UPSC CDS exam 2021 notification, Exam Date, Pattern, Apply Online

This is a complete guide for all job aspirants who are preparing for the CDS exam. You can find all information on this page.

The recruitment process has started today (28th October 2020) with the release of the official notification.

CDS exam was conducted on 7th February 2021.

Union Public Service Commission has officially started the online application process on 28th October 2020. Candidates can download the official notification given on this page and apply online on or before the official last date which is 17th November 2020.

Latest news:

Update (28th October 2020): As per the official exam calendar, Union Public Service Commission has released the 2021 official notification on 28th October 2020. All candidates who want to apply for the exam can submit the online applications until 17th November 2020.

Update (15th October 2020): Union Public Services has released the Combined Defence Services-2 2020 Admit Card on the official website.

Update (1st September 2020): Union Public Services has released the CDS-2 2019 final result on the official website. Check more information in the linked article.

Candidates can download the official notification PDF given at the end of this page.

UPSC CDS Exam 2021

Candidates can check all details about the UPSC CDS 2021 Exam on this page such as Exam Date, Eligibility, Exam Pattern, online form, The application process, salary structure, etc.

What is CDS Exam?

The “Combined Defence Services” exam also known as the “CDS Exam” is a national level competitive exam conducted by UPSC twice a year for admission in Indian Military Academy (IMA), Air Force Academy (AFA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA).


Please have a look at the overview below.

Exam NameUPSC Combined Defence Services Examination (UPSC CDS)
Level of examNational level
Required Marital StatusUnmarried
Application ModeOnline
Conducting BodyUnion Public Service Commission
Exam TypePen and Paper-based
FrequencyTwo times in a year (in February & November)
Selection ProcessWritten Test and SSB Interview
Phone number (facilitation counter)011-23098543/ 23385271/ 23381125/ 23098591

More details about the UPSC CDS overview is given at the linked article.


Please find complete details about the salary of officers hired through the CDS exam. The pay scale is mentioned in the below table.

RankLevelPay Band
LieutenantLevel 1056,100 -1,77,500
CaptainLevel 10 B61,300- 1,93,900
MajorLevel 1169,400 – 2,07,200
Lieutenant ColonelLevel 12A1,21,200 – 2,12,400
ColonelLevel 131,30,600-2, 15,900
BrigadierLevel 13A1,39,600-2,17,600
Major GeneralLevel 141,44,200-2,18,200
Lieutenant General HAG ScaleLevel 151, 82, 200-2,24,100
HAG+ScaleLevel 162,05,400 – 2,24,400
VCOAS/Army Cdr/ Lieutenant General (NFSG)Level 172,25,000/-(fixed)
COASLevel 182,50,000/-(fixed)

There is one more salary component that is Military service pay, and as per MSP officers will get Rs. 15,500/- extra salary every month.

​*All selected cadets (The Gentlemen or Lady Cadets) will get a fixed stipend of Rs. 56,100/- throughout the complete training in all Service Academies such as IMA and OTA.

Official Notification

Union Public Service has notified on his official website through a notification on 28th October 2020 about the CDS exam online applications. All necessary information regarding the Combined defence services exam is also made available by UPSC through this notification.

There is a deadline to apply for CDS 1 2021 exam and candidates must complete their online application process on or before 17th November 2020.

Candidates waiting for the official notification can check important details on this page.

UPSC recently notified about the updated UPSC Calendar 2021 on the UPSC website. The 2021 exam date has been updated in the UPSC calendar which is now 7th February 2021.

Name of the Course and Approximate No. of Vacancies:

UPSC has released the total number of vacancies along with the official notification. A total of 345 vacancies are available in the 2021 Exam. Candidates can check the number of vacancies to get an idea about it.

