CDS Preparation Tips & Stategry 2021 for Written Test & Interview

Updated On -

Apr 13, 2021

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Sudeshna Bhar

Exams Prepmaster

The CDS exam is conducted twice a year. The CDS I 2021 exam will be conducted on February 07, 2021, and the admit card is available to download on the official website. However, as per the UPSC Official calendar, the CDS II 2021 will be conducted on November 17, 2021. Check CDS Exam Dates.

The candidates planning to appear for the exam suggested having the CDS exam pattern first and then move to the detailed syllabus and paper analysis. By knowing the latest exam pattern and syllabus, you can create a good preparation plan for yourself. Make yourself familiar with the type of questions asked in the paper, weightage is given to topics, marking scheme, etc.

CDS Preparation Tips: Time Management

  • Candidates must know how to effectively manage their time so that they can complete the paper within the allotted time only.
  • Candidates appearing for CDS are advised to start at least 3 to 6 months before the examination.
  • Follow a regular study routine so that the entire syllabus can be completed
  • Make a timetable and devote 6 – 8 hours especially for preparations.
  • Take time to manage your weekly revisions as well
  • Take short breaks in between.
  • Boost up your confidence level by getting updated with all the current affairs.

Previous Year Papers

CDS Preparation Tips: Solving Previous Years Sample Papers

  • Try solving the question papers of previous yeas.
  • This will help you in getting an idea about the exam pattern, type of questions, weightage given to topics.
  • Helps you in managing the time.
  • Gives the feel of real paper.
  • Take mocks tests by setting up the timers in your watch.

Download CDS Practice Papers

Important Points

CDS Preparation Tips: Important Points to Remember

To prepare for the CDS exam, a candidate must be willing to work hard physically as well as mentally. Candidates must own proper UPSC study material, like previous years’ papers, preparation books, topic-wise notes, etc. After acquiring the relevant study material, the candidates can follow the following tips to improve their chances of getting selected:

  • Get yourself printed copies of the exam pattern, syllabus, and previous year's question papers.
  • Your basic concepts rather than cramming the formulas must be clear at the beginning of your preparation days.
  • By analyzing the previous year's question papers, candidates need to focus on the important topics which carry maximum marks in each exam.
  • Develop a reading habit. Reading different sorts of media, like magazines, newspapers, blogs, notes, etc. helps to enhance the vocabulary as well as the understanding of practical English.
  • Make a list of all the new words and their meanings. Try and use the words in the list in different scenarios and sentences.
  • Take online mock tests to improve the answering ability.
  • Read newspapers, news blogs, watch the news, etc. daily to be in touch with the latest happenings in all sectors of the world. Try to keep the material vast.
  • Make notes of every important date, name, or event you come across.
  • Many mock tests can help a candidate with GK preparations.
  • Make a list of all the important formulas, theorems, identities, etc., and revise them daily.
  • Try to solve questions with variety to learn the proper use of theorems and identities.
  • Enroll in an online mock test series.
Physical & Medical Exam

CDS Physical and Medical Exam

The Defense sector requires candidates who are not only strong mentally, but also physically. Apart from the written exam, the candidates have to clear a physical and medical exam as well. No candidate should have a history of mental breakdown. The physical exam is one of the crucial parts of the CDS selection. The candidates can follow these tips for the physical exam:

  • The weight and height of the candidate must be on a standard scale.
  • Regular and proper exercise and training is important.
  • Candidates must get a full body checkup before appearing for the exam to make sure they do not have any type of illness or disease.
Personal Interview Tips

CDS Preparation Tips for Personal Interview

After clearing the CDS test, the candidates have to face the personal interview conducted by SSB. This interview tests the candidate’s intelligence, personality, and ability to hold ranks with the Officers in the Defense Forces. There are several components of the interview, like Psychological Tests, Group Discussion, Intelligence Tests, Outdoor activities, Opinion on issues, Physical Fitness, etc. Here are some tips to clear the interview:

  • Stay confident. It is natural to be nervous or anxious, but a candidate must be able to express his/her thoughts as beautifully as possible.
  • A well-honed communication skill is crucial, as the thoughts can be expressed in better and more suitable words.
  • Be updated and in touch with the latest and interesting happenings around the globe.
  • Think before you speak and act like you are already an Officer.
  • It is imperative to be respectful and humble.

