NDA Vs CDS: Know difference between CDS and NDA here

NDA Vs CDS: Know difference between CDS and NDA here

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Anangsha
Anangsha Patra
Deputy Manager – Editorial
Updated on Apr 24, 2024 10:49 IST

NDA and CDS are the most sought-after defence entrance exams in the country. However, there are differences in the exam pattern, eligibility, salary, ranks, etc. Read this article to know the difference between NDA and CDS exams including eligibility, training, salary, exam pattern, etc.

NDA vs CDS

NDA vs CDS

NDA vs CDS: Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts NDA and CDS exams for candidates who wish to join the Indian Armed Forces as Officers. NDA vs CDS is the common question asked by the defence aspirant. NDA full form is National Defence Academy and CDS stands for Combined Defence Services (CDS) exam. Both the exams are conducted twice. The salary, roles, responsibilities, promotion aspects for both the entries are similiar but there is difference in tenure of training, academies, nature of the commission and degree awarded. In this article we have explained, the difference between NDA and CDS.

NDA Vs CDS: Understand the difference

National Defence Academy (NDA) is the joint services academy of the Indian Armed Forces. Here, the cadets of the three services, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force train together before they go on to the respective service academies for further pre-commissioning training.

Q:   What is the difference between NDA 1 and 2 exams?

A:

There is no difference between UPSC NDA 1 and 2 exams. NDA 1 exam is conducted for admission to the January batch. Whereas, NDA 2 exam is conducted for admission to July batch.

National Defence Academy or NDA exam is conducted twice a year by Union Public Service Commission for admission to  Army, Navy and Air Force wings of NDA and Indian Naval Academy Course (INAC). It is the most sought-after defence entrance exams in the country where both male and female candidates can apply.

The exam is conducted in two stages: written exam and SSB Interview. In 2020, a total of 5.3 Lacs candidates had applied for the exam, out of which 2.4 Lacs candidates appeared for the exam. UPSC prepares a list of candidates who obtain minimum qualifying marks in the written exam. Such candidates are called for SSB Interview for Intelligence and Personality Test.

Also Read: Know the difference between NDA & NA I and II Exams

Q:   What is the difference between NDA and CDS exams?

A:
Though both are defence exams, there are many similarities and differences in the recruitment process, exam pattern, training, salary, perks, promotion, eligibility, etc. NDA is conducted for candidates who wish to join the defence services after Class 12. CDS is the exam conducted for the graduate candidates for training at Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Air Force Academy (AFA), Officers Training Academy (OTA) and Indian Naval Academy (INA). NDA exam is conducted for Class 12 pass candidates. Whereas, CDS exam is conducted for graduate-level candidates. NDA exam carries two subjects-GAT and Maths. CDS exam carries three papers-Maths, English and GK. English and GK section is conducted for OTA, IMA, INA and AFA. Maths paper is conducted for IMA, INA and AFA. The total marks allotted to the written exam of NDA is 900 whereas it is 300 for CDS.

Combined Defence Services (CDS) is the examination for recruitment into Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy, and Indian Air Force Academy.

Which is easier NDA or CDS?

CDS written exam is easier then NDA written exam. But in case of SSB the recommendation of candidates is tougher in CDS as compared to NDA. The syllabus for both the exams are shared below: 

NDA Syllabus 

NDA syllabus comprises topics and sub-topics from Maths and GAT. 

Mathematics: Algebra, Calculus, Matrices and DeterminantsIntegral Calculus and Differential Equations, Trigonometry, Vector Algebra, Analytical Geometry Of Two and Three Dimension and Statistics and  Probability

GAT: The GAT syllabus of NDA is divided into two parts. Part A comprises questions from English, while Part B carries questions from General Knowledge. Questions in English part are asked from Grammar and Usage, Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Cohesion. Questions in General Knowledge are asked from Physics, Chemistry, Social Studies, General Science, Geography, and Current Events.

CDS Syllabus 

CDS syllabus comprises topics from English, Elementary Maths, and GK. The syllabus is shared below:

English Syllabus

Antonyms

Sentence improvement

Comprehension

Synonyms

Word substitution

Ordering of sentences

Spotting Errors

Selecting Words

Ordering of words in a sentence

General Knowledge

Economics

Physics

Current Awareness 

Politics

Chemistry

Sociology

History 

Defence

Award

Geography

Environment

Sport

Biology

Cultural

Book

Statement true/false

 --

-- 

Mathematics

Questions in Elementary Mathematics are asked from Arithmetic, Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Mensuration, and Statistics

NDA Vs CDS: Important Highlights

Some of the important highlights related to NDA vs CDS exams are given below.

Parameter NDA CDS

Age

16.5-19.5 Years

19-25 Years

Eligibility

Men and Women

Men are allowed to apply for IMA, INA, AFA and OTA

Women are allowed to apply for OTA only

Educational Qualification

Class 12

Graduation

Scheme of Examination

Written and SSB

Written and SSB

Frequency of the Exam

Twice a year

Twice a year

Duration of Training

Three years at NDA and one year in the respective service academies for INA and IMA. Air Force cadets undergo training at NDA for three and 1 & ½ years at AFA

18 months for IMA Cadets

37-40 months for Navy Officers

74 months for Air Force Officers

Training Centres

National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune

Indian Military Academy, Dehradun

Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala

Indian Air ForceAcademy, Hyderabad

Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun for Army Cadets

Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala for Navy Cadets

Indian Air ForceAcademy, Hyderabad for Air Force Officers

Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai

Degrees awarded

Army Cadets: BSc/BSc (Computer)/BA /BTech degree

Naval Cadets: BTech degree

Air Force Cadets: BTech degree

Army Cadets in IMA: PG Diploma in ‘Military and Defense Management

OTA Chennai: Post Graduate Diploma in Defence Management and Strategic Studies

Rank assigned after training

Lieutenant

Lieutenant

Stipend during training

INR 56,100

INR 56,100

NDA Vs CDS: What is the Eligibility Criteria?

NDA is conducted for candidates who have passed or are appearing in Class 12. Whereas, CDS exam is conducted for candidates who have passed or are appearing in Graduation. Women candidates can now appear for both CDS and NDA exams. The table below highlights the difference in the eligibility criteria of NDA and CDS exams.

Parameter NDA CDS

Age

For NDA 2, male/female candidates must have born not earlier than January 2, 2002, and not later than January 1, 2005

For NDA 1, male/female candidates should be born not earlier than July 2, 2003, and not later than July 1, 2006

19 to 25 Years

Gender

Men and Women

Men and Women

Educational Qualification

For Army wing of NDA, male/female candidates must have passed Class 12 or equivalent examination from a recognized board

For Air Force and Naval wings of NDA and 10 2 Cadet entry scheme at INA, male/female candidates must have passed Class 12 or equivalent examination with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics

Graduation

Also Read:

NDA Vs CDS: Training, Degrees Awarded, Ranks and Stipend

The selection process of both NDA and CDS is the same: written exam followed by SSB Interview. On commissioning, candidates are granted the rank of Lieutenant. During training, candidates are paid INR 21,000 per month. Check below the training procedure, degrees offered, and training centres of NDA and CDS exams.

Parameter NDA CDS

Duration of training

Four to Four and half years

Three years at NDA and one year at IMA (For Army cadets)

Three years at NDA and one year at Naval Academy (For Naval cadets)

Three years at NDA and one and half years at AFA Hyderabad (For AF cadets)

18 months for IMA Cadets

37-40 months for Navy Officers

74 months for Air Force Officers

Training  centres

  • National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune
  • Indian Military Academy, Dehradun
  • Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala
  • Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad
  • Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun for Army Cadets
  • Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala for Navy Cadets
  • Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad for Air Force Officers
  • Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai

Degrees awarded

  • Army Cadets: BSc/BSc (Computer)/BA /BTech degree
  • Naval Cadets: BTech degree
  • Air Force Cadets: BTech degree

Army Cadets in IMA: PG Diploma in Military and Defence Management

OTA Chennai: Post-Graduate Diploma in Defence Management and Strategic Studies

Also Read:

NDA Vs CDS: Exam Pattern

The differences in the exam pattern of NDA and CDS are given in the table below.

