How to Crack UPSC CDS Exam ? - Check Study Plan and Tips
How to crack UPSC CDS exam? The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Combined Defense Services (CDS) exam. The UPSC CDS exam is a popular defense exam for graduates. Aspirants who wish to serve the country by joining the defense services can apply for the CDS 2021. However, before joining the services, the main question arises, how to crack the CDS exam, how to start the preparations of CDS, what should be the preparation strategy, tips and tricks etc.
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In this article on how to crack the UPSC CDS exam, we have covered each and every aspect which candidates might find useful, right from the CDS question papers, answer keys, best books for CDS, previous year cut off marks and more. Aspirants planning to fill the CDS application form 2021 will find these articles extremely useful.
UPSC CDS Exam Pattern and Syllabus
In order to crack the UPSC CDS exam, candidates must first know the scheme of the exam which consists of the CDS exam pattern and syllabus. The scheme of the exam comprises - written examination conducted in objective type questions and interview for intelligence and personality test of the candidates. There is a negative marking of 0.33% for wrong answers marked in the objective type question papers.
Subjects of the written examination, time and marks allotted to each subject:
(i) Indian Military Academy,
(ii) Indian Naval Academy,
(iii) Air Force Academy
(ii) General Knowledge,
(iii) Elementary Mathematics
(iv & v) Officers’ Training Academy
(ii) General Knowledge
(a) For Admission to Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy:
2. General Knowledge
3. Elementary Mathematics
Total: 3 subjects
(b) For Admission to Officers’ Training Academy:
2. General Knowledge
Total: 2 subjects
Mode of Selection
a) Candidates who qualify the written exam will be eligible to appear for an interview.
b) Final selection of candidates is done based on their performance in written exam and Interview.
Strategy and tips for English Preparation
Start with English Grammar and vocabulary. Improvise till you get better and better.
Read the newspapers, especially editorial for half an hour daily.
Practice Reading Comprehension. Start with understanding the essence of the article before attempting an answer.
Solve previous papers. At the same time, practice mock tests regularly.
Strategy and tips for General Knowledge Preparation
This is a scoring subject and hence the target should be to get accurate in this section. Apart from solving previous year papers and practising with mock tests, the following should also be
History of India and Geography carry questions in the exam paper so, focus on it would yield dividends.
Keep abreast of Current affairs/events topics. The Union Budget, Covid-19, Economic Survey, etc. are some topics that one must know about.
Information pertaining to India & neighbouring countries must be read and kept in mind.
Other miscellaneous information like authors, award winners, sea & airports and their location, state animals, etc. must also be covered.
Strategy and tips for Elementary Mathematics Preparation
This subject is the most important one as marks in this are considered for selection in the merit list. Topics like Arithmetic-Number System & Theory, Algebra, Geometry, Mensuration, Trigonometry, and Statistics have to be covered as questions are asked from here. Tips to master Maths are:
Learn the basics first. Know the concepts and the methods to solve problems.
Figure out or learn shortcuts to arrive at solutions faster.
Learn formulae well to ensure speedy answering in the exam.
Develop speed in solving questions as this gives a cut-throat edge.
Never answer questions which are ambiguous or are unknown or are difficult to solve.
CDS-Interview Strategy for Intelligence and Personality Test
Candidates who qualify the written exam will be called to appear for an interview before the Services Selection Board (SSB). The board evaluates the suitability of the candidate for an officer’s post using a standardized protocol of evaluation system comprising personality, intelligence tests, and interviews. The tests are of two types i.e. written and practical task-based. The SSB test is a 5-day evaluation process.
The SSB test procedure consists of a two stage selection process. Candidates clearing stage I can appear for stage II. The details of the stages are:
(a) Stage I: This test consists of Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and Picture Perception & Description Test (PPDT). Shortlisting is on the basis of the performance in both OIR Test and PPDT.
This section needs a slightly dedicated preparation. One needs to practise with pictorial tests that allow candidates to clearly define what they can gauge from a picture. Some areas to look at for preparation:
Questions on verbal and non-verbal intelligence need to be practised
Observing of pictures and writing / describing must be practised well
Comprehension and assessment are two aspects that need to be worked on and for this only practice is the key.
