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Is CDS Syllabus Similar to NDA? Know All Similarities and Differences

CDS (Combined Defence Service) and NDA (National Defence Academy) exams are conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) for recruitment into the Indian Armed Forces. Although there are many similarities between the both exams they are very different from each other. 

Let’s start by knowing the syllabus and exam pattern of both the exams to see the differences between them.

How Many Subjects Are In CDS and NDA?

In CDS there are three Subjects:

  • Elementary Mathematics
  • General Knowledge
  • English

In NDA there  are two Subjects:

  • General ability test
  • Mathematics 

On the surface level, both CDS and NDA seem quite similar to one another  but when we go down the surface we see the real differences. The major difference is in the Mathematics section.

Difference Between NDA and CDS Math Syllabus

Let’s see the detailed syllabus of NDA and CDS Mathematics


Algebra Algebra 
Matrices and Determinants Arithmetic 
Trigonometry Trigonometry 
Geometry of 2D and 3D Geometry 
Differential calculus Mensuration 
Statistics Statistics 
Vector Algebra
Integral calculus and differential equations 

What Is Common Between English of NDA and CDS?

Coming to the English section of NDA and CDS, Syllabus of both NDA and CDS are almost similar to each other. The difference lies in the level of questions asked. The level of NDA English is easier than CDS english. There are only 50 questions of English in NDA which comes under General ability test whereas in CDS , a total of 120 questions are asked. 


Common English topics asked in NDA and CDS
Error spotting
Cloze test
Sentence completion
Idiom and Phrases
Sentence reordering 
Word class
Fill in the blanks

Apart from the topics mentioned above, here are few topics that are only relevant to CDS English exam:-

  • Commonly used words
  • Use of phrasal verbs
  • Adaptation of borrowed words
  • Matching list
  • Usage of paired words
  • Correlating sentences
  • Preposition and determiners 

In What Ways Do General Knowledge of NDA and CDS Differ?

In the General Ability test of NDA, we can expect numericals from Physics and Chemistry. Both CDS and NDA Syllabus include History, Polity, Geography , Economy, Static GK , Current Affairs. The current affairs in both revolves around defence, matters of National and International impotence.

The syllabus of NDA and CDS General awareness is  same but the difference lies in the level of questions asked. We can expect:

  • More Statement based questions in CDS
  • The level of CDS question is more deep and tough
  • Basic Knowledge of both are same 
  • Solving PYQ of both NDA and CDS is advised for any exam.

In this article, we discussed whether the CDS Syllabus is the same as the syllabus of NDA or is it different. So we came to the conclusion that The National Defence Academy exam and Combined Defence services exam have some similarities in their syllabus,as both are entrance exams for joining the defence forces in India.

However, they also have some differences based on the specific requirements of each exam and level of education they target. 


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