Parameters NDA CDS

Number of papers

Two

IMA, AFA and INA: Three

OTA: Two

Name of the subjects

General Ability Test (GAT) and Mathematics

IMA, AFA and INA: English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics

OTA: English and General Knowledge

Exam duration

Each paper is for 2 ½

Each paper is held for two hours

Number of questions

GAT: 150

Mathematics: 120

Maths: 100

English: 120

General Knowledge: 120

Total marks

Written Exam: 900

SSB Interview: 900

IMA, INA, and AFA: 300

OTA: 200

The SSB Interview for IMA, INA, AFA is for 300 marks each while for OTA, it is 200

Negative marks

GAT: 1.33

Maths: 0.83

0.33

Nature of syllabus

The standard of NDA syllabus is of Classes 10, 11 and 12 levels

The standard of the topics in CDS syllabus for Elementary Mathematics will be of Class 10 level. The standard of papers for other subjects will be of Graduation level

Also Read:

NDA Exam Pattern

CDS Exam Pattern

NDA Vs CDS: Salary and Promotional Avenues

Pay and allowances offered to the officers selected through the NDA and CDS exams differ significantly. The difference in the pay, allowances and promotional avenues is given below.

 Rank

 Promotional Avenues (Min. Commissioned Service for Promotion)

         NDA Officer

CDS Officer

Lieutenant

On Commission

On Commission

Captain

02 Years

02 Years

Major

06 years

06 years

Lieutenant Colonel

13 years

13 years

Colonel(Selection)

15 years

15 years

Colonel (Time Scale)

26 years

26 years

Brigadier

On Selection

23 years

Major General

On Selection

25 years

Lieutenant General

On Selection

28 years

General

On Selection

No restrictions

NDA Salary Vs CDS Salary

The salary structures of NDA and CDS are given below:

NDA

The rank-wise salary of army officers and equivalent ranks in Air Force and Navy is given below:

Ranks NDA salary (In INR)

Lt to Maj

Lt: Level 10 (56,100-1,77,500)

Capt: Level 10 B (61,300-1,93,900)

Maj: Level 11 (69,400-2,07,200)

Lt Col to Maj Gen

Lt Col: Level 12A (1,21,200-2,12,400)

Col: Level 13 (1,30,600-2,15,900)

Brig: Level 13A (1,39,600-2,17,600)

Maj Gen - Level 14 (1,44,200-2,18,200)

Lt Gen to HAG Scale

Level 15 (1, 82, 200-2,24,100)

HAG Scale

Level 16 (2,05,400-2,24,400)

VCOAS/ArmyCdr/Lt Gen (NFSG)

Level 17 (2,25,000) (fixed)

COAS

Level 18 (2,50,000) (fixed)

Also Read: NDA Salary

CDS Salary

The payscale of Army Officers and equivalent ranks in Air Force and Navy  is given below.

Rank Level Salary (In INR)

Lieutenant

Level 10

56,100 -1,77,500

Captain

Level 10 B

61,300- 1,93,900

Major

Level 11

69,400 – 2,07,200

Lieutenant Colonel

Level 12A

1,21,200 – 2,12,400

Colonel

Level 13

1,30,600-2, 15,900

Brigadier

Level 13A

1,39,600-2,17,600

Major General

Level 14

1,44,200-2,18,200

Lieutenant General HAG Scale

Level 15

1, 82, 200-2,24,100

HAG Scale

Level 16

2,05,400 – 2,24,400

VCOAS/Army Cdr/ Lieutenant General (NFSG)

Level 17

2,25,000 (fixed)

COAS

Level 18

2,50,000 (fixed)

CDS: For IMA and Officers’ Training Academy, candidates must be a graduate. For the Indian Naval Academy, candidates must have a degree in Engineering from a recognised university. For Air Force Academy, a degree or Bachelor of Engineering is necessary. Students must have studied Physics and Mathematics in Class 12.

NDA: For admission to Army Wing of National Defence Academy, candidates must have passed Class 12/HSC or equivalent from a recognised board or university. For admission to Air Force, Navy and Naval Academy of National Defence Academy, candidates must have passed Class 12/HSC with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

NDA vs CDS: FAQs

Q: What are NDA and CDS exams?

