UPSC NDA Exam Preparation: A detailed look at syllabus, pattern, selection process | Competitive Exams - Hindustan Times

UPSC NDA Exam Preparation: A detailed look at syllabus, pattern, selection process

Mar 24, 2024 11:48 AM IST

UPSC NDA exam: Key points about the written test and the SSB interview

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the entrance examination for the National Defence Academy and the Naval Academy (UPSC NDA) twice every year. The UPSC NDA & NA 1 examination 2024 will be held on April 21 for admission to the Army, Navy and Air Force wings of the NDA; and for the Naval Academy course.

NDA Exam Preparation: Syllabus, pattern, selection process(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
NDA Exam Preparation: Syllabus, pattern, selection process(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

The exam will fill 400 vacancies, of which 208 are for the Army, 42 are for the Navy, and 122 are for the Air Force wings of the NDA and 30 are for the Naval Academy under the 10+2 Cadet entry scheme.

Unlock exclusive access to the latest news on India's general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now! Download Now!

Understanding the scheme and the process is the most important part of preparing for any examination. With the first NDA entrance examination of 2024 approaching, here is a detailed look at the exam pattern, syllabus and selection process.

UPSC NDA exam scheme & selection process

  • The NDA exam has two stages – a written examination and an interview round (SSB test). A merit list of the written test will be prepared by the commission and shortlisted ones will appear for the SSB test.
  • The written examination has two papers of 150 minutes each – Mathematics (300 marks) and General Ability Test (600 marks).
  • The SSB interview (intelligence and personality test) has two stages and carries 900 marks. Only those who clear stage 1 can appear for the stage 2 examination.
  • For admission to the Air Force course, candidates will have to additionally qualify for the Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS).

UPSC NDA & NA 2024: Syllabus

Paper 1 (Mathematics)


Concept of set, operations on sets, Venn diagrams. 

De Morgan laws, Cartesian product, relation, equivalence relation.

Representation of real numbers on a line. 

Complex numbers—basic properties, modulus, argument, cube roots of unity. 

Binary system of numbers. 

Conversion of a number in decimal system to binary system and vice-versa. 

Arithmetic, Geometric and Harmonic progressions. 

Quadratic equations with real coefficients. 

Solution of linear inequations of two variables by graphs. 

Permutation and Combination. 

Binomial theorem and its applications. 

Logarithms and their applications


Types of matrices, operations on matrices. 

Determinant of a matrix, basic properties of determinants. 

Adjoint and inverse of a square matrix, Applications-Solution of a system of linear equations in two or three unknowns by Cramer’s rule and by Matrix Method.


Angles and their measures in degrees and in radians. 

Trigonometrical ratios. 

Trigonometric identities Sum and difference formulae. 

Multiple and Sub-multiple angles. 

Inverse trigonometric functions. 

Applications-Height and distance, properties of triangles.


Rectangular Cartesian Coordinate system. 

Distance formula. 

Equation of a line in various forms. 

Angle between two lines. 

Distance of a point from a line. 

Equation of a circle in standard and in general form. 

Standard forms of parabola, ellipse and hyperbola. 

Eccentricity and axis of a conic. 

Point in a three dimensional space, distance between two points. 

Direction Cosines and direction ratios. 

Equation two points. 

Direction Cosines and direction ratios. 

Equation of a plane and a line in various forms. 

Angle between two lines and angle between two planes. 

Equation of a sphere.


Concept of a real valued function–domain, range and graph of a function. 

Composite functions, one to one, onto and inverse functions. 

Notion of limit, Standard limits—examples. Continuity of functions—examples, algebraic operations on continuous functions. 

Derivative of function at a point, geometrical and physical interpretation of a derivative—applications.

Derivatives of sum, product and quotient of functions, derivative of a function with respect to another function, derivative of a composite function. 

Second order derivatives. 

Increasing and decreasing functions. 

Application of derivatives in problems of maxima and minima.


