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NDA vs CDS: Know difference between CDS and NDA here

Safalta Expert Published by: Deepesh Mehra Updated Fri, 06 May 2022 08:06 AM IST

Highlights

Clear all your queries related to NDA vs CDS here with Safalta. Get to know the similarities and differences in exam, training, and after training prospects.

NDA and CDS are the two most prominent exams for defence aspirants to join the Indian Armed Forces as officers. NDA vs CDS is the most obvious question that a defence aspirant faces. Both the exams are conducted by Union Public Service Commission(UPSC). This space intends to cover differences and similarities between two entries, for the benefit of interested candidates. NDA stands for National Defense Academy, while CDS is a short form for Combined Defence Services. Both the exams are held twice a year. The salary, roles and responsibilities, and promotion aspects for both the entries are similar but they differ in tenure of training, academies, nature of the commission, and degree awarded. The similarities and differences covered here will help to provide a better picture of the NDA vs CDS debate. If you are preparing for competitive exams and looking for expert guidance, you can download our General Knowledge Free Ebook Download Now.

NDA vs CDS 

There are many similarities and differences between the two exams and opportunities they provide. If you are a defence aspirant, you should know about all the similarities and differences between the two exams to make an informed choice. Here we have explained all the details about NDA vs CDS under different parameters.  

NDA vs CDS Eligibility

Both the entries have a two-stage process. A written exam followed by an SSB interview conducted by the respective Selection Board of the forces.

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Exam  Age Limit  Marital Status  Educational Qualification  Nationality
NDA 16 ½ -19 ½ Years Unmarried  -Class 12 th pass, from a recognized board.
Appearing Candidates are eligible to apply.
  • A citizen of India
  • A subject of Nepal or Bhutan
  • A Tibetan refugee who moved to India, before January 1, 1962, with the intention of settling here permanently
  • A PIO (Person of Indian origin) is someone who has migrated from the countries specified below, with the intention of permanently settling in India. The nationals from the following countries would fall under this category such as Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African Countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania (Formerly Tanganyika and Zanzibar ), Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia, Vietnam. 
CDS  21 to 26 years 
24 for IMA 
25 for OTA 
Unmarried  Graduation from a recognized university 
 
  • A citizen of India
  • A subject of Nepal or Bhutan
  • A Tibetan refugee who moved to India, before January 1, 1962, with the intention of settling here permanently
  • A PIO (Person of Indian origin) is someone who has migrated from the countries specified below, with the intention of permanently settling in India. The nationals from the following countries would fall under this category such as Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African Countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania (Formerly Tanganyika and Zanzibar ), Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia, Vietnam. 

Read in detail about UPSC CDS Eligibility.

Candidates must note NDA vs CDS debate is now relevant for female candidates too as with NDA Examination 2021 held in the month of November girl candidates are allowed to sit for the NDA Examination too. -Read here the landmark NDA Notification For Women.
 

NDA vs CDS Training 

Both the entries differ significantly with respect to institutions and training period. The finer details are covered below.
 
Parameter NDA CDS

Duration of training

Four to Four and half years- 
Initial three years Training is done at  National Defence Academy

Army cadets-one at IMA

Naval cadets-one Year at Naval Academy

For Air Force cadets-  One and a half years at AFA Hyderabad

18 months for IMA Cadets

37-40 months for Navy Officers

74 months for Air Force Officers

Academies

  • 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 Defense Management

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

Nature of Commission  Permanent Permanent and Short Services
 

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
GAT includes 
1- Sciences 
2- History 
3- Polity 
4-Current affairs 
5- English

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

OTA: English and General Knowledge
General Knowledge includes
1- Sciences 
2- History 
3- Polity 
4-Current affairs 
 

Exam duration

2 ½ hours for each paper.

 2 hours for each paper.

Number of questions

GAT: 150

Mathematics: 120

Maths: 100

English: 120

General Knowledge: 120

Total marks

Written Exam: 900

SSB Interview: 900

For 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


Note- There is no difference in what so over in the nature of training, hence NDA vs CDS does factor in terms of competence of cadets and quality of training. Due to the shorter-duration training of CDS cadets is relatively difficult. But the standards are the same.

Get to know  Daily Routine Of A NDA Cadet
 

NDA Vs CDS: Pay, Allowances and Promotional Avenues

Pay and allowances offered to the officers selected through the NDA and CDS are the same. There is no difference after commission. The difference is in the age of gaining a commission as NDA cadets are relatively young.

Promotional Avenues

 Rank Min.Time of  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

On Selection

Major General

On Selection

On Selection

Lieutenant General

On Selection

On Selection

General

On Selection

No restrictions

  


 

Who conducts NDA and CDS exams?

NDA and CDS are conducted by UPSC.

Is the age limit for NDA and CDS  the same?

No the age limit for both exams differ.

Do NDA officers get paid more than CDS officers?

No, there is no difference in the salary of officers from NDA and CDS.

Who can apply for NDA?

Candidates after class 12th and within the age bracket of 16 to 19 can apply for the post.

Are promotion prospects different for NDA vs CDS officers?

No, they are eligible for promotions based on the tenure of service. 

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