CDS 2020 Exam Pattern, Marking Scheme and Syllabus

Updated On -

Jun 19, 2020

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Aarushi Kalra

Exams Prep Master

CDS 2020 Exam Pattern for Indian Military, Indian Navy and Air Force Academy Exam is divided into 3 sections, whereas Officers’ Training Academy Exam is divided into 2 sections

  • Each section in both the exams comprises of 100 questions.
  • Each question carries one mark. 
  • There is a negative marking. One-third mark will be deducted for each wrong answer.
  • The time allotted for the examination is 2 hours.

The competitive exam of CDS I 2020 comprises of two stages viz: Written Exam and Interview for intelligence and personality test

Prepp Test Series

Check CDS Exam Syllabus

Exam Pattern Highlights

Highlights of CDS Exam Pattern 2020

Mode of Exam Offline only 
Number of Questions asked 300 MCQ Type
Number of questions in OTA 200 MCQ Type
Maximum Marks 300 ( Indian Military, Navy and Air Force) and 200 (OTA)
Duration of Exam 2 hours (120 minutes) for each paper
Medium Hindi or English
Negative marking One-third marks deducted for every incorrect response

Check OTA Exam Pattern, Syllabus and Books

CDS Exam Pattern 2020 - Written Test

The written test for IMA, INA, and AFA consists of 3 sections – English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics. Whereas the written paper for OTA consists of 2 sections – English and General Knowledge. The structure of the question paper is shown in the table below-

Mode of Exam: Offline i.e. candidates will be allocated an OMR sheet wherein they must color the appropriate response. 

Type of Questions: Objective Type i.e. each question will have four options. A candidate must choose the most appropriate response.

The medium of Exam: Bilingual in Hindi as well as English

Subject Duration Maximum Marks
English  2 hrs 100
General Knowledge 2 hrs 100
Elementary Mathematics 2 hrs 100

Subject Duration Maximum Marks
English 2 hrs 100
General Knowledge 2 hrs 100
Standard of Questions

Standard of Questions: Given below is the expected standard of each section in the CDS Exam:

  • 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.
  • English: The question paper will be designed to test the candidates’ understanding of English and workmanlike use of words.
  • General Knowledge: General Knowledge including knowledge of current events and of such matters of everyday observation and experience in their scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person who has not made a special study of any scientific subject. The paper will also include questions on History of India and Geography of a nature which candidate should be able to answer without special study.
Interview Details

CDS Exam Pattern 2020 - Interview

The selection of the candidates is on the basis of marks scored in the interviews. Total marks for the interview for Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy, and Air Force Academy is 300 marks, whereas 200 marks are allotted for interview of OTA.

SSB Interview will contain two stages i.e. Stage 1 and Stage 2. Candidates who qualify the stage 1 exam will be called for stage 2.

Stage 1: It is an OIR (Officer Intelligence Rating) Test which contains Picture Perception and Description Test (PP & DT). Candidates will be shortlisted as per their performance in the OIR Test and PP and DT.

Stage 2: Candidates passing stage 1 will be called for this stageThis part consists of Group Testing Officer Tasks, Interview, Conference, and Psychology Test. These tests are organized in four days.

Prepare better with CDS I Practice Papers

CDS Marking Scheme 2020

Negative marking is applicable for every wrong marked answer. In CDS paper, each question carries 4 options and out of which only 1 option is correct. For each incorrect answer, 1/3 of the marks will be deducted. More than one option marked is treated as incorrect. However, if a question is left unanswered there will be no negative marking.

The following table explains the detailed marking scheme of the exam.

CDS Paper English GK Mathematics
Maximum Marks 100 100 100
Marks for Correct answer +1 marks for each correct option +1 marks for each correct option +1 marks for each correct option
Negative marking -0.33 marks for each wrong answer -0.33 marks for each wrong answer -0.33 marks for each wrong answer

Check CDS II Preparation Tips

The following table shows Marking scheme for 2020 OTA (Officers’ Training Academy):

CDS Paper English GK
Maximum Marks 100 100
Marks for Correct answer +1 marks for each correct option +1 marks for each correct option
Negative marking -0.33 marks for each wrong answer -0.33 marks for each wrong answer

CDS Previous year paper analysis – Subjectwise

1. English

The English question paper will be designed to test the candidates' understanding of the English language. As per the previous year's analysis, the following are the important topics asked in English paper.

