NDA/CDS Course

NDA/CDS Coaching intro:

Lot of times, students studying in our campus have asked us which stream of the Indian Armed Forces is better in terms of duty, training, degrees, rank, salary and opportunities. There are two exams through which one can get inducted into Indian Armed forces – NDA (National Defence Academy) and CDS (Combined Defence Services) exam. Both these exams are conducted twice in a year by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). There are many similarities and differences in the recruitment process of NDA and CDS exam.



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Exam Information

Lot of times, students studying in our campus have asked us which stream of the Indian Armed Forces is better in terms of duty, training, degrees, rank, salary and opportunities. There are two exams through which one can get inducted into Indian Armed forces – NDA (National Defence Academy) and CDS (Combined Defence Services) exam. Both these exams are conducted twice in a year by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). There are many similarities and differences in the recruitment process of NDA and CDS exam. Here, we will differentiate and analyse the factors present in recruitment of both the exams and will conclude that which of these two is better to join.

For beginners, let’s go through the basic difference and similarities between the two –


Age16.5-19.5 Years19-25 Years
EligibilityOnly Men can ApplyMen & Women both can Apply
Educational QualificationCandidate should have a 10+2 CertificateCandidate should be Graduate
Scheme of ExaminationWritten exam + SSB interviewWritten exam + SSB interview
Frequency of the ExamConducted Twice a YearConducted Twice a Year
Training CentresNational Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune


Indian Military Academy, Dehradun

Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala

Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad

Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun for Army Cadets


Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala for Navy Cadets

Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad for Air Force Officers

Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai

Degrees awardedArmy Cadets – B.Sc./ B.Sc. (Computer)/BA / B.Tech degree


Naval Cadets – B.Tech degree

Air Force Cadets – B.Tech degree

Army Cadets in IMA – PG Diploma in ‘Military and Defence Management


OTA Chennai – Post Graduate Diploma in Defence Management and Strategic Studies


Rank assigned after the training completesLieutenant



Also, we’ve been told when we asked our students that why they opted for NDA and not CDS and vice versa, most of them told us about the major difference in their training period which is somewhat reasonable.

NDA training time period is approx. 36 months. In CDS, training time is between 12 months to 18 months, which means NDA training is tougher and longer as comparison to CDS.

The aspirants who completes their graduation and applies for CDS and join IMA undergoes 1½ year training at IMA which is  6 months of basic training and then after 6 months, the cadets from NDA joins the CDS candidates for a year and collectively, they all gets commissioned into the Indian Army as Lieutenant.

On getting through the NDA exam, candidates are required to go through the following training programs:

  • Army candidates – three years at NDA, Pune and one year at IMA (Indian Military Academy), Dehradun – total duration 4 years.
  • Navy candidates – three years at NDA, Pune and one year at the Naval Academy, Kerala – total duration 4 years.
  • Air Force candidates – three years at NDA, Pune and 18 months at Air Force Academy, Hyderabad.

On getting through the CDS exam, candidates are required to go through the following training programs:

  • Army candidates – 18 months at IMA (Indian Military Academy), Dehradun.
  • Navy candidates – 37-40 months at Naval Academy, Kerala.
  • Air Force candidates – 74 months at Air Force Academy, Hyderabad.

In both cases, cadets are offered a stipend of ₹21,000 per month during training.

The eventual growth from Lieutenant to a Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel (both selection-based and time-based) is based on the years in commissioned service for officers selected through either exams. However, for the senior ranks of a Brigadier, Major General, Lieutenant General and General, CDS exams offer a time-bound promotion while NDA candidates have to depend on the selection process laid out from time to time.

 NDA Officer Pay vs. CDS Officer Pay


NDA Officer Pay (in Rupees)CDS Officer (Total Pay in Rupees)
Rank Pay

Grade Pay



56,100 – 1,77,50





15,600—39,100/-6,600/-6,94,00 – 2,07,200

Lieutenant Colonel


1,21,200 – 2,12400


1,30,600-2, 15,900



Major General



Lieutenant General HAG Scale67,000/–79,000/-

1, 82, 200-2,24,100

HAG + Scale

75,500/- 80,000/-2,05,400 – 2,24,400
VCOAS/Army Cdr/ Lieutenant General (NFSG)80,000/-


COAS90,000/- (fixed)


In addition to the above mentioned pay, the officers in the rank starting from Lieutenant up to Brigadier are eligible for the Military Service Pay (MSP). While a fixed sum of Rs. 6,000/- per month in lieu of MSP for NDA Officers, the CDS Officers get Rs. 15,500 per month.

