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CDS 2020 Exam Guide: Pattern, Syllabus, Result & Cut Off

Updated on 03 March 2023
42 min read 23 views
Updated on 03 March 2023

Are you looking to join India’s defence forces as a commissioned officer and serve the nation? Then one of the respected and prestigious entrance exams for you would be the Combined Defence Services Examination, also known as the CDS exam. CDS is conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). This national level exam is held two times a year, usually in February and September. In this article, we will cover the entire CDS 2020 Exam guide for aspiring candidates.

CDS 2020 Exam Date:

CDS 2020 Exam Date is yet to be released by the officials. It was delayed due to the ongoing pandemic. However, here are a few tentative dates for the second CDS exam of this year, which will be updated once the CDS notification is out:




5th August 2020

CDS 2 registration 2020

5th August 2020

CDS 2 notification 2020

8th November 2020

CDS 2 exam 2020

CDS Exam 2020 Eligibility Criteria:

Eligibility criteria for UPSC CDS Exam can be divided into five categories:

  1. Nationality
  2. Age
  3. Sex
  4. Marital Status
  5. Educational Qualifications
  6. Physical Fitness

Eligibility criteria also differs for which academy you opt for. We have provided complete eligibility details below as per the academies.  


Candidates born not earlier than 2nd January 1997, and not later than 1st January 2002

Candidates born not earlier than 2nd January 1997, and not later than 1st January 2002

Candidates born not earlier than 2nd January 1997, and not later than 1st January 2001

Candidates born not earlier than 2nd January 1996, and not later than 1st January 2002

Candidates born not earlier than 2nd January 1996, and not later than 1st January 2002







Marital Status







Graduate in any field

Degree in Engineering from a recognised university

Degree with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level or Bachelor of Engineering 

Graduate in any field

Graduate in any field

Physical Fitness

Candidates must be physically fit according to set physical standards

  1. A citizen of India, or
  2. A subject of Nepal/Bhutan, or
  3. Tibetan refugee who migrated to India before 1st January 1962 with the intention to permanently settle in India, or
  4. An individual of Indian Origin who migrated from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia, Zaire & Vietnam to settle permanently in India.


CDS Exam 2020 Total Vacancy:

Vacancy for CDS 2 for the year 2020 is yet to be declared with a CDS notification. Vacancies for CDS 1 2020 for the same year were 418 in number. Below is the breakdown of the total vacancies:



Vacancies in CDS 1 2020

Indian Military Academy, Dehradun 


Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala


Air Force Academy, Hyderabad


Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai


Officers Training Academy, Chennai




CDS Exam Application Process:

As per the CDS notification, the online application process can be divided into two parts:

Part I: Filling out of basic information in registration form. 

Part II: Uploading of scanned photograph, signature, photo ID card, exam centre selection and payment of application fees.

Part I process:

  1. Go to the official UPSC website for the exam.
  2. To register, click the Part I link.
  3. Enter personal details and educational qualifications.
  4. Select preferred branch.
  5. Verify details and click submit.
  6. Registration ID will be generated upon successful registration. Save and keep for future reference.

Part II Process:

  1. Login with the registration ID generated in the previous step.
  2. Pay examination fees of Rs. 200/- online by debit/credit card or SBI netbanking. Payment through SBI challan is also possible. Fees is exempted for females and SC/ST candidates.
  3. Select exam centre. Candidates must note that the centre is allotted on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  4. Upload photograph and signature.

CDS Exam 2020 Admit Card:

Admit cards must be downloaded from the official UPSC website by clicking on the admit card link on the homepage. Applicants will need to enter registration number or roll number to download the admit card. 

Candidates are advised to take a printout of the admit card once downloaded, since it has to be carried to the CDS exam centre along with one photo ID proof.

Salary Structure:




Lieutenant Level 10

₹ 56,100 - 1,77,500

Captain Level 10 B

₹ 6,13,00 - 1,93,900

Major Level 11

₹ 6,94,00 – 2,07,200

Lieutenant Colonel Level 12A

₹ 1,21,200 – 2,12400

Colonel Level 13

₹ 1,30,600-2, 15,90

Brigadier Level 13A

₹ 1,39,600-2,17,600

Major General Level 14

₹ 1,44,200-2,18,200

Lieutenant General HAG Scale Level 15

₹ 1,82,200 - 2,24,100

HAG+Scale Level 16

₹ 2,05,400 – 2,24,400

VCOAS/Army Cdr/ Lieutenant General (NFSG) Level 17

₹ 2,25,000/-(fixed)

COAS Level 18

₹ 2,50,000/-(fixed)


CDS Exam 2020 Selection Process:


CDS selection process includes two stages- written CDS exam and SSB interview. Only those candidates who qualify the written exam can proceed with the intelligence and personality test of SSB interview. 

Written CDS Exam: 

The written CDS exam for all three forces consists of three sections- English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics. Total marks allotted are 300. 

