CDS 2021 English: Syllabus, Exam Pattern, Preparation Tips, and Recommended Books

Updated On -

Mar 15, 2021

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Sudeshna Bhar

Exams Prepmaster

CDS II 2021 syllabus consists of three papers: English language, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics. For all academies i.e. IMA, INA, AFA and OTA, English is a mandatory paper to attempt.

The English syllabus of all CDS candidates is the same. This paper is organized to test candidates’ authority over the English language. There are no fixed sections of this paper. Check CDS 2021 Syllabus

The most important sections are: jumbled words and sentences, sentence correction, reading comprehension, fill in the blanks, and finding errors & omissions. Here you can aim for a 70 + score which will help you to clear the cutoff of the CDS Exam.

Know more CDS(II) 2021 Application Form and Procedure

CDS 2021 English Highlights

  • The total marks of this paper are 100 marks.
  • This paper consists of 120 objective types of questions.
  • Each question will have four options and one of them will be the correct answer.
  • Each question bears +0.83 marks and there will be a deduction of -0.27 for every wrong answer.
  • The conducting board has given 2 hours to complete this paper.

Check Here CDS 2021 Selection Process

CDS II 2021 English Syllabus


This paper is of average standard. This paper is basically divided into three sections: Vocabulary, Reading Passage, and Grammar. Vocabulary based questions on Synonyms, Antonyms, Sentence Completion have more significance.

Antonyms and Synonyms Sentence improvement Error Correction
Fill in the Blanks Word substitution Ordering of sentences
Spotting Errors Cloze tests Ordering of words in a sentence
Idioms and Phrase Reported Speech Active and Passive Voice

Check Here CDS 2021 Eligibility Criteria in detail

CDS II 2021: Expected Number of Questions in English

Number of Questions

Most of the questions that arrive in English paper are of 12th standard level. The majority of the questions are from the Grammar and Vocabulary sections. The difficulty level of this paper is easy-moderate.

Topics Expected Number of Questions Difficulty Level
Sentence Improvement 20 - 25 Moderate
Ordering of words in a sentence 12 - 18 Easy
Ordering of sentences in b/w first and last sentence 10 - 15 Easy
Fill in the blanks 5 - 10 Easy
Selecting Words/ Cloze Test 18 - 23 Easy-Moderate
Spotting Errors 20 - 25 Easy
Reading Comprehension 15 - 20 (2 passages) Moderate
Synonyms 8 - 10 Moderate
Antonyms 7 - 10 Moderate
One Word Substitution 1 - 4 Moderate

To know other sections, Check CDS 2021 syllabus and Exam Pattern

How to Prepare the English Language for CDS II 2021?

How to Prepare

CDS II 2021 is expected to be held in November 2021. The more time you have in your hand, the better and easier it will become to prepare yourself. You should invest at least 2 hours daily for English paper. Here are some quick tips to help you understand the syllabus and exam pattern of CDS English:


  • Vocabulary is the most difficult and most important section of the English language. Most of the questions come from the vocabulary section. Idioms and Phrases, Synonyms and Antonyms and Reading Comprehension are directly related to this section.
  • You can maintain an excel sheet whenever you come across any new words.
  • Vocabulary has to be practised daily. It will help you to memorize new words and phrases as soon as possible.
  • Write essays and long articles as per your choice so that you can use the memorised words and learn the more practical use of those words and phrases.
  • Read newspapers like “The Hindu”, “The Hindustan”, “ Times of India” etc. and online articles in English. It will provide you with general knowledge as well as new words and phrases.


  • When you are at the very beginning of your stage of preparation, start from basic grammar knowledge.
  • Choose those grammar books which are already known to you. It will help you understand the rules learned already.
  • While practising previous year questions and sample questions, practice the questions after reading the rules.
  • To solve “Fill in the Blanks” and “Spotting Errors” basic essential knowledge of grammar is required.
  • Voice change is another section that holds huge importance in the grammatical section.

Check CDS 2021 Preparation Tips

Passage Comprehension

  • There are several steps that can be followed while preparing for the passage comprehension section:
  • In CDS II 2021, 2 passages are expected to be faced.
  • Whenever you read any kind of passage, try to extract the summary i.e. essence of the passage so that you can easily find out the answers.
  • Work on your speed of reading and understanding. The faster you have the capacity to understand, the more time you will be able to save for other questions.
  • Invest 10-15 minutes regularly in practising passage comprehension so you can complete it within 8 - 12 minutes in CDS Exam.

