How to Crack UPSC CDS Exam ? - Check Study Plan and Tips

How to Crack UPSC CDS Exam ? - Check Study Plan and Tips

How to crack UPSC CDS exam? The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Combined Defense Services (CDS) exam. The UPSC CDS exam is a popular defense exam for graduates. Aspirants who wish to serve the country by joining the defense services can apply for the CDS 2021. However, before joining the services, the main question arises, how to crack the CDS exam, how to start the preparations of CDS, what should be the preparation strategy, tips and tricks etc.

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In this article on how to crack the UPSC CDS exam, we have covered each and every aspect which candidates might find useful, right from the CDS question papers, answer keys, best books for CDS, previous year cut off marks and more. Aspirants planning to fill the CDS application form 2021 will find these articles extremely useful.

UPSC CDS Exam Pattern and Syllabus

In order to crack the UPSC CDS exam, candidates must first know the scheme of the exam which consists of the CDS exam pattern and syllabus. The scheme of the exam comprises - written examination conducted in objective type questions and interview for intelligence and personality test of the candidates. There is a negative marking of 0.33% for wrong answers marked in the objective type question papers.Subjects of the written examination, time and marks allotted to each subject:

Academy

Subject

Maximum Marks

Time duration

(i) Indian Military Academy,

(ii) Indian Naval Academy,

(iii) Air Force Academy

(i) English,

(ii) General Knowledge,

(iii) Elementary Mathematics

100

100

100

2 hours

2 hours

2 hours

(iv & v) Officers’ Training Academy

(i) English,

(ii) General Knowledge

100

100

2 hours

2 hours

(a) For Admission to Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Air Force Academy:

Subject

Duration

Max. Marks

1. English

2 Hours

100

2. General Knowledge

2 Hours

100

3. Elementary Mathematics

2 Hours

100

Total: 3 subjects

6 Hours

300

(b) For Admission to Officers’ Training Academy:

Subject

Duration

Max. Marks

1. English

2 Hours

100

2. General Knowledge

2 Hours

100

Total: 2 subjects

4 Hours

200

Quick links:

CDS notification 2021

CDS eligibility criteria 2021

Mode of Selection

a) Candidates who qualify the written exam will be eligible to appear for an interview.

b) Final selection of candidates is done based on their performance in written exam and Interview.

Strategy and tips for English Preparation

  • Start with English Grammar and vocabulary. Improvise till you get better and better.

  • Read the newspapers, especially editorial for half an hour daily.

  • Practice Reading Comprehension. Start with understanding the essence of the article before attempting an answer.

  • Solve previous papers. At the same time, practice mock tests regularly.

Strategy and tips for General Knowledge Preparation

  • This is a scoring subject and hence the target should be to get accurate in this section. Apart from solving previous year papers and practising with mock tests, the following should also be

  • History of India and Geography carry questions in the exam paper so, focus on it would yield dividends.

  • Keep abreast of Current affairs/events topics. The Union Budget, Covid-19, Economic Survey, etc. are some topics that one must know about.

  • Information pertaining to India & neighbouring countries must be read and kept in mind.

  • Other miscellaneous information like authors, award winners, sea & airports and their location, state animals, etc. must also be covered.

Strategy and tips for Elementary Mathematics Preparation

  • This subject is the most important one as marks in this are considered for selection in the merit list. Topics like Arithmetic-Number System & Theory, Algebra, Geometry, Mensuration, Trigonometry, and Statistics have to be covered as questions are asked from here. Tips to master Maths are:

  • Learn the basics first. Know the concepts and the methods to solve problems.

  • Figure out or learn shortcuts to arrive at solutions faster.

  • Learn formulae well to ensure speedy answering in the exam.

  • Develop speed in solving questions as this gives a cut-throat edge.

  • Never answer questions which are ambiguous or are unknown or are difficult to solve.

Quick links:

CDS exam centres 2021

CDS exam dates 2021

CDS-Interview Strategy for Intelligence and Personality Test

Candidates who qualify the written exam will be called to appear for an interview before the Services Selection Board (SSB). The board evaluates the suitability of the candidate for an officer’s post using a standardized protocol of evaluation system comprising personality, intelligence tests, and interviews. The tests are of two types i.e. written and practical task-based. The SSB test is a 5-day evaluation process.

The SSB test procedure consists of a two stage selection process. Candidates clearing stage I can appear for stage II. The details of the stages are:

(a) Stage I: This test consists of Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and Picture Perception & Description Test (PPDT). Shortlisting is on the basis of the performance in both OIR Test and PPDT.

