Preparation for NDA/CDS

Here is all you need to know about National Defence academy (NDA) and CDS exams

Created On: Dec 21, 2010 18:31 IST
Modified On: May 17, 2011 15:01 IST

National Defence academy (NDA) exam is conducted for XII class students within the age group of 16 ½ to 19 years after 10+2 while CDSE exam is conducted in the age group of 19-25 years for Permanent (PC) and Short Service Commission. Both examinations are conducted by Union Public Services Commission (UPSC)

• UPSC conducts written exam for entry to Defence Services as an officer twice a year for both 10+2 and Graduate.
• NDA written exam is conducted for XII class students (boys only) within the age group of 16 ½ to 19 years for entry to NDA after 10+2.(Age is at the time of joining Academy)
• For entry to Air Force and Navy only Science (PCM) candidates are eligible.
• For NDA (Army) candidates from all streams are eligible to take NDA written exam but they have to appear in Math’s paper covering syllabus of XI and XII class. The other papers consisting English, Science and General Studies.
• For Entry for Boys/Girls after graduation CDSE (written) exam is conducted in the age group of 19-25 years for Permanent (PC) and Short Service Commission (SSC). Girls are offered only SSC.PC boys for IMA have to appear for Math’s, English and General Study’s papers whereas SSC boys and girls who opt for OTA appear in English and general Studies papers only.
• For CDSE, the candidates may be from any stream but for entry to Air Force and Navy, they must have studied Physics and Math at 10+2 level.  

General Preparation
• The Tests are objective type with negative marking.
• Math and English are the two most important subjects.
• The key to Success is the speed in finding the right answer. The time for each question is very short (approx 1 min).
• Quick Problem solving capability must be developed, particularly in Maths where calculations are involved.
• Candidates must practice finding answers from the hints or ruling out the other options.
• Clarity and understanding of basic concepts in science (PCM) is more important than ability to solve complex questions.
•  Emphasis should be on understanding rather than cramming.

• First go through the last five years questions papers.
• Note the number of Questions from each chapter and find the average over the years. Concentrate on those chapters who are easier to handle and provide maximum no of questions.
• Gradually cover other chapters.
• Basic things must be covered in all chapters, because sometimes the questions are quite easy from some of the chapters.
• Revision several times is must. More the revision better it is especially for Math.
• Level of preparation can be evaluated by mock tests/joining Coaching Institute

Strategy at Exam Hall
• Have an initial look at the entire paper for the first 2-3 minutes. It will stabilize your heart beat and you will feel more confident to answer.
• Start answering the easiest questions.
• .First few questions, may not involve any calculations and may be just ticked for their answers. It will make you comfortable.
• Most difficult or the time consuming questions to be attempted last.

Preparation for Interview/Personality Test
• Interview focuses on Officers like Qualities which include reasoning ability, expression (Written and oral) ability to influence others with their logical arguments, initiative, self confidence, social adjustments, courage, stamina and cheerfulness.
• The candidates must train their mind to think clearly logically and rationally.
• Keep focus on practical aspects of any situation.
• Be positive in your approach. Your actions must aim at solving the problem. and contribute positively to goal.
• Focus on good social adjustments with everyone including family, school and friends.
• A cooperative nature, with good sense of responsibility towards any given task is desired. Respect towards seniors and elders and self discipline are essential.
• Another focus area is good communication skill or power of expression. Psychological tests reveal your written power of expression as you have to convey your thoughts, ideas within very short time. Good knowledge of language particularly English helps in your expression. Answers can be given in Hindi also, but a reasonable knowledge of English is a plus point for the candidate.
• GTO tasks are more about group activities such as group discussion and outdoor tasks. An average physical fitness agility and practical intelligence help in outdoor tasks. Improve your verbal expression in English and also general awareness.
• General awareness of the candidate is tested by the Interviewer. The candidate must update himself on events of national/international importance   and should be able to express his opinion clearly and logically.

What not to do
• Many candidates try to memorize the responses to various tests and thus lose out on originality of response. They are not able to adopt their responses to the given situations and it is quite evident that they have come to the SSB with pre-conceived answers. The assessor is more interested in candidate’s own response and not the tutored ones.

Role of Coaching Institutes
• Psychologically and physically prepare candidates for the exam
• Teach shortcut techniques for written exams.
• Provide familiarity with test patterns and what assessing officers are looking for.
• Moulds the personality of candidate towards better and positive responses for SSB interview.
• Improves candidate’s group effectiveness, communication skills, participation, confidence and body language.

How to choose
There are a lot of institutes which have sprung up in various cities. Not all have adequate facilities and good trainers. It is important to choose an institute which specializes only in preparation for Defence Services and has established credentials.


The author:  Col (Retd) S K Chhabra is Director of an established Defence Coaching Institute (The Cavalier, C-73, Sharda Puri,Rajouri Garden, New Delhi) E-mail: website: