Know how to prepare for CDS exam? – Get Expert Tips, Strategies, Books for Preparation, and More!



For candidates who wish to join the defense services, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), brings wonderful opportunities in the form of the Combined Defense Service Exam (CDS). The Commission conducts this exam twice a year to select eligible candidates for admission to the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy, and Indian Air Force Academy. Lakhs of candidates appear for this exam, making it highly competitive. Hence, to ensure that you ace the examination, you must know how to prepare for CDS. In this article, we bring to you an expert recommended and subject-wise set of UPSC CDS Exam Preparation tips.

The  UPSC CDS Recruitment is prestigious and candidates must know about the Exam Pattern, Syllabus, and other important tips. So read further to know more about the CDS Exam Preparation tips!

How to prepare for CDS? – Subject-Wise UPSC CDS Exam Preparation Tips 2022

The UPSC CDS Recruitment takes place twice a year. The Commission conducts the CDS Exam in the month of February and September. The CDS Exam is a written exam that comprises three subjects namely –

  • English
  • General Knowledge
  • Elementary Mathematics

In the section below we have provided the expert-recommended topic-wise CDS Exam preparation tips for each of the aforementioned subjects –

UPSC CDS Exam Preparation Tips for English

English section is asked for a total of 100 marks. Although this section appears to be easy, it requires regular practice. Refer to the below points for more – 

  • Regularly practice questions based on Grammar.
  • Make it a habit to read newspapers daily as this will help to understand the flow of sentences along with their grammatical structures.
  • Revision is the key to success, hence Regular revision of topics like Synonyms, Antonyms, and One-word substitutions is of utmost importance.
  • Attempt the UPSC CDS test series for the everyday practice of questions for English.

UPSC CDS Exam Preparation Tips for Mathematics

The Mathematics section is asked for a total of 100 marks. This section is often dreaded by the candidates. However, consistent practice and regular revision are all that is needed. Below are some important tips to keep in mind-

  • Candidates must revise the Class 10th, 11th, and 12th Mathematics as it covers an important portion of the exam.
  • Learn and maintain a separate notebook for the formulas and short tricks for calculation.
  • Solve the UPSC CDS Previous year papers and try to identify the weak areas that need more practice.
  • Practice regularly so that you can get the hang of the accuracy while solving the numerical problems.
  • For every wrong answer, 0.33 marks are deducted. Hence one should try to solve maximum questions in less time to get maximum marks but with accuracy.

UPSC CDS Exam Preparation Tips for General Knowledge

The General Knowledge section is asked for a total of 100 marks. This section is often ignored by the candidate. However, it is one of the most scoring sections. Below are some important tips for the same.

  • Regularly revise the NCERT Textbooks of Class 6th to Class 10th for Science and Social Science as most of the topics are covered from there.
  • Subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics in Class 11th and Class 12th, need more focus and concepts need to be crystal clear.
  • Read Newspapers, and go through Regular Booklets, in order to keep updated with the Current Affairs and GK Updates.
  • Solve the previous year’s question paper and attempt mock tests, as it will help have good speed over the questions.

Check CUET Prepration Tips Here

Basic UPSC CDS Exam Preparation Tips 2022

Let us dive deeper into this article, as we now provide you with some basic UPSC CDS Exam preparation tips. These tips, however basic, are crucial to formulating an effective study schedule for yourself.

Tip 1: Know the UPSC CDS 1 Exam Pattern 2022

The exam pattern helps you to understand the subject-wise marks weightage and the duration of the examination. Knowing the exam pattern and enables the candidates who plan a better study schedule.

Below is the UPSC CDS 1 Exam pattern –

Subjects/ SectionDurationMaximum Marks
English2 hours100
General Knowledge2 hours100
Elementary Mathematics2 hours100
Total6 hours300 Marks

Note – There is a negative marking of 0.33 marks.

Tip 2: Understand the UPSC CDS 1 Exam Syllabus

Next, up in our UPSC CDS Exam preparation tips is understanding the exam syllabus. The exam syllabus helps the candidates to understand the topic for each subject. Therefore it will help them prepare an overall study schedule.

General KnowledgeEconomicsPhysicsCurrent AffairsPoliticsChemistrySociologyHistoryDefense-related AwardGeographyEnvironmentSportBiologyCulturalBooksStatementTrue/FalseStatic GK – Online course for CDS
EnglishBasic GrammarIdioms & PhrasesSynonyms and AntonymsReading Comprehension SolvingSubstitution of WordsError SpottingPara Jumbles
MathematicsArithmeticNumber System: Natural numbers, Rational & Real numbers, Integers. Fundamental operations, subtraction, multiplication, addition, division, Square roots, and Decimal fractions. Unitary method, time and work, percentages, time and distance, applications to simple & compound interest, ratio and proportion, profit and loss, variation.
Elementary Number Theory: Division algorithm. Prime and composite numbers. Tests of divisibility by 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 11. Multiples and factors. Factorisation Theorem. L.C.M. and H.C.F. Euclidean algorithm. Logarithms to base 10, use of logarithmic tables and laws of logarithms.
AlgebraBasic Operations, simple factors, H.C.F., L.C.M., Remainder Theorem, Theory of polynomials, solutions of quadratic equations, the relation between its roots & coefficients (Only real roots to be considered). Simultaneous linear inequations in two variables and their solutions. Simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns—analytical & graphical solutions. Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or inequations in two variables or quadratic equations in one variable & their solutions. Rational expressions and conditional identities, Set language & set notation, Laws of indices.

Tip 3: Know the Important Topics for UPSC CDS Exam 2022

The important topics for the UPSC CDS Exam 2022, as recommended by our experts are mentioned below.

SubjectsImportant topics covered under each subject
General KnowledgeEconomicsPhysicsCurrent AffairsPoliticsDefence-related issuesGeographySportsEnvironment
Elementary MathematicsNumber SystemSimple & Compound InterestPolynomialsLaw of indicesQuadratic equations.
EnglishBasic GrammarIdioms & PhrasesSynonyms & AntonymsComprehensionOne word SubstitutionError Spotting

Tip 4: Know the Books for Preparation for CDS Exam 2022

The answwe to how to prepare for CDS Exam will be incomplete without mentioning about best prep books. Following are the expert-recommended books for preparations for the CDS Exam 2022.

General KnowledgeGeneral Knowledge Manohar Pandey
General EnglishObjective General English for Competitive ExamsSP Bakshi
MathematicsPathfinder for CDS

Candidates can find similar preparation tips for the UPSC NDA 1 here.

We hope that our article on the UPSC CDS preparation tips is useful. Consistent efforts and regular practice are the keys to success. We wish you all the best!

CDS Exam Preparation Tips FAQs

When is the UPSC CDS Exam usually held?

The UPSC CDS Exam is held twice a year in February and September.

How to prepare for CDS 1 Exam 2022?

Candidates must go through the exam pattern, know the syllabus, revise regularly, and refer to the expert-recommended list of books for preparation, to prepare for the UPSC CDS 1 Exam.

What is the exam pattern for the UPSC CDS 1 Written exam?

The Written exam is conducted in three sections  – Mathematics, English, and General Knowledge for a total of 300 marks and 2 hours each.

Is it possible to crack the UPSC CDS Exam 2022?

Yes, candidates must follow a study schedule, and our UPSC CDS Exam preparation tips, to ace the examination.

Is there a negative marking for the UPSC CDS Exam?

Yes, 0.33 marks are deducted for the UPSC CDS Examination.