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CDS-OTA Exam Pattern, Syllabus and Best Books

Updated On -

Aug 28, 2020

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Shivani Tiwari

Content Curator

The Combined Defense Services Examination is conducted biannually by the Union Public Service Commission to recruit candidates in the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy. The following article is dedicated to CDS OTA paper with its pattern, syllabus and other details. 

Officer Training Academy (CDS OTA) is cpnducted in offline mode (pen-paper based) test consisting of objective type questions to test a candidate’s English and General Awareness. The only major difference between CDS-OTA paper and CDS Exam for NDA, IMA and IAF is that the former does not have a Mathematics section while all the latter do.

Practice CDS Mock Tests (English) for free during your preparation time

CDS OTA is a fairly an easy test majorly due to the absence of a mathematics section. In order to score good, one needs to be updated with the current affairs as well as get an average strength at English to reach the next step of the selection process. Read on to know more! 

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Highlights of OTA Paper

Mode of Examination Offline (paper-pen based)
Total No. of Questions asked 240
Type of Questions Objective i.e. Multiple Choice
Maximum Marks 200
Duration of Examination 240 minutes
Section 2 (English and General Knowledge)
Negative Marking 1/3rd per incorrect answer

CDS OTA Paper 1 Structure

Paper 1 consists of English which is considerably easy and can help one to increase one’s score drastically.

Section Name English
No. of Questions 120
Total Marks 100
Time allotted 120 minutes
Medium English
Level of Section Easy to Moderate

CDS OTA English Syllabus

  • English Section in OTA 2019 is a mixture of Vocabulary based, Grammar-based, and Comprehension based questions.
  • This paper is designed to test a candidate’s verbal reasoning as well as communication abilities.
  • As for the Reading Comprehension part, questions are usually direct and to the point and the difficulty level is easy to moderate.
  • There are 120 questions asked from this section.
  • While the topics covered in this section are not that difficult but do require immense practice and good command over the English language. 
Syllabus for English
Antonyms and Synonyms Sentence Completion
Sentence Re-arrangement (Para-Jumbles) Spelling Based Questions
Fill in the blanks (Grammar-based and Vocabulary based) Idioms and Phrases
Reading Comprehension Parts of Speech
Punctuation Critical Reasoning
Error Spotting Odd Word Out

Practice previous years sample papers, before CDS 2020 exam, free of cost

Weightage of topics in Paper 1

Paper 1- English consists of a number of topics; each has the weightage mentioned below-

Topic Percentage Weightage
Comprehension 15%
Sentence correction 15%
Error Spotting 15%
Synonyms 12%
Antonyms 12%
Ordering of words 10%
Ordering of sentence 8%
Analogy 10%
Fill in the blanks 3%

Solve Previous Years Papers to know more about the exam pattern, especially before appearing for CDS 2020 

CDS OTA Best Books: English

CDS OTA Books, OTA Books
Book Name Author/ Publisher
High School English Grammar and Composition Key Wren and Martin
Word Power Made Easy Norman Lewis
A Modern Approach to Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning R.S. Aggarwal

Other than the above-mentioned books, candidates must make sure to include the following in their everyday routine:

  • Read Newspapers: The Hindu/The Times of India/ Economics Times
  • Practice Previous Year Papers
  • Take Mock Practice Papers
CDS Sample Papers Download here

Go through and practice CDS Mock Test free of cost

CDS OTA Paper 2 Structure

Paper 2 is made of General Knowledge questions which is an important part of the exam and fairly difficult.

Section General Knowledge
No. of Questions 120
Total Marks 100
Time allotted 120 minutes
Medium English or Hindi
Level of Section Difficult

CDS OTA Syllabus: General Knowledge

The section that tests a candidate's level of awareness within the country and worldwide as well.

  • There will be static GK questions as well. Static GK signifies facts about the places, people and things that will remain same in the future as well.
  • Questions are asked from the recent topics and current affairs. 

Tabulated below are some important topics that form CDS Syllabus for GK section:

Politics Ancient, Medieval, Modern and World History
Geography Economics (Outline of Indian Economy, Five Year Plans, National Income of India, Indian Tax Structure)
Science and technology Environment & Ecology
General Science National & International Burning topics
Books and Authors Environment
Industries Major Industries in India
Agriculture Awards and Achievements

Weightage of Topics in Paper 2

Paper 2- General Ability has the following weightage distribution for various topics

Topic Percentage Weightage
Science 23%
Geography 16%
Polity 15%
History 15%
Economics 12%
Current Affairs 13%

Practice Elementary Maths for free before appearing for CDS 2020 Exam

CDS OTA Best Books – GK Section

CDS Book Name Author/ Publisher
Manorama Yearbook 2019 Mammen Mathew
Current Affairs Yearly 2019 Arihant Experts
General Knowledge 2020: Latest Current Affairs & Who's Who RPH Editorial Board

Other Recommended Books for CDS

The following books listed below are a compilation of both the sections in OTA Paper of CDS.

CDS OTA Books, OTA Best Books, CDS Books
Book Name Author/ Publisher
Combined CDS (OTA) Book DDE – Defence Direct Education
Pathfinder CDS Arihant Experts
Lets Crack CDS Exam SSBCrack

CDS-OTA Marking Scheme

The entire paper is allotted marks in the following way-

Total marks 200
Marks per Section 100
Marks per question 0.83
Marks allotted per correct answer 0.83
Marks deducted per incorrect answer 0.27
Marks deducted per unanswered question 0

About OTA

Officer Training Academy is one of the most renowned training establishments of the Indian Army. It totally focuses on training officers for short service commission. Individuals who aspire to serve and protect their country are always welcomed at the two campuses of the Academy, one at Chennai and the other at Gaya. The expected vacancies offered by the academy will be around 200. Know more


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

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