UPSC CDS 1 2021 Number of Vacancy:

Sr. No.Name of the AcademyCityNo. of Vacancy
1Indian Military AcademyDehradun100
2Indian Naval AcademyEzhimala26
3Air Force AcademyHyderabad32
4Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Men)Chennai170
5Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Women)Chennai17

UPSC CDS 1 Number of vacancies for 2020 is mentioned below:

upsc cds 1 no of vacancy

The number of vacancies given above can be changed by the UPSC at any time without any notice. Although UPSC will update if there is any change in the available vacancy.

Also, find UPSC CAPF 2020 exam all latest details at the linked article

Exam Date 2021

UPSC CDS Exam date has been updated by the UPSC in the revised UPSC calendar which is now 7th February 2021.

The official UPSC notification for Combined Defence Services 1 has released today (28th October).

Exam dates are given below:

Notification Date28th October 202005/08/2020
Starting of Application Form28th October 202005/08/2020
Last date to submit the application form17th November 202025/08/2020
Application Withdrawal window24th November to 30th November 202001/09/2020 to 07/09/2020
Availability of Admit cardJanuary 2021October 2020
Exam Date7th February 202108/11/2020
Announcement of ResultsWill be updatedWill be updated

Eligibility Criteria

Please have a look at the complete CDS exam eligibility criteria.

Exam Pattern and Selection Process

The UPSC CDS selection process will be completed in two stages.

  • 1-Written Examination
  • 2-SSB Interview

The standard of the papers in Elementary Mathematics will be of Matriculation level. The standard of papers in other subjects will approximately be such as may be expected of a graduate of an Indian University.

The subjects of the written examination, the time allowed and the maximum marks allotted to each subject will be as follows:

(a) For Admission to Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy:—

SubjectDurationMaximum Marks
English2 hours100
General Knowledge2 hours100
Elementary Mathematics2 hours100

(b) For Admission to Officers’ Training Academy:—

SubjectDurationMaximum Marks
English2 hours100
General Knowledge2 hours100

Important points for written examination:

  • The maximum marks allotted to the written examination and to the interviews will be equal for each course i.e. the maximum marks allotted to the written examination and to the interviews will be 300, 300, 300, and 200 each for admission to the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and Officers’ Training Academy respectively.
  • All questions in all subjects will be objective type questions.
  • All papers will be in both English and Hindi languages except for English papers.
  • All questions in all papers must be written by the candidate itself.
  • Qualifying marks in the written exam will be decided by the commission.
  • The candidates are not permitted to use a calculator for answering objective type papers (Test Booklets). They should not, therefore, bring the same inside the Examination Hall.


The SSB interview process consists of a two-stage Selection process – stage I and stage II.

  • Stage-1: OIR (Officer Intelligence Rating) and PP&DT (Picture Perception & Descriptive test)
  • Stage-2: Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests, and the Conference

Important Points for SSB Interview round:

  • SSB Interview round takes around 5 to 7 days.
  • Only those candidates who successfully clear the stage I SSB interview are permitted to appear for stage II.
  • Candidates’ personality is assessed based on the different parameters such as decision-making power, aptitude level, candidates’ perception based on different scenarios.
  • The Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO), and the Psychologist examine the candidates during the 5 to 7 days time while doing different tasks.

How to Apply online?

Candidates can apply for the CDS exam through the official UPSC website in online mode only. Any other mode of application will not be accepted.

Combined Defence Services notification has already been released by the UPSC on 28th October 2020 and the last date to submit the applications is 17th November 2020.

Also, candidates can withdraw online application form from 24th November to 30th November 2020.

Application Fee:

The application fee for CDS exam is RS 200.

An application fee of 200 Rs is required to pay by candidates (except ST/SC candidates who are exempted from fee) by using Debit Card, Credit Card, SBI Net Banking facility, or by depositing cash at any SBI Bank branch.  


Before applying online, candidates should have below mentioned documents/Information.