A: NDA exam is conducted for admission to the Army, Navy, and Air Force wings of National Defence Academy and Indian Naval Academy Course. Whereas CDS is conducted for admission to Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Air Force Academy (AFA) and Officers' Training Academy (OTA). 

Q: What is the difference in the educational qualification of CDS and NDA exams?

A: The educational qualification prescribed for CDS and NDA exams is given below: CDS
  • For IMA and Officers’ Training Academy, the required educational qualification is Graduation in any discipline from a recognised university
  • For Indian Naval Academy, candidates must have a degree in Engineering from a recognised university
  • For Air Force Academy, candidates must have a degree in Engineering from a recognised university. They must have studied Physics and Mathematics in Class 12
NDA
Academy Educational Qualification
Army Wing of National Defence Academy Passed Class 12/HSC or equivalent from a recognised board or university
Air Force, Navy, and Naval Academy of National Defence Academy Passed Class 12/HSC with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics

Q: What is the difference in age limit of CDS and NDA exams?

A: For applying to the NDA exam, the age of candidates should be between 16 and 19  years. The age limit prescribed for the CDS exam is between 19 and 25 years.

Q: Can women candidates apply for CDS and NDA exams?

A: Yes, women candidates can now apply for both NDA and CDS exams. In CDS, women candidates are recruited for Officers' Training Academy.

Q: What is process of training in NDA and CDS exams?

A: The training of candidates selected through NDA exam lasts up to 36 months while that of CDS lasts up to 12 to 18 months. In NDA, the training session comprises four years for Navy and Army and 4.5 years for Air Force cadets. In CDS, on the other hand, the training is scheduled for 1.5 years for Army cadets, 37 to 40 months for Navy cadets and 74 months for Air Force cadets.

Q: What is the rank allotted to candidates after completion of their training?

A: After successful completion of training, candidates selected through NDA and CDS exams are given the rank of Lieutenant.

Q: What is the difference in Military Service Pay (MSP) of NDA and CDS Officers?

A: The Officers ranging from Lieutenant rank up to Brigadier get Military Service Pay (MSP) of INR 15,500 per month.

Q: What is the difference in exam pattern of CDS and NDA exams?

A: NDA exam comprises two papers- Mathematics and General Ability Test. The total marks allotted to the written exam and SSB Interview are 900 each. CDS exam comprises three papers-Elementary Mathematics, General Awareness and English. Candidates applying for IMA, INA and AFA are required to appear for all three papers while those applying for OTA are required to appear for two papers-English and General Knowledge. Total marks of the test for IMA, INA, and AFA are 300, while it is 200 for OTA. The SSB Interview for IMA, INA, AFA is for 300 marks each while for OTA it is 200.

Q: Which are training centres in NDA and CDS exams?

A: All candidates selected through NDA exam first undergo training at National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, after that the cadets are trained at IMA Dehradun, INA, Ezhimala and AFA, Hyderabad. Candidates selected through CDS exam directly undergo training at the respective defence academies they have applied for, such as IMA Dehradun, INA, Ezhimala, AFA, Hyderabad and OTA, Chennai.
About the Author
author-image
Anangsha Patra
Deputy Manager – Editorial

A mass communication and journalism post-graduate, Anangsha has worked as a reporter and sub-editor and enjoys working in the education domain.

Comments

(9)

M

Mukesh Kumar

a year ago

Is PCM mandatory for CDS and NDA exams? Commerce without Mathematics at 12 th level student can appear in NDA or CDS?

Reply to Mukesh Kumar

P

Prateek

a year ago

NO, as a commerce student without maths you are eligible for NDA and CDS exam. only you not eligible when appearing for Navy or Air Force through NDA .

O

Omkar Bansode

2 years ago

Can I maths subject cut in 11th std then I apply form in NDA plz replay me anyone

Reply to Omkar Bansode

S

Sumit raj

2 years ago

What is the duration of training of Air force officer through C.D.S

Reply to Sumit raj

S

Simran

a month ago

It's 74 weeks. Sir

A

Anshul Rajput

2 years ago

72 monts I think you don't read full article.

A

Abhinav Singh

2 years ago

Plz nda qualification change kriye

Reply to Abhinav Singh

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