How to prepare for CDS 2020
Updated on Oct 5, 2019 - 5:26 p.m. IST by Piyush.Dixit

How to prepare for CDS 2020 - UPSC conducts CDS examination biannual to recruit candidates for the post of Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA), and Officers Training Academy (OTA). Candidates who aspires to get themselves inducted into any of these defence services should know how to prepare for CDS exam. CDS exam comprises two stages - stage 1 is written test whereas stage 2 includes Services Selection Board (SSB) for Personality cum Psychometric tests and Intelligence Interview. Hence candidates must know how to prepare for CDS 2020 according to the prescribed syllabus in order to score well in the written exam. To secure the written exam cut off marks and be eligible for SSB Interview, candidates must know how to prepare for CDS 2020 which includes exam pattern, section-wise preparation tips, best books to prepare and section-wise weightage of topics.This year first CDS exam will be conducted in february while second CDS will be held in the month of September 2020.
Every year approx 2 to 3 lakh candidates apply for CDS exam. The written exam of CDS I 2020 is scheduled to be conducted on February 2, 2020. To know how to crack CDS 2020 exam with flying colors we are catering some tips and tricks which are imperative from the preparation point of view. Read complete article to know more about how to prepare for CDS 2020 and other important information.

Latest: Download unofficial CDS answer key 2020 on February 2 Here

Preparation methodology for CDS 2020

First thing which haunt the candidates while strategy making to qualify the exam is how to prepare for CDS 2020. Candidates who are preparing for the competitive exam i.e CDS first time must devote a year to understand the nuances of the exam and get selected in the exam.

Exam pattern of CDS 2020

CDS Recruitment process takes place in two steps. First stage of the exam is written while the second is an interview by Service Selection Board (SSB). The written exam of CDS consists of three sections - English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics for admission to Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy whereas, for admission to Officers’ Training Academy, candidates need to answer the questions from English and General Knowledge only. Candidates get two hours to answer each section where the maximum marks allotted to each section are 100. The written exam has negative marking wherein 0.33 marks will be deducted for each wrong answer.

How to prepare for CDS 2020 by tackling negative marking in CDS

Candidates who will appear in exam should note the point that negative marking in CDS exam is 1/3rd instead of 1/4th in other competitive exam. It means that for 3 wrong answers one correct answer will be deducted in CDS 2020 exam. Hence candidates should not attempt those questions in which they are not confident.

CDS 2020 exam pattern for Officers’ Training Academy


Time Duration

Maximum marks


2 Hours


General knowledge (GK)

2 Hours



4 Hours


CDS 2020 exam pattern for Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy


Time Duration

Maximum Marks

Elementary Maths

2 Hours



2 Hours


General knowledge (GK)

2 Hours



6 Hours


How to prepare for CDS 2020 by Knowing Syllabus

Candidates after knowing the exam pattern must know the syllabus in their strategy of how to prepare for CDS 2020. The syllabus of CDS exam is prescribed by the UPSC. Candidates can check the syllabus for CDS exam in below given table.




English Comprehension

Finding errors & Omissions

Fill in the blanks

Jumbled Sentence

Sentence Correction, etc.

General Knowledge

Current affairs or events like politics, sports, Indian economy, daily news, etc.

History of India and Geography

Books and their Authors

Elementary Mathematics


Elementary Number Theory






Tips to prepare for CDS exam

CDS Exam Study Plan

Candidates who want to know how to prepare for CDS, should first make their full proof strategic study plan which helps them to qualify the exam. After making the study plan candidates should abide by that to ensure their success in exam. Without study plan candidates often get diverted from their destined target. Study plan also helps in avoiding last minute hassle to revise the syllabus in one go.

Strengthen the Basic

To start off the CDS preparation, understanding the basics of each topic is crucial to score good marks in CDS exam. Key point of how to prepare for CDS 2020 exam is to know the trends of questions asked in previous year exam. Hence, if candidate has good command of fundamental concepts and complete clarity regarding the concepts, then rest of the things will fall in place. However, if the basics of candidates are not clear, then whatever the effort one puts in, then result will not be in their favour.

Practise from Previous year paper

By solving previous years question papers of CDS exam candidates will know the trends of questions asked in the exam. Sometimes even questions asked from static gk are repeated which will save the time of the candidates while solving in exam. Hence It is advisable to candidates to practise last 10 year question papers. Solving CDS previous year paper will help the candidates to figure out their weak areas so that they can work it and improve their. Solving CDS memory based questions will help the candidates in predicting the questions in upcoming exam and accordingly candidates can compose their strategic plan of how to crack CDS 2020.

