FAQ for Defence Services

NDA – National Defence Academy

What is NDA Examination?

NDA is the short form of National Defense Academy which is a joint services academy of the Indian Armed Forces. It is the place where trainees of Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy get training together before they appear to pre-commissioning training in their relevant service academies. National Defense Academy is the first tri-service school in the world.

NDA candidates are selected by conducting a written exam, SSB and personal interview. This is held twice a year in the months of April and August.

Where is NDA located?

The NDA is located at Khadakwasla near Pune, Maharashtra.


What is NDA exam and who is in charge of conducting it?

For joining National Defence Academy, an aspirant has to appear in the entrance exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) which is known as NDA exam. It is conducted twice a year. The UPSC is exclusively in charge of issuing guidelines for selection and the final conduct of the entrance examination. The NDA exam consists of 3 levels, the written examination, SSB and personal interview.

How many wings come under NDA?

There are 3 wings which come under NDA namely Indian Air Force, Indian Army and Indian Navy. All the trainees from three wings are trained in the Academy for three years and graduating. They get their degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University. In addition, they get trained in outdoor skills.

Who is eligible for NDA exam?

It is only unmarried male candidates who have finished their class 12 or those who shall appear for their class 12 exams are eligible for this exam. They need to be between 16.5 years and 19 years.

What is Exam Pattern

How many times can a student apply for NDA?

The required age limit for the NDA Examination is 16.5 to 19 years. So, they can appear as many times as they want as there is no restriction on the number of attempts that are made.

What is the fee of NDA Examination?

The application fee for the NDA exam is Rs 100. They can deposit the money in any Branch of SBI by cash, or by using net banking facility of State Bank of India/ State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur/ Sate Bank of Hyderabad/State Bank of Mysore/State Bank of Patiala /State Bank of Travancore or by using Visa/Master Credit / Debit Card. There is a fees exemption for SC/ST/PH Applicants/ Sons of JCOs/NCOs/ORs

How many seats are available in the exam?

Normally, it varies from year to year. In 2016, there were 375 seats in NDA, out of which, 208 seats were for Army, 42 for Navy, 70 for Air Force, 55 for Naval Academy.

What is the selection criteria of the NDA examination?

After they have finished 3 years of preparation in NDA, Khadakwasla the candidates shall spend:

  • 1 year at IMA (for the Army cadets)
  • 1 year at Air Force Academy (for the Air Force cadets)
  • 1 year at Naval Academy (for the Navy cadets)

What are the minimum marks required in class 12 to be eligible to apply for the NDA exam?

They need to get at least the pass mark for class 12.

Preparation Tips

Take Coaching, Prepare for the NDA Exam under the guidance of A A Shah’s Young IAS Mumbai.

CDS – Combined Defence Services

What is CDS exam?

Combined Defence Services commonly known as CDS is conducted twice a year by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for graduate candidates who wish to pursue their career as commissioned officers in Army, Navy and Air Force.

What is the syllabus of CDS (II) Exam 2018?

The standard of the papers in Elementary Mathematics will be of Matriculation level. The standard of papers in other subjects will approximately be such as may be expected of a graduate of an Indian University. To be updated in General Knowledge and General Awareness it is suggested that you read newspapers daily. This will not only help to improve your English but also keep you updated on General Knowledge.

What is the the eligibility for CDS?

i) For Indian Military Academy/Officers’ Training Academy: Degree from a recognized university or equivalent

ii) For Indian Naval Academy: Degree in Engineering from a recognisedUniversity/Institution

iii) For Air Force Academy: Degree of a recognized University with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level or Bachelor of Engineering

Graduates with first choice as Army/Navy/Air Force are to submit proof of graduation provisional certificate on the date of commencement of the SSB interview at the SSB

For CDS exam, applicants can be from any stream but for entry to Air Force and Navy, candidates should have studied physics and maths up to Class 12

Candidates who are studying in the final year degree course and have yet to pass the final year degree examination can also apply but they will be required to subject proof of passing the degree examination to reach the Army Head Quarter/Rtd CDSE Entry, West Bloc III, R.K. Puram, New Delhi-110066

Candidates appearing at the degree or equivalent examination are also eligible to compete. Such candidates will be required to submit the proof of passing the requisite qualifying examination by a date to be specified in the Commission’s Notice for the Examination.

In the event of Air Force candidates being suspended from Flying Training for failure to learn flying, they would be absorbed in the Navigation Branch of the IAF. This will be subject to availability of vacancies and fulfilling the laid down qualitative requirements (including 60% in graduation)

What is the Procedure for applying CDS Exam online?

Candidates are required to apply online only using the link www.upsconline.nic.in

The applicants are advised to submit only single application, however if due to any unavoidable situation, if he/she submits another/multiple applications, then he/she must ensure that application with the higher RID (Registration ID) is complete in all respects like applicants’ details, examination centre, photograph, signature, fee etc

The applicants who are submitting multiple applications should note that only the applications with higher RID (Registration ID) shall be entertained by the commission and fee paid against one RID shall not be adjusted against any other RID.