  • This section needs a slightly dedicated preparation. One needs to practise with pictorial tests that allow candidates to clearly define what they can gauge from a picture. Some areas to look at for preparation:

  • Questions on verbal and non-verbal intelligence need to be practised

  • Observing of pictures and writing / describing must be practised well

  • Comprehension and assessment are two aspects that need to be worked on and for this only practice is the key.

Quick links:

CDS admit card 2021

CDS exam analysis 2021

(b) Stage II: This stage has an interview, group testing officer tasks, psychology tests, and a conference call. These tests are conducted over 4 days. The details of these tests can be looked up in detail at joinindianarmy.nic.in.

  • Word Association Test (WAT), Self-Reaction Test, Self-Description Test are some parts of the tests. In addition, there may be group discussion; planning exercises; progressive group tasks; small group tasks and obstacles; individual tasks /obstacles; command tasks; a lectorate and a final group task.

  • Candidates must read up and check out what is really required. In addition, they can participate in mocks conducted by some coaching centres to get an idea. Finally, there will be a conference with some of the officers who will look for traits like confidence, a positive attitude in adversity and in life; honesty etc. Participating in mock interviews is a good idea.

Quick links:

CDS answer key by Cavalier 2021

CDS answer key by Baalnoi 2021

Personality Assessment

  • The personality of a candidate is assessed by three different assessors viz. The Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and a Psychologist.

  • There is no separate weightage for each test. The marks are allotted by assessors only after taking into consideration the performance of the candidate holistically in all the tests.

  • In addition, marks for conference are also allotted based on the initial performance of the candidate in the three techniques and also the decision of the Board. All these have equal weightage.

  • Accordingly, candidates are “Recommended or Not Recommended” by the SSB.

UPSC CDS - Success Formula

1. Analytical Approach

(a) Setting up a Goal: First step towards cracking the UPSC-CDS exam to know the CDS syllabus, exam pattern and then create a goal-oriented plan. The goal should incorporate all elements. Advantages of setting up a goal

  • The pathway is clearly defined.

  • Measuring performance stage by stage becomes easy

  • Study goes as scheduled and the syllabus is completed well on time.

  • Time management becomes part of the routine

  • A well-defined doable goal keeps motivations high

(b) Time Management using a timetable: The 12 months in a year come with 4 weeks in a month, 24 hours of the day. When consolidated, that sums up to ample time to reach the goal of cracking the CDS exam. This is when a well-defined timetable helps one keep on track with the CDS preparation. One timetable cannot be used for every aspirant as each candidate has his/her own. strengths, weaknesses, habits, methodologies and nature, etc. So, the timetable must be tailor made keeping all these aspects and the goal in mind.

(c) Importance of Good Health for Cracking UPSC-CDS Exam: Good health is a prerequisite for success in any endeavour. Cracking CDS is no exception. Hence, candidates must eat well, sleep adequately and in general take care of themselves. Keeping fit is essential for clearing any Army or defence interviews. The armed forces stress on medical fitness and hence, candidates must have a daily routine for exercise and ensure that they meet the standards prescribed.

(d) Emotion Management for CDS Exam: When a journey is for a year or so with no guarantee of success at the end, it's easy to get demotivated or stressed during preparation. Combating this is vital. Hobbies, simple walks or bonding with family can take stress off. In addition, reaching out to like-minded professionals preparing for the CDS exam will help ease the journey.

Quick links:

CDS answer key by Neostencil 2021

CDS English answer key 2021

2. How to Manage Study for UPSC-CDS Preparation

(a) Improving Reading Speed: One thing that helps is completing the vast syllabus is the ability to read fast. It is a skill and must be developed to cope and prepare for an important exam like CDS. Some important tips to do so are:

  • Put the entire focus on whatever you are reading.

  • Time your study to know how you are faring

  • Move on to the next topic once done. Schedule revision separately after a gap of time.

  • Learn to skim over topics so that assimilation of facts is faster.

  • Practice till the desirable reading speed is achieved.

(b) Make your own Study Timetable

Divide the syllabus of the written exam into subjects and each subject into chapters/ topics/ subtopics.

  • Classify all chapters, topics, and sub-topics subject wise according to strong and weak areas as well as the importance of questions generally asked in the examinations.

  • Then divide the time period: one year into 12 months and then into weeks, and finally days. Now divide each day into hours and group time slots for subjects, revision, practise etc.

