Is The CDS Syllabus Vast? What Important Topics Should Be Prepared to Crack the Exam?

The Combined Defence Services Examination (CDS) is one of the most important exams for every defence aspirant. But what exactly is this examination about?

The Combined Defence Services Examination (CDS) is a national level exam organised by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to recruit candidates for the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Indian Air Force Academy (IAF) and Officers Training Academy (OTA). The examination is conducted twice every year through offline mode only (written tests).

Candidates may find the CDS syllabus to be vast, however, the it is not true. The syllabus of CDS exam covers only GK, Mathematics and English. While GK, Mathematics and English Syllabus is needed for recruitment into the IMA, INA and IAF while GK and English is required for Army recruitment.

CDS Syllabus and Important topics

The syllabus for this exam is vast when compared to the NDA exam. Study material, preparation strategies and guidance regarding the CDS exam are available on the BYJU’S Exam Prep. Visit the website for exam preparation for CDS exam.

Given below is a list of essential topics along with the number of questions in every section to clarify how important each one of them is.

The syllabus has 3 main components—English, General Knowledge and Mathematics.

●      Subject I: English



Number of Questions
Sentence Improvement 20
Reading Comprehension 23 ( 5 passages)
Synonyms 8
Antonyms 7
One-word Substitution 5
Paragraph-Jumble 10
Sentence Jumble 7
Spot The Error 20
Close Test 20

●      Subject II: General Knowledge

Topic Number Of Questions
History 19
Science 27
Geography 22
Ecology 06
Polity 20
Economy/Trade 11
Miscellaneous (Armed Forces) 15

Subject III: Elementary Mathematics

Topic Number of questions
Menstruation 14
Algebra 7
Mean, Median and Mode 4
Time, Speed and Distance 6
Number System 20
Simple and Compound Interest 5
Percentage 2
Profit and Loss 1
Mixture 1
Time and Speed 3
Trigonometry 14
Set Theory 1
Clock 2
Geometry 20

Scheme of Examination

All three components have separate papers. It is followed by an interview round. The breakup is as follows:


  • Exam time is 9 A.M. to 11 A.M.
  • The total duration of the exam is 2 hours.
  • The number of questions is 120.
  • Each correct answer gives you 0.83 marks. Each wrong answer takes away 0.27 marks.
  • Total marks are 100.

General Knowledge

  • Exam time is 12 P.M. to 2 P.M.
  • The total duration of the exam is 2 hours.
  • Total questions are 120.
  • Each correct answer gives you 0.83 marks. Each wrong answer takes away 0.27 marks.
  • Total marks are 100.

Elementary Mathematics

  • Exam time is 3 P.M. to 5 P.M.
  • The total duration of the exam is 2 hours.
  • Total questions are 100.
  • For each correct answer, you get one mark. For each wrong answer, a penalty of 0.33 marks is imposed.
  • Total marks are 100.


  • Total marks are 100.

Important Instructions for CDS

Here are a few essential instructions to take note of:

  • The questions in all three papers will be objective type only.
  • The question papers for General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics will be available in both English and Hindi.
  • Candidates have to appear for the exam personally and write the answers by themselves. They will not be allowed the help of a scribe under any circumstance.
  • For each paper, the UPSC has the discretion to set minimum qualifying marks.
  • Candidates are prohibited from using calculators or mathematical tables of any kind.

We hope this helped you gather the necessary information to begin your CDS preparation journey. We, at BYJU’s, are committed to assisting every defence aspirant to realise their dream. For more such tips and strategies or guidance from highly qualified teachers across the country, check out the BYJU’S Exam Prep app.