What is CDS (I) and (II) Exam? The “Combined Defence Services” (CDS) Examination is conducted twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for the recruitment of candidates into the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy. The UPSC will conduct the CDS exam twice a year in the month of February and September.  Candidates who aim to serve the nation by joining the defence forces can start applying for the CDS examination. In order to apply online for the CDS examination, candidates should meet all the eligibility requirements set by the Commission. The selection of the candidates will be based on the written examination followed by an interview for intelligence and personality test. The shortlisted candidates will be placed at the respective academies based on the preference and merit. Explore more details regarding the CDS (I) & (II) examination below. 

CDS Eligibility Criteria: Nationality

All the important details including the eligibility criteria are mentioned by the authorities in the CDS 2 2022 Notification. The Nationality requirements of CDS are listed below.

  1. A Citizen of India,
  2. A subject of Bhutan or Nepal
  3. A Tibetan refugee who came over to India before January 1962 intending to permanently settle in India,
  4. A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, and East African Countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, and Ethiopia or Vietnam intending to permanently settle in India. 

CDS Eligibility Criteria: Age Limit and Marital Status

According to CDS guidelines, female candidates can apply only for OTA while male candidates can apply for any post of CDS Examination, as long as they fulfill other eligibility criteria. The details about the age limit and required marital status are given below.

AcademyCDS Age Limit Marital Status
Indian Military Academy (IMA)19 – 24 YearsUnmarried
Indian Naval Academy (INA)19 – 22 YearsUnmarried
Air Force Academy19 – 23 Years<25 years unmarried or >25 years both married and unmarried.
Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Women Non-Technical Course)19 – 25 YearsUnmarried Women, issueless widows who have not remarried, and issueless divorcees (in possession of divorce documents) who have not remarried are eligible.
Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Course for Men)19 – 25 YearsUnmarried

Points to Remember

  1. Male divorcee/ widower candidates will not be treated as unmarried. So, they will not be considered eligible for CDS Exam.
  2. The date of birth that is entered in the Matriculation/Secondary School Examination Certificate or a certificate recognized by an Indian University as equivalent to Matriculation or any equivalent examination certificate will be accepted by UPSC. 
  3. No other document relating to age like horoscopes, affidavits, birth extracts from Municipal Corporation, service records, etc. will be accepted. 
  4. No change in date of birth will be allowed subsequently on any ground. 
  5. During the verification process or at any stage of the exam, if it is found that the date of birth which the candidate has entered in the application form does not match with a valid certificate, disciplinary action will be taken against them by the Commission under the rules. 
Relevant Links 
CDS ExamCDS 2 NotificationCDS Study Material
CDS Exam PatternCDS Interview CDS Result
CDS 2022 NotificationCDS RecruitmentCDS Admit Cards
Educational Criteria

CDS Eligibility Criteria: Educational Qualification 

As mentioned above, candidates appearing for the CDS 2022 exam must have completed their Graduation or at least be appearing for the final exam of the degree. It is important to remember that the CDS admit cards are issued only for candidates who fulfill all the eligibility criteria. 

AcademiesCDS Educational Qualification
Indian Military Academy (IMA) and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA)Graduation from a recognized university
Indian Naval Academy (INA)An engineering degree from a recognized university/institute
Air Force Academy (AFA)Bachelor of Engineering or Graduation (with Physics and Mathematics at Class 12)
  1. Candidates who are studying in the final year/semester degree course are required to submit the authentic certificate of passing the degree issued by the University/College at the time of the SSB interview. The certificate of the Degree should contain the date of issue and the date of issue must be before the specified date declared by UPSC. Otherwise, their candidature will be canceled.
  2. Candidates who are debarred by the Ministry of Defence from holding any type of commission in the Defence Services shall not be eligible for admission to the examination
Physical Standard

CDS Eligibility Criteria: Physical Standards for Male & Female

Candidates must be physically and mentally fit as per the guidelines of UPCS. A good number of qualified candidates get disqualified on medical grounds. Therefore candidates are strongly advised to get themselves medically tested before applying for CDS Exam. The most commonly found reasons for disqualification are listed below.

  1. Wax (ears) 
  2. Deviated Nasal Septum
  3. Hydrocele/Varicocele/Phimosis
  4. Overweight/Underweight 
  5. Piles 
  6. Gynaecomastia 

CDS Heights and Weight Standards 

  • The minimum acceptable height for male candidates is 157.5 cms. (157 cms for Navy and 162.5 cms for Air Force) and that for female candidates is 152 cms.
  • For Gorkhas and individuals belonging to hills of the North-Eastern region of India, Garhwali and Kumaon, the minimum acceptable height will be 5 cms less. In the case of candidates from Lakshadweep, the minimum acceptable height can be reduced by 2 cms.
  • Body Mass Index should be below 25.
  • The waist Hip ratio should be below 0.9 for males and 0.8 for females. 
  • Waist Circumference should be less than 90 cm for males and 80 cm for females. 
  • All biochemical metabolic parameters should be within normal limits. 