Candidates are not required to submit alongwith their applications any certificate in support of their claims regarding age, educational qualifications, SC/ST/OBC and fee remission etc.

The eligible candidates shall be issued an e-Admission Certificate three weeks before the commencement of the examination

The e-Admission Certificate will be made available in the UPSC website www.upsc.gov.in for downloading by candidates. No admission certificate will be sent by post.

What is the difference between CDS and NDA Exam?

Where the NDA examinations recruit for the Army, Naval and Air Force whereas the CDS examinations are conducted for recruitment for IMA, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and OTA.

What is the selection procedure after CDS?

The candidates will be provided admission to INA, IMA, Air Force Academy, and Officers’ Training Academy through Written Examination, Personality Test and Interview

The candidates will be placed in the order of merit on the basis of the total marks secured by them in the written examination and in the SSB tests. The final selection will be made in order of merit subject to medical fitness and suitability in all other respects and number of vacancies available.

What is the age limitation for appearing for CDS (II) 2018?

(i) For IMA – Unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 02nd July 1995 and not later than 01st July 2000 only are eligible

(ii) For Indian Naval Academy – Unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 02nd July 1995 and not later than 01st July 2000 only are eligible

(iii) For Air Force Academy – 20 to 24 years as on 01st July 2019 i.e. born not earlier than 02nd July 1995 and not later than 01st July 1999 (Upper age limit for candidates holding valid and current Commercial Pilot Licence issued by DGCA (India) is relaxable upto 26 years i.e. born not earlier than 02nd July 1993 and not later than 01st July 1999) only are eligible

(iv) For Officers’ Training Academy (SSC Course for men) Male candidates (married or unmarried) born not earlier than 02nd July 1994 and not later than 01st July 2000 only are eligible

(v) For Officers’ Training Academy -(SSC Women Non-Technical Course) Unmarried women, issueless widows who have not remarried and issueless divorcees (in possession of divorce documents) who have not remarried are eligible; they should have been born not earlier than 02nd July 1994 and not later than 01st July 2000

AFCAT – Air Force Common Admission Test.

What is AFCAT?

AFCAT stands for Air Force Common Admission Test. This test is conducted by the Indian Air Force for selection of officers in all branches of the IAF (except medical and dental) viz. Flying Branch (Short Service Commission only), Technical Branch (Permanent Commission and Short Service Commission) and Ground Duty Branch (Permanent Commission and Short Service Commission). AFCAT is conducted twice a year (in the month of February and August). The advertisement for the same is published in the months of December and June respectively.

Is AFCAT the same as the UPSC exam for NDA / CDSE entry?

No. AFCAT and UPSC exams are different. UPSC conducts exam for entry into NDA (after Class XII, for males only). Entry through CDSE (after graduation, for males only in IAF) is also conducted by UPSC. The UPSC exam for NDA / CDSE is primarily for Flying Branch (Permanent Commission). For further details you may refer to the UPSC website.

What are the eligibility criteria for AFCAT?

The eligibility criteria with respect to age limit, educational qualifications etc. for AFCAT are spelt out in the advertisement published in the Employment News as well as the same is displayed on the website www.careerairforce.nic.in . Minimum qualification required is graduation.

Are women candidates eligible to apply for AFCAT?

Yes, women candidates may also apply for AFCAT. For details regarding age limit, qualifications, eligibility for various branches etc. please refer the advertisement published in the Employment News as well as the same displayed on the website www.careerairforce.nic.in. Minimum qualification required is graduation.

How do I apply for the AFCAT?

AFCAT applications now have to be made online only. The earlier scheme allowing candidates to apply offline (by post) has been discontinued. Candidates are to apply online through website www.careerairforce.nic.in using a valid and current email address only.

Whether qualifying in AFCAT will make me an officer in the IAF?

AFCAT is only one of the steps involved in the entire selection process for getting selected as an officer in the IAF. On clearing the AFCAT, shortlisted candidates will be called for SSB (Services Selection Board) Testing. If recommended by the SSB, candidates will undergo medical fitness tests conducted by Air Force medical authorities. Subsequently, subject to medical fitness, a merit list will be prepared depending on the number of vacancies available in various branches of the IAF.

I wear spectacles. Am I eligible for flying branch?

Medical criteria are well laid down. Medical fitness is ascertained only after qualifying the written part of AFCAT and after being recommended by the SSB. Primafacie, candidates wearing spectacles having short / long-sightedness may not be eligible for flying branch. However, medical fitness is determined by the medical authorities. Please read the advertisement where basic details regarding medical standards have been mentioned.

I am married. Am I eligible to apply?

Candidates below 25 years of age must be unmarried. The term unmarried excludes widower and divorcee even though without encumbrances. Marriage is not permitted during training. Married candidates above 25 years of age are eligible to apply but during training period they will neither be provided married accommodation nor can they live out with family.

I have given flying branch as my first choice, technical as second. Can I change my choice now after submitting the form?

Choices once given are treated as final.