Updated December 17th, 2023 at 14:31 IST

Different Paths, Same Destination: Decoding UPSC NDA and CDS Exams for Indian Armed Forces

UPSC NDA, CDS notification 2024 will be out on December 20. Do you know the difference between these to exam conducted for recruitment to Indian Armed Forces?

Reported by: Nandini Verma
Representative | Image:PTI/ File

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is set to unveil the NDA, NA, and CDS exam notification on December 20, marking the beginning of the registration window. Interested candidates can register until January 9 for the NDA, CDS (1) exams scheduled on April 21. Following registration, applicants can withdraw their entries if they opt not to take the exam.

The NDA, NA exam provides entry to the Army, Navy, Air Force wings of the NDA, and the Indian Naval Academy Course (INAC). On the other hand, the CDS exam offers opportunities for entry into various esteemed institutions including the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Officers’ Training Academy in Chennai.


Candidates can anticipate the release of their admit cards approximately three weeks before the examination date.

Difference between UPSC NDA and UPSC CDS exams

The UPSC NDA (National Defence Academy) and CDS (Combined Defence Services) exams are both conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruiting candidates into various branches of the Indian Armed Forces. However, there are key differences between the two exams:

1. Target Audience:
  - NDA Exam: The NDA exam targets candidates who have completed their 10+2 education and are looking to join the National Defence Academy, which trains cadets for the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
  - CDS Exam: The CDS exam targets graduates who aspire to join the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA), and Officers' Training Academy (OTA).


2. Educational Qualification:
  - NDA Exam: Requires candidates to have completed Class 12 (or equivalent) from a recognized board.
  - CDS Exam: Requires candidates to have a bachelor's degree from a recognized university or institution. INA requires a bachelor's degree in Engineering.

3. Age Limit:
  - NDA Exam: Candidates must be between 16.5 to 19.5 years of age.
  - CDS Exam: The age limit varies for different academies:
    - For IMA and INA, candidates must be between 19 to 24 years.
    - For AFA, candidates must be between 20 to 24 years.
    - For OTA, candidates must be between 19 to 25 years.


4. Course Duration:
  - NDA Exam: The training course at NDA is for three years.
  - CDS Exam: The duration of the courses varies: IMA and OTA courses are for 1.5 years, INA is for 4 years, and AFA courses are for 1.5 years.

5. Course Content:
  - NDA Exam: Trains candidates in a wide range of subjects including science, mathematics, social studies, and languages.
  - CDS Exam: The course content focuses on the specialized training required for specific branches of the armed forces chosen by the candidates.


6. Frequency of Exam:
  - NDA Exam: Conducted twice a year (NDA I and NDA II).
  - CDS Exam: Conducted twice a year (CDS I and CDS II).

Both exams involve a written examination followed by an interview conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB) for successful candidates in the written test.


Published December 17th, 2023 at 14:30 IST