CDS Exam Pattern 2023: Marking Scheme, Negative Marking, Total Marks

CDS Exam Pattern 2023: Marking Scheme, Negative Marking, Total Marks

ByNaveen Singh  |  Updated on: Oct 11, 2022
CDS Exam Pattern 2023 has been released along with the official notification for the upcoming exam which is scheduled for 16 April 2023. Get the details about UPSC CDS Exam Pattern for INA, IMA, AFA, OTA, marking scheme, and total marks here.
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CDS exam pattern 2023 will help aspiring candidates understand the structure of the examination. The Combined Defence Services bestows a remarkable opportunity for the candidates who look forward to a career in the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force. As this exam presents stiff competition, the aspirants must perform extraordinarily well to accomplish their dreams. The apt knowledge of the UPSC CDS exam pattern will assist the applicants in carving a strategy that helps them ace the exam.

The CDS paper pattern 2023 of IMA, INA, and AFA are quite similar, but the CDS OTA exam pattern is slightly different. There are two stages of the exam, the written test and the SSB interview round. This is an offline exam that is conducted in pen and paper format. Get to know the CDS total marks, marking scheme, negative marking, and the paper pattern for OTA, INA, IMA, and AFA below.

CDS Exam Pattern 2023

CDS exam pattern is formulated by the Central Defence Services to acknowledge the intellect of the candidates and screen them on the basis of their performance in the selection tests. Steer through the complete paper pattern mentioned below before starting with the preparations. According to the CDS paper pattern for the IMA, INA, and AFA, there are three major subjects that candidates need to prepare for English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics. Take a look at the overview table given underneath and get to know more about the CDS Exam:

CDS Exam Pattern 2023



Central Defence Services




For IMA, INA and AFA - 6 hours

For OTA - 4 Hours


Offline, pen and paper mode

Maximum Marks

For IMA, INA and AFA - 300

For OTA - 200

Standard of the papers

For Maths - Matriculation level

Other subjects - Graduation level


General Knowledge and Elementary Maths will be bilingual (Hindi and English)

Type of Questions


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CDS Exam Pattern for INA, IMA and AFA

UPSC CDS exam pattern of the Indian Naval Academy, Indian Military Academy and Air Force Academy comprises three main subjects, which are English Language, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics. The standard of questions for the English language will be at graduation level, and that of Maths will be at matriculation level. The total duration is 6 hours and the total marks are 300. Take a look at the table given below and get in hold of all the information regarding the exam pattern of CDS:

Name of the Subject

Total Duration

Number of Questions

CDS Total Marks


2 hours



General Knowledge

2 hours



Elementary Mathematics

2 hours



CDS OTA Exam Pattern

The CDS exam pattern 2023 for Officers Training Academy comprises questions from the English language and General Knowledge. The total time stipulated for solving the questions is 4 hours. The maximum marks for the OTA are 200 and the total duration is 4 hours. The complete details of the CDS OTA exam pattern is provided here:

  • English - A total of 120 questions will be asked in the exam for 100 marks.
  • General Knowledge - Candidates will be required to answer 120 questions for 100 marks.

CDS Exam Pattern: SSB Interview

According to the CDS exam pattern, the total marks that candidates will compete against in the SSB interview will be 300 marks. There are two major stages in the interview process, the details of which are provided as follows:

  • Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) - This test screens the candidates on the basis of their intelligence.
  • Picture Perception & Description Test (PP & DT) - The second stage of the interview will consist of the interview, the test of psychology and the conference.

CDS Marking Scheme 2023

To avoid the deduction of marks, it is important for the applicants to know the marking scheme as per the latest CDS exam pattern. According to the CDS marking scheme, there is a negative marking for every wrong answer attempted by the candidate. Find further details about the CDS marking scheme for the exam given below:

  • For every correct answer in English and General Knowledge, 0.83 marks will be awarded. And for Maths, 1 mark will be given.
  • For every incorrect answer, 1/3rd of the mark, i.e., 0.33 marks will be deducted.
  • No marks will be given for unattempted questions.

CDS Exam Pattern 2023: Important points

It is of equitable importance for the applicants to take care of all the under-noted points related to the CDS exam pattern to perform well in the exams. The essential points are as follows:

  • The applicants need to mark the answers with a black ballpoint pen.
  • Before starting with the exam check the test booklet for the subject code.
  • Fill in the requisite details such as the roll number, exam booklet series etc.
  • Ensure filling one answer, in case of multiple answers the question will not be checked.

CDS Exam Pattern FAQs

  • According to the CDS exam pattern 2023, candidates will have to answer 340 questions for English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics in 6 hours for 300 marks. For the CDS OTA exam,  they will have to attempt 240 questions for General Knowledge and English in 4 hours for 300 marks.

  • The total weightage in terms of marks for the English subject in the CDS exam pattern is 100 for all posts. The candidates need to solve 120 questions on vocabulary, grammar, sentence formation, and comprehension in the stipulated time frame of 2 hours. Thus, the CDS total marks for English paper is 100.

  • The UPSC CDS exam pattern for the INA, IMA, and AFA share similarities while the OTA paper pattern is different. For the INA, IMA, and AFA posts, the major subjects are English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics. For the OTA posts, the subjects are English and General Knowledge.

  • The CDS OTA exam pattern comprises two major subjects, English and General Knowledge. The defined time frame for each section is 2 hours and the total marks carried by the exam is 200, with each section comprising 100 marks.

  • As per the latest CDS exam pattern, the maximum marks for the interview round for the posts of INA, IMA and AFA is 300 marks, while for the OTA it is 200 marks. The interview has two phases and screens the applicants on the basis of their intellect and persona.

  • No, the authorities have not informed us about any changes in the CDS exam pattern. The pattern remains unchanged and candidates will be required to attempt questions for English, General Knowledge, and Elementary Mathematics in a duration of 6 hours.

  • Yes, candidates will be marked negatively for all wrong answers as per the CDS exam pattern. For correct answers, 0.83 marks are given for English and General Knowledge, and 1 mark is given for Maths. For every wrong answer, 0.33 marks will be deducted for all wrong answers.

  • According to the exam pattern, the CDS total marks carried by the Indian Naval Academy exam is 300. Each subject carries 100 marks. The questions are to be solved in 6 hours of duration.

  • According to the CDS marking scheme, for every wrong answer ⅓ of the marks assigned to the question will be deducted. The unattempted questions will not be given any marks. It is advised to the candidates to avoid making wild guesses in the paper and to do calculations properly.

  • No, according to the CDS exam pattern guidelines if you have marked 2 answers for one question, you will not be awarded any mark.

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