Article | Educational

8 Preparation Tips For CDS/NDA/NA Exam

By Barnali Barman
Last updated on 30th Oct 2021

The Combined Defence Services Examination (abbreviated as CDS Exam) is conducted by twice a year, CDS-I in February and CDS-II in November by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment into the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy. Both the exams are the same. Only unmarried candidates can apply for this exam.

The National Defence Academy (NDA) and Naval Academy (NA) examinations are being conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for enrolment to the Army, Navy, and Air Force wings of the audience. Defence forces, including Army, Navy, and Air Force, candidate this gateway examination for aspiring candidates.

The CDS exam is divided into two parts. These are written examinations and Interviews for intelligence and personality test. The Written exam is conducted differently for different categories. One is for IMA, INA and AFA and the other is for OTA.

The NDA and NA are also divided into two parts including written examination and interview.

To clear the exams successfully you should apply the proper strategy.

Preparation Tips

The following preparation tips will help you to give you some ideas about the preparation for the exam

1. Know the Exam

Before starting the preparation for the exam, you should know the exam very well. To know the exam, you should be familiar with the syllabus and exam pattern.

By going through the syllabus, you will get an idea about the topics asked in the exam. It will help you to differentiate between the topics.

Knowing the exam pattern is also important. As exam pattern let you know the marks distribution, question pattern etc. You may go through the previous years’ question paper to get an idea about the exam pattern.

2. Study Regularly

Regular study will help you to complete the syllabus on time. Moreover, when you study regularly, you will be able to focus on the exam properly.

Apply the OK4R study method to get fruitful results in your studies. OK4R stands for Overview, Key Ideas, Read, Recall, Reflect and Review respectively. All the terms have been described in the following:

  • Overview: In this stage, you should read the headings, introduction, table of contents and summaries to get a general idea about the various topics.
  • Key Ideas: You should get all the key ideas that are located in the first sentences of each paragraph, picture and diagram.
  • Read: Once you are done with the overview and looking for key ideas, you should read the whole topic,
  • Recall: After reading the topics, keep the book aside and try to recall the main points of what you have read.
  • Reflect: In this stage, try to find the significance of what you have learned and try to relate what you have read to things that you already know.
  • Review: You will have to refresh your memory by going through the topics again. When you will review the topics you remember the topics.

3. Revision

Although many candidates study regularly, they overlook the revision part. While studying a topic, you will forget the topic if you don’t revise it again and again.

Revision helps you to retain the information for a longer period of time. The more you revise a topic before the exam, the more you will be stress-free.

Once you complete a topic you should revise the topics within 24 hours, then revise the topic again after 7 days and then after one month. In this way, you are able to retain the information soon.


4. Prepare a Study Plan

When you prepare for an exam with a proper study plan, you will be able to maintain discipline in your study. When you study with discipline, the chance of clearing the exam increases. A study plan also helps you to focus on each subject equally.

Include all the details in the study plan of how you spend a day and how much time you allocate for a particular task. Thus you will also be able to manage your time properly.

5. Prepare Notes

There is a lot of advantage of preparing notes. When you prepare notes, you can revise the topics. Therefore, notes should always be made in an easy and comprehensible manner.

Try to write the topics making the points. Thus you can remember the topics without any difficulty.

Subject Wise Preparation

The CDS Written exam conducted for IMA, INA and AFA comprise English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics. The written exam conducted for OTA comprises English and General Knowledge.

The written exam for NDA and NA exams also comprise of two sections including Mathematics and General Ability. General Ability includes English and General Knowledge.

For each subject, you need a different strategy. You may go through the following subject-wise preparation tips to clear the exams successfully.

1. English

To have a grasp of English, you should clear the basic concept of grammar. Buy a good grammar book to clear your concept of grammar. Once your concept is clear, practice the mock test. Thus you will be able to know how much preparation is needed for the subject.

Building a strong vocabulary is also important to score high in the English section. There are many ways to build a strong vocabulary. One of such ways is to read a lot. Read the editorial pages of English newspaper. When you read a newspaper daily, your current affairs will also improve.

2. General Knowledge

General Knowledge is a vast subject that includes various topics like history, geography, science, culture, economics etc. Therefore, you should concentrate more on this subject.1

Current affairs are also important along with General Knowledge. You will have to update yourself by reading newspapers and current affairs magazines. For this section, you will have to keep yourself updated with various social issues.


3. Elementary Mathematics

First, you should clear the basic concept. It will help you to build a strong foundation. After clearing the basic concept, you should practise mock tests.

The syllabus of elementary mathematics includes Arithmetic, Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Mensuration, Statistics etc.


You can clear the exam if you have the determination and work hard. No exam is easy or difficult. It depends on the candidates how they take the exam and their strategy to prepare for the exam. The right approach and strategy can help you a lot in achieving success.

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