UPSC CDS subject-wise Exam pattern: Marking Scheme

Apr 11, 2023, 16:45 IST

The three key subjects in the English Language, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics sections of the UPSC CDS test for the Indian Naval Academy, Indian Military Academy, and Indian Air Force Academy are covered. The English language questions will be at the graduate level, and the math questions will be at the matriculation level.

The overall time is 6 hours, and there are 300 total points. The exam notification is typically published in the months of October and June, and the exams are held in the months of February and November. Only graduates who are single are permitted to take the exam. After passing the written test, candidates are contacted for SSB interviews.

Successful applicants are accepted into their respective Academies. Additionally, candidates can seek guidance from our CDS exam coaching in Mumbai to guarantee a strong performance on the written test and a confident interview process.

CDS Exam Pattern 2023

The Central Defence Services developed the CDS exam format to recognise candidates' intelligence and evaluate them based on how well they performed in the selection exams. Before beginning the preparations, carefully read the below-mentioned paper pattern. Candidates should focus on English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics in accordance with the CDS paper pattern for the IMA, INA, and AFA. Learn more about the CDS Exam by looking at the overview table provided below:

CDS Exam Pattern 2023 Details
Organization Central Defence Services
Exam CDS
Duration For IMA, INA and AFA - 6 hours For OTA - 4 Hours
Mode Offline, pen and paper mode
Maximum Marks For IMA, INA and AFA - 300 For OTA - 200
Standard of the papers For Maths - Matriculation level Other subjects - Graduation level
Language General Knowledge and Elementary Maths will be bilingual (Hindi and English)
Type of Questions Objective

UPSC CDS 2023 Exam Pattern- Written Test

Not all military academies use the same examination schedule. The amount of sections in the exam given for the Officers' Training Academy varies slightly. The questions in both papers, though, will only be of an objective nature. It will be a bilingual paper. Here are the specifics:

UPSC CDS Examination Pattern for IMA, INA and AFA

The test will have three portions in total: English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics. Each section will be worth 100 points and last for two hours.

Subjects/ Sections Total Duration No. of Questions Max. Marks
English 2 hours 120 100
General Knowledge 2 hours 120 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 hours 100 100

UPSC CDS Examination Pattern for Officers Training Academy

This test excludes the component on elementary mathematics. Other factors like time and overall marks are unchanged from what was previously mentioned.

Subject Duration No. of Questions Marks
English 2 hours 120 100
General Knowledge 2 hours 120 100

UPSC CDS 2023 Examination- Marking Scheme

Every incorrectly marked response is subject to negative marking. Each question in the CDS paper has four possible answers, but there is only one alternative that is reliable. 1/3 of the total points will be deducted for each wrong response. Multiple options listed as selected are considered wrong. Unanswered questions won't result in a failing grade, nevertheless. The exam's precise marking system is described in the table below.

CDS Marking Scheme for IMA, INA and AFA

CDS Paper English GK Mathematics
Maximum Marks 100 100 100
Marks for Correct answer +1 marks for each correct option +1 marks for each correct option +1 marks 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

CDS Marking Scheme for OTA

CDS Paper English GK
Maximum Marks 100 100
Marks for Correct answer +1 marks for each correct option +1 marks for each correct option
Negative marking -0.33 marks for each wrong answer -0.33 marks for each wrong answer

CDS Exam Pattern 2023 for SSB Interview

For IMA, INA, and AFA, the SSB Interview carries 300 marks, whereas for OTA, it carries 200. There are two steps in the SSB Interview process: I and II. Only applicants who pass stage I are allowed to proceed to stage II. Below are the details of both phases: Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) examinations and the Picture Perception Description Test are included in Stage I. (PP&DT). The second stage consists of conferences, group testing officer tasks, psychological tests, and interviews. Days are spent conducting these testing.

Instructions to fill CDS Answer Key

Following are the steps for filling out the CDS answer key:

  • The candidate should make sure the answer sheet is numbered at the bottom as soon as they receive it. They should immediately get it replaced with a numbered one if it is discovered to be unnumbered.
  • The center's name and the subject should be written by candidates in black ballpoint pen using either English or Hindi.
  • In the top right corner of the booklet, the letters A, B, C, or D stand in for the exam booklet series.
  • In the boxes provided for this purpose, write roll numbers in black ballpoint pen exactly as they appear on your e-Admission Certificate. Don't leave out any possible zeros.
  • The following step is to use the Time Table to determine the appropriate subject code.
  • In the circles provided for this purpose, encode the Test Booklet Series, Subject Code, and Roll Number. Encode with a black ballpoint pen. It's not necessary to encode the Center's name.
  • After receiving the Test Booklet and verifying the Booklet Series from the same, the Test Booklet Series must be written and encoded.

Best Preparation books for CDS Examination 2023

Sample study resources should always be available to applicants for the UPSC CDS. Most students are unclear of which reference books to buy or read in order to prepare for the exam. In the table below, we've listed a number of books that applicants can use to study for the test.

Name of the Book Subject Author/Publication Remarks
Objective General English
  • English Language
S.P. Bakshi (Arihant Publications) Best for Beginner, Solved examples & Exercises to Practice along with detailed theory.
Manorama Yearbook
  • General Awareness
Philip Mathew Effective & recommended book for preparing General Awareness
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations
  • Quantitative Aptitude
R.S. Aggarwal This book is best to clear various topics of maths from basics as it has many solved examples (different varieties of questions) along with practice sets (simple & tough both).


We sincerely hope that our article about the CDS Exam Pattern 2023 was educational for all candidates. Now that the applicants are aware of the exam format, they must begin developing a strategy for studying well in advance. If the candidates are looking for suitable study resources, practise exams, or other stuff. Candidates should review the updated CDS syllabus and make study plans based on it in addition to becoming familiar with the most recent CDS exam pattern.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Does CDS use negative marking?

Ans. One mark is assigned to each question. For incorrect replies, there is a negative marking of 1/3. Each subject's exam lasts for two hours. OTA get 200 marks, while IMA, INA, and AFA each receive 300.

Q2. How many tests should I take to pass the CDS?

Ans. To pass the cutoff for the English exam, you must answer at least 29–30 questions correctly without giving an incorrect response, and to pass the cutoff for the General Studies paper, you must answer at least 15–16 questions correctly without giving an incorrect response. For each erroneous response, one-third of the points are deducted.

Q3. What if I don't pass the CDS SSB interview?

Ans. Well, if you took the CDS exam and passed, you are eligible to participate in the SSB interview. You must reapply for the CDS exam and start over if your SSB application was denied. In order to take the SSB interview, you must pass the exam.

Q4. Is the UPSC CDS exam format different for the positions of INA, IMA, AFA, and OTA?

Ans. While the OTA paper pattern is different, the UPSC CDS test pattern for the INA, IMA, and AFA is comparable. The three main subjects for the INA, IMA, and AFA positions are English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics. The subjects for the OTA positions are English and General Knowledge.

Q5. Has the CDS exam format changed at all?

Ans. No, the authorities haven't let us know of any modifications to the CDS exam structure. The format will not alter, and candidates will have six hours to attempt questions in English, general knowledge, and elementary maths.

Q6. What is the format of the CDS OTA exam?

Ans. English and General Knowledge are the two main courses included in the CDS OTA exam format. Each segment has a set time limit of two hours, and the exam as a whole carries 200 points, with 100 points assigned to each section.

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