Written exam for Officers’ Training Academy includes two sections – English and General Knowledge. Total marks that are allotted are 200. 

SSB Interview: 

The SSB interview consists of two stages- Psychological Aptitude Test and Intelligence Test. Candidates who clear the first stage are called for the second round. Only those candidates get selected for the final round who clears written exam and SSB Interview.  

Selected candidates are provided training at Indian Military Academy- Dehradun, Indian Naval Academy- Ezhimala, Air Force Academy- Hyderabad and Officers’ Training Academy- Chennai based on service allotted.

CDS 2020 Exam Syllabus:

CDS 2020 exam syllabus has been prescribed by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The syllabus is broadly divided into three subjects – English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics. The standard of the questions in Elementary Mathematics is of matriculation level and of graduation level in English and General Knowledge. 

List of detailed topics is given in annexure I.

CDS 2020 Exam Pattern:

CDS 2020 Exam pattern for written exam: 

Mode of written exam is offline in nature, and the questions are of objective type. The questions asked in the exam are both English and Hindi.

Structure of exam for IMA, INA, AFA is: 




Maximum marks


2 hours


General Knowledge

2 hours


Elementary Mathematics

2 hours



Structure of exam for OTA is:




Maximum marks


2 hours


General Knowledge

2 hours


Marking Scheme: 

Each question carries 4 options, out of which only 1 option is correct. Marks for correct answers is +1 and for incorrect answers is -0.3. If candidates mark multiple options then it will be considered as incorrect. There is no negative marking for unanswered questions.


CDS Exam Pattern for SSB Interview: 

Marks allotted for SSB Interview for IMA, INA, AFA is 300 marks, while for OTA, the marks allotted are 200. 

As mentioned before, the SSB Interview includes two stages:

  1. Stage I consist of Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and Picture Perception Description Test (PP&DT).  
  2. Stage II consist of Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and Conference. 

These tests are conducted over a duration of 4 days.

CDS Exam 2020 Cut Off:

Knowing the cut off for the CDS exam is important to let your prepare better for the exam. Along with this, candidates must also follow CDS Preparation tips to boost the preparation.

Following is the CDS 1 cut off for 2018



Written Exam

Final Exam


Aggregate marks of the last qualified candidate

Marks of last recommended candidate










OTA (Men)



OTA (Women)




Following is the CDS 2 cut off for 2018


Marks of last qualified candidate 

Written Exam

Final Exam

Minimum aggregate marks of last qualified candidate

Marks of last recommended candidate










Annexure I: Syllabus

Syllabus Topics for English Language:

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

Syllabus Topics for General Knowledge:

Economics, Physics, Current Awareness, Politics, Chemistry, Sociology, History, Defence related, Awards, Geography, Environment, Sports, Biology, Culture, Books

Syllabus Topics for Elementary Mathematics:

Number System- Natural numbers, Integers, Rational and Real numbers. Fundamental operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, Square roots, Decimal fractions. Unitary method, time and distance, time and work, percentages, applications to simple and compound interest, profit and loss, ratio and proportion, variation.

Elementary Number Theory- Division algorithm. Prime and composite numbers. Tests of divisibility by 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 11. Multiples and factors. Factorisation Theorem. H.C.F. and L.C.M. Euclidean algorithm. Logarithms to base 10, laws of logarithms, use of logarithmic tables.

Algebra- Basic Operations, Simple Factors, Remainder Theorem, HCF & LCM, Theory of Polynomials, Solutions of quadratic equations, Relation between its roots and Coefficients (Only real roots will be considered), Simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns—analytical and graphical solutions, Simultaneous linear inequations in two variables and their solutions, Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or inequations in two variables or quadratic equations in one, Variable & their solutions, Set Language and set notation, Rational Expressions and Conditional Identities, Law of Indices

Trigonometry- Sine ×, cosine ×, Tangent × when 0°, Simple trigonometric identities, Use of trigonometric tables, Simple cases of heights and distances

Geometry- Lines and angles, Plane and plane figures, Theorems on properties of angles at a point, Parallel lines, Sides and angles of a triangle, Congruence of triangles, Similar triangles, Concurrence of medians and altitudes, Properties of angles, sides and diagonals of a parallelogram, rectangle and square, Circles and its properties including tangents and normal and Loci

Mensuration- Areas of squares, Rectangles, Parallelograms, Triangle and Circle, Areas of figures which can be split up into these figures (Field Book), Surface area and volume of cuboids, Lateral Surface, Volume of Right Circular Cones, cylinders and Surface, Area and volume of spheres

Statistics-  Collection and Tabulation of Statistical Data, Graphical Representation Frequency Polygons, Histograms, Bar charts, Measures of Central Tendency

This was the complete CDS 2020 Exam guide that will help candidates boost their CDS exam preparation. Check the official notification of CDS and make sure you don't miss any update. Good luck to all the candidates!

More To Know : -

CDS 2023 Application Form, Important Dates, and Eligibility

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