Solve Mock Test and analyse your answers deeply

Solving mock test is equally important tips to prepare for CDS 2020 exam. Practising mock tests help the candidates to know the areas of their weaknesses and strengths and accordingly candidates can improve their weak areas by working on it and sharpen their strengthen areas. By analysing the answers deeply, candidates can improve their questing solving time & accuracy and eventually increase their confidence to qualify CDS online exam

Prepare in time bound manner

Exam like CDS requires not only preparation but accuracy and thorough knowledge. Many a times students solve the questions but they take more than required time to solve the question. Hence it is advisable for the candidates to solve online mock test of CDS exam by keeping in mind to attempt the questions within specified time limit. This will not only help them to handle the pressure as in real time exam but also to improve the speed and accuracy.

Preparing short notes

Making short notes must be a regular practice to prepare CDS 2020 exam. These short notes play a vital role during the revision process. Making notes on all the important topics will enable the candidates to understand them better. Candidates can write shortcut and formula to use them during revision time, hence they do not have to go through the entire syllabus again. This exercise will cover all the topics and not even a single topic has to be compromised. Candidates have to ensure that short notes should be crisp and in bulleted format.

Make Revision an Integral Part

After completion each topic as per CDS syllabus, candidates are advised to keep at least the last month for revision only. Aspirants should not spend too much time on it as it might hamper the strategy of preparing for CDS 2020 exam. Revision at last stage should be quick as it is advisable for the candidates they should not ignore this crucial part of the preparation strategy plan as this will lessen their chances of scoring well on the exam.

Best books to prepare for CDS 2020

Book are important in strategy making of how to prepare for CDS 2020 exam. Hence to prepare for CDS exam candidates can refer to the books given below





Objective General

S. P. Bakshi

From Plinth to Paramount

Neetu Singh

Grammar basics

Wren and Martin

Elementary Mathematics

Quantitative Aptitude

R. S. Aggarwal

Magical Book On Quicker Maths

M. Tyra

General Knowledge

Geography & History

NCERT (Std 6th-12th)


NCERT (Std 6th-12th) and M Laxmikant


NCERT (Std-11th and 12th)


The Hindu or Indian Express


Any popular current event related magazine

CDS Answer Key 2020

Leading coaching institute releases unofficial answer key 2020 after the conclusion of the exam. Though final and official CDS 2020 answer key will be released by the authority after the declaration of result. With the help of CDS answer key 2020 candidates can calculate their marks and predict their chances of qualifying written exam and accordingly start preparation for the next stage of selection process.

CDS Cut off 2020

Marks scored by the candidates to move onto the next stage of selection process is termed as cut off marks. UPSC releases the official CDS cut off after the declaration of the final result. It is to be noted that after the conclusion of the exam many institutes predict the unofficial CDS 2020 cut off like the answer key as per the marks scored by the candidates.

More like CDS

Questions related to CDS

Showing 380 out of 380 Questions

hello, I want to know that can Bsc student (PCM) can also eligible for CDS exam ??plz guide us

Sharon Rose Student Expert 13th Feb, 2020


Yes, you are eligible to appear in CDS. But you are only eligible to join Indian Military Academy(IMA), Airforce Academy(AFA), officer's training academy(OTA) as the eligibility criteria to join in any of these academy is that a candidate must have passed bachelor's degree.For Indian Naval Academy a candidate must have passed bachelor's in Engineering.

You can click the link below for other detailed information


What was cds cut off in 2018 and how to prepare for it ???What about the exams held after first written exam??

Shivansh Trigunait 16th Feb, 2020

Dear aspirant,

The cutoff * (aggregate marks of the last qualified candidate) for CDS 2018 written exam are the following:


  1. IMA - 118
  2. INA - 98
  3. SFA - 138
  4. OTA (Men) - 69
  5. OTA (Women) - 69


  1. IMA - 116
  2. INA - 102
  3. SFA - 131
  4. OTA (Men) - 80
  5. OTA (Women) - 80

* Given the candidate has minimum 20% marks in each subject

After clearing the written exam, the candidates have to appear in the SSB interview, upon clearing which they shall be selected on the basis of the final merit list.

For details on the CDS exam pattern, syllabus and application you can check the following link:

1 View

if i do graduation in art stream through distance education is it valid for cds exam

prerna vats 10th Feb, 2020

Hello dear student !

CDS , that it , combined defense services is an All India level examination which is conducted twice a year by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) . If you have done graduation in Art stream through distance education, then also you can appear in the CDS examination as there is no such rule for them and they are also eligible for the same.

Hope this will help you


graduation grom distance is valid for cds exam

Manish Singh 10th Feb, 2020

Doing a graduation from distance mode is no problem for applying to CDS provided the university or college you are doing it from is affiliated and recognized. Provided you clear all the eligibility criteria provided by CDS like age and stream, it won't matter if it is done by distance mode or not


which subject is required for cds exam in graduation

prerna vats 10th Feb, 2020

Hello dear student !

If you are asking about the subjects , the questions of which are asked in the CDS examination then , CDS exam pattern for the written examination for admission to India Naval academy, Indian military Academy and Air force academy will include three main subjects which are Elementary mathematics, General knowledge and English . So you have to prepare accordingly.

Hope this will help you

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