Besides the Pay and the MSP, the officers are eligible for various allowances. Surprisingly, the allowances offered by the Army, Navy and Air Force to the officers are considered as the major differences for most of the CDS & NDA Exam aspirants.

Comparison between allowances offered to Army officers selected through NDA & CDS and equivalent ranks in Air Force and Navy are as given below.

NDA Officer Allowance vs. CDS Officer Allowance


NDA Officer (in Rupees pm)CDS Officer (in Rupees pm)

Dearness Allowance

Equal to Civilian Gazetted OfficersEqual to Civilian Gazetted Officers
Kit Maintenance Allowance400/-

Subsumed into DA

High Altitude Allowance

1,060/-3,400 – 25,000/-
Siachen AllowanceNot Applicable


Uniform allowance

14,000/- (initial) and 3,000/- (every 3 years)Subsumed into proposed DA

Transport allowance

1,600 – 3,200 /- + DA3,600 – 7,200 /- + DA
Children Education AllowanceNot Applicable

Rs. 2,250/per month/per child for two children from Nursery – XII

The aspirants should note that for the CDS Officers, the newly proposed Daily Allowance (DA) is Rs. 20,000 per month.

Qualification Pay

This is similar for both NDA and CDS officers –

  • Master Aviation Instructor – ₹500/- per month
  • Senior Aviation Instructor Class I – ₹400/- per month
  • Senior Aviation Instructor Class II – ₹280/- per month
  • Aviators holding Master Green Card – ₹400/- per month
  • Aviators holding Green Card – ₹280/- per month

Flying Allowance: NDA Officer vs. CDS Officer


NDA Officers (in Rupees/pm)CDS Officers (in Rupees/pm)






25,000/- (fixed)



Major to Colonel


Brigadier & above


Which is better to join?

Training period is tougher in NDA which eventually shapes an aspirant into a well moulded army brat rather than joining the army after graduating in some other course and finally making up the mind to join the Indian Army using the CDS examination. But the pay scale and officer allowance in CDS is better than NDA. That being said, Both NDA and CDS are better in their own way. All that matters in the end is following your passion and living the life you wanted and dreamt since childhood. Being an army men, wearing that uniform (irrespective of the course you joined for), and above of all, getting hugely respected from everyone that is around you.

Here is the notification for the NDA 01/19 written examination.

Also, Visit our Current Affair Articles and latest exam blogs to get daily updates of the defence world. We also provide books made from our own publication. These books are instilled with the latest trend analysis and comprehensive concepts from the whole syllabus of NDA, CDS, AFCAT and various other courses that are taught in our institution.

Exams Syllabus

NDA Exam Pattern 2021

UPSC has categorised the NDA selection process in two stages: written exam and SSB interview. 

It is important for the candidates to pass the written exam to be eligible for the interview. The written exam for NDA is again conducted for 2 categories, i.e., Mathematics and General Ability. Refer to the table below for a better understanding of the exam pattern.

2021 NDA Exam Pattern

NDA Exam 2021

Conducting Body

Union Public Service Commission

NDA Exam Papers

Mathematics (Paper-I)

General Ability (Paper-II)

Total Marks



Total number of questions



Time Allotted

2 hours 50 minutes

Type of Questions

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

Medium of Examination

English & Hindi

NDA Exam 2021 Marking Scheme

NDA examination mainly covers questions from 10+2 level. Hence, candidates must know the basic concepts of all the subjects. According to the NDA Marking Scheme 2021, there is a negative marking for every wrong attempted question. Therefore, candidates are advised to choose their answers wisely. 

Marking pattern for Mathematics category: 0.83 marks are deducted for each wrong answer and 2.5 marks are added for each correct answer. There is no negative marking for unattempted answers.

NDA Exam Pattern General Ability

NDA General Ability paper is conducted for 600 marks including 150 questions. 1.33 marks are deducted for each wrong answer and 4 marks are added for each correctly attempted answer. There is no negative marking for unattempted answers. The General Ability Test (GAT) comprises two parts: English (Part A) and General Awareness (Part B)

Given Below Are the 6 Subjects Included Under NDA General Awareness Paper:

  1. Physics
  2. Chemistry
  3. History
  4. Geography
  5. General Science
  6. Current Events

The table below gives a subject-wise mark distribution of the NDA General Ability exam.

