CDS Vs AFCAT: Fundamental Differences between CDS and AFCAT

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

The comparisons and contrasts made here will make it easier to understand AFCAT Vs CDS. The AFCAT stands for Air Force Common Admission Test, while CDS stands for Combined Defense Service Examination. Both AFCAT & CDS are written exams that are followed by an SSB in order to select suitable young boys and girls for the Defense forces of India.

Candidates who are willing to participate in the CDS or AFCAT Exam must have to fulfil certain eligibility and physical standard parameters. In this article, we will discuss all the differences between CDS and AFCAT entry with topics like eligibility criteria, conduction body for AFCAT & CDS Exam, and exam pattern for AFCAT and CDS Entry.

Difference between AFCAT and CDS Exam 

we have covered every aspect of CDS Vs AFCAT in various circumstances. As we all know, everything demands an endless amount of hard work to crack both these exams; one needs to focus and prepare in well advance. As we have an idea of the time when this exam is conducted and also of the syllabus hence one can prepare for both these exams in well advance. One needs to be clear with the basics first, as generally, the questions asked in these exams are a test to check how well one has understood the concepts.

Both AFCAT & CDS exams differ from each other by a great deal and given below are the significant differences between the CDS and AFCAT exams:




Type of Force

As the name distinctly suggests AFCAT, which means Air Force Common Admission Test is a test that is taken to select young boys and girls for Airforce only.

The CDS, which means Combined Defense Service Examination is an exam meant for selecting the Aspirants for all three wings, i.e. the Army, the Navy, and the Airforce.

Conducting Body

The AFCAT is conducted by the Indian Airforce twice a year.

The CDS is organized by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) twice a year.

Time of notification and Exam

For the AFCAT 1 the notification comes in the first week of December and lasts for a month.

For the AFCAT 2 notification comes in the first week of June and applications are accepted for a month.

The AFCAT 1 is conducted in the last week of February and AFCAT 2 in the last week of August.

The notification for CDS 1 generally comes at the beginning of November and the filling of the application lasts for a month.

For the CDS 2 notification comes in the last week of the month of May and applications are accepted for a month.

CDS 1 is conducted at the beginning of the month of February and CDS 2 at the start of the month of September.

Time of declaration of results

Generally, the AFCAT results are declared within a month of the conduction of the exam, i.e. for the AFCAT 1 by end of March and for the AFCAT 2 by the end of September after which the qualified Aspirants are called for SSB’s.

The results for the written CDS 1 are declared by the month of June and for CDS 2 by the month of January after which SSB follows for the qualified Aspirants.

Eligibility (For both ones must be a graduate at least (BA, B. Com, B.Tech etc.) further qualification depends on the kind of service you want to join. There is even a difference in Age for both the exams.)

As per AFCAT Eligibility Criteria, the age depends on the course one wants to join. Age limit is:

  • Flying: 19 to 23 years
  • Technical: 18 to 28 years.
  • Ground Duties: Graduate (20 to 23 years), PG (20 to 25 years), LLB (20 to 26 years), MEd/Ph.D./CA/ICWA (20 to 27 years)

As per CDS Eligibility Criteria, the age limit differs for the different forces:

  • Indian Army: 19 to 24 years
  • Indian Air force: 19 to 23 years
  • Indian Navy: 19 to 22 years

Courses Offered

AFCAT makes the boys and girls join the Indian Air Force in Flying, Technical or Ground Duty course.

CDS makes way for the young boys to join the Indian Air Force for the Flying course only, girls can enter only the OTA, i.e. SSC for Non-Technical course of Army and no other wing of the Defense through the CDS.

Exam Pattern (The exam pattern varies for the two exams in a great deal.)

The AFCAT Exam Pattern comprises of a single paper which comprises of English, GA, Mathematics and reasoning, making a total of 100 questions to be done in 2 hours.

English: Variety is less, antonym-synonym is difficult, and passage is easy.

General Awareness: Comprises mainly of Current Affairs and level is more comfortable as compared to CDS.

Mathematics: Simple class 10th level questions.

The CDS Exam Pattern comprises of three papers English, GA, and Mathematics (optional for the OTA Aspirants). Each paper comprises of 120 questions each and time is 2 hours each.

English: Variety of questions is more, the level is okay and simpler.

General Awareness: Consists of a mixed blend of questions, the level is quite tough, and needs a good knowledge of basics.

Mathematics: A variety of questions from the 10th level, the level is slightly higher than AFCAT.

CDS Vs AFCAT Conclusion

Apart from reasoning the AFCAT is simple. As the level and the standard of questions in AFCAT are seen to be rising with every exam hence, it is advisable for you to work hard for AFCAT as well, however, in general, the standard of questions is a slight bit low than that of CDS. The level of questions in the CDS is hard when compared with AFCAT.

Also Check:


Download the BYJU’S Exam Prep App Now. 

The most comprehensive exam prep app. 


Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium