Call to arms

Graduates would do well to be prepared for the CDS exam, a popular route to get into the armed forces

education Updated: May 20, 2011 15:20 IST
Hindustan Times

Col RS Gadhok
The glamour and charm associated with the uniform has always attracted aspirants with an adventurous streak, and those who take pride in themselves and the nation. The selection process for the armed forces is based on highly scientific and evolved techniques, which aim at assessing the personality traits of an individual in the context of the requirements of the defence forces. One of the most prominent routes of entry after graduation is the Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE). This entry encompasses both regular and short-service courses. Candidates who qualify the written exam are screened by a Services Selection Board (SSB) that recommends the candidate as potential officer material, who after rigorous training at the military academy and the unit into which he is commissioned, can be suitably groomed as an officer.

A word about the selection process at the SSB - the SSB adopts three different techniques to assess the same personality traits of the candidate at his conscious, subconscious and unconscious levels. These techniques are:
. Interview technique
. Group testing technique
. Psychological technique

The syllabus for the CDSE is fairly broad and, therefore, aspirants must commence preparation much in advance. They must be updated on current affairs and continuously upgrade their awareness level.

Candidates must commence their preparation three to four months in advance. Make a time table so as to do three revisions i.e. a detailed study and two quick revisions. Make notes while studying. If possible, utilise the services of a professional institute of good repute.

The standard of papers in other subjects is expected to be of graduation courses of Indian universities.

The English paper is generally designed to test the candidates' understanding of English and workmanlike use of words.

General knowledge, including knowledge of current events and matters of everyday observation and experience, is expected. The paper also includes questions on history of India and geography.
The mathematics paper comprises of basic number operations of the standard of Clas 10 and as such most of the students should be able to tackle it well by revisiting CBSE books. The paper includes questions on arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, geometry, mensuration and statistics.

General tips for preparation
. All aspirants must have a good atlas and a dictionary when they start preparation at least three months in advance.
. They must go through a good grammar book, such as the Wren and Martin, and practice with mock test papers and work sheets/exercises.
. Subscribe to a good current affairs magazines like India Today, Outlook, Frontline etc. and go through main articles and make short notes.

While appearing for the examination
. Read the question paper calmly. Do not carelessly rush on to write answers without reading all the instructions carefully.
. As much as possible, go according to the order of the questions. However, do not get stuck if you do not know a particular question. Move on, if necessary, to save time.
. Allocate appropriate time according to the weightage of sections (see box).

The author is a instructor at Olive Greens, a organisation that specialises in coaching candidates for NDA, CDSE and other related entrance examsEligibility

For Indian Military Academy: Unmarried male graduates born not earlier than January 2, 1988, and not later than January 1, 1993.
For Indian Naval Academy: Unmarried male graduates born not earlier than January 2, 1990, and not later than January 1, 1993
For Air Force Academy: Unmarried male graduates born not earlier than January 2, 1989 and not later than January 1, 1993
For Officers Training Academy (SSC course for men): Male graduates (married or unmarried) born not earlier than January 2, 1987 and not later than January 1, 1993
For Officers Training Academy (SSC women non-technical course): Unmarried women graduates, issueless widow graduates who have not remarried and issueless divorcee graduates who have not remarried are eligible. They should have been born not earlier than January 2, 1987 and not later than January 1, 1993

Scheme of examination
For Admission to Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy

Subject DurationMaximum Marks
English Two hours 100
General knowledge Two hours 100
Elementary mathematics Two hours 100

. The maximum marks allotted to the written examination and to the interviews will be 300, 300, 300 and 200 each for admission to the Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and Officers' Training Academy, respectively
. All papers have objective type questions only. Papers of general knowledge and elementary mathematics are set in Hindi and English
. The metric system of weights and measures is used
. Scribe for candidates is not permitted.
. The Commission reserves the discretion to fix qualifying marks for all subjects.
. Calculator not allowed

When to apply, how to apply for CDS
. The CDS examination is conducted by the UPSC twice a year, once in February and the second in September. The examination is common for all three services of the forces
. There are three papers (English, general knowledge and math) for the Indian Military Academy i.e. permanent commission, and two papers (English and general knowledge) for the short service commission.
. Educational qualification required is a bachelor’s degree. Candidates wishing to apply for a technical entry, need an engineering degree
. Apply online at or may apply off line on the application form available for R20 from designated head post offices

First Published: May 17, 2011 11:31 IST