The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Combined Defence Services Examination, popularly known as the CDS exam to recruit candidates for the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Air Force Academy (IAF), Indian Naval Academy (INA), and Officers Training Academy (OTA).

Candidates who are prepared for the UPSC CDS Written Exam should make a well-thought-out study plan. Start by examining the syllabus, pattern, and cut-offs, learning important topics, and give regular tests and quizzes to determine their strong and weak areas.

To develop a composure for the actual exam and to improve your accuracy and speed practice as many previous years’ papers, mock tests, practice sets, and quizzes with a timer if possible.

Most importantly, you must set an appropriate subject-wise study plan for effective preparation.

On that note, let’s discuss a few section-wise tips that will help ace subjects timely and to make maximum utilization of the time before the exam.


The Mathematics section of the CDS exam is a little challenging. This is due to the fact that you not only have to cover a vast syllabus but also have to get a firm grasp of the fundamental concepts and practice hard to develop a high level of problem-solving ability.

Preparation tips for Mathematics

  • Begin your CDS preparation by making a list of easy and challenging topics with their weightage in the exam. Sets, Indices, simultaneous equations, Logarithm, Trigonometry, Number systems, and are a few easy topics that carry high weightage in the UPSC CDS exam.
  • Important, complex, and time-consuming topics such as trigonometry, quadratic equations, Statistics, and geometry should not be left for the last minute.
  • Make a short note of useful formulas and short tricks and go over them every day.
  • Understand the theory behind each concept before solving examples questions to get a sense of how to apply the concepts to solve questions.
  • Don’t try to memorize the steps of any type of question. Practice enough questions of each type and try to understand the underlying concepts to solve them instead.
  • You can refer to books like Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by R.S. Aggarwal and NCERT books of class 6th to 10th as they are easy to digest and have comprehensive coverage.
  • Concentrate more on topics with higher weightage, topics you are weak in, and any questions that you find particularly challenging. Practice them on a regular basis.


This section assesses your ability to use grammatical rules, vocabulary and comprehensive reading skills.

Preparation Tips for the English

  • Develop a sound knowledge of basic English grammar rules by referring to good books like Wren & Martin and English is Easy by Chetananand Singh.
  •  Just reading grammatical rules won’t help, you must practice exercise and questions to understand their correct usage.
  • Develop reading habits and jot down any words you don’t understand so you can look them up.
  • Use the new words you’ve learned on a daily basis through writing or speaking. It will aid you in retaining these words.
  • Read good English books, newspapers and magazines regularly to improve your vocabulary and reading skills.
  • Read the passage carefully and attentively while attempting comprehension.
  • When solving cloze tests, read the entire passage carefully and proceed backward using the options available.

General Knowledge

This has been the section that has been avoided and taken for granted the most.  This section, in reality, has a significant impact on your overall success in the exam.   This section essentially tests your awareness of current events and happenings around you. Make sure you’re up to date on the last six months’ current affairs, and you’ll be in good shape.

Preparation Tips for GK

  • Firstly, devote 2 hours every day to GK and current affairs.
  • Go through the NCERT textbooks in History, Civics, and Geography for thorough preparation.
  • Regularly read newspapers and magazines to be informed about current events on a national and international level.
  • Make short notes and highlight important points for revision later.
  • Keep up to date on current military exercises, major dates, sports, awards, books, and other topics.
  • Take GK quizzes regularly to get a hang of the questions asked in the exam.


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