Spotting Errors

This section totally depended on Grammar and vocabulary. In the given sentence or phrase where a certain part will be incorrect having errors of spelling, tense, verb forms, article or preposition, punctuation, etc. you need to identify what is the error. To identify the errors, you have to understand the grammatical rules thoroughly.

  • Cloze Tests:

Through cloze tests, the conducting board tests several areas of knowledge. You will be given a passage with 5 - 10 blanks. The context can be related to finance such as tax reform, GST, VAT, etc or environmental aspect like global warming, climate change, any sort of recent calamity, or any social cause or movements like the protest against NRC, women empowerment, etc. You are required to choose a word for each blank from the given options. It is quite a scoring section. This section holds almost 10-15 % of CDS English paper.

Sentence Arrangements

  • Sentence Arrangement is also known as Para-jumbles. In such questions, sentences from the same paragraph will be mixed up haphazardly. Only through meaningful reading, it can be solved.
  • While solving, always remember that the structure is divided into three parts: topic sentence, details, and a closing sentence.
  • Find out the topic sentence first which is introducing the topic and you can build up the stages after that.
  • Sometimes topic sentence and closing sentence sound the same. But the closing sentence is the result of the discussion in the given paragraph.

Check Complete UPSC CDS 2021 Exam Dates

  • Fill in the blanks:

It is quite like cloze tests. In “fill in the blanks”, you will be given a few sentences with some empty spaces. These empty spaces will be filled up using appropriate grammar and vocabulary.

  • One-word Substitutions:

One-word Substitution is a really scoring topic as well as there is no shortcut of preparing for this. To prepare this section, come across more words and use them daily. Otherwise, there is a huge chance of forgetting or getting confused among the options.

  • Direct and Indirect Speech:

Direct and indirect speech is also known as reporting speech. Brush up the rules of direct speech, indirect speech, and vice versa. While changing the speech, always remember the time. Time plays a vital role in Reporting speech. Tense is also related to time. That is why tense is also crucial in this section.

Previous Year’s Questions of CDS English Paper

No matter which paper you are preparing for, previous year question papers and sample question papers always come really helpful to give a rough structure of probable questions. So, Click on the link “ Download” to download previous years question papers of CDS English Language paper.

Name of Year Question Paper
CDS II 2021 Download
CDS II 2020 Download
CDS I 2020 Download
CDS II 2019 Download
CDS I 2019 Download
CDS II 2018 Download
CDS I 2018 Download
CDS II 2017 Download
CDS I 2017 Download
CDS II 2016 Download
CDS I 2016 Download
CDS II 2015 Download
CDS I 2015 Download
CDS II 2014 Download
CDS I 2014 Download

Top Recommended Books for CDS II 2021 English Language

Recommended Books

With previous year question papers and sample papers, candidates need to complete the syllabus properly so that these question papers can be easily understood and answered. The following books are very helpful for CDS English paper:

Name of Books Author/ Publisher
English for Competitive Examination A.K. Kapoor
Objective English S.P. Bakshi
Quick Learning objective English Vikas & R.S. Aggarwal
The Pearson Guide to English Edgar Thorpe, Showick Thorpe
Word Power Made Easy Norman Lewis

Apart from the above-mentioned books, take online mock tests which will help you to increase your speed. Within 2 hours, you need to answer 120 questions correctly as well as save time for bubble marking in the CDS Exam. As CDS is an offline exam, you have to invest at least 12- 15 minutes to bubble the correct options among the given options in the OMR sheet. Only Black Ball pens are acceptable.



Ques. How can I score good marks in CDS in English?

Ans. To get a high score in total marks, keep a target of obtaining 65 - 70 score in English. Try to attempt 80 - 88 questions correctly. Be sure about the answers you are attempting in CDS due to negative marking of - 0. 27.

Ques. How difficult is the CDS exam?

Ans. CDS is one of the most difficult national level exams to recruit candidates for the cause of Nation. The english and general Knowledge sections are moderately difficult but the Elementary Mathematics is quite difficult to crack.

Ques. Can I clear CDS without coaching?

Ans. It is not mandatory to have coaching or tuitions, but make sure that you understand the syllabus, exam pattern and what are the predictable types of questions. In case you are stuck with some problem or questions, it is always better to take help from professionals.

Ques. Do all candidates need to attempt English paper in the CDS Exam?

Ans. Yes, English Language is the mandatory paper for IMA, INA, AFA, OTA (Technical and Non- technical). The syllabus of this paper for all academies is also the same.

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