About CDS

CDS i.e Combined Defence Service Eligibility Criteria. The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Combined Defence Service Examination to Select candidates for the post of officers in the Indian Army. Candidates who complete CDS eligibility criteria. Only those fulfilling the eligibility criteria will be considered for final selection.CDS eligibility is set under the parameters of age limit, educational qualification and others. Read this article to know the complete CDS eligibility criteria and other details.

The candidates applying for the examination should ensure that they fulfil all the eligibility conditions for admission to the  Examination. Their admission at all the stages of the examination will be purely provisional subject to satisfying the prescribed eligibility conditions.


Candidates are required to apply online by using the website Brief instructions for filling up the online Application Form have been given in Appendix II - Detailed instructions are available on the above-mentioned website.

The commission has introduced the facility of withdrawing Applications for those candidates who do not want to appear for the Examination. In this regard, Instructions are mentioned in  Appendix -II of this  Examination Notice.

Candidates should have details of one Photo ID Card viz. Aadhar Card/Voter Card/PAN Card/Passport/Driving License/Any other Photo ID Card issued by the State/Central Government. The details of this Photo ID Card will have to be provided by the candidates who will have to upload a scanned copy of the Photo ID whose details have been provided in the online application by him/her. This Photo ID Card will be used for all future referencing and the candidate is advised to carry this Photo ID Card while appearing for the Examination/ Personality Test/SSB.

Conditions of Eligibility

Nationality: A candidate must be unmarried and must either be.

A Citizen of India, or 

A subject of Nepal, or 

A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan,Burma, Sri Lanka and East African Countries  of Kenya, Uganda, the United  Republic of Tanzania,Zambia, Malawi, Zaire and Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in  India.

Provided that a candidate belonging to categories (ii) and (iii) - above shall be a person in whose favour a certificate of eligibility has been issued by the Government of India.

A certificate of eligibility will however not be necessary, in the case of candidates who are Gorkha subjects of Nepal.

A candidate in whose case a certificate of eligibility is necessary may be admitted to the examination provisionally subject to the necessary certificate being given to him/her by the Govt before the declaration of the result by UPSC.

Age Limits, Sex and Marital Status:

(i) For IMA - Unmarried male candidate corn not earlier than 2nd January,1999 and not later than 1st january,2004  only are eligible.

(ii) For INA - Unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 2nd January, 1999 and not later than 1st  January, 2004 only are eligible.

(iii) For AFA -  20 to 24 years earlier than 2nd January, 1999 and not later than 1st January, 2003 Upper age limit for candidates holding valid and current Commercial Pilot License issued by DGCA (India) is relasable  upto 26 years i.e born not earlier than 2nd January, 1997 and later than 1st January, 2003 only are eligible only are eligible.

Candidates below 25 years of age must be unmarried.Marriage is not permitted during training . Married candidates above 25 years of age are eligible  to apply but during the training period they will  neither be provided married accommodation not can they live with family out  of the premises.

(iv) For OTA – (SSC Course for men) unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 2nd January, 1998 and not Later than 1st January,2004 only are eligible,

(v) For OTA – (SSC Women Non-Technical Course) Unmarried women, issueless widows who have not remarried and issueless divorcees (In possession of divorce documents) who have not remarried are eligible.

Educational Qualifications

(i) For IMA i.e Indian Military Academy, and Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai– Degree of a recognised University or equivalent.

(ii) For INA i.e Indian Naval Academy - Degree in Engineering from a recognised University/Institution

(iii) From AFA i.e Air Force Academy - Degree from a recognised University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engineering.

Graduates with the first choice as Army/Navy/Air Force are to submit proof of Graduation/provisional certificates on the date of commencement of the SSB interview at the SSB. 

Candidates who are studying in the final year/semester Degree course and have yet to pass the final year degree examination can also apply provided the candidate should not have any present backlog up to the last semester/ year for which results have been declared up to the time of submission of application and they will be required to submit proof of passing the degree examination.


Candidates (excepting Female/ SC/ST Candidates who are exempted from payment of fee) are required to pay a fee of Rs 200/- (Rupees Two Hundred Only) either by depositing the money in any Branch of SBI by cash or by using net banking facility of State Bank of India for by using Visa/Master/Rupay Credit/Debit/Card.

CDS Exam Pattern

For the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy the Written exam comprises three sections: (i) English (ii) General knowledge and (iii) Elementary Mathematics. The duration of each exam is 2 horses and each exam is of 100 marks. For Officers Training Academy the written exam consists of two sections.

(i) English, (ii) General knowledge. For OTA also the duration of each exam is 2 hours and each exam is 100 marks. CDS exam conducted in offline mode. The question paper consists of multiple-choice questions.

CDS Marking Scheme 

It is important to know the marking scheme of the exam as it helps candidates attempt question papers wisely. In CDS E - 1 mark is awarded for each correct answer and 0.33 marks are deducted for each wrong attempt. If two answers are marked for one question. It will be considered wrong and negative marks will be deducted.

Once you have cleared the written exam for CDS, the next step is SSB which is conducted after a month or two (depending upon the academy you are applying for)

  • The SSB is a five-day process (For Air Force it’s six as they conduct PABT) where they will check whether you are suitable for the forces or not i.e you have Officer Like Qualities in you.
  • Once you have been recommended by the SSB board the next step is medicals which are conducted at the army hospital by the army doctors.
  • After you have been declared medically fit by the medical board of the hospital, you will have to clear an all-in merit list that will be made by taking your written and SSB marks into consideration.
  • If your name comes on the merit list. You will be provided with joining instructions and will be asked to report at the applied academy on a set date with the required documents.
  • Then you will undergo a rigorous training program which will polish you to become the best version of yourself.
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