NDA General Ability Exam Subject-Wise Mark Distribution

General Ability Test (GAT)



Subject-wise Marks









General Science


Current Events






Total Marks


NDA Syllabus – General Ability

The syllabus for National Defence Academy Examination is prescribed by the Union Public Service Commission. It is released every year on their official website along with the exam notification.

The General Ability syllabus is broadly divided into two categories: English and General Awareness. 

Candidates need to prepare well especially for the General Awareness section as it is a vast section which includes physics, chemistry, general science, history, geography and current events.

Given below is the detailed subject-wise syllabus for NDA Paper-II Exam 2021.

NDA Syllabus for English

Syllabus for English

Topics Included

Adjective Degree Of Comparison Rules

List of Synonyms and Antonyms

List of One Word Substitutions

List of Homophones/Homonyms

Candidates are advised to be very thorough with their grammar and vocabulary to score well in this section. They can find the important questions for NDA 2021 Exam on the official website of Vedantu. Solving these questions on a regular basis will help the aspirants to gain a clearer concept of each subject.

NDA Syllabus 2021 – General Awareness

Candidates often find it difficult to prepare for the General Awareness category due to its vast syllabus. Therefore, it is very important for them to segregate the entire syllabus before starting with the preparation. By doing so, they will be familiar with their weaknesses and focus more on those areas.

Given below are the syllabus for each subject included under General Awareness section.

NDA Syllabus for Physics

Syllabus for Physics

Topics Included

  1. Static and Current Electricity
  2. Newton’s Laws of Motion
  3. Earth as a Magnet
  4. Force and Momentum
  5. Spherical mirrors and Lenses
  6. Pressure Barometer
  7. Human Eye
  8. Reflection and refraction
  9. Principle of Archimedes
  10. Physical Properties and States of Matter
  11. Modes of transference of Heat
  12. Mass, Weight, Volume, Sound waves and their properties
  13. Simple musical instruments
  14. Rectilinear propagation of Light
  15. Density and Specific Gravity
  16. Parallelogram of Forces
  17. Conductors and Non-conductors
  18. Stability and Equilibrium of bodies
  19. Ohm’s Law
  20. Gravitation
  21. Simple Electrical Circuits
  22. Elementary ideas of work
  23. Motion of objects
  24. Natural and Artificial Magnets
  25. Velocity and Acceleration
  26. Properties of a Magnet
  27. Heating, Lighting and Magnetic effects of Current
  28. Power and Energy
  29. Measurement of Electrical Power
  30. Effects of Heat
  31. Primary and Secondary Cells
  32. Measurement of Temperature and Heat
  33. Use of X-Rays
  34. General Principles in the working of Simple Pendulum, Simple Pulleys, Siphon, Levers, Balloon, Pumps, Hydrometer, Pressure Cooker, Thermos Flask, Gramophone, Telegraphs, Telephone, Periscope, Telescope, Microscope, Mariner’s Compass; Lightning Conductors, Safety Fuses.

NDA Syllabus for Chemistry

Chemistry Topics for NDA Exam 2021

Physical and Chemical Changes

Acids, bases and salts

Preparation and Properties of Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide, Oxidation and Reduction

Elementary ideas about the structure of Atom

Symbols, Formulae and simple Chemical Equations

Atomic Equivalent and Molecular Weights

Mixtures and Compounds

Law of Chemical Combination (excluding problems)

Properties of Air and Water


Material used in the preparation of substances like Soap, Glass, Ink, Paper, Cement, Paints, Safety Matches and Gunpowder

Fertilizers—Natural and Artificial


NDA Syllabus for History

Syllabus for History

Topics Included

  1. Forces shaping the modern world; 
  2. Renaissance
  3. Exploration and Discovery; 
  4. A broad survey of Indian History, with emphasis on Culture and Civilisation
  5. Freedom Movement in India
  6. French Revolution, Industrial Revolution and Russian Revolution
  7. War of American Independence,
  8. Impact of Science and Technology on Society
  9. Elementary study of Indian Constitution and Administration
  10. Concept of one World
  11. Elementary knowledge of Five Year Plans of India
  12. United Nations, 
  13. Panchsheel, 
  14. Panchayati Raj, Democracy, Socialism and Communism
  15. Role of India in the present world
  16. Co-operatives and Community Development
  17. Bhoodan, Sarvodaya, 
  18. National Integration and Welfare State
  19. Basic Teachings of Mahatma Gandhi

