pattern, its consists of two section English and General Awareness.

CDS Exam Pattern for OTA

Paper Subject Name Time Duration Maximum Marks
I English 2 Hours (120 Min) 100
II General Knowledge 2 Hours (120 Min) 100
                                               Total 200

Now we are explaining CDS Exam Pattern for IMA, NA, and AFA

Paper Subject Duration Maximum Marks
I English 2 Hours 100
II General Knowledge 2 Hours 100
III Elementary Mathematics 2 Hours 100
                                               Total Marks 300

AFCAT Preparation Material

AFCAT Exam Pattern & Syllabus  AFCAT Preparation Best Books
AFCAT Preparation Tips  AFCAT Sample Papers
AFCAT Full Eligibility Details AFCAT Study Material
AFCAT Previous Papers

UPSC Previous Year Question Papers DOWNLOAD


Well we have provided you all the details regarding the UPSC CDS examination pattern. Hope you get an idea that how question paper will be formulated and time duration given. We suggest that to keep on trying and practicing every day. If you need any kind of help them just comment in the section given below and do not forget to Subscribe Us to get all the latest notification regarding CDS and exam related to defence services. Follow or connect us on FB for more interaction with you.

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  1. Hi Sir,
    Is GK and English Paper common for all posts.

    1. Hi Sujit,
      Yes, the marking for english and GK is same for all posts.

      1. Do we have physics chemistry and biology in gk for OTA??

        1. Hi Ankit,
          There are no specific questions for Physics, Chemistry & Biology but the candidates can be asked general sense queries.

    2. diwakar mamidisetty


  2. i want to know that if i am preparing for cds ota then the english and general knowledge section for bota ota and cds air force, navy will be same or the aspirants of OTA have to give different paper

    1. Hi Himadri,
      The GK & English paper is same for all posts. Only mathematics paper differs which is NOT given by OTA candidates only.

  3. I m doing BCA . N want to join army after this . Plz tell me I m eligible for army to give exams .

    1. Hi Arati,
      You are eligible to give the CDS paper in the last year of your degree course. Please check the CDS ELigibility details at-

  4. wat is the age limit for OTA exam?

    1. Hi Mohita,
      Full Details for CDS Exam Eligibility can be checked at-

  5. hi..
    all 3 papers in same day???

  6. Sir , i m preparing for cds OTA . .can u please guide me regarding to books . .which book is to follow specially for english

  7. Is there any negative marking in upsc cds and if yes then at what criteria

  8. Hii….
    i’m roshan,doing my last year. my question is that can a male candidate eligible for OTA exam or not???
    plzzz rply

  9. can a male candidate eligible for OTA???

  10. can a male candidate apply 4 OTA?

    1. Yes Roshan,
      You can apply for OTA but please keep it as last option.

      1. Why ota as a last preference srr g

        1. Hi Rajiv,
          Because for men other 3 options are available also.

  11. sir,which book is best to crack CDS ?

  12. Hi
    my graduation exam is complete but result is not declared but I want to apply for CDS (2) exam for ota.
    am I eligible for this exam???

  13. can you upload the previous year cut-offs? Want to see the general trend.
    is it available in the UPSC website ?

  14. Sir what is age limit of ota plz reply sir

  15. Hey Sir..i want to know..that how many attempts are provided for OTA..?

  16. Is there any presentage requirements in gradution for CDS?

    1. Hi Naman,
      The percentage criteria is not mentioned in CDS notification.

  17. Hi, I am Renu Kharwar. Please suggest me books for OTA preparation.

  18. being a male candidate can I give ota ?

    1. Hi Sumit,
      You can take up OTA, but keep it as last option

      1. Why ota should be given less priority

        1. Hi Asutosh,
          It can be because OTA is meant for females at priority.

  19. Hai sir,
    I know the books for preparing cds.but my question is how to know GENERAL KNOWLEDGE which one is helpful for that.

    1. Hi Kannan,
      General Knowledge does not include any of fixed topics, it is totally variable it is dependant on current affairs, new events, important dates etc. So, you need to be updated with the current knowledge ongoing around you.

  20. Can you please tell me minimum qualify marks in each subject.

    1. Hi Rahul,
      There is no as such criteria for each section, overall cut off will matter.

  21. I m going to attempt ota first time plz suggest me about prepration.

    1. Hi Chetna,
      You can check the preparation material which is sent to your ID.

  22. dear Abhi sir….
    every section me se kitne questions puchte h….mens history me kitne… geography me kitne plz tell me
    only GK and Maths me

    1. Hi Lalit,
      You can check the full exam scheme from above and refer it for your exam preparation.

  23. sir can I apply only for ota

    1. Yes Mohit,
      You can apply for it but it can be of least priority for you.

  24. I have a dought about exam type I,e is this online exam or offline (paper)exam

    1. Hi,
      This is online exam.

  25. Hello sir
    As im giving OTA for womens non tech.will it b for indian army only or i can attempt for all the three forces

    1. Hi Priya,
      You can only attempt for OTA.

  26. Hi sir, mujhe iska individually portion wise jankari kha se milegi

    1. Hi Ajay,
      You can check the exam scheme in detail from above.

  27. I want to know that… For every right answer how much marks will be rewarded in ota

    1. Hi Rahul,
      The marking scheme as per question is not defined by UPSC, normally it is 1 mark for each.

  28. I want to ask you that 5 days SSB is also for OTA womens candidates.

  29. Hlo sir,
    I am preparing final year then can I apply cds. And ota is only for women.

  30. hello can you give me the link for previous cds(ota) exam question paper and for both g.k and english?

