CDS Preparation Tips 2023

by Carter Toni

The CDS exam is conducted twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for admission to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA) and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA). CDS is a highly competitive exam with lakhs of candidates attempting it every year. Timely CDS preparation according to the syllabus is a sure-shot way to ace the exam. Following a few tips and tricks can help a candidate prepare well for the exam.

CDS 2023 Preparation Tips

  • Understanding the CDS syllabus and exam pattern

Aspiring CDS candidates should go through the exam syllabus and understand the exam pattern. While covering the CDS syllabus, candidates should bifurcate the topics they are confident in from those that require extra work. The right strategy is to focus on weaker areas as soon as possible and then sharpen the already strong ones.

CDS 2023 Syllabus

The first step in CDS preparation is to know the syllabus of the exam. CDS Syllabus covers topics from English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics. While the standard of Mathematics is that of Class 10, for other subjects, the course matter covered is of graduation level. Let’s look at the overview of the syllabus.

Subjects Topics
English Antonyms,Sentence improvement, Comprehension, Synonyms, Spotting Errors, etc.
General Knowledge Economics, Current Awareness, Defense, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, etc.
Elementary Math Arithmetic, Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Mensuration, and Statistics, etc.

CDS 2023 Exam Pattern

The second step of CDS preparation comprises understanding the exam pattern. The CDS 2023 exam pattern comprises a written exam and SSB Interview. The written exam for IMA, INA, and AFA includes three sections: English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics. The test paper for OTA admission comprises two sections: English and General Knowledge with each section being two hours. Total marks for IMA, INA, and AFA are 300, while for OTA it is 200.  The SSB Interview for IMA, INA, and AFA carries 300 marks each and for OTA it is 200 marks.

  • Solving previous years’ question papers

Solving the previous years’ question papers helps a candidate know the types of questions asked and to judge the difficulty level. It is one of the most important steps in CDS preparation. However, this step should only be attempted after the candidate has fully covered the CDS syllabus. By attempting the mock test papers candidates can gain familiarity with the type of questions asked in the exam, difficulty level, distribution of questions, and the marking scheme. It also helps the candidates in assessing and evaluating their preparation level.

  • Emphasizing important topics

Candidates should focus on weak areas and important topics. In such competitive exams, understanding the basic concepts well is more important than cramming the formulas. If the basic concepts are clear, simple questions asked in a tricky format can also be solved easily. Candidates should use high school books to clear the basic concepts in Maths. Important topics carry more exams. Focusing on these topics is a way to score more on the exam.

  • Attempt easier questions first

Candidates must go through all questions and try solving the easy questions first. Such questions require less time and help in securing qualifying marks. Since there is negative marking, it is not advisable to guess the answers or attempt questions with which one is not comfortable.

CDS Preparation Tips for Time Management

Timely and consistent preparations are the keys to success in CDS 2023. Candidates can follow a few tips that can help them with time management:

  • Candidates should try and complete the paper within the allotted time only. Taking mock tests is a good way to practice time management.
  • Following a regular study routine ensures that the entire syllabus is completed well in time.
  • Candidates should devote 6-8 hours every day to CDS preparation
  • Allocating dedicated time slot for weekly revision

These strategies can help aspiring CDS candidates to use their time in an optimized manner and study well for the exam.


Q1. Can a candidate crack the CDS exam on the first attempt?

Ans. Yes. A candidate can crack the CDS exam on the first attempt but it requires timely preparation. Candidates should start their CDS preparation at least one year before the exam and should focus on the exam pattern and CDS syllabus. Solving the previous years’ question papers also provides insight into the pattern of the exam.

Q2. Is it possible to crack CDS 2023 with 3 months of preparation?

Ans. Ideally, candidates should start their CDS preparation 2-3 months before the exam date. Since the CDS syllabus is extensive, it should be covered first before the candidates can start attempting the mock tests.

Q3. How is the SSB interview conducted?

Ans. Candidates are selected for the SDSB interview based on their marks in the written exam. The test is conducted in two stages over four days. During the SSB interview candidates are tested on their intelligence and personality. Stage I of the SSB interview includes Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and the Picture Perception Description Test (PP&DT). Stage II includes Interviews, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests, and the Conference.

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