  • (i) A recent passport size color photograph and scanned signature image having file size between 20 kb to 300 kb and 10kb to 20kb. Signature in CAPITAL LETTERS will NOT be accepted.
  • (ii) Candidate must have his matriculation certificate ready to fill in basic details like name, father’s name, date of birth.
  • (iii) Candidate must have a valid id proof like Adhar Card, Voter Id Card, PAN Card, etc.
  • (v) Keep the necessary details/documents ready to make Online Payment of the requisite application fee/ intimation charges.
  • (vii) Have a valid personal email ID and mobile number which should be kept active till the completion of this recruitment process. Bank may send intimation to download call letters for the Examination etc. through the registered e-mail ID. The Board does not send any communication by any other mode than E-mail/SMS. No change in E-mail ID will be entertained during the entire process of recruitment.

Please find below the complete step by step process.

Please have a look at the below steps about how to apply for the exam.

  • Go to the UPSC CDS official website and click on the apply link
  • CDS online application
  • The first part is the Candidates Registration. Provide all asked details about yourself in the candidate’s registration part.
  • Now comes the second part of the online application process. Now some important details about candidates will be asked by UPSC like contact information, personal details, basic details, etc.
  • Now images and photographs scanned by candidates should be uploaded on the UPSC portal. All scanned images must be in JPG format. The maximum size of the photograph is 300kb and for signature itis 20kb.
  • Now the final step is submitting the application fee online and complete the application process.
    • The application fee can be paid by using an online method like debit card, net banking, credit card or candidates can pay fees offline also by depositing cash at any nearest SBI bank branch.
    • If candidates want to pay the fee by cash, Candidates can take the print out of the SBI bank challan after the last step of the online application process and take this to the nearest SBI Bank after 24 hours of generating the challan.


The combined Defence Services I 2020 result for the written test has already been declared by UNION Public Service Commission on 23rd March 2020. Successfully qualified candidates who scored minimum qualifying marks in the written exam will be called for the SSB interview round.

Please follow the complete step by step process to check the CDS result:

  • Go to the official UPSC website.
  • Click on the “written result” link on the right sidebar of the website or visit here.
  • Now click on the “Examination Written Result” link.
  • OR Go to the examination tab of the main website and click on “Active Examination” and navigate to the CDS I 2020 Result link.
  • Click on it, a pdf will appear with the names of qualifying candidates.

Candidates who have qualified for the written exam will be called by the Service Selection Board for psychological aptitude tests, intelligence tests, and interviews.

  • Candidates have to secure the minimum qualifying marks separately in written examination and SSB test.
  • The examination authority will prepare a merit list of all the qualified candidates based on the total marks secured by them and accordingly, they will be selected for the Combined Defence Services 2021 courses.

Admit Card: Hall Ticket

Union Public Service Commission has released the UPSC CDS 1 Admit Card 2021. All candidates who have applied for the exam can download their Admit Card from the official website.

Candidates can follow the steps to download their UPSC CDS Admit Card.


Please check and download CDS syllabus PDF from the linked article.

Also, check UPSC NDA 2020 complete details in the linked article.

Cut Off

Previous years CDS cut-off marks pdf is given at the linked article. Please download the pdf file also.

Answer Keys

Answer Keys for the 2021 exam will be released after the exam. CDS 2021 1 Answer Keys is not officially released by the UPSC. We will update this page by including the Answer Keys for all subjects as soon as the official Answer Keys are available on the UPSC website.

CDS 2 2019 Answer Keys:

Please download the Answer Keys from the below-given links.

CDS 1 2019 Answer Keys:

Please download the Answer Keys from the below-given links.

CDS 2 2018 Answer Keys:

Please download the Answer Keys from the below-given links.

CDS 1 2018 Answer Keys:

Please download the Answer Keys from the below-given links.

Previous Year Question Paper

Candidates applying for the Exam should attempt CDS previous year question papers at least once. It will help in analyzing competition level and candidates can check how much they are prepared for the written exam.

Please find below previous year question papers according to year.

CDS 1, 2020 question papers

CDS 2, 2019 question papers

CDS 1, 2019 question papers

CDS 2, 2018 question papers

CDS 1, 2018 question papers

CDS 2, 2017 question papers

CDS 1, 2017 question papers

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the salary of a CDS officer?