  31. My preference was given to IMA and OTA at the time of applying form . So i want to know is that can I write the exam for only OTA paper ie English and general knowledge

  32. Chandan Chakravarthi

    What r the Physical Eligibilities for CDS

  33. Biology questions will be asked in the paper??

    1. Hi Neha,
      Some basic questions will be asked from Biology.

  34. Hallo sir,
    I have completed, as notification apply for OTA female have 152cm hight ,but my hught is 149 cm, can I apply for OTA ???

  35. Dear Abhi sir,
    . I wants to knw how should education in CDS..plese reply sir

  36. after passing 12th with science stream is I am eligible for cds airforce exams…
    nd sir please give me it’s full details…..
    nd what to prepare…for it…

  37. Sir i done 12th with pcm group and graduation done with BA can I eligible for CDs AFA IMA and na

  38. Can a women candidate apply for IMA….. In Cds?

    1. No, women are only allowed for OTA

  39. Dear Abhi Sir,
    my question is? Pathfinder book is sufficeant …crack tha exam .suggest me sir pls .

    1. Hi Nitin,

      It depends on you how much you are giving time to your preparation but it is always better to have option and different methodology to learn. So i am suggesting you to go for other books as well.

  40. Hloo sr plzz tell me about the exam pattern of ota .???

  41. Hello Sir How much will merit in IMA

  42. Sir what is the chances of getting creak the exam for female candidant of general category… ota..?…..i mean what is the cut off and the procedure……it is tough or not

    1. Hi,
      The exam needs preparation and full determination. The questions are asked from very basic concepts but the competitive mind is required to answer them quickly and correctly. This comes up only with the practice and proper study regarding English, General Knowledge will help you.

      1. Sir I have passed out 12th……and my age is 17….i have started coaching of ota including maths also…… And decided to study private for my bechlor degree…… It is good for me or not… I have 2 years for the preparation……. Plz…suggest me what should I do next……?

        1. Hi Boby,
          For CDS you need to get the graduation degree from recognized university, just be sure of pursuing your bachelors’ degree accordingly. But, yes you can start your preparations and study well for CDS. OTA is only for females and so they need to prepare English & General Awareness.

          1. Thank you to suggest me sir……now I am confident that I am going in right direction…..

  43. sir i want to know that there is any interview or not for the post of OTA ,and what is the criteria of interview

    1. Yes interview will happen for OTA also and the criteria is same as SSB.

  44. Hi sir ,
    I am Atul Lad now completed BE in Mechanical Engineering.
    I am interested to join Indian army as a officer . Now my DOB 02-05-1995
    So I am eligible or not.

  45. Sir please how to find the answer key of previous CDS exam papers.
    Please regards..!

  46. Sir I want to know is low priority pay to boys in OTA exam

    1. Yes becuase OTA is meant for women candidates.

  47. Does they ll cut marks for unattempted questions in CDS

    1. Hi,
      The unattempted questions are left unanswered in exam.

  48. Sir is there different exam for army and ota ??

    1. Hi Akanksha,
      The only difference is that in OTA the subjects are- English & General Knowledge, and in other streams it is Mathematics, English and General Knowledge.

      1. Sir is there vacancy for women in IMA.

        1. No, for Women only OTA is applicable

  49. Sir OTA ka interview medium hindi hota hai kya?

    1. Hi Ganesh,
      The interview medium is basically English but Hindi language can also be used as a medium.

  50. hai sir
    i m going to attempt ota exam frst time can u plz suggest me about preparation for exam sir

    1. Hi Chandra,
      To prepare well for CDS exam-
      1) Study the syllabus well of CDS.
      2) Refer to best of books for CDS preparation.
      3) Practice previous & sample question papers before the exam so that you have the confidence to give your best shot in exam.

  51. Sir I’m Manasa.After my garduation it means at last yr of my degree want to apply for OTA exam .I can apply it in 4th yr last sem only or 4th yr 1st sem also can I apply???And for that(OTA) exam preparation what books should I prefer??can u plz suggest me sir.

    1. Hi Manasa,
      You can apply for CDS in the last year of degree or after completing it. For the CDS Books, refer to

  52. Sir what is the first rank given to female after completing ota

    1. Hi Suman,
      OTA rank is given to females- Officers Training Academy.

  53. sir will mathematics questions be asked for ota exam

    1. Hi Manjusha,
      No Maths is asked for girls in CDS, only for OTA candidates there is no Mathematics section

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