NDA Syllabus for Geography

Syllabus for Geography

Topics Included Under Geography

  1. The Earth, its shape and size
  2. Ocean Currents and Tides Atmosphere and its composition
  3. Latitudes and Longitudes
  4. Temperature and Atmospheric Pressure, Planetary Winds, Cyclones and Anticyclones; Humidity; Condensation and Precipitation
  5. Concept of time
  6. Types of Climate
  7. International Date Line
  8. Major Natural Regions of the World
  9. Movements of Earth and their effects
  10. Regional Geography of India
  11. Climate, Natural vegetation. Mineral and Power resources; 
  12. Location and distribution of agricultural and Industrial activities
  13. Origin of Earth. Rocks and their classification
  14. Important Sea ports and main sea, land and air routes of India
  15. Weathering—Mechanical and Chemical, Earthquakes and Volcanoes
  16. Main items of Imports and Exports of India

Syllabus for General Science

The general science syllabus for NDA General Awareness section includes the following topics:

  1. Common Epidemics, their causes and prevention
  2. Difference between the living and non-living
  3. Food—Source of Energy for man
  4. Basis of Life—Cells, Protoplasms and Tissues
  5. Constituents of food
  6. Growth and Reproduction in Plants and Animals
  7. Balanced Diet
  8. Elementary knowledge of Human Body and its important organs
  9. The Solar System—Meteors and Comets, Eclipses. Achievements of Eminent Scientists

The questions in the General Science section mostly cover the Class 9 to Class 12 levels. It mainly test the basic concepts of the candidates regarding the subject. Therefore, regular revision of the NCERT textbooks will help them score higher marks.

Syllabus for Current Events

For the current events category, students must be aware of the latest happenings in the world. These may include sports, economics, politics, national and international events. Reading the daily newspapers, listening to current affairs and news channels will help you know the latest updates of the world. 

NDA Syllabus 2021 Mathematics

NDA Mathematics paper mainly includes questions from 10+2 level and tests the basic concepts of the candidates. Therefore, it is very important for the candidates to prepare each topic thoroughly. 

Although, the subject Mathematics is considered tough by many aspirants but a proper analysis of the syllabus will help them understand the exam pattern.

The table below gives a detailed list of topics included in NDA Mathematics syllabus.

NDA Syllabus for Mathematics

Topics-wise Syllabus

Sub-Topics Included 


  1. Sets
  2. Venn diagrams
  3. De Morgan laws
  4. Cartesian product, relation, equivalence relation
  5. Real numbers, Complex numbers, Modulus, Cube roots
  6. Conversion of a number in Binary system to Decimals and vice-versa. 
  7. Arithmetic, Geometric and Harmonic progressions
  8. Quadratic equations, Linear inequations
  9. Permutation and Combination
  10. Binomial theorem and Logarithms.


  1. Concept of a real valued function
  2. Domain, range and graph of a function
  3. Composite functions, one to one, onto and inverse functions
  4. Notion of limit
  5. Standard limits
  6. Continuity of functions, algebraic operations on continuous functions
  7. Derivative of function at a point
  8. Geometrical and physical interpretation of a derivative-application
  9. Derivatives of sum, product and quotient of functions
  10.  Derivative of a function with respect to another function
  11. Derivative of a composite function
  12. Second order derivatives, increasing and decreasing functions, application of derivatives in problems of maxima and minima

Matrices and Determinants

  1. Types of matrices, operations on matrices
  2. Determinant of a matrix, basic properties of determinants
  3. Adjoint and inverse of a square matrix
  4. Applications-Solution of a system of linear equations in two or three unknowns by Cramer’s rule and by Matrix Method

Integral Calculus and Differential Equations

  1. Integration as inverse of differentiation, integration by substitution and by parts, standard integrals involving algebraic expressions, trigonometric, exponential and hyperbolic functions.
  2. Evaluation of definite integrals—determination of areas of plane regions bounded by curves—applications.
  3. Definition of order and degree of a differential equation, formation of a differential equation by examples.
  4. General and particular solution of differential equations, solution of first order and first degree differential equations of various types—examples. Application in problems of growth and decay.