Topic Number of Questions Level of Difficulty
Sentence Improvement 20 Easy
Reading Comprehension 23 (5 passages) Easy to Moderate
Synonyms 8 Moderate
Antonyms 7 Easy
One Word Substitution 5 Moderate
Para-Jumble 10 Easy to Moderate
Sentence-Jumble 7 Moderate
Spot the Error 20 Easy
Cloze Test 20


2. General Knowledge

As per previous year analysis following are the important topics for GK paper:

Topic Number of Questions Level of Difficulty
History 19 Difficult
Science 27 Easy (Concept-based questions)
Geography 22 Moderate (Analytical based questions)
Ecology 06 Moderate (Fact-based questions)
Polity 20 Easy to Moderate
Economy/Trade 11 Moderate (Fact-based questions)
Miscellaneous /Armed Forces 15 Moderate (Fact-based questions)

3. Elementary Mathematics  

In the following table, the previous year's paper analysis of mathematics paper is mentioned.

Topic Number of Questions Level of Difficulty
Mensuration 14 Easy
Algebra 7 Easy to Moderate
Mean-Median-Mode (Frequency Distribution Table) 4 Easy
Time speed and Distance 6 Easy
Number System 20 Easy to Moderate
Simple interest/Compound interest 5 Easy
Percentage 2 Easy
Profit/Loss 1 Easy
Mixture 1 Easy
Time and Work 3 Easy
Trigonometry 14 Moderate to Difficult
Set Theory 1 Easy
Clock 2 Easy
Geometry 20 Easy to Moderate

Instructions to Fill CDS Answer Sheet

Candidates are advised to follow the instructions to fill the OMR sheet very carefully as the answer sheets are to be evaluated on the machine and any violation of these instructions may result in the reduction of scores. Before marking responses on the Answer Sheet, aspirants have to fill in various particulars in it.

After receiving CDS 2019 Answer Sheet, candidates have to check that it is numbered at the bottom. If it is un-numbered, it has to be replaced by a numbered one. The top of the answer sheet will have the particulars shown in the figure below.


The following points should be kept in mind while filling CDS answer sheet:

  • Write with black ball pen only.
  • The test Booklet Series will be indicated by Alphabets A, B, C or D at the top right-hand corner of the Booklet.
  • Find out the appropriate subject code from the test booklet. Thereafter, encode the test booklet series, subject code and the roll number by using black pen.
  • Write and encode test booklet series after receiving the Test Booklet. For example, for English paper of ‘A’ Test Booklet Series you have to encode the subject code, which is 01 as shown below:
  • In the next step, you have to encode the Roll No. An example to encode the Roll Number is shown below.
  • Candidates have to make sure that they have carefully encoded their subject Test Booklet series and Roll Number.

CDS 2020 Exam Pattern FAQs

Ques.  Can I use a pencil in the exam for omitting the answer?

Ans. You can use only black ballpoint pen for omitting the circles as well as for writing the details like center, subject code, roll no., etc

Ques. Whats is the marking scheme for CDS 2020?

Ans. For Indian Naval, Indian Military, and Air force academy, the paper has three sections each consisting of 100 questions. 1 mark will be awarded for each correct answer and for the wrong answer one-third of the mark will be deducted.
For OTA there are two sections each consisting of 100 questions. Again 1 mark will be awarded for each correct answer and for wrong answer one-third of the mark will be deducted.

Ques. By mistake, I have marked two options in the answer. Will I be awarded any marks for that question?

Ans. No marks will be given for that particular question. Only one option has to be marked as the correct answer.

Ques. What are the sections in the CDS 2020 written test?

Ans.  For Indian Naval, Indian Military and Air force academy, there are 3 sections – English, General Knowledge, Elementary Mathematics.

For OTA, there are 2 sections – English, General Knowledge.​​

Ques. What is CDS SSB Interview Process?

Ans. After clearing the written test, the candidates have to go through a series of personality tests. This interview commonly known as SSB has different types of tests to judge a person's personality-

  • Picture Perception and Description Test
  • Group Testing Officer Tasks, Interview, Conference and Psychology Test

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.


kanaiya kumar
plese send my question in all 10 years solve papers
shobhna chaturvedi

Hi Kanaiya, you can check the sample papers from here: CDS Practice Papers

isha sehgal
I hv done BPT. So... M i eligible for AFA or IMA???
shobhna chaturvedi
Hi Isha, kindly check the Eligibility Criteria for the exam from here to know whether you are eligible for IMA or AFA.
ashik pal
I've got 57 marks in maths and 90 marks in physics in twelfth. So, am I eligible for AFCAT?
shobhna chaturvedi
Hi Ashik, sorry, but you are not eligible for AFCAT as candidates who have scored 60% in Mathematics and Physics individually are eligible only.
ashish sharma
jaydeep holkar
Cds ka best coaching center maharashtra me kaha kaha he
brenden de souza

eligibility cvds

alok pandey

Hi Brenden, You may please check this link:- Eligibility for CDS Exam

yalla sai kiran
I am sai kiran of srikakulam,i have an interest in central government sector
akansha expert
Hi Yalla, If you have interest in Government sector you need to appear the entrance exam.