CDS Syllabus 2021: Subject-Wise Syllabus For IMA, INA, AFA & OTA

CDS Syllabus 2021: The CDS (Combined Defence Services) Examination is conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). CDS has two stages of selection – Written Exam and SSB Interview. The CDS Syllabus for the Written Exam is based on 3 subjects namely, English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics.

Candidates have to pass the CDS Written Exam in order to be eligible to appear for the SSB Interview. In this article, we have provided you with the detailed UPSC CDS 2021 syllabus which will help you for CDS exam preparation.

Latest Update: CDS (I) 2021 Exam Notification has been released. Candidates can fill the CDS Application Form till November 17 2020.

UPSC CDS Syllabus 2021

CDS is conducted to facilitate admission to Indian Naval Academy (INA), Indian Military Academy (IMA), Air Force Academy, and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA). Before getting into the details of CDS Syllabus, let us have an overview of the exam:

Conducting BodyUnion Public Service Commission (UPSC)
Exam NameCombined Defence Services (CDS) Exam
Exam LevelNational Level
Frequency of ExamTwice in a year, February and November
Mode of ExamOffline
Selection ProcessWritten, SSB Interview
After SelectionTraining at IMA/OTA/INA/AFA
Exam DurationOne day
Official Websiteupsc.gov.in

Note that in order to apply for the exam, candidates need to first make sure that they are eligible. So, check CDS Eligibility Criteria. Also, check about the CDS Selection Process since it is considered to be tough.

Now, Let us look into the detailed CDS Syllabus for each section:

CDS Syllabus For Elementary Maths

Elementary Maths consists of basic topics from High School Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Trigonometry, and Mensuration. Check the detailed topic-wise syllabus from below:

CDS Mathematics Syllabus – Arithmetics

The Arithmetic section basically tests your knowledge of Number System, Elementary Number Theory, and other basic concepts as below:

  • – Basic Operations ( Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division)
  • – Number Series (Natural numbers, Integers, Rational and Real numbers)
  • – Square Roots, Decimal Fractions
  • – Unitary Method
  • – Time and Distance
  • – Time and Work
  • – Percentage
  • – Applications to Simple and Compound Interest
  • – Profit and Loss
  • – Ratio and Proportion
  • – Variation
  • – Division Algorithm
  • – Prime and Composite Numbers
  • – Tests of Divisibility by 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 11
  • – Multiples and Factors
  • – Factorization
  • – Theorems
  • – Highest Common Factor (HCF)
  • – Lowest Common Multiple (LCM)
  • – Euclidean Algorithm
  • – Logarithms to Base 10
  • – Laws of Logarithms
  • – Use of Logarithmic Tables

CDS Mathematics Syllabus – Algebra

  • – Simple Factors
  • – Remainder Theorem
  • – Highest Common Factor
  • – Lowest Common Multiple
  • – Theory of Polynomials
  • – Solutions of Quadratic Equations
  • – The relation between Quadratic Equation Roots and Coefficients
  • – Simultaneous Linear Equations- 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 and their solutions
  • – Set Language and Set Notation
  • – Rational Expressions
  • – Conditional Identities
  • – Laws of Indices

CDS Mathematics Syllabus – Geometry

  • – Lines and Angles, Plane and Plane Figures, Theorems on Properties of Angles at a Point
  • – Parallel Lines
  • – Sides and Angles of a Triangle
  • – Congruency of Triangles
  • – Similar Triangles
  • – The concurrence of Medians and Altitudes
  • – Properties of Angles, Sides, and Diagonals of a Parallelogram, Rectangle, and Square
  • – Circles and its Properties Including Tangents and Normals
  • – Loci

CDS Mathematics Syllabus- Statistics

  • – Collection and Tabulation of Statistical Data
  • – Graphical Representation
  • – Frequency Polygons
  • – Histograms
  • – Bar Charts
  • – Pie Charts
  • – Measures of Central Tendency

CDS Mathematics Syllabus – Trignometry

  • – Sin x, Cosine x, Tangent x when 0 degree < x< 90 degree values of sin x
  • – cos x and tan x for x= degree 0, 30, 45, 60 and 90
  • – Simple Trigonometric Identities
  • – Use of Trigonometric Tables
  • – Simple Cases of Heights and Distance


  • – Area of Square
  • – Rectangle
  • – Parallelograms
  • – Triangle
  • – Circle
  • – Area of Figures which can be Split up into Figures (field book)
  • – Surface Area and Volume of Cuboids
  • – Lateral Surface
  • – Volume of Right Circular Cones and Cylinders
  • – Surface Area and Volume of Spheres

CDS Syllabus For English Language

This section tests your knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary. Along with this, it also tests your sentence formation skill.

