CDS Syllabus & Exam Pattern 2023, Check Detailed Syllabus PDF

CDS Syllabus

The Combined Defense Services (CDS) examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to select candidates for entry into the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force. The CDS syllabus covers various subjects and aspects essential for a career in defense. It includes topics such as English language proficiency, general knowledge, mathematics, and current affairs.

CDS Syllabus 2023

The syllabus is designed to assess a candidate’s aptitude, logical reasoning, problem-solving abilities, and awareness of national and international events. It also includes sections on physics, chemistry, and biology for candidates applying to specific branches. The CDS syllabus ensures a comprehensive evaluation of candidates’ abilities to serve in the defense forces.

CDS Exam Pattern 2023

UPSC has established the CDS Exam pattern and declared it in its official notification. The Exam comprises two stages; Written Exam and Interview.

For Stage I, CDS Exam Pattern includes three sections for the Indian Military Academy (IMA), the Indian Naval Academy (INA), and Air Force Academy (AFA), and two sections for Officers’ Training Academy (OTA). We have included detailed information regarding each section in the following table and advise all aspirants to go through it to get an insight into the exam pattern and syllabus.

UPSC CDS Written Exam Pattern 2023

Mode of examOffline
Number of sectionsIndian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA) and Air Force Academy (AFA)-ThreeOfficers’ Training Academy (OTA)-Two
Total marks of the testIMA, INA and AFA-300OTA-200
Nature of questionsObjective type
Language of question paperHindi and English
Duration of the testTwo hours for each section of the test

Structure of Question Paper

The structure of the CDS question paper for IMA, INA, AFA, and OTA is as follows: 


SubjectDuration (In hours)Maximum marks
General Knowledge100
Elementary Mathematics100


SubjectDuration (In hours)Maximum marks
General Knowledge100

CDS Marking Scheme

  • For the incorrect answer, 1/3 marks are deducted
  • Candidates marking more than one option is treated as incorrect 
  • If a question is left unanswered there will be no negative marking 

The section-wise marking scheme of the CDS exam is given below: 

Specifications English GK Mathematics 
Maximum marks100100100
Marks for the correct answer+1 mark for each correct option+1 mark for each correct option+1 mark for each correct option
Negative marking-0.33 marks for each wrong answer-0.33 marks for each wrong answer-0.33 marks for each wrong answer

UPSC CDS Syllabus 2023

The CDS (Combined Defense Services) examination syllabus encompasses various subjects crucial for a career in the defense sector. It includes English language proficiency, testing candidates’ grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

General Knowledge covers a broad range of topics such as history, geography, current affairs, and defense-related issues. Mathematics evaluates candidates’ proficiency in areas like arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, and geometry.

Additionally, the syllabus includes sections on physics, chemistry, and biology to assess candidates’ knowledge in these subjects.

The aim of the CDS syllabus is to evaluate candidates’ aptitude, reasoning ability, problem-solving skills, and their understanding of diverse subjects relevant to defense services, ensuring a comprehensive assessment.

CDS Syllabus 2023 for English

This section will test the English language and vocabulary skills of the aspirants. It will comprise 120 MCQs covering the following topics:

  • Spotting Errors Questions
  • Substitution of Words
  • Basic Grammar
  • Reading Comprehension Questions
  • Vocabulary (Synonyms, Antonyms, and Phrases)
  • Sentence Rearrangement Questions 
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Ordering of Words in a Sentence
  • Fill in the Blanks 
  • Idioms and Phrases
  • Para Jumbles

CDS Syllabus 2023 for General Knowledge

This section will check the current affairs’ knowledge of the aspirants. It will also test the understanding of the aspirants in general topics like science, politics, foreign affairs, etc. It will also comprise 120 MCQs and cover topics, such as

  • Economics (Five-year plan, Budget, foreign trade, etc.)
  • Defence-related News (Army Day, Navy Day, Awards, recent developments, etc.)
  • Current Affairs (National and International, Environment, Sport, Cultural, Books, Statements, etc.)
  • Politics (Important facts related to Indian Constitution, Indian Judiciary, etc.)
  • Physics (optics, force, temperature, units, motion, heat, electricity, etc.)
  • Chemistry (physical, organic, inorganic, and general chemistry)
  • Biology (zoology, botany, and human biology)
  • Geography (important facts of Indian and world geography)
  • History (Ancient, Medieval and Modern India)
  • Sociology

CDS Syllabus 2023 for Elementary Mathematics

The mathematics section will have arithmetic, Trigonometry, Algebra, Mensuration, Geometry, and Statistics questions. The following table includes the section-wise topics that need to be practised for acing this exam.

ArithmeticFundamental operations (subtraction, addition, division, multiplication), Number System (natural, rational, integers, and real numbers), Unitary method, Time & Work, Percentages, Simple & Compound Interest, Time & Distance, Profit & Loss, Ratio & proportion, Elementary number theory, Composite & prime numbers, Theorem of factorization, Divisibility tests, Factors & Multiples, Euclidean algorithm, laws of algorithm & algorithmic tables, H.C.F. and L.C.M.
TrigonometrySine a, Cos a, Tan a when 0° < a < 90°, also values of Sin, Cos and Tan of 0°, 30°, 45°, 60°, and 90°Heights and distance, Simple trigonometric identities, Trigonometric tables
AlgebraBasic operations, Remainder theorem, Polynomial theories, Linear equations in 2 variables, Quadratic equations (relation between roots & its coefficients), Set language and set notation, Conditional identities, Laws of indices, Rational Expressions
MensurationAreas of Circles, Rectangles, Triangles, Squares, Parallelograms, The surface area of cuboids, Cylinders, Cones, Spheres, Volume
GeometryLines and angles, Plane & plane figures, Important theorems (like angle property based), Parallel lines, Medians & Altitudes, Congruency of triangles, Similar triangles, Circles, Parallelogram, Square, Rectangle
StatisticsTabulation of statistical data, Bar graphs, Graphical representation of frequency polygons, Pie charts, Histograms, Measures of central tendency

CDS Syllabus 2023 – Conclusion

A good understanding of the UPSC CDS Syllabus 2023 is crucial for all the aspirants who want a job in OTA, IMA, INA, and AFA fields. The latest exam pattern and syllabus help them understand each section’s weightage and design their preparation strategy. We have included the detailed syllabus and exam pattern in this guide and advise all aspirants to follow this strictly if they want to score good marks in UPSC CDS Exam 2023. 

CDS Syllabus & Exam Pattern 2023 – FAQs:

Q1. Is Maths compulsory for the UPSC CDS Exam?

Ans. Maths is compulsory for IMA, INA, and AFA exams. It is not compulsory if you are applying for the OTA exam.

Q2. How many stages does UPSC CDS Exam have?

Ans. UPSC CDS Exam comprises two stages; Offline Written Exam and Personal Interview.

Q3. What is the level of UPSC CDS Syllabus 2021?

Ans. The UPSC CDS Syllabus 2023 comprises three sections, out of which Elementary Mathematics is of 10th level, but General Knowledge and English are of graduation levels.

Q4. Is there any negative marking system in UPSC CDS Exam?

Ans. Yes, UPSC follows a negative marking system in CDS Written Exam. It deducts 1/3rd mark for each wrong answer.


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