(b) Stage II: This stage has an interview, group testing officer tasks, psychology tests, and a conference call. These tests are conducted over 4 days. The details of these tests can be looked up in detail at joinindianarmy.nic.in.
Word Association Test (WAT), Self-Reaction Test, Self-Description Test are some parts of the tests. In addition, there may be group discussion; planning exercises; progressive group tasks; small group tasks and obstacles; individual tasks /obstacles; command tasks; a lectorate and a final group task.
Candidates must read up and check out what is really required. In addition, they can participate in mocks conducted by some coaching centres to get an idea. Finally, there will be a conference with some of the officers who will look for traits like confidence, a positive attitude in adversity and in life; honesty etc. Participating in mock interviews is a good idea.
The personality of a candidate is assessed by three different assessors viz. The Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and a Psychologist.
There is no separate weightage for each test. The marks are allotted by assessors only after taking into consideration the performance of the candidate holistically in all the tests.
In addition, marks for conference are also allotted based on the initial performance of the candidate in the three techniques and also the decision of the Board. All these have equal weightage.
Accordingly, candidates are “Recommended or Not Recommended” by the SSB.
UPSC CDS - Success Formula
1. Analytical Approach
(a) Setting up a Goal: First step towards cracking the UPSC-CDS exam to know the CDS syllabus, exam pattern and then create a goal-oriented plan. The goal should incorporate all elements. Advantages of setting up a goal
The pathway is clearly defined.
Measuring performance stage by stage becomes easy
Study goes as scheduled and the syllabus is completed well on time.
Time management becomes part of the routine
A well-defined doable goal keeps motivations high
(b) Time Management using a timetable: The 12 months in a year come with 4 weeks in a month, 24 hours of the day. When consolidated, that sums up to ample time to reach the goal of cracking the CDS exam. This is when a well-defined timetable helps one keep on track with the CDS preparation. One timetable cannot be used for every aspirant as each candidate has his/her own. strengths, weaknesses, habits, methodologies and nature, etc. So, the timetable must be tailor made keeping all these aspects and the goal in mind.
(c) Importance of Good Health for Cracking UPSC-CDS Exam: Good health is a prerequisite for success in any endeavour. Cracking CDS is no exception. Hence, candidates must eat well, sleep adequately and in general take care of themselves. Keeping fit is essential for clearing any Army or defence interviews. The armed forces stress on medical fitness and hence, candidates must have a daily routine for exercise and ensure that they meet the standards prescribed.
(d) Emotion Management for CDS Exam: When a journey is for a year or so with no guarantee of success at the end, it's easy to get demotivated or stressed during preparation. Combating this is vital. Hobbies, simple walks or bonding with family can take stress off. In addition, reaching out to like-minded professionals preparing for the CDS exam will help ease the journey.
2. How to Manage Study for UPSC-CDS Preparation
(a) Improving Reading Speed: One thing that helps is completing the vast syllabus is the ability to read fast. It is a skill and must be developed to cope and prepare for an important exam like CDS. Some important tips to do so are:
Put the entire focus on whatever you are reading.
Time your study to know how you are faring
Move on to the next topic once done. Schedule revision separately after a gap of time.
Learn to skim over topics so that assimilation of facts is faster.
Practice till the desirable reading speed is achieved.
(b) Make your own Study Timetable
Divide the syllabus of the written exam into subjects and each subject into chapters/ topics/ subtopics.
Classify all chapters, topics, and sub-topics subject wise according to strong and weak areas as well as the importance of questions generally asked in the examinations.
Then divide the time period: one year into 12 months and then into weeks, and finally days. Now divide each day into hours and group time slots for subjects, revision, practise etc.
Put the chapters for each subject in months, weeks and days. Fix a schedule that ensures that the entire syllabus is completed well within time.
Incorporate revision time every day, every week, every month, and every third month.
(c) How to Schedule Revision for UPSC-CDS Preparation?
Revision is crucial so that aspirants do not forget the concepts, facts, and other information they have studied. If a gap of 9 to 15 days in between two revisions is given, chances are high of forgetting some of the topics learnt. A good UPSC-CDS 3 Tier Revision Plan as given below will ensure this:
3 Tier Revision Plan
Morning and Night recaps
Practice Sessions: Candidates must make 15th day and a day every 3rd month to be the “Practice day”. This means that one should test oneself with mock papers, past years' question papers to understand and measure the preparation efforts.