  1. Spotting Errors
  2. Sentence Arrangement
  3. Synonyms and Antonyms
  4. Selecting Words
  5. Ordering of Sentences
  6. Comprehension
  7. Ordering of Words in a Sentence
  8. Fill in the blanks

CDS Syllabus For General Knowledge

The General Knowledge section of CDS Syllabus includes Current Affairs and Static GK. The General Knowledge paper includes questions on various topics as mentioned below:

  1. History
  2. Geography
  3. Politics
  4. Economics
  5. Sociology
  6. Physics, Chemistry, Biology
  7. Environment
  8. Sports
  9. Awards
  10. Books & Authors
  11. Culture and Traditions

To prepare for the current affairs section, candidates will have to follow the daily current affairs. Candidates can read newspapers and several current affairs books (eg. Manorama Yearbook) to prepare for this section.

CDS Exam Pattern

If you are seeking admission in OTA then you are required to study only General Knowledge and English, and Mathematics is not required. Candidates who are seeking admission to IMA/INA/AFA are required to study all three subjects – English, General Knowledge, and Mathematics. For more clarity on this, you can see the CDS Exam Pattern from below:

For admission to Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, and Air Force Academy, CDS 2021 exam pattern is tabulated below:

CDS Exam Pattern for IMA/INA/AFA

TopicsMaximum MarksTime Duration
Elementary Maths1002 Hours
English1002 Hours
General knowledge (GK)1002 Hours
Total3006 Hours

For admission to Officers’ Training Academy, the CDS 2021 exam pattern is as under:

CDS Exam Pattern for OTA

TopicsMaximum marksTime Duration
English1002 Hours
General knowledge (GK)1002 Hours
Total2004 Hours
  1. Each question carries 4 options out of which only 1 option must be marked.
  2. Negative marking – 1/3 of the allotted marks will be deducted for every incorrect answer.
  3. More than one option marked is treated as incorrect.
  4. If a question is left unanswered, there will be no negative marking.

CDS Syllabus: Intelligence & Personality Test

Candidates who qualify in the Written Test will be called for the SSB Interview. The SSB Interview consists of Stage I and Stage II. Aspirants who clear Stage I will go ahead for Stage II.

Stage I: This stage has tests based on Picture Perception (PP), Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR), and Description Test (DT). Aspirants are shortlisted based on their combined performance in OIR Test, PP and DT.

Stage II: This stage comprises Interview, Psychology Tests, Group Testing Officer Tasks, and the Conference. This stage takes over 4 days to get over.

Frequently Asked Questions On CDS Syllabus

Below are the frequently asked questions regarding UPSC CDS 2021 Syllabus:

Q1: What is the level of CDS Syllabus?

Ans: The questions asked in the Mathematics section will be of Class 10 (Matriculation) level whereas, for other subjects, the questions will be of Graduation level.

Q2: Who prescribes UPSC CDS 2020 Syllabus?

Ans: CDS syllabus is prescribed by the UPSC. 

Q3: Does CDS Syllabus changes every year?

Ans: Generally the syllabus remains same untill some major changes in test pattern is announced.

Q4: Is there any negative marking in the exam?

Ans: Yes, 1/3 marks will be deducted for every wrong answer.

Q5: Who conducts the CDS Exam?

Ans: The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the CDS Exam.

Q6: Are the subjects and syllabus the same for IMA and OTA exam?

Ans: No. The IMA has 3 subjects while OTA has only 2 subjects.

Q7: How many time CDS is conducted in a year?

Ans: CDS examination is conducted twice in a year. The exam is conducted once in February and again in November. But this year due to Coronavirus, all the exams have been postponed. The CDS 2 2020 exam was conducted on November 8, 2020. While the CDS 1 2021 exam will be conducted on February 7, 2021. The CDS Notification for the February exam was released on October 28, 2020.

Q8: How many attempts do we have for the CDS exam?

Ans: There are no such restrictions on the number of attempts of CDS.

Q9: How is the CDS examination conducted?

Ans: CDS exam is conducted in offline mode (Pen & Paper Based).

With a detailed CDS syllabus, Embibe hopes you have a great preparation ahead. Learn the topics properly and solve a sufficient number of CDS practice questions. Along with that, solve CDS Question papers. Practice will help you a lot and with time, you will soon find yourself in a position to take the exam with confidence.

You can also take free CDS Mock Tests at Embibe’s OnlineTyari platform to track and improve your performance. The mock tests will provide you with hands-on experience of the exam. This will help you to know and work on your weaknesses in order to boost your score.

If you have any queries related to the CDS Syllabus 2021, then feel free to ask in the comment section below and we will get back to you at the earliest.


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