What is the Difference Between NDA Vs CDS – Eligibility, Selection Process, Salary & More

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NDA vs. CDS is the topic that all the army candidates have thought about. These two examinations are the most popular for the Indian Army. NDA is also known as the National Defence Academy, and CDS is known as the Combined Defence Services. The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts both NDA and CDS examinations. These exams were conducted twice a year. There are many differences and similarities between the NDA and CDS. This blog helps students learn about the differences between NDA and CDS eligibility criteria, the selection process, salary, and examination pattern.

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Thousands of students apply for both the NDA and CDS examinations. It is compact and hard to crack. Both examinations were conducted to select the candidates for the Navy, army, and air force. The major difference between the two examinations is that the NDA examination has eligibility after completing 10+2. CDS examinations can be given by only those students who have completed their graduation. It is compulsory for the candidate to have mathematics and physics as their subjects in 12th grade for the naval as well as the air force.

NDA vs CDS Eligibility Criteria

Age Limit: Candidates aged 16.5 to 19.5 are eligible for the NDA examination. For CDS examinations, the age limit is 19 years to 25 years. Those who are in their early stages can go for NDA, and students completing their graduation can give the CDS written examination.

Education qualification: Students who have completed their 10+2 are eligible for the NDA examination, and those who have completed their graduation can give the combined defence service (CDS) examination. Those candidates who complete their 10+2 and graduation with physics and mathematics are the only eligible candidates for the Navy as well as the Air Force of India.

Parameter NDA CDS
Age 16.5-19.5 19-25(vary with different department)
Education 10+2 Graduation

The Selection Process for NDA and CDS

The selection process for NDA vs. CDS has many differences, but it also has many similarities. The process to select candidates is the same, but the paper pattern is different for both examinations. Both NDA and CDS candidates must give the written examination. Those who clear the examination must go for the SSB interview. The selected candidate can only go forward for the medical and physical tests. After completing the process, the candidate is selected for the job role.

Read Also- Indian Navy Vs Merchant Navy

Examination Pattern for NDA vs CDS

The pattern for the examination is decided by the UPSC. Both examinations were conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. Aspirants should know about the examination pattern before preparing for it. Both the NDA and CDS examination patterns are given below:

NDA Examination Pattern 2023

  • The candidate must give the offline examination at a centre decided by UPSC. They have to give all the answers in MCQ-based form.
  • The number of papers for the NDA students to give the examination is two, which are GAT and mathematics.
  • The General Ability Test (GAT) paper is considered to be 600 marks, and the mathematics examination paper should be 300 marks.
  • Both GAT and mathematics paper durations are the same. It is for 2.5 hours (150 minutes).
  • Both GAT and mathematics have negative markings of 1.33 and 0.83, respectively.
  • The SSB interview was conducted after clearing the written examination. The SSB interview contains 900 marks.

CDS Examination Pattern 2023

  • CDS examinations are also conducted offline, with objective questions in the examination paper.
  • Students who want to get selected for IMA, AFA, and INA must write three papers to clear the written examination.
    • Mathematics
    • GK
    • English
  • Those candidates who are preparing for the OTA have to just give two examination papers.
    • GK
    • English
  • The time duration for the examination is 2 hours (120 minutes) for each paper.
  • English and GK have 120 questions, and only mathematics has 100 questions.
  • All the papers given by the students have 100 marks. Those who are giving three papers have a total of 300 marks, and for OTA students, the total marks are 200 marks.
  • Paper has a 1/3 negative marking scheme.

Salary for NDA vs CDS

It varies according to the ranking as well as the number of years the candidate has served. There is not a major difference in salary if the candidate has the same ranking. The NDA students have one advantage: at the age of 19, after selection, the academy starts paying their salary. But those who take the CDS examination start earning after selection at the age of 23–25. This gives advantages for NDA students to financial independence at very starting age.

Read also- What Is The Difference Between OTA And IMA?

Those who dream to be part of the Indian army and have any issues related to the NDA or CDS examination can just take help from the Cadet Points Defence Academy. The best place for all aspirants to clear the examination and get selected for the army We help more than a thousand students get into the army. Our new batch had started for NDA as well as CDS for students to get admission in them.


Is NDA higher than CDS or not?

It depends on the candidate and his or her capability to get a higher post. Both NDA and CDS students can increase their ranking.

Syllabus differences in CDS vs. NDA?

NDA students have all the questions up to 10+2. But the CDS candidate has a graduation-level examination.

Which is better, NDA or CDS?

The NDA is best for candidates who have the vision to get selected for the army from the start. Those students who get to know about their aspiration after 12th grade can go to the CDS examination to get into the army.

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