Daily Revision Schedule: This is a must. Every day before sleep, one must revise all that was done that day. Likewise, in the morning, a quick revision of all chapters and topics studied the previous day must be done to keep the topics in memory.
Weekly Revision Schedule: This is another important measure. Every week, revision of subjects, chapters, and topics studied in the past 6 days of the week has to be done without fail. This will ensure a better performance in the actual exam.
Monthly Revision Schedule: This is the third stage of revision. It is better to do this every month on the last two days. Revision of all the subjects, chapters, and topics studied that month; solving practice tests and solved papers are the agenda in this schedule.
Likewise, a quarterly and six-monthly revision schedule should be followed for good results.
3. How to Evaluate Study Progress for UPSC-CDS Exam ?
(a) Learning Evaluation: It is important to check the learning progress and evaluate preparation every week and every month. To do so, candidates must sit for a mock test and solve previous questions from the topics studied. What needs to be measured is the capability to answer the questions – be it hundred percent or fifty percent or even less. The other point to keep in mind is the number of questions that were not solved. The result of this test can point to the topics needing revision or further mastering and the topics from which aspirants can move on to the next ones.
(b) Speed Evaluation: The best tools to evaluate speed as well as for areas of improvement are mock tests and practice papers. The process to evaluate would be to solve papers within a set time limit and gauge performance. Another measure to note would be to ensure improvement with each test taken.
UPSC CDS Question Papers
UPSC releases the official question paper of CDS 2021 at its official website. Candidates planning to prepare for the CDS exam can download the question paper of CDS along with CDS answer keys for strategy wise preparation. The question paper of CDS 2021 will be released after the CDS selection process is over. CDS question paper is released subject-wise for General Knowledge, Mathematics, and English language. With the help of the question papers, candidates will be eligible to know about the difficulty level of the question paper, question paper pattern, types of questions asked in the exam and the question trends.
UPSC CDS Books
In order to crack the CDS exam, candidates must also know the best study materials. The study materials consist of the best books of CDS. From the following table, candidates can check the best books for the CDS exam.
Best Books for CDS exam 2021 - English
Objective General English
S. P. Bakshi
Word Power Made Easy
Wren & Martin’s High School English Grammar & Composition
Wren and Martin’s
Best Books for CDS Exam 2021 - General Knowledge
Geography & History
NCERT (Std 6th-12th)
Pathfinder for CDS
General Knowledge (Latest Edition)
Manohar Pandey (Arihant Publication)
Malayala Manorama publishers
The Hindu, Indian Express, etc.
Best Books for CDS exam 2021 - Mathematics
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations
R. S. Aggarwal
Mathematics for CDS Examination
R. S. Aggarwal
Pathfinder for CDS
UPSC CDS Cut Off Marks
UPSC will release the CDS cut off in online mode for the written exam at its official website. The CDS cut off will be released after the declaration of the final result. The CDS cut off 2021 is the minimum marks that candidates need to score in order to qualify for the next stage. After the preparation of the final merit list of CDS, UPSC will release the CDS result 2021. The CDS cut off is calculated on the basis of various factors like total number of vacancies, total applications received and difficulty level of the exam.
CDS answer key 2021 - Applicants can check the CDS 2021 answer...
CDS Selection Process 2021 - Candidates can check the CDS 202...
CDS Syllabus 2021 - Candidates can check details subject wise ...
CDS Exam Dates 2021 - Candidates can check CDS exam dates 2021...
CDS exam 2021 - UPSC released the CDS 2021 result at the offic...