Integration as inverse of differentiation, integration by substitution and by parts, standard integrals involving algebraic expressions, trigonometric, exponential and hyperbolic functions. 

Evaluation of definite integrals—determination of areas of plane regions bounded by curves—applications. 

Definition of order and degree of a differential equation, formation of a differential equation by examples. 

General and particular solution of a differential equations, solution of first order and first degree differential equations of various types—examples. 

Application in problems of growth and decay.


Vectors in two and three dimensions, magnitude and direction of a vector. 

Unit and null vectors, addition of vectors, scalar multiplication of a vector, scalar product or dot product of two vectors. 

Vector product or cross product of two vectors. Applications—work done by a force and moment of a force and in geometrical problems.


Statistics : Classification of data, Frequency distribution, cumulative frequency distribution—examples. Graphical representation—Histogram, Pie Chart, frequency polygon— examples. 

Measures of Central tendency—Mean, median and mode. 

Variance and standard deviation—determination and comparison. 

Correlation and regression. 

Probability : Random experiment, outcomes and associated sample space, events, mutually exclusive and exhaustive events, impossible and certain events. 

Union and Intersection of events. 

Complementary, elementary and composite events. Definition of probability—classical and statistical—examples. 

Elementary theorems on probability—simple problems. Conditional probability, Bayes’ theorem—simple problems. 

Random variable as function on a sample space. 

Binomial distribution, examples of random experiments giving rise to Binominal distribution.

Paper 2 (General Ability Test)

Part A: ENGLISH (200 marks)

The English part of the question paper will test the candidates' understanding of English and workman-like use of words. T

he syllabus covers various aspects: Grammar and usage, vocabulary, comprehension and cohesion in extended text to test the candidate’s proficiency in English.

Part B: GENERAL KNOWLEDGE (400 marks) This part will cover Physics, Chemistry, General Science, Social Studies, Geography and Current Events.

Physical Properties and States of Matter, Mass, Weight, Volume, Density and Specific Gravity, Principle of Archimedes, Pressure Barometer. 

Motion of objects, Velocity and Acceleration, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Force and Momentum, Parallelogram of Forces, Stability and Equilibrium of bodies, Gravitation, elementary ideas of work, Power and Energy. 

Effects of Heat, Measurement of Temperature and Heat, change of State and Latent Heat, Modes of transference of Heat. 

Sound waves and their properties, Simple musical instruments. Rectilinear propagation of Light, Reflection and refraction. 

Spherical mirrors and Lenses, Human Eye. 

Natural and Artificial Magnets, Properties of a Magnet, Earth as a Magnet. Static and Current Electricity, conductors and Nonconductors, Ohm’s Law, Simple Electrical Circuits, Heating, Lighting and Magnetic effects of Current, Measurement of Electrical Power, Primary and Secondary Cells, Use of X-Rays. 

General Principles in the working of the following: Simple Pendulum, Simple Pulleys, Siphon, Levers, Balloon, Pumps, Hydrometer, Pressure Cooker, Thermos Flask, Gramophone, Telegraphs, Telephone, Periscope, Telescope, Microscope, Mariner’s Compass; Lightening Conductors, Safety Fuses.


Physical and Chemical changes. 

Elements, Mixtures and Compounds, Symbols, Formulae and simple Chemical Equations, Law of Chemical Combination (excluding problems). 

Properties of Air and Water. 

Preparation and Properties of Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Carbondioxide, Oxidation and Reduction. 

Acids, bases and salts. 

Carbon—different forms. 

Fertilizers—Natural and Artificial. 

Material used in the preparation of substances like Soap, Glass, Ink, Paper, Cement, Paints, Safety Matches and Gun-Powder. 

Elementary ideas about the structure of Atom, Atomic Equivalent and Molecular Weights, Valency


Difference between the living and non-living. 

Basis of Life—Cells, Protoplasms and Tissues. 

Growth and Reproduction in Plants and Animals. 

Elementary knowledge of Human Body and its important organs. 

Common Epidemics, their causes and prevention. 