Know More CDS Selection Process

Last Minute Tips

Last-Minute Tips for CDS 2021

The few weeks before the exam are crucial as that is the time to revise all that you have studied, without cramming up all the knowledge. The following steps may help candidates to plan and prepare in that time:

  • Make small and useful notes. The notes should be to the point and should act as a summary of what has been studied.
  • Although the last weeks can be a chaotic time, a calm and planned approach is all that is needed.
  • Time management is crucial. The CDS exam is a time-based exam that gives candidates about a minute to attempt each question. Not only the knowledge, but swiftness in using that knowledge is important.
  • The exam has negative marking for each incorrect answer. So, guesswork should be avoided.
  • Taking an online mock test is helpful.

CDS Preparation FAQs

Ques. Should I start covering the remaining topics in my last few dates before the CDS written exam?

Ans. During the last few days, candidates must focus on revision and attempting mock tests.

Ques. Is it mandatory to solve the previous years' question papers?

Ans. Solving the previous years' question papers and sample papers will help candidates to know the pattern of questions and increase the predictability of the topics asked in the exam.

Ques. Which books are best for CDS preparation?

Ans. NCERT Books are best to clear the basic concepts and Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by R.S. Aggarwal is another good book for practice. To get the list of books, here is the link to CDS Books.

Ques. How many hours of study required for CDS?

Ans. Since the competition is very tough, it is advised that the students should put at least ten hours of study in a day

3 Months Crash Course

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


What can I do to clear my CDS Physical and Medical Exam?
jaya garg

Hi. Doing Regular and proper exercise and training is important to clear this level. Candidates must get a full body checkup before giving the exam to make sure they do not have any type of illness or disease. Check CDS Physical and Medical Exam details here.

mohammed najamuddin
Is Solving Previous Years Sample Papers of CDS helpful?
jaya garg

Hi. Try to solve more question papers of previous years as it helps get an idea about the exam pattern, type of questions, weightage given to topics. Doing more tests help strengthen your weaknesses. Good luck!!

shivkumar dama
I am preparing for the CDS exam, how many hours should I spent to prepare for the exam?
jaya garg

Hi. Candidates are supposed to follow a regular study routine so that the entire syllabus can be completed. Also, make a timetable and try to spend at least 6 – 8 hours daily for the preparations. Check CDS Preparation Tips are here.

bhagyashri kene
What is CDS Fixed Stipend?
jaya garg

Hi Bhagyashri. During the training period, candidates will get a fixed stipend of INR 56,100 per month. After getting successfully commissioned, candidates will get all the arrears remaining based on their pay matrix with effect from their training period.

ammar zaheer ahmed
What is the score calculation Process of CDS?
jaya garg

HI Ammar. For each correct option in each section of the test, candidates score one mark while 1/3 marks will be deducted for every incorrect option. The total score will be calculated based on the number of correct and incorrect answers.

What salary will I get post the selection of CDS 2021?
jaya garg

Hi. Once you have cleared the selection process of CDS 2021, you will undergo the Cadet training during which the officers in Army, Navy, or equivalent posts get a fixed stipend which is the base salary in Level 10. The starting salary of CDS, the training stipend is 56,100/ per month.

mizna harmain
Are results announced on the PDF format only?
jaya garg

UPSC CDS I Results are announced in the month of May of 2021; yes the results are announced in PDF format only at the official website more details, refer here.

reshma rathore
Maximum height and weight for girls for clear physical test
aditi arun

Hello Reshma,

There is no upper limit for Height and the candidate should not be overweight with respect to her height. The minimum height required is, however, 152 cm. To check the required Height- Weight Ratio, kindly visit – CDS Eligibility

chanchal vinod patil
Is there any physical test for ladies in OTA?
aniket ranjan

Hii Chanchal. Yes, For OTA everyone requires physical Test. There are very specific BMI, height, weight, waist-hip proportion, eyesight, hearing standards, and list of undesirable medical conditions for both female and male candidates in CDS. For more details Click Here

mukund shende
Is interview is hard to clear.?
swati srivastava

Hi Mukund, yoou can clear the interview with proper startegy and preparation. For more details visit: CDS preparation tips.

vakil ahmad
Cds ke liye gs kitne time me prepare ho jayegi Or kese preparation krni h gs ki
swati srivastava

Hi Vakil, For preparation strategy and tips please visit: CDS preparation tips.

Is Pathfinder enough for the CDS?
jaya garg

Hi Pradeepraj. Honestly, there is no single best book that can be considered the best for CDS exam. Candidates must refer to different sources while preparing for different subjects. While using CDS Pathfinder book, no doubt majority of the syllabus will be covered from this book, but you must refer to other sources as well that help you clear the exam. You can refer to the NCERT books and other reference books while studying for CDS exam.

ammar zaheer ahmed
What is the best book for the preparation of the UPSC CDS?
swati srivastava

Hi Ammar, for details regarding books and preparation please visit: CDS preparation 

riyaz sen
How do I prepare for CDS 2020,and which books are required?
jaya garg

Hi Riyaz. Candidates preparing for CDS 2020 must purchase the right kind of CDS books. Some of the books that help in your CDS 2020 preparation include: For English

Objective General English by S. P. Bakshi

High School English Grammar & Composition by Wren and Martin’s

Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis

For General Knowledge

Geography & History- NCERT (Std 6th-12th)

Pathfinder for CDS- Arihant Experts

For General Knowledge

Read newspapers daily like The Hindu, Indian Express For Mathematics

Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by R. S. Aggarwal

Pathfinder for CDS by Arihant Experts

Mathematics for CDS Examination by R. S. Aggarwal

margaret atwood
Is the book Pathfinder by Arihant Publications enough to clear the CDS exam?
jaya garg

Hi Marhgaret. If we consider the latest exam pattern, cutoff analysis, and higher competition level, then relying only on CDS Pathfinder is not sufficient. Candidates must be smart enough to understand the latest trends and for the same, it is vital to refer to other resources as well. It is advisable to refer to other books for Maths and English, also, pay detailed attention on the latest current affairs as they are important and hold significant weightage in the exam.

pratim ray
Has anyone ever cleared the CDS exam with one month preparation just by going through Arihant Pathfinder and with maths and GK very bad?
jaya garg

Hi Pratim. Honestly it is not possible for anyone to get good score in CDS exam with the mentioned parameters. CDS syllabus is not just about bookish knowledge rather this exam is taken to test candidate’s in depth knowledge of a subject. Since a huge portion asked in the exam is related to the latest affairs, so in case you have not prepared well, it would be difficult for you to crack the exam. Scoring good marks in ENG and GK paper and not in maths might help you to clear OTA exam.

pratim ray
What are the best books to prepare for the CDS exam?
jaya garg

Hi Pratim. Few of the books that can be refered to prepare for CDS exam include

CDS books for English Language • High School English Grammar & Composition Edition written by Wren and Martin • Objective General English by SP Bakshi • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis

CDS books for GK • General Awareness by Manohar Panday • Manorama Yearbook • Magazines such as Pratiyogita Darpan, Competition Success Review (CSR), and Yojana • Newspapers

CDS books for Elementary Mathematics • Mathematics for CDS by RS Aggarwal • Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by RS Aggarwal • Pathfinder for CDS by Arihant Publications

akshay shinde
I have a tatto on my wrist will it be an issue?
swati srivastava

Hi Akshay, Tattoos are not accepted in CDS exam.

nihal rai
Hello Sir, my DOB is 17/01/1995, 25 years of age and I hope to sit for CDS exam. Will you please clear my one and only doubt i.e if I am eligible or not to sit for the exam. I'd also like to tell you that I am a graduate. Thank you in advance.
swati srivastava

Hi Nihal, yes you are eligible for CDS exam. For more details visit: CDS eligibility

Hello sir , I'm prasad . I'm second year final semester and due to covid-19 my academic year is not yet completed. I will be in 3rd year if exams are I eligible to apply for cds
swati srivastava

Hi prasad, you must have completed graduation in order to give CDS exam. For more details visit: CDS eligibility.