Questions related to CDS
sir my date of birth is 30/12/2000.sir CDS (OTA) ke liye kitni bar attempt kar Sakti hoon
The age limit to appear for Combined Defence Service (CDS) Entrance Examination to join in Officers Training Academy is 19 to 25 years. Considering the age criteria you can appear for CDS till 2025. In the year 2025 will be your last attempt to appear for CDS to join in OTA. You can appear for CDS if you are appearing or passed in Bachelor's Degree in any discipline from a recognized board. You haven't mentioned if you have passed in Bachelor's Degree yet or not so we cannot count the number of attempts you would have. But as said your last attempt will in 2025 as you will turn 25 years in 2025.
sir mere graduation me 35 percentage hai sir yeh OTA CDs ke liye problem to nehi hoga na
The Education qualification requirements to join in Officers Training Academy (OTA) through Combined Defence Service (CDS) is that a candidate must have passed Bachelor's Degree in any discipline from a recognized board. There isn't any minimum percentage requirement to be eligible to apply for OTA. So you are eligible to appear for CDS and join OTA provided that 35% is considered as pass percentage for the board or University from which you have passed Bachelor's Degree.
sir I am a girl, mujhe piles ka problem hai but maine CDS OTA ke liye apply Kiya hai , sir kindly pls aap mujhe bataye ki piles hone se koi problem hogi kya
UPSC will release CDS 2 registration form on 4th august.
Actually there are some medical standards which you have to pass before joining all the after the examination. Yeah I am going to tell about those medical standards
- First of all you should not have any tattoo on your body accept inner face of your forearm
- You should have good physique and good mental health, if you have any permanent disease which can stop you to do daily duties of CDS you will be terminated
- Your height should be minimum 152 cms and weight should be according to that
- Your hearing blood pressure should be normal
- You should not have any e disease of heart or blood organic or functional disease.
That's why why there may be some problems during the medical check up if they can see any symptoms of that or know about that. But don't loss hope ,go further .
Click on the link below to know more
NCC ke all certificates ka CDS mein kya benefit hota hai
NCC cadets get the certificate after the completion of each stage of training. These are: NCC 'A' Certificate, NCC 'B' Certificate and NCC 'C ' Certificate. And among these, NCC 'C' certificate is the most significant.
If you have NCC C Certificate then you can reach directly to SSB interview round followed by medical examination. You do not need to appear for written exam. But to avial the benefits of NCC C Certoficate in CDS recruitment, you should have a graduation degree from a recognized university with alteast 50% maks. Apart from being exempted to write exam, there is one more benefit which is reserved seats in defence sector for NCC cadets in IMA. But for this, you need to clear SSB round first.
If you wish to write the exam anyway, then you might also get benefits in marks because of NCC certificates. Moreover, there are also NCC special entry jobs which you can apply for.
CDS interview kese hota hai. for girls
CDS is not a interview but a entrance exam, if you clear this written exam then you will be eligible to appear in the interview and that interview is called a SSB (Service Selection Board). SSB is nothing just a interview, its personality checking part, here they try to find the Officer like qualities, and if you have then only you will selected.
SSB is 5 days long procedure where you have to appear in different types of tasks and works, so lets discuss from day 0.
Reporting: This is the reporting day where you will be checked from your documents, you also need to fill some forms for future references.
Screening: At first you have to clear some non- verbal reasoning question then they will show you some blurred picture and you have to make story from that, this part is called as PPDT ( picture perception and description test ). Now after some time they will announce the result of this part and according to that you either stay for the rest of the day or you will go home.
Psychological Test: Here they will give you some tasks and you need to clear that within a time limit.
a. Thematic Apperception Test [TAT]
b. Word Association Test [WAT]
c. Situation Reaction Test [SRT]
d. Self Description Test [ SD]
GTO: This is some like a outdoor activity, they will assign you some task to check your endurance and stamina which are as follows-
a. Group discussion
b. Group Planning Exercise
c. Progressive Group task
d. Command Task
e. Half Group Task
f. Individual Obstacles Task
g. Snake race/Group Obstacle Race
h. Final Group Task
Personal Interview: This part is the common conversation between you and a officer. Here he will ask you everything about your past and present life, your achievements, your struggle everything. You need to be genuine at this part if you try to fake anything then officer will definitely catch you so be real at the time of interview tell only those things you know.
Conference: Each candidates will be facing all SSB board members, he will face few general questions like how was your stay or what did you learn from this, conference is just to decide whether or not to recommend you as an officer in Indian defense forces.
After a conference a Officer will come and announce the results.
Hope this will help you, Best of Luck!!!