Age-wise Height and Weight- Army and Navy (Male Candidates)

The below-mentioned standards are for male candidates interested in joining Army or Navy.

Height in Centimetres (Without Shoes)Weight (Kgs)
18 years20 years22 years24 years

*45 for Navy ** 47 for Navy 

  • A ± 10% (for Navy) departure from the average weight given in the table above is to be considered within normal limits. However, in individuals with heavy bones and broadly built as well as individuals with thin built but otherwise healthy, this may be relaxed to some extent on merit.

Age-wise Heights and Weights- Air Force (Male Candidates)

The acceptable weight for Air Force candidates will be ± 10% of the average. (For FAT % (<20) of Normal Individuals). 

Height (mm) Weight (Kgs)
15- 17 years18-22 years23-27 years28-32 years33-37 years38-42 years43-47 years>48 years

CDS Height and Weight Standards- Female Candidates

The age-specific height and weight requirements for the female candidates to work in OTA are listed below.

Height in Centimetres (Without shoes)Weights (Kgs)
18 years20 years30 years
Other Standard

CDS Eligibility Criteria: Other Physical Standards

Other than heights and weight ratio, there are several physical criteria that candidates should meet to prove their physical fitness:

Visual Standards

UPSC has specified three types of visual standards for all academies: 

For IMA and OTA

  • Uncorrected vision(max allowed) – 6/60 &6/60 
  • BCVA – Rt 6/6 & Lt 6/6
  • Myopia – < -3.50 D Sph ( including max astigmatism ≤ +/- 2.0 D Cyl) 
  • Hypermetropia – <+3.50 dSph ( including max astigmatism ≤ +/- 2.0 D Cyl) 
  • Lasik/equivalent surgery – Permitted
  • Colour perception: CP II 
Vision (corrected) better eye 6/6 and worse eye 6/12Vision(corrected) better eye 6/6, worse eye 6/12
Myopia of not more than minus 3.5 DMyopia of not more than minus 5.5 D
Manifest hypermetropia should be less than plus 3.5 D including AstigmatismManifest hypermetropia should be less than plus 3.5 D including Astigmatism.

For Naval Candidates

  • Uncorrected without glasses: 6/12, 6/12 
  • Corrected with glasses: 6/6, 6/6 
  • Limits of Myopia: -1.5D
  • Limits of Hypermetropia : +1.5D 
  • Binocular Vision: III 
  • Limits of Colour Perception: I

For Air Force 

Candidates who habitually wear spectacles are not eligible for Air Force. Minimum distant vision 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other correctable to 6/6 only.

Hypermetropia Colour Vision CP-1 

  • Hypermetropia: +2.0 d Sph 
  • Manifest Myopia: Nil 
  • Retinoscopic Myopia- 0.5 in any meridian 
  • Astigmatism : +0.75 D Cyl (with + 2.0 D- Max)

Maddox Rod Test

  •  at 6 meters:

  1. Exo-6 prism D
  2. Eso-6 prism D
  3. Hyper-1 prism D
  4. Hypo-1prism D 
  •  at 33 cms:

  1. Exo-16 prism D 
  2. Eso-6 prism D 
  3. Hyper-1 prism D
  4. Hypo-1 prism D

Lasik/equivalent surgery

Candidates who have undergone any kerato-refractive procedures are required to show certificate/ operative notes from the medical center specified the date, type of surgery, and procedure. The candidates also need to fulfill following criteria to be considered fit.

Subject-wise Preparation Tips for CDS 2022 Exam
CDS General KnowledgeCDS MathematicsCDS English Language
  • More than 20 yrs of age at the time of surgery.
  • Minimum 12 months post LASIK
  • Central corneal thickness equal to or more than 450 µ 
  • The axial length by IOL Master equal to or less than 26 mm 
  • Residual refraction of less than or equal to +/- 1.0 D incl cylinder, (provided acceptable in the category applied for). 
  • A normal healthy retina. 
  • Corneal topography and ectasia markers can also be included as additional criteria. 

