CDS Exam: An opportunity to serve our nation

There is no single way to serve our nation. From a sweeper who cleans the street to a teacher who shares his or her knowledge with the future of a nation is serving the nation. But a group that we cannot forget while listing out the names of people who have dedicated their lives for the nation is the defence professionals.

Yes, be it the army, the navy, the air force or the paramilitary forces, they stay guard for our country so that all of us can sleep peacefully. For the same reasons, many young minds of this nation dream of joining the defence forces one day.

There are many ways to do it. Among them, one of the most popular routes is the combined defence services examination (CDSE).

What is Combined defence service (CDS) examination?

As the name suggests, Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) is a national level competitive examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) of India for recruiting qualified graduates to all three wings (Indian Army, Indian Navy and The Indian Air Force) of Indian Armed Forces.

These exams are mostly conducted for recruitment to non-technical positions under various Indian defence services and both males and females are eligible to apply for the exam. It happens twice every year, usually in the months of February and November, and aspiring candidates can apply for the examination if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Who is eligible to get recruited through CDSE?

As I mentioned earlier, only the candidates who meet the eligibility criteria will get recruited to any of the three wings. In fact, the requirements to get into each wing are different.

The most important requirement is, of course, the educational qualification. For anyone who is applying for the Indian Military Academy (IMA) or Officers Training Academy (OTA) of Indian military for non-technical roles, the minimum eligibility is to have an undergraduate degree from a recognised university.

But this won’t be enough for the Airforce Academy or the Naval Academy. To apply to the Indian Naval Academy, a candidate must be an engineering graduate. For the Airforce Academy, he or she should either have an engineering degree or any other degree if the applicant has had Physics, Chemistry and Maths as compulsory subjects in their 12th.

Apart from this, the candidate should be unmarried and also meet the physical and medical standards prescribed by the university. One should also note that females are allowed only in Officers Training Academy (OTA). So, they are not eligible for permanent commission.

Now, that’s it about the eligibility criteria. Let’s move on to the next part.

CDS examination pattern

So, CDSE recruitment process involves a written examination, followed by SSB selection process and a medical test. As SSB selection process and medical test is part of almost all other recruitment routes to the armed forces, we will be looking at the CDSE pattern here.

CDSE is an offline paper based examination which happens every year for recruitment to Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. CDS examination for Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and the Indian Airforce Academy will have three papers. They are English, General Knowledge and Basic Mathematics.

Each paper will have 120 objective type questions. A candidate will have two hours of time for each paper and the maximum marks a candidate can score in a paper is restricted to 100. There will be negative marking for wrong answers. While a candidate will receive 1 mark for each right answer, 0.33 marks will be reduced for each wrong answer. Three papers will be graded together for 300 marks and the candidates who score above cut off marks will be called for the interview process.

But for those who are attempting the CDSE exam for recruitment to Officers Training Academy (OTA), there will only be two papers. These candidates won’t be appearing for elementary mathematics paper. They will be graded for a total of 200 hundred marks and there will be negative marking as well. Though getting to OTA seems to be easier this way, one should keep in mind that the officers who get into Officers Training Academy (OTA) are not eligible for permanent commission. Now, the decision is up to you. But sadly for female candidates who wish to join the Indian Army through CDSE, this is your only route.

What after CDSE?

So, that’s it about Combined Defence Service examination. But that’s not it. The exam is just the first step of a long process. After appearing for the exam, a candidate has to wait for at least a few months to get the results. The selected candidate will then be called for the SSB interview round.

Now, let me tell you a few things about the SSB interview process. It is the second step of the CDSE recruitment process. Whatever route you choose to become part of the defence forces, this is somewhere you will almost certainly end up. It is usually a long and tough phase to clear. Selected candidates will be asked to present themselves at the SSB centres across the country, usually Allahabad, Bangalore, Chennai or Bhopal, for this part.

This process itself will involve 2 rounds. A screening round followed by the actual SSB interview. The screening round involves a written part where you will be asked to write about a thing or a topic the officers in charge provide. This will be followed by a group discussion round on the same topic. Many candidates who have cleared the written round will get rejected here. In fact, most unfit candidates will be eliminated at this level. The screening round happens on day one of the SSB interview process and rejected candidates are allowed to leave as soon as this round is complete. Otherwise, you will obviously be thrown out. It’s the armed forces, Man. What else do you expect?

The candidates who make it through the screening process will be asked to stay back for the next four days and attend the actual SSB interview. So, including the screening round, the process takes a total of five days. During the next four days, the candidates will go through various, physical and mental tests, aptitude tests, outdoor activities, group discussions, written rounds, etc.

On the fifth day, the results will be announced and the selected candidates will be asked to stay back for the medical examination round. Once that’s over, the merit list will be published.

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So, that’s it, folks. I believe I was able to provide a sneak peek of the CDSE recruitment process. Individuals who wish to join any of the three wings of Indian Armed forces can try this route. But unfortunately for female candidates, Officers Training Academy (OTA) is their only choice.

The test involves three papers. General knowledge, English and Mathematics. The candidates who have applied to OTA are not required to attempt the mathematics paper. The CDS examination will be followed by the SSB interview round and medical examination. If you’re up for it, wait for the notifications to appear. But trust me, the route is no cakewalk. So, give it a thought before making the decision.

We hope the illustrated analysis has powered up your insights and widened your perspectives about CDS examination. Always remember that you make your own destiny. Make sure that you invest time and thought before making your life-changing decisions.

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