UPSC CDS Syllabus and UPSC Exam Pattern


If you are looking to join the Armed Forces, then one of the excellent opportunities that you have is to appear for the UPSC CDS exam. The UPSC CDS exam is conducted twice a year. Cracking the exam is not an easy task.  If you want to crack UPSC CDS 2019, then the first thing that you need to do is understand the nature of the exam. You need to know UPSC CDS Syllabus, the UPSC CDS Exam Pattern and the Selection Procedure. This information would help you prepare the right strategy. So, in this article, we would be talking about these things that you should know about.

UPSC CDS Syllabus – The Selection Procedure

Let us first understand the Selection Procedure, before we move towards learning about the UPSC CDS syllabus. Well, the UPSC CDS Selection Process involves the following stages:

  1. Written Exam
  2.  Interview/ Intelligence Test/ Personality Test, also known as just SSB interviews.
  3. Document Verification
  4. Medical Examination

Before you appear for the written exam, you need to fill up the online application for UPSC CDS 2019. To know more about it, click on the button below:

UPSC CDS Apply Online

Stage 1: Written Examination:  The first stage of the exam is the written exam. The written exam is an objective type paper. If you are applying for the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy or the Indian Air Force Academy, then you would have to appear for three papers – GK, English and Maths.

On the other hand, if you are applying for Officers Training Academy (OTA), then you would only have to appear for GK and English. The maximum marks for each paper are 100 marks each and the duration for each paper is 2 hours. This means that a candidate for IMA would have to answers questions of 300 marks in 6 marks in total. On the other hand, if you are applying for OTA, you would have to answer questions worth 200 marks in 4 hours.

Stage 2: Personal Interview/ Personality Test: After you pass the written test, you would have to appear for the SSB interviews.  There are two stages in this round-Stage I and Stage II. Only those candidates who clear the stage I would be allowed to appear for Stage II.

Stage I comprises of two tests. The first one is called Officers Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and the second one is called Picture Perception and Description Test (PP&DT). The candidates would be selected for Stage II on their overall performance in both OIR test and the PP&DT.

Stage II comprises of Interview, Group Testing Officers Tasks, Psychology Tests and the conference. These tests are conducted over 4 days.

Stage 3: Document Verification: After you have passed both the Written and the Personality Tests, you would have to go through document verification. You need to ensure that all your documents are in order.

Stage 4: Medical Examination: The last stage of the process is the Medical Examination. You would be tested by a medical board. Female candidates would be tested by a board which would have a female doctor and a gynaecologist.

UPSC CDS Exam Pattern

As we have seen above, the entire exam process contains two main stages – the written exam and the personality test. So, we are going to take a look at UPSC CDS Exam Pattern for the written exam and the personality test.

UPSC CDS Exam Pattern for the Written Exam

As said before, the written exam consists of objective type paper. The exam pattern is different for Candidates for OTA and Candidates for IMA, AFA and INA. Let us take a look at the different exam patterns.

Exam Pattern for Candidates for OTA

Subject Duration Maximum Marks
English 2 Hours 100
General Knowledge 2 Hours 100

UPSC CDS Exam Pattern for INA, IMA, AFA

Subject Duration Maximum Marks
English 2 Hours 100
General Knowledge 2 Hours 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 Hours 100

UPSC CDS Exam Pattern for Personality Test

Let us take a look at the exam pattern for the personality test. The personality test doesn’t have an exam pattern like the written test. As said above, the personality test would have the OIR test and the PP&DT. To know more about the tests, you can click on the button below:

Personality Test Details

UPSC CDS Syllabus

Let us now take a detailed look at the UPSC CDS exam syllabus. As said before, the candidates appearing for OTA would have to answer questions on English and GK and the candidates appearing for the IMA, AFA and INA would have the answer questions on mathematics in addition to English and GK. The syllabus for English and GK is the same for both the candidates. The detailed UPSC CDS Syllabus is given below:

UPSC CDS Syllabus for ENGLISH (Code No. 01)

The question paper will be designed to test the candidates’ understanding of English and workmanlike use of words.

UPSC CDS Syllabus for GENERAL KNOWLEDGE (Code No. 02)

General Knowledge including knowledge of current events and of such matters of everyday observation and experience in their scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person who has not made a special study of any scientific subject. The paper will also include questions on History of India and Geography of nature which candidate should be able to answer without special study.



Number System—Natural numbers, Integers, Rational and Real numbers. Fundamental operations, addition, substraction, 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.


Basic Operations, simple factors, Remainder Theorem, H.C.F., L.C.M., Theory of polynomials, solutions of quadratic equations, relation between its roots and coefficients (Only real roots to 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, Laws of indices.


Sine, cosine, Tangent when 0° < x < 90° Values of sin x, cos x and tan x, for x = 0°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90°
Simple trigonometric identities.

Use of trigonometric tables.

Simple cases of heights and distances.


Lines and angles, Plane and plane figures, Theorems on (i) Properties of angles at a point, (ii) Parallel lines, (iii) Sides and angles of a triangle, (iv) Congruency of triangles, (v) Similar triangles, (vi) Concurrence of medians and altitudes, (vii) Properties of angles, sides and diagonals of a parallelogram, rectangle and square, (viii) Circles and its properties including tangents and normals, (ix) Loci.


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 and volume of right circular cones and cylinders, surface area and volume of spheres.


Collection and tabulation of statistical data, Graphical representation frequency polygons, histograms, bar charts, pie charts etc. Measures of central tendency.

These were the details of the UPSC CDS Syllabus and UPSC CDS Exam Pattern. Hopefully, this article would be of help in your UPSC CDS Preparation. For complete information on the UPSC CDS 2019 exam, click on the button below: