CDS 2020 Syllabus, Important Topics and Books

Updated On -

Jun 19, 2020

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Aarushi Kalra

Exams Prep Master

CDS Syllabus is declared on the official portal of UPSC CDS ( CDS is conducted for recruitment to Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA), and Officer’s Training Academy (OTA). The syllabus and exam pattern for all the exams is similar, except for OTA paper. Check CDS Exam Pattern

  • Syllabus for IMA, INA, and AFA is divided into 3 subjects and for OTA into 2 subjects.
  • The standard of the questions in Mathematics will be of grade 10 and for other subjects, it will be of graduation level.
Prepp Test Series

Note: The maximum marks allotted to the written exam and to the interviews are equal for each course i.e. the maximum marks allotted to the written exam and to the interviews are 300, 300, 300, and 200 each for admission to the IMA, INA, AFA, and OTA respectively. Download Free CDS Question Papers

Read on to know more about the syllabus of the CDS exam in terms of important topics, recommended books and other details.

English Syllabus

CDS English Syllabus

English section tests the candidates’ understanding of English and workmanlike use of words. Given below are the topics to prepare in the English section for the CDS exam.

Antonyms Sentence improvement Comprehension
Synonyms Word substitution Ordering of sentences
Spotting Errors Selecting Words Ordering of words in a sentence

CDS Recommended Books: English

  1. Objective General English by Arihant
  2. Objective General English by RS Aggarwal
  3. Word Power Made Easy: Norman Lewis
General Knowledge Syllabus

CDS Syllabus for General Knowledge

  • The questions in CDS General Knowledge paper are based on current affairs, History of India, Geography, Politics, and Economy.
  • A regular update of the past few months is necessary to score well in this section.
  • In the following table, topics are mentioned on which questions are asked.
Economics Physics Current Awareness 
Politics Chemistry Sociology
History  Defence-related Award
Geography Environment Sport
Biology Cultural Book
Statement true/false  -- -- 

Best Books for General Knowledge

  1. Manorama Yearbook 2018
  2. Lucent’s General Knowledge
  3. Competition in Focus (Half Yearly and Yearly)

Check CDS Preparation Tips

Mathematics Syllabus

CDS Syllabus for Elementary Mathematics

Mathematics section is thought-out as a scoring CDS Exam. To score good marks, candidates should know their complete syllabus. Mathematics paper consists of questions from arithmetic, algebra, mensuration, geometry, trigonometry, and statistics. Given below is the detailed syllabus, on which questions are based on:

Number System Simple interest HCF&LCM of polynomials Area
HCF & LCM of numbers Compound interest Linear Equations in one and two Variables Surface area and volume of solids
Decimal fraction Ratio and proportion Quadratic Equations and Inequations Lines and angles
Square roots and cube roots Average Set theory Triangles
Time and distance Profit and loss Measurement of angles and trigonometric measurement Quadrilateral and polygon
Time and Work logarithm Height and distance Circle
percentage Basic operations and factorization Ratio Expressions Statistical Data Analysis
Locus  -- -- -- 

  • Algebra:    
​Basic Operations simple factors Remainder Theorem H.C.F. & L.C.M. Set language and set notation
rational expressions and conditional identities Laws of indices Theory of polynomials solutions of quadratic equations
Relation between roots and coefficients (Only real roots to be considered) Simultaneous linear inequations in two variables and their solutions Simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns-analytical and graphical solutions Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or inequations in two variables or quadratic equations in one variable & their solutions

  • Trigonometry:
Simple cases of heights and distances Use of trigonometric tables Sine x, cosine x, Tangent x when fn< x < 90° Values of sin x, cos x, and tan x, for x = 0°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90°
Simple trigonometric identities

  • Geometry:
Lines and angles Plane and plane figures Sides and angles of a triangle Similar triangles
Concurrence of medians and altitudes Congruency of triangles Theorems on Properties of angles at a point Parallel lines Properties of angles
rectangle and square Circles and its properties including tangents and Normals and Loci sides and diagonals of a parallelogram -

  • Mensuration:
Areas of squares, parallelograms, rectangles, triangle, and circle Surface area and volume of cuboids lateral surface and volume of right circular cones and cylinders Areas of figures which can be split up into these figures (Field Book)
surface area and volume of spheres

  • Statistics:
Collection and tabulation of statistical data Graphical representation pie charts histograms
bar charts frequency polygons, etc Measures of central tendency --

Best Books for Elementary Mathematics

  1. Arihant Pathfinder
  2. Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma
  3. Mathematics for CDS by RS Aggarwal
  4. Quantitative Aptitude for examinations paperback 2018 by RS Aggarwal

Read More CDS I Paper 2020 Analysis

Important Instructions

CDS Important Instructions

  1. Write only in Black ballpoint pen, your Centre, and subject followed by the CDS 2020 test booklet series (in bracket), subject code, and the exam roll number at the appropriate space provided on the answer sheet at the top.
  2. Encode your CDS 2020 booklet series (A, B, C, or D as the case may be), subject code and roll number in the circles provided for the purpose in the answer sheet.
  3. In case the CDS booklet series is not printed on the test booklet or answer sheet is un-numbered then candidates should report immediately to the invigilator and get the test booklet/answer sheet replaced.
  4. Candidates should note that any omission/mistakes/discrepancy in encoding/filling of details in the CDS 2020 OMR answer sheet, especially with regard to the Roll Number and Test Booklet Series Code, will render the answer sheet liable for rejection.
  5. Immediately after the commencement of the CDS 2020 please check that the test booklet supplied to you does not have any unprinted or torn or missing pages or items etc., if so, get it replaced by a complete test booklet of the same series and subject.
  6. Do not write your name or anything other than the specific items of information asked for, on the CDS answer sheet/test booklet/sheet for rough work.
  7. Do not fold or damage or put any extraneous marking over the CDS Answer Sheet. Do not write anything on the reverse of the answer sheet.

CDS Syllabus FAQs

Ques. Are the subjects and syllabus same for IMA and OTA exam?

Ans. NO. The IMA/INA/AFA involves 3 subjects – English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics, whereas OTA syllabus involves only 2 subjects- English and General Knowledge. Depending upon your exam, prepare accordingly.

Ques. Is it compulsory to join a coaching or the preparation can be done by self-study?

Ans. It is not compulsory to join a coaching institute, you can self prepare for the exam. Get through the syllabus thoroughly, arrange a good set of books for all the subjects, and set a schedule- this will help in self-preparation.

Ques. How many attempts are allowed to appear for CDS exams?

Ans.  There is no such no. of attempts to appear for CDS. Students can attempt until they fulfill the age criteria of the CDS application.

Ques. Till what grade level does the mathematics questions come in the CDS exam? 

Ans. Mathematics for CDS 2020 shall be prepared till grade 10. Some of the important topics for this subject are Simple interest, Triangles, Profit and loss, Time & work & distance, Quadratic Equations, and Inequations, Ratio Expressions, etc.

Ques. What all has to be mentioned in the answer booklet?

Ans. Candidates need to mention the centre, subject, CDS 2020 test booklet series, subject code, roll no. in the appropriate space provided in the answer sheet.

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


sumit kumar singh
Age Criteria?
shobhna chaturvedi

Hi Sumit, you can check age limit and other eligibility criteria in detail for this exam from here: CDS Eligibility Criteria

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monika rathore
I am a BDS student and doing internship can i apply fir thus exam .
shobhna chaturvedi

Hi Monika, yes, as per qualification, you are eligible for this exam. Kindly check other eligibility criteria in detail from here: CDS Eligibility Criteria

usha kanswal
Sir my dob is 18 July 2001. When will I be eligible for IMA/OTA?
shobhna chaturvedi

Hi Usha, candidate must be 19 years old (minimum) while appearing for CDS exam. Thus, you are not eligible for Feb session exams. You may check other Eligibility Criteria for this exam from here.

ankit pal
hello sir, i have a backlog in my 1st semester which if i clear in my 3rd semester will i be eligible for CDSE ?
shobhna chaturvedi

Hi Ankit, yes, you may apply for this exam if you have cleared your backlogs. You must not have any active backlog at the time of joining. Kindly check other Eligibility Criteria of this exam from here.

sanjana upadhyay
hello sir,mai ye janana chahti hu ki isme kitne paper honge?
shobhna chaturvedi

Hi Sanjana, kindly check the Exam Pattern of the exam from here.

saino elizabeth reji
i am in my last year of bcom and i have a backlog in my 4th sem am i be able to attend the exam?
shobhna chaturvedi
Hi Saino, sorry but you are not eligible for CDS as students with backlog cannot apply for this exam.
how tough is the physical test?
vivek kumar
Hello Avnish, the difficulty level of physical test will depend on the general physique and mental standards as it will show the strength of the candidate. The candidate must be physically fit to clear the physical test.