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.
Latest: UPSC Has Released CDS Result 2020 On March 23.
Download unofficial CDS answer key 2020 on February 2 Here
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.

How to prepare for CDS 2020

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.

CDS Updates and Articles

Questions related to CDS

Showing 411 out of 411 Questions

Is spectacles allow a candidates can select with spectacles

Rehan Alam Student Expert 26th Mar, 2020

Dear aspirant,

yes you can apply for CDS exam even if you have spectacles however you will not be able to get into the air force and flying department because of your spectacles.

you could however go for logistics and administration even if you have your spectacles.

Hope this helps. Thank you.


if I have 50% in mathematics and physics in 10+2 class, can I appear for OTA and AFA?

Shiksha 25th Mar, 2020


Yes, you are eligible for appearing for cds ota & afa.

  • The eligibility criteria for CDS OTA says: the person should be between 19-25 years age & should have a bachelor's degree from a recognised University/institue (men & women both). The men can be married or unmarried & women can be married or unmarried or widow.
  • The eligibility criteria for AFA says that: the person should be between 20-24 years unmarried. Should have a degree  (with physics and mathematics at 10+2 level) from a recognised University/institue or bachelor's in engineering.

I hope this clears you doubt.


i have completed my ba.llb degree and my dob is 04/03/1995 .can i apply for CDS .if not then is there any other option for me in defence.

Hrisheekesh Singh 24th Mar, 2020

Hi Dawood,

As per the latest eligibility criteria of CDS 2020, the candidates between 20 to 24 years are eligible to give this exam.

You are 26 now which means you are above 24 years of age now, so you are not eligible for the respective exam in each and every course ranging from IMA to OTA.

You can go for Indian Army recruitments now.

Feel free to ask doubts in the Comment Section.

You may refer to this article for more information about CDS 2020 Eligibility criteria.

I hope this information helps you.

Good Luck!


I heard about temporary and permanent rejections in medical test examination. Can you explain about different checkups in brief and how to overcome them within alloted time if we are temporarily rejected?

Saisrinandan Ch 27th Mar, 2020


You are talking about types of rejections in Services Selection Board (SSB).

Temporary rejections are those which can be cured/treated. Example: Extra Weight.

Permanent rejections are faced due to problems that cannot be cured. Example: Extra Leg Length for Fighter Pilots.

There are several tests inside the medicals. Some basic temporary rejections include: Knocked Knee, Over Weight, Wax in Ears, Kidney Stones, Appendix.

Some of these require surgery or doctor consultation. While problems like over weight can be set right with healthy diet and exercise. Knocked Knee can be cured by putting a pillow between your knees and standing for 20-30 secs daily.

Hope this helps.



A person with disability can apply for CDS exams?

Mohit Sinha 24th Mar, 2020

Aspirants submit their CDS online application form before the last date. but before fill form you should need to check your eligibility for CDS Entrance exam. here we are talking about CDS physical standards and CDS medical fitness both. Check all information regarding “CDS Physical eligibility” below.


General physical and mental standards are very important points to consider before apply for UPSC CDS Exam. here you find physical requirements for CDS and what type of physical fitness required for CDS check below.

  • First of all participant must aware about this that you are physically & mentally fit and fine and free from any type of disease / disability.
  • Participant not have any type of mental breakdown record in past.
  • Aspirant must undergo a preliminary medical check-up for wax in ears, refractory error of eyes, fungal infection of skin before reporting for the SSB interview.
  • Candidate must be under a standard weight
  • Chest should be in fine condition . X Ray will taken for figure out any disease in chest.
  • The minimum range of expansion after full inspiration should be 5 cms.
  • You should be no disease of bones and joints of the body. these are some of the CDS Physical criteria for interested candidates. here is more things which are also consider as CDS Physical eligibility.


CDS Medical examination is also a important part of CDS exam eligibility. Here are many CDS physical conditions in medical examination. check it

  • A Participant selected by the Services Selection Board (SSB) will undergo a medical examination process by a Board of Service Medical Officers.
  • Female participants will undergo Medical Examination by a Medical Board comprising male / female doctors / specialists / Gynecologist. There will be a lady Medical Officer as member of Board.
  • Whole Generate reports by Medical board are confidential and not disclose to anyone.
  • The final decision of Candidate fitness will be intimated by the President of the Medical Board.
  • The candidate will also be intimated about the procedure for Appeal Medical Board.
  • Candidates declared unfit during Appeal Medical Board will be intimated about the provision of Review Medical Board.
  • Candidates must be Physically and Mentally fit according to the given standards. for more details such as vision standards , Height & weight criteria , eye sight criteria , Ear , Nose , throat , teeth condition etc.


Most of the students ask this question that What is eyesight criteria for CDS ? CDSphysical test also covers your eyesight conditions. and vision standard for naval and Air force different from this which also mention below. Eyesight for CDS Exam –
Vision standard for Male Candidates

  • Candidate must able to read 6/6 in a distant vision chart with each eye with or without glasses (For navy and Air Force without glasses only).
  • Myopia should not be more than 3.5D
  • Hypermetropia should not be more than 3.5D including Astigmatism.

Vision standard for Female Candidates

  • Aspirant must able to read 6/6 (better eye) and 6/8 (worse eye) in a distant vision chart with or without glasses
  • Myopia should not be more than minus 5.5 including Astogination.
  • Internal examination of the eye will be done by means of ophthalmoscope to rule out any disease of the eye.
  • A candidate must have good binocular vision.
  • The colour vision standard will be CP-III.
  • A candidate should be able to recognize red and green colours.

Vision standard for Naval

Uncorrected without glass 6/12

corrected with glass 6/6

Limits of Myopia -1.5

Limits of Hypermetropia +1.5

Binocular vision III

Limits of colour perception I

Vision standard for Air Force

Uncorrected without glass 6/12

corrected with glass 6/6

Limits of Myopia -0.75D

Limits of Hypermetropia +1.5D

Binocular vision III

Limits of colour perception I

Teeth , Ear, Nose and Throat Conditions – CDS Physical Qualification also covers your conditions of teeth , ear Nose , Throat etc. Check the standards given below.

  • The applicants ought to have adequate number of normal and sound teeth.
  • At least 14 dental focuses will be satisfactory.
  • A hopeful ought not be experiencing serious pyorrhea.
  • The listening must be ordinary.
  • A hopeful ought to have the capacity to hear a constrained whisper with every ear at a separation of 610 cms in a very room.
  • There ought to be no confirmation of present or past disease of the ear, nose and throat.
  • Sound metric test will be ruined AF. Sound metric misfortune ought not exceed+20 db in frequencies somewhere around 250Hz and 4000 Hz.

Height and weight standards
CDS Exam physical eligibility test also includes one major point is aspirant height. Here is a table for height required for CDS Exam for male and female candidates with weight parameters check it.

*45 for Navy @ 47 for Navy A ± 10% ( for Navy ) departure from the average weight given in the table above is to be considered within normal limit. However, in individuals with heavy bones and broad built as well as individuals with thin built but otherwise healthy this may be relaxed to some extent on merit.

The acceptable weight for Air Force candidates will be ± 10% of the average weight given above.

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