Food—Source of Energy for man. 

Constituents of food, Balanced Diet. 

The Solar System—Meteors and Comets, Eclipses. 

Achievements of Eminent Scientists.


A broad survey of Indian History, with emphasis on Culture and Civilisation. 

Freedom Movement in India. 

Elementary study of Indian Constitution and Administration. 

Elementary knowledge of Five Year Plans of India. 

Panchayati Raj, Co-operatives and Community Development. 

Bhoodan, Sarvodaya, National Integration and Welfare State, Basic Teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. 

Forces shaping the modern world; Renaissance, Exploration and Discovery; War of American Independence. 

French Revolution, Industrial Revolution and Russian Revolution. 

Impact of Science and Technology on Society. 

Concept of one World, United Nations, Panchsheel, Democracy, Socialism and Communism. 

Role of India in the present world.


The Earth, its shape and size. 

Lattitudes and Longitudes, Concept of time. 

International Date Line. 

Movements of Earth and their effects. 

Origin of Earth. 

Rocks and their classification; Weathering—Mechanical and Chemical, Earthquakes and Volcanoes. 

Ocean Currents and Tides Atmosphere and its composition; Temperature and Atmospheric Pressure, Planetary Winds, Cyclones and Anti-cyclones; Humidity; Condensation and Precipitation; Types of Climate, Major Natural regions of the World. 

Regional Geography of India—Climate, Natural vegetation. 

Mineral and Power resources; location and distribution of agricultural and Industrial activities. 

Important Sea ports and main sea, land and air routes of India. 

Main items of Imports and Exports of India.


Knowledge of Important events that have happened in India and the world in the recent years.

Prominent personalities—both Indian and international including those connected with cultural activities and sports.

Out of the maximum marks assigned to part ‘B’ of this paper, sections A, B, C, D and E will carry approximately 25%, 15%, 10%, 20%, 20% and 10% weightage, respectively.

Intelligence and Personality Test

Stage 1

Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests

Picture Perception and Description Test (PP&DT). 

The candidates will be shortlisted based on combination of performance in OIR Test and PP&DT.

Stage 2Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and the Conference.

UPSC NDA exam: Important points about written test

  • There will be negative marking in the objective-type papers. One-third (0.33) of the total marks assigned to the question will be deducted for wrong answers.
  • For writing and marking answers in the answer sheet, candidates must use black ball pens only. Pens with any other colour, pencil or ink pen are not allowed.
  • Any omission/mistake/discrepancy in encoding/filling of details in the OMR answer sheet, especially roll number and test booklet series code, will result in the rejection of the answer sheet.
  • Banned items: Mobile phone, pager, any electronic equipment, programmable device, storage media like pen drive, smart watches etc., camera, Bluetooth devices or any other equipment or related accessories capable of communication. Violation of the rule will result in disciplinary action, including a ban from future examinations.
  • Candidates have been advised not to bring these banned items or any other valuable items to the exam venue as the commission will make no safe-keeping arrangements.
  • Items allowed: Clipboard or hardboard, a good quality black ball pen. The invigilator will supply Answer Sheet and sheet for rough work.

UPSC NDA exam: Important points about the SSB interview

  • The personality of a candidate will be assessed by three different assessors: the Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and the Psychologist.
  • There will be no separate weightage for each test. Assessors will allot the marks after taking into consideration the performance of the candidate holistically in all the tests. All these have equal weightage.
  • The various tests of IO, GTO and Psych have been designed to bring out the presence/absence of officer-like qualities and their trainability in a candidate.

Elevate your career with VIT’s MBA programme that has been designed by its acclaimed faculty & stands out as a beacon for working professionals. Explore now!

Discover the complete story of India's general elections on our exclusive Elections Product! Access all the content absolutely free on the HT App. Download now!
Get latest news on Education along with Board Exam, Competitive Exam and Exam Result at Hindustan Times. Also get latest Job updates on Employment News
Share this article
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, May 27, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On