Hearing Standards for Air Force

Conditions related to ear and hearing standards are: 

  1. Speech test: Free Field hearing loss is a cause for rejection. Any reduction of less than 600 cm in CV/FW is not acceptable. 
  2. Audiometric Test: Audiometric loss should not be greater than 20 dB, in frequencies between 250 and 8000 Hz. On the recommendation of an ENT Specialist, an isolated unilateral hearing loss up to 30 DB may be condoned provided ENT examination is otherwise normal. 
  3. A radical/modified radical mastoidectomy entails rejection even if completely epithelialized and good hearing is preserved. Cases of cortical mastoidectomy in the past with the tympanic membrane intact, normal hearing, and presenting no evidence of disease may be accepted. 
  4. Cases of chronic otitis externa accompanied by exostoses or unduly narrow meat will be rejected. Exaggerated tortuosity of the canal, obliterating the anterior view of the tympanic membrane will be a cause for rejection.
  5. Tympanoplasty Type I is acceptable twelve weeks after surgery, provided the ear clearance test in the altitude chamber is normal. The following middle ear conditions will entail rejection:- 
  6. Attic, central or marginal perforation. 
  7. Tympanic membrane scar with marked retraction.
  8. Tympanoplasty Type II onward but not type I. 
  9. Calcareous plaques (tympanosclerosis) if occupying more than 1/3 of pars tensa. 
  10. Middle ear infection. 
  11. Granulation or polyp in the external auditory canal. 
  12. Stapedectomy operation. 
  13. Otosclerosis 
  14. Meniere’s disease
  15. Vestibular dysfunction including nystagmus of vestibular origin.
  16. Bell’s palsy following an ear infection. 

Spinal Conditions for Air Force 

Past medical history of diseases or injury of the spine or sacroiliac joints, either with or without objective signs which have prevented the candidate from successfully following a physically active life, is a cause for rejection for commissioning in IAF. History of spinal fracture/prolapsed intervertebral disc and surgical treatment for these conditions will entail rejection. The following conditions detected during the medical exam will disqualify a candidate for Air Force service. 

  1. The granulomatous disease of the spine
  2. Arthritis/Spondylosis:
    • Rheumatoid arthritis and allied disorders
    • Ankylosing spondylitis
    • Osteoarthrosis, spondylosis, and degenerative joint diseases
    • Non-articular rheumatism (e.g. lesions of the rotator cuff, tennis elbow, recurrent lumbago, etc.)
    • Miscellaneous disorders including SLE, dermatomyositis, polymyositis, vasculitis.
    •  Spondylolisthesis/ spondylolysis/ spondylosis
  3. Compression fracture of vertebrae
  4. Scheuermann’s disease (Adolescent Kyphosis)
  5. Loss of cervical lordosis when associated with clinically restricted movements of the cervical spine.
  6.  Unilateral/bilateral cervical ribs with a demonstrable neurological or circulatory deficit.

Physical Conditioning

Prospective candidates are advised to keep themselves in good physical condition by following the below-mentioned routine.

  • Running: 2 to 4 km in 15 minutes
  • Pushups & Sit-ups: Minimum 20 each
  • Chin-ups: Min. 8
  • Rope Climbing: 3 to 4 meters
  • Skipping

Dental Conditions

Conditions related to Dental standards and problems for CDS candidates are: 

  1. Incipient pathological conditions of the jaws, which are known to be progressive or recurrent. 
  2. Significant jaw discrepancies between the upper and lower jaw may hamper efficient mastication and/or speech will be a cause for rejection.
  3. Symptomatic Temporo-Mandibular Joint has clicking and tenderness is subject to rejection. 
  4. A mouth opening of less than 30 mm measured at the incisal edges, Dislocation of the TMJ on wide opening.
  5.  All potentially cancerous conditions.
  6.  Clinical diagnosis for submucous fibrosis with or without the restriction of mouth opening.
  7. Poor oral health status in the form of gross visible calculus, periodontal pockets, and/or bleeding from gums.
  8.  Loose teeth: More than two mobile teeth will render the candidate unfit.
  9. Cosmetic or post-traumatic maxillofacial surgery/trauma will be UNFIT for at least 24 weeks from the date of surgery/injury whichever is later.
  10. If malocclusion of teeth is hampering efficient mastications maintenance of oral hygiene or general nutrition or performance of duties efficiently. 

Chest Conditions

The candidates with any of the following conditions will be rejected on medical grounds even if they fulfill all the other eligibility criteria.

