UPSC CDS (2) 2021 Exam Analysis (November 14): Check Expert Feedback, Difficulty Level & Good Attempts to Clear Cutoff Marks

UPSC CDS (2) 2021 Exam Analysis (November 14): Find the detailed exam analysis of UPSC CDS 2021 Written Exam held in offline mode on 14th November 2021 including the Difficulty Level of the questions, number of Good Attempts, and feedback shared by Expert.
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UPSC CDS (2) 2021 Exam Analysis (November 14)

UPSC CDS (2) 2021 Exam Analysis (November 14): UPSC has conducted the Written Exam at selected Examination Centers spread across India for 339 vacancies in Indian Military Academy (IMA 153rd (DE) Course), Indian Naval Academy (Executive Branch General Service/Hydro), Air Force Academy (AFA No. 212 F(P) Course), and Officers Training Academy (OTA 116th  SSC Men NT & 30th  SSC Women NT)). Female candidates applied for the CDS exam under the posts of Officer Training Academy (OTA) only. Candidates who applied for IMA, AFA, and INA attended all the above 3 papers, while OTA Candidates attended only General Knowledge & English. In this article, we are going to share the detailed Exam Analysis of the UPSC CDS 2 2021 Written Exam held on 14th Nov 2021.

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Candidates having the following qualifications were allowed to appear:

(i) For I.M.A. and Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai — Degree of a recognized University or equivalent; (ii) For Indian Naval Academy—Degree in Engineering from a recognized University/Institution. (iii) For Air Force Academy—Degree of a recognized University (with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engineering.

Note: Those who are in their final year had also been allowed to appear (conditionally).

UPSC CDS (2) 2021 Exam Analysis by Expert

Total marks for the written exam: 300 marks for the written test of IMA, INA, and AFA, while 200 marks for the written exam of OTA. There was a negative marking of 1/3rd of allotted marks for wrong answers. The time duration allowed to complete the exam is 6 hours (each section 2 hours) for IMA INA & AFA. 4 hours are given to complete the written test for OTA. Below is the difficulty level of all the three sections under the CDS 2 2021 exam.

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UPSC CDS 2 2021 Exam Analysis


Total Questions/ 100 Marks

Good Attempts

Difficulty Level

General Knowledge

120/100 Marks


Moderate to Difficult

English Language

120/100 Marks



Elementary Mathematics

100/ 100 Marks


Moderate to Difficult




Moderate to Difficult

 Check UPSC CDS 2021 Exam Preparation Tips

The offline test was conducted in 3 shifts for the 3 papers- English Language, General Knowledge, Elementary Mathematics. The first shift of CDS-2 (English) commenced at 9 am and concluded at 11 pm while the second shift for the GK paper has started at 12 pm and ended at 2 pm. These two papers were compulsory for all four Institutions.
The 3rd paper (Maths) was the last one and not meant for the candidates who applied only for OTA.

Expected cut-off marks: Our Expert suggested that "Minimum Qualifying standard approved at the written stage and marks secured by the last recommended candidate at the final stage of the Examination: In my understanding, it should be in the range of 130-150 (90-100 for OTA)". Break up as given below:


 Written Exam 







OTA (Men)




Check UPSC CDS 2 2021 Expected Cutoff & Previous Year Marks

UPSC CDS (2) 2021 Section-wise Exam Analysis

Below is the Section-wise Exam Analysis of UPSC CDS 2 2021 Exam including three papers, i.e., English, GK & Mathematics:

English Language: Below is the detailed CDS English paper analysis:



Reading Comprehension






Idioms & Phrases


Parts of Speech


Cloze Composition


Spotting Error 


Fill in the Blanks


Ordering of words in a sentence


Ordering of Sentence


Completion of Sentence


Preposition & Determiners


The paper was comparatively easy- in fact, among three papers (Maths, English, and GK) it was the most scoring. An attempt of 75-80 questions with 80% accuracy would be considered a good performance. Vocab-based questions, Idioms & Phrases, and the Ordering of words in Sentence questions were the critical ones. One must not have missed them. Grammar questions (spot the error and Parts of Speech) were a little difficult and they might have affected the accuracy for many. A prudent candidate should have attempted either a fewer number of these questions or done at the end of the paper if time permitted.

General Knowledge: GK paper was moderate to difficult in terms of difficulty level. This part comprised questions from Physics, Chemistry, General Science, History (including Freedom Movement and post-independence period), Polity (including Constitution and Judiciary), Geography, Current Affairs, Arts & Culture, sports, Awards & honors, etc. The GK part paper was moderate to difficult in terms of difficulty level. An attempt of 70-75 questions with 90% accuracy should be good to go. Questions from History, Geography, and Polity might have troubled many, particularly those who are from science backgrounds. Questions asked in the exam were of ‘Moderate to Difficult’ level in different subjects.  The distribution of the GK section is given below in detail:


No. Of Questions (approx.)















Current Affairs




Elementary Mathematics: Paper-3 Elementary Mathematics section was scheduled from 03:00 pm to 05:00 pm.  The overall level of the section of " Moderate to Difficult". Each question carried 1 mark and there was a negative marking of 1/3rd of allotted marks (i.e., 0.33 marks each) for wrong answers.

Below is the detailed CDS Elementary Mathematics paper analysis:

Name of the Topic

No. of questions asked (approx.)



Mensuration & Geometry






Statistics including Data Interpretation 


UPSC Combined Defence Services (CDS) Previous Years’ Papers (with Answers) – PDF Download

Highlights of UPSC CDS (2) 2021 Written Exam

- The paper was conducted in Offline Mode at selected Examination Centers across different cities.

- All the questions were compulsory and were in Objective Type MCQ Format.

- CDS Paper-1 English section was scheduled from 09:00 am to 11:00 am.

- CDS Paper-2 GK Section was scheduled from 12:00 to 2:00 pm.

- CDS Paper-3 Elementary Mathematics section is scheduled from 03:00 pm to 05:00 pm.

- There was a negative marking of 1/4th marks for wrong answers.

- The candidates were not permitted to use the calculator or Mathematical or logarithmic table for answering objective type papers.

- It was compulsory to carry Admit Card with an affixed Photograph on it and Original ID proof along with its photocopy as well.

- The Commission has the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects at the examination.

- Wearing of mask/face cover was mandatory for all candidates. Hand sanitizer (small size) in a transparent bottle was allowed.

- Candidates were required to follow COVID 19 norms of ‘social distancing’ as well as ‘personal hygiene’ inside the Examination Halls/Rooms as well as in the premises of the Venue.

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Important Points to Remember after UPSC CDS (2) 2021 Written Exam

SSB Interview: UPSC prepares a list of candidates and calls those who obtain the minimum qualifying marks (cut off) in the written examination. Such candidates shall appear before a Services Selection Board (SSB) for Intelligence and Personality Test where candidates will be assessed on Officers Potentiality for the recruitment in Army, Navy, and Air Force. Those who clear SSB for the Air Force in addition to the above will have to qualify for the Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS).

The above analysis will help you to assess your rank among the thousands of candidates, who have appeared for the UPSC CDS (2) 2021 Exam held on 14th Nov 2021.

About The Expert

Falguni Goswami is the founder of CareerBandhu Education. He is a renowned career counselor and an Ex-Indian Air Force veteran with 30+ years of experience as senior faculty in coaching institutes like T.I.M.E and Career Launcher


What is the Difficulty Level of the UPSC CDS 2 2021 Exam?

Moderate to Difficult

What is the number of good attempts for the UPSC 2 CDS 2021 Exam

English - Above 75, GK - Above 70, Maths - Above 70

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