  • Put the chapters for each subject in months, weeks and days. Fix a schedule that ensures that the entire syllabus is completed well within time.

  • Incorporate revision time every day, every week, every month, and every third month.

(c) How to Schedule Revision for UPSC-CDS Preparation?

Revision is crucial so that aspirants do not forget the concepts, facts, and other information they have studied. If a gap of 9 to 15 days in between two revisions is given, chances are high of forgetting some of the topics learnt. A good UPSC-CDS 3 Tier Revision Plan as given below will ensure this:

3 Tier Revision Plan

Daily Revision

Weekly Revision

Monthly Revision

Time

Morning and Night recaps

Sunday

Month End

Subject

Subject name

Sunday

Month End

Chapter

Chapter name

Sunday

Month End

Topic/Subtopic

Topic name

Sunday

Month End

Practice Sessions: Candidates must make 15th day and a day every 3rd month to be the “Practice day”. This means that one should test oneself with mock papers, past years' question papers to understand and measure the preparation efforts.

Daily Revision Schedule: This is a must. Every day before sleep, one must revise all that was done that day. Likewise, in the morning, a quick revision of all chapters and topics studied the previous day must be done to keep the topics in memory.

Weekly Revision Schedule: This is another important measure. Every week, revision of subjects, chapters, and topics studied in the past 6 days of the week has to be done without fail. This will ensure a better performance in the actual exam.

Monthly Revision Schedule: This is the third stage of revision. It is better to do this every month on the last two days. Revision of all the subjects, chapters, and topics studied that month; solving practice tests and solved papers are the agenda in this schedule.

Likewise, a quarterly and six-monthly revision schedule should be followed for good results.

Quick links:

CDS Maths answer key 2021

CDS GK answer key 2021

3. How to Evaluate Study Progress for UPSC-CDS Exam ?

(a) Learning Evaluation: It is important to check the learning progress and evaluate preparation every week and every month. To do so, candidates must sit for a mock test and solve previous questions from the topics studied. What needs to be measured is the capability to answer the questions – be it hundred percent or fifty percent or even less. The other point to keep in mind is the number of questions that were not solved. The result of this test can point to the topics needing revision or further mastering and the topics from which aspirants can move on to the next ones.

(b) Speed Evaluation: The best tools to evaluate speed as well as for areas of improvement are mock tests and practice papers. The process to evaluate would be to solve papers within a set time limit and gauge performance. Another measure to note would be to ensure improvement with each test taken.

UPSC CDS Question Papers

UPSC releases the official question paper of CDS 2021 at its official website. Candidates planning to prepare for the CDS exam can download the question paper of CDS along with CDS answer keys for strategy wise preparation. The question paper of CDS 2021 will be released after the CDS selection process is over. CDS question paper is released subject-wise for General Knowledge, Mathematics, and English language. With the help of the question papers, candidates will be eligible to know about the difficulty level of the question paper, question paper pattern, types of questions asked in the exam and the question trends.

UPSC CDS Books

In order to crack the CDS exam, candidates must also know the best study materials. The study materials consist of the best books of CDS. From the following table, candidates can check the best books for the CDS exam.

Best Books for CDS exam 2021 - English

Books

Authors

Objective General English

S. P. Bakshi

Word Power Made Easy

Norman Lewis

Wren & Martin’s High School English Grammar & Composition

Wren and Martin’s

Best Books for CDS Exam 2021 - General Knowledge

Books

Authors

Geography & History

NCERT (Std 6th-12th)

Pathfinder for CDS

Arihant Experts

General Knowledge (Latest Edition)

Manohar Pandey (Arihant Publication)

Manorama Yearbook

Malayala Manorama publishers

Daily newspapers

The Hindu, Indian Express, etc.

Best Books for CDS exam 2021 - Mathematics

Books

Authors

Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations

R. S. Aggarwal

Mathematics for CDS Examination

R. S. Aggarwal

Pathfinder for CDS

Arihant Experts

UPSC CDS Cut Off Marks

UPSC will release the CDS cut off in online mode for the written exam at its official website. The CDS cut off will be released after the declaration of the final result. The CDS cut off 2021 is the minimum marks that candidates need to score in order to qualify for the next stage. After the preparation of the final merit list of CDS, UPSC will release the CDS result 2021. The CDS cut off is calculated on the basis of various factors like total number of vacancies, total applications received and difficulty level of the exam.

Quick links:

CDS Full form

CDS Salary