All About UPSC CDS Examination: Ultimate Guide



The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Combined Defence Services (CDS) Examination is a pivotal step for candidates aspiring to serve in the Indian Armed Forces. The examination assesses a broad spectrum of abilities through its meticulously designed syllabus, encompassing English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics. Each section is tailored to evaluate the candidates’ proficiency in language, their understanding of India and the world, and their quantitative aptitude. Excelling in these areas requires not only hard work but also a strategic approach to preparat



  • Spotting Errors: This segment tests a candidate’s ability to identify grammatical errors in sentences. This includes incorrect usage of tenses, prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and other parts of speech.
  • Sentence Improvement: Candidates are required to improve a given sentence by either restructuring it or by substituting a word or phrase with a more appropriate one, without changing the meaning of the sentence.
  • Antonyms and Synonyms: This area tests the vocabulary strength of a candidate. It involves identifying words opposite in meaning (antonyms) or similar in meaning (synonyms) to the given words.
  • Fill in the Blanks: This requires candidates to select the correct word or phrase to complete sentences in a grammatically correct and contextually meaningful way.
  • Reading Comprehension: This section includes passages followed by questions related to the passage. It assesses the candidate’s ability to understand and interpret the given text, deduce conclusions, and answer questions based on the passage.
  • Para Jumbles: Candidates are given jumbled sentences from a paragraph and are required to rearrange them in the correct order to form a coherent paragraph.

General Knowledge

  • Indian Polity: This encompasses the structure, functioning, and various aspects of the Indian political system, including the Constitution, Panchayati Raj, Fundamental Rights and Duties, and Parliament.
  • Indian Economy: Questions may cover basic economic concepts, recent changes and developments in the Indian economy, planning and development, agriculture, industrial sectors, and foreign trade.
  • Indian History: This includes ancient, medieval, and modern Indian history, with emphasis on significant events, movements, and personalities that shaped the nation.
  • Geography: Both Indian and World Geography are covered, including physical, social, and economic geography. Topics such as climate, soil, vegetation, and key geographical features are included.
  • General Science: This section tests knowledge in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Environmental Science, focusing on daily applications and scientific phenomena.
  • Current Affairs: Candidates need to be well-versed with national and international events, awards, sports, politics, and any other areas of importance in recent times.

Elementary Mathematics

  • Arithmetic: Includes number systems, basic operations, square roots, decimal fractions, time and distance, ratios and proportions, percentages, and averages.
  • Algebra: Fundamental operations in Algebra, factors, polynomials, quadratic equations, arithmetic and geometric progressions, and basic theorems.
  • Trigonometry: Basic trigonometric identities, use of trigonometric tables, simple cases of heights and distances.
  • 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, and similar triangles.
  • Mensuration: Areas and volumes of squares, rectangles, parallelograms, triangles, circles, spheres, cones, cylinders, and cuboids.
  • Statistics: Collection and representation of data, measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode), and basic knowledge of graphs and charts.

Exam Pattern for UPSC CDS Examination

The UPSC CDS Examination consists of a written test followed by an interview and personality test. The written test is further divided into two stages: the Objective Type and the Descriptive Type.

Objective Type
The Objective Type test comprises multiple-choice questions and is conducted for a total of 300 marks. The exam duration is 2 hours for each paper. The subjects and their respective marks are as follows:

English – 100 marks
General Knowledge – 100 marks
Elementary Mathematics – 100 marks
Descriptive Type
The Descriptive Type test is conducted for candidates who qualify in the Objective Type test. This stage includes essay writing, comprehension, and other descriptive questions. The exam is conducted for a total of 100 marks, and the duration is 2 hours.

Interview and Personality Test
After qualifying in the written test, candidates are called for an interview and personality test. This stage aims to assess the candidate’s suitability for a career in the armed forces. The interview and personality test carry a total of 200 marks.



Preparing for the UPSC CDS Examination demands dedication, perseverance, and a thorough understanding of its diverse syllabus. From the complexities of English grammar and vocabulary to the vast expanse of General Knowledge, and the precision of Elementary Mathematics, each section offers its unique challenges. Success in this examination opens the door to a prestigious career in the defence services, making it essential for aspirants to embrace a holistic and focused study plan. With the right preparation, candidates can turn their aspirations into reality.

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