CDS Syllabus 2024: How to prepare, Recommended Books

CDS Syllabus includes the topics that must be studied by the candidates to clear the exam with good scores. Aspirants should go through the syllabus prescribed by the UPSC to crack the CDS exam with flying colors. Every year lakhs of candidates apply for CDS exam aspiring to establish themselves as an officer in different wings of Indian Defence Services- Indian Army, Indian Navy or Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and Officers Training Academy.

CDS Syllabus comprises of a total of 3 papers – General Knowledge, Elementary Mathematics & English. The Mathematics paper will be of matriculation level whereas, other two will be of Graduation Level. Candidates must prepare for the exam keeping in mind the syllabus and exam pattern to gain an advantage over their fellow competitors. The exam will be conducted in two phases- Written test and SSB Test/Interview. To qualify in the written test, aspirants should follow the CDS Syllabus 2024 stated by the exam conducting body i.e. UPSC.

CDS Syllabus 2024

Candidates seeking admission in the Officers Training Academy (OTA) need to appear for General Knowledge paper and English paper. However, for admission in Indian Military Academy/Indian Naval Academy/Air Force Academy, candidates need to appear for all the 3 papers i.e. General Knowledge, Elementary Mathematics and English. The CDS syllabus 2024 laid down for these papers is as follows-

The three papers will be of 2 hours each and there will be a total of 100 questions asked in the MCQ format in each paper.

Syllabus for General Knowledge: Candidate needs to prepare the topics such as Indian Polity, Monuments of India, Geography, Economics, Current Affairs, Sports, Books and Authors, Famous Personality in News etc.

Syllabus for Elementary Mathematics:  The topics for this section include Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, Mensuration, Trigonometry, and Statistics.

Syllabus for English: This paper will comprise on topics such as comprehension, sentence rearrangement, odd one out, finding errors and omissions, sentence correction, antonym, synonym etc.

Topics to be prepared under CDS Syllabus

Candidates can go through the CDS Syllabus mentioned below in a detailed manner. They can also note down the important topics in a separate notebook and mark them as they finish the same. The syllabus will be as per the Graduation level except for the mathematics which will be based according to the matriculation level.

For General Knowledge

CDS syllabus for general knowledge is not limited as the topics are general in nature that a candidate should know about. These topics need not be studied especially as they the questions can be asked from anywhere. Candidates can prepare current affairs from the newspapers, History of India and World, Geography, Science and Technology, Books and Authors, Sports and Personalities, Beauty Pageants, National/International Hot topics, Polity, Birth and Death of famous personalities, Social Movements in India, World Organizations,  Environment, Indian Culture, Natural Disasters, Supreme Court Landmark judgments etc.

For Elementary Mathematics

CDS Syllabus 2024 for elementary mathematics is as follows-


H.C.F., L.C.M., Theory of polynomials, solutions of quadratic equations, Basic Operations, simple factors, Remainder Theorem,  relation between its roots and coefficients (Only real roots to be considered), Simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns—analytical and graphical solutions, Practical problems leading to two simultaneous linear equations or inequations in two variables or quadratic equations in one variable & their solutions, Simultaneous linear inequations in two variables and their solutions,  Set language and set notation, rational expressions and conditional identities, Laws of indices.


Number System: Natural numbers, Integers, Rational and Real numbers, Fundamental operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, Square roots, applications to simple and compound interest, Decimal fractions, Unitary method, time and distance, variation, time and work, percentages, profit and loss, ratio and proportion, Elementary Number Theory—Division algorithm,  , Logarithms to base 10, laws of logarithms, use of logarithmic tables, Prime and composite numbers, Tests of divisibility by 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 11,  Multiples and factors, Factorization Theorem, H.C.F. and L.C.M. Euclidean algorithm.


Sine ×, cosine ×, Tangent × when 0° < × < 90° Values of sin ×, cos × and tan ×, for ×= 0°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90°, Simple trigonometric identities, Use of trigonometric tables ,Simple cases of heights and distances.


Collection and tabulation of statistical data, Graphical representation frequency polygons, histograms, bar charts, pie charts, and Measures of central tendency.


Lines and angles, Plane and plane figures, Theorems on (i) Properties of angles at a point, (ii) Parallel lines, (iii) Sides and angles of a triangle, (iv) Congruency of triangles, (v) Similar triangles, (vi) Concurrence of medians and altitudes, (vii) Properties of angles, sides and diagonals of a parallelogram, rectangle and square, (viii) Circles and its properties including tangents and normal’s, (ix) Loci.


Areas of parallelograms, triangle, squares, rectangles, and circle, Areas of figures which can be split up into these figures (Field Book), Surface area and volume of cuboids, lateral surface and volume of right circular cones and cylinders, surface area and volume of spheres.

For English

This paper is designed to test a candidate’s ability to understand English and workmanlike use of words. The questions will be asked on the Usage of grammar in a sentence, rearrangement of sentences, Comprehension reading, Nearest meaning of words, Fill in the blanks, Antonyms, Errors spotting, Cloze test, Idioms and Phrases, etc.

How to Prepare for the CDS Examination?

Given below are some useful preparation tips that can help the candidates succeed in the CDS exam

  1. Sort out the topics to be studied that you consider weak or strong.
  2. Buy the necessary reference books as per your convenience.
  3. Take the help of YouTube lessons for preparing Mathematics and English.
  4. Prepare a timetable as per your learning capacity and follow it religiously.
  5. Make a habit of reading newspapers on a regular basis.
  6. Memorize all the important mathematical formulas.
  7. Study as per the CDS syllabus 2024 stated above.
  8. Solve previous year papers in 2 hours to access your performance.

Reference Books for CDS

Candidates can note down the names of some of the noteworthy reference books for CDS preparation-

  • Previous years CDS Solved papers books by Arihant
  • CDSE Pathfinder by Arihant
  • CDS Exam Guide: Combined Defense Services Exam (English) by RP DATASON – CDS exam books
  • Mathematics for CDS by RS Aggarwal
  • Objective General English (English) by R. S. Aggarwal
  • Manorama Yearbook (English/Hindi)
  • Quantitative aptitude By R.S. Aggarwal
  • Lucent’s G.K

CDS Exam Pattern

The CDS Exam will be conducted in two different phases- Written test and SSB Test/Personal Interview. Only those candidates will be called for SSB Test who has qualified the written test. The exam pattern for the written test is as follows-

Exam Mode Pen and paper based
Medium Hindi and English
Duration 2 Hours for each paper
Type of Questions Objective (MCQs)
Maximum Marks 100
Negative Marking 0.33 marks will be deducted for each wrong answer

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