  • Tuberculosis, or evidence of tuberculosis, lesions of lungs, heart, musculoskeletal lesions of the chest wall 
  • Abdomen and Genitor-urinary System: Problems like Hernia, undescended testis, varicocele, organomegaly, solitary kidney, horseshoe kidney & cysts in the kidney/liver, Gall bladder stones, renal and ureteric stones, lesions/deformities of urogenital organs, piles, sinuses, and lymphadenitis/pathy 

Nervous System 

  • Tremors, and speech impediments, as well as imbalance, are not allowed.
  • Skin Problems: Vitiligo, haemangiomas, warts, corns, dermatitis, skin infections
  • Growths and hyperhidrosis are not allowed. 

Other Important Facts

The following conditions detected on X-ray examination will be disqualifying for entry to Army and Navy.

  1. The granulomatous disease of the spine.
  2. Arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis & allied disorders and ankylosing spondylitis
  3. Scoliosis more than 100 degrees as measured by Cobb’s method.
  4. More than mild Kyphosis/Lordosis.
  5. Spondylolisthesis/Spondylosis/Spondylolysis.
  6. Herniated nucleus pulposus.
  7. Compression fracture of Vertebra.
  8. Sacralisation Disease.
  9. Cervical ribs with demonstrable neurological or Circulatory deficit.
  10. Presence of Schmorl’s node at more than one level.
  11.  Atlanto-occipital and atlantoaxial anomalies.
  12. Incomplete Sacralisation Unilateral or Bilateral.
  13. Spina Bifida is other than SV 1 and LV 5.
  14. Any other abnormality, if so considered by specialist
Relevant Links for CDS Exam 
CDS Selection ProcessCDS Preparation Tips CDS Cutoff 
UPSC CDS Answer Key 2022CDS Important BooksCDS Salary
Medical standards

General Guidelines of Medical Standards

To be a ‘Medically fit’ person, candidates have to be in good physical and mental health. They also need to be free from any kind of disease or syndrome. In the following paragraphs, the detailed guidelines of Medical standards for IMA, INA, AFA, and OTA: 

  1. The candidate also should be free of any medical conditions which lead them to visit medical facilities or use any aid/drugs.
  2. There should be no proof of a weak constitution, imperfect development of any system, any congenital deformities/ diseases/syndrome, or malformation. 
  3. No swelling/s including tumors/cyst/swollen lymph node/s anywhere on the body will be allowed. 
  4. No sinus/es or fistula/es anywhere on the body will be considered as good health.
  5. No hyper or hypopigmentation or any other disease/syndrome/disability of the skin. 
  6. No hernia anywhere on the body. 
  7. No scars which can impair the functioning and cause significant disfigurement.
  8. No arterio-venous malformation anywhere in/on the body.
  9. No malformation of the head and face including asymmetry, deformity from fracture or depression of the bones of the skull; or scars indicating old operative interference and malformation like sinuses and fistulae, etc. 
  10. No impairment of vision including color perception and field of vision. 
  11. No hearing impairment, deformities/disabilities in-ears vestibule-cochlear system
  12. No impediment of speech due to any etiology. 
  13. No disease/disability/ congenital anomaly/syndrome of the bones or cartilages of the nose, or palate, nasal polyps, or disease of the nasopharynx, uvula, and accessory sinuses. There should be no nasal deformity and no features of chronic tonsillitis. 
  14.  No disease /syndrome/disability of the throat, palate tonsils or gums, or any disease or injury affecting the normal function of either mandibular joint. 
  15. No disease /syndrome/disability of the heart and blood vessels including congenital, genetic, organic incl hypertension, and conduction disorders. 
  16. No evidence of pulmonary tuberculosis or previous history of this disease or any other disease /syndrome/disability chronic disease of the lungs and chest including allergies /immunological conditions, connective tissue disorders, musculoskeletal deformities of chest.
  17. No disease of the digestive system including any abnormality of the liver, pancreas including endocrine, congenital, hereditary, or genetic diseases /syndromes and disabilities. 
  18. No diseases/syndrome/disability of any endocrine system, reticuloendothelial system. 
  19. No diseases/syndrome/disability of genito-urinary system including malformations, atrophy/hypertrophy of any organ or gland. 
  20. No active, latent or congenital venereal disease. 
  21. No history or evidence of mental disease, epilepsy, incontinence of urine, or enuresis. 
  22. No disease/deformity/syndrome of the musculoskeletal system and joints incl skull, spine, and limbs. 
  23. There is no congenital or hereditary disease/ syndrome/disability. 

The following ocular diseases will make a candidate unfit :

  • Ptosis.
  • Corneal Opacity.
  • Pterygium.
  • Lenticular opacity.
  • Uveitis.
  • Nystagmus.
  • Entropion/Ectropion.
  • Squint.
  • Night blindness.
  • Retinal lesions.
  • Naso-Lacrimal occlusion.