  1. Angles and their measures in degrees and in radians. Trigonometric ratios. 
  2. Trigonometric identities Sum and difference formulae.
  3. Multiple and Sub-multiple angles.
  4.  Inverse trigonometric functions. 
  5. Applications-Height and distance, properties of triangles.

Vector Algebra

  1. Vectors in two and three dimensions, magnitude and direction of a vector. 
  2. Unit and null vectors, addition of vectors, scalar multiplication of a vector, scalar product or dot product of two vectors. 
  3. Vector product or cross product of two vectors. 
  4. Applications—work done by a force and moment of a force and in geometrical problems.

Analytical Geometry of Two and Three Dimension

  1. Rectangular Cartesian Coordinate system. 
  2. Distance formula.
  3.  Equation of a line in various forms. Angle between two lines. Distance of a point from a line. 
  4. Equation of a circle in standard and in general form. 
  5. Standard forms of parabola, ellipse and hyperbola. Eccentricity and axis of a conic. 
  6. Point in a three-dimensional space, distance between two points. 
  7. Direction Cosines and direction ratios. Equation of two points.
  8.  Direction Cosines and direction ratios. Equation of a plane and a line in various forms. 
  9. Angle between two lines and angle between two planes. 
  10. Equation of a sphere.

Statistics and Probability

  1. Probability: Random experiment, outcomes and associated sample space, events, mutually exclusive and exhaustive events, impossible and certain events. 
  2. Union and Intersection of events. 
  3. Complementary, elementary and composite events. 
  4. Definition of probability—classical and statistical—examples. 
  5. Elementary theorems on probability—simple problems. 
  6. Conditional probability, Bayes’ theorem—simple problems. 
  7.  Binomial distribution, examples of random experiments giving rise to Binomial distribution.

NDA SSB Interview

After clearing the NDA Written Examination, candidates are eligible to sit for the SSB Interview. This is the final selection test to get selected into the National Defence Academy and hence, it includes two stages- Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Stage 1 is a screening test which examine the verbal and non-verbal skills of the candidates. While, Stage 2 includes Psychological test and Group Testing Officers Test. 

After clearing both the stages, candidates are selected for a round of personal interview. Based on the interview performance, he/she will be selected for the eligible post in the Defence Academy.

NDA Booklist for Mathematics and General Ability

Books are always considered to be helpful in understanding any subject more precisely. But many times, candidates face difficulty in selection of correct reference material. Therefore, we have provided below a list of books for Mathematics and General Ability which can be handy for kickstarting their preparation.

NDA Booklist for Mathematics

Booklist for Mathematics

Name of the books


Pathfinder NDA & NA 

Arihant Publications

Mathematics for NDA and NA

RS Aggarwal

Solved Subject-wise Papers for NDA and ND

Arihant Publications

10 Practice Sets for NDA Exam

Arihant Publications

NDA Booklist for General Ability

Booklist for General Ability

Name of the books


Objective General English for Competitive Exams

S.P. Baksh

Success Series General Knowledge 

Sachchida Nand Jha

History Of Modern India

Bipan Chandra

Science and Technology in India

Kalpana Rajaram

Apart from the above given list, candidates must also follow the NCERT Class 9-12 Textbooks of all the subjects. Most of the questions asked in the NDA Written Exam are upto 10+12 level. 

For General Awareness, it is important for the aspirants to read the daily newspaper regularly to stay updated with the latest national and international events. 




Exam Pattern


The exam pattern of CDS 2021 is divided into two sections:

  1. Written Examination
  2. Intelligence and Personality Test Interview

The exam pattern of CDS examination is different for Officer Training Academy and Indian Naval Academy/Indian Military Academy/Indian Air Force.


CDS Exam Pattern for Navy/Army/Air Force:


Sr. No.





General Knowledge


2 hours




2 hours


Elementary Mathematics


2 hours


CDS Exam Pattern for Officer Training Academy (OTA):


Sr. No.





General Knowledge


2 hours




2 hours


Sr. No.

1. General Knowledge

2. English

3. Elementary Math




Number System






Political Science

Basic Grammar




Error Spotting




Para Jumbles



Current affairs of the last 4-5 months from the examination date

Comprehension Solving

Simple and Compound Interest












Ratio and Proportion
















Euclidean algorithm




Prime and compound numbers




Time and distance




Rational and Real numbers




Time and work


Selection Process: Candidate will be selected based n SSB (Stage I and III). Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests are Picture Perception, Description Test (PP&DT) (Stage Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and the Conference (Stage III).


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