The salary of Officers recruited through the Combined Defence Services exam is different according to posts. Please check the complete salary structure here.

What is the difference between CDS 1 and 2?

There is no difference in both exams. UPSC conducts the CDS exam twice a year. The exam is conducted generally in February and November that’s why to differentiate both 1 and 2 added after the CDS. The pattern of both exams is the same.

How can I apply for the CDS exam in 2021?

You can apply for the exam by visiting the official website and follow these steps for the online application.

Are CDS tough?

Yes, the Combined defence services exam is conducted for officers post and lacs of candidates apply each year for few posts generally below 1 thousand. So the competition level is very high. Also, the hiring process is very tough. Except for academic knowledge, a good personality with good physical fitness is required to crack the exam.

Which stream is required for CDS?

Any graduate can apply for the exam except for AIR Force Academy and Naval Academy. For Air Force, candidates should have studied physics and mathematics at 10+2 level and for the Navy, an engineering degree is required.

What is the percentage required for CDS exam?

There are no percentage criteria to apply for the Exam. You should have a graduate degree to become eligible.

Is Math compulsory for CDS Exam?

Math is compulsory if you want to join the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, and Air Force Academy. For Officers Training Academy (OTA) Math is not required.

Can I clear CDS without coaching?

Definitely, You can clear the Exam without any coaching as there are a lot of candidates selected who never took any help from any coaching class. It just required an overall well-planned strategy. There are a lot of things that need to take care of apart from the written exam. You must be enough confident and smart having a good overall personality.

Which is better NDA or CDS?

Both are better options. If you are a graduate you must apply for Combined Defence Services Exam otherwise NDA is also a good option. Definitely joining through CDS will have some advantages like hire rankings and better

How much height is required for the Combined Defence Services?

According to the criteria by UPSC minimum height for Male candidates is 157.5 cm and minimum height for females is 152 cm. 5 cm relaxation is also given to candidates belongs to Gorkhas and North Eastern hills regions of India.

What is the Combined Defence Services Exam eligibility criteria?

The eligibility criteria consist of Educational qualification, Age, Physical Criteria, and nationality. Check complete CDS Eligibility criteria.

Can a Girl give Combined Defence Services Exam?

Yes, Any graduate unmarried or divorced Females (Having valid divorce documents) can also apply for the Exam but Female candidates are only eligible for Officers Training Academy (OTA). Please check the complete eligibility criteria before applying.

Is physical fitness required for the CDS exam?

Yes, Physical fitness is an essential criterion for appearing for the exam. Candidates are advised to check complete criteria before applying that include educational qualification, Age, Physical Fitness.

Can 12th pass apply for Combined Defence Services?

NO, the Minimum eligibility criteria for the Combined Defence Services exam is graduation. If you have completed graduation or appearing in the final year of graduation then only you are eligible to apply.

Official Notification:

Please find some other Sarkari Exams information at the linked article.


  1. Examination Notice No.2/2021.CDS-I, Union Public Service Commission, Oct. 28, 2020. Accessed on: Oct. 28, 2020. [Online]. Available:
  2. Combined Defence Services Examination (II), 2020 – e – Admit Card, Union Public Service Commission, Oct. 15, 2020. Accessed on: Oct. 15, 2020. [Online]. Available:
  3. Combined Defence Services Examination (II), 2019 – Declaration of Final Result, Union Public Service Commission, Sep 1, 2020. Accessed on: Sep 6, 2020. [Online]. Available:
  4. Calendar, Union Public Service Commission, Aug 18, 2020. Accessed on: Aug 20, 2020. [Online]. Available:
  5. Cut-off Marks Combined Defence Services Examination (II), 2019, Union Public Service Commission, Nov. 08, 2020. Accessed on: Nov. 11, 2020. [Online]. Available:
  6. Combined Defence Services (II) Examination,2019 Finally Recommended Candidates, Union Public Service Commission, Nov. 11, 2020. Accessed on: Nov. 11, 2020. [Online]. Available:

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