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CDS-OTA Exam Pattern, Syllabus and Best Books

Last Updated - September 29, 2018

The Combined Defense Services Examination is conducted biannually by the Union Public Service Commission to recruit candidates in the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy. In the following article is dedicated to CDS OTA paper with its pattern, syllabus and other details. 

Officer Training Academy (CDS OTA) is cpnducted in offline mode (pen-paper based) test consisting of objective type questions to test a candidate’s English and General Awareness. The only major difference between CDS-OTA paper and CDS Exam for NDA, IMA and IAF is that the former does not have a Mathematics section while all the latter do.

CDS SyllabusCDS Exam PatternCDS Practice Paper

CDS OTA is a fairly an easy test majorly due to the absence of a mathematics section. In order to score good, one needs to be updated with the current affairs as well as get an average strength at English to reach the next step of the selection process. Read on to know more! 

Highlights of OTA Paper

Mode of ExaminationOffline (paper-pen based)
Total No. of Questions asked240
Type of QuestionsObjective i.e. Multiple Choice
Maximum Marks200
Duration of Examination240 minutes
Section2 (English and General Knowledge)
Negative Marking1/3rd per incorrect answer

CDS OTA Paper 1 Structure

Paper 1 consists of English which is considerably easy and can help one to increase one’s score drastically.

Section NameEnglish
No. of Questions120
Total Marks100
Time allotted120 minutes
Level of SectionEasy to Moderate

CDS OTA English Syllabus

  • English Section in OTA 2018 is a mixture of Vocabulary based, Grammar-based and Comprehension based questions.
  • This paper is designed to test a candidate’s verbal reasoning as well as communication abilities.
  • As for the Reading Comprehension part, questions are usually direct and to the point and the difficulty level is easy to moderate.
  • There are 120 questions asked from this section.
  • While the topics covered in this section are not that difficult but do require immense practice and good command over English language. 
Syllabus for English
Antonyms and SynonymsSentence Completion
Sentence Re-arrangement (Para-Jumbles)Spelling Based Questions
Fill in the blanks (Grammar-based and Vocabulary based)Idioms and Phrases
Reading ComprehensionParts of Speech
PunctuationCritical Reasoning
Error SpottingOdd Word Out

Weightage of topics in Paper 1

Paper 1- English consists of a number of topics; each has the weightage mentioned below-

TopicPercentage Weightage
Sentence correction15%
Error Spotting15%
Ordering of words10%
Ordering of sentence8%
Fill in the blanks3%

CDS OTA Best Books: English

CDS OTA Books, OTA Books
Book NameAuthor/ Publisher
High School English Grammar and Composition KeyWren and Martin
Word Power Made EasyNorman Lewis
A Modern Approach to Verbal & Non-Verbal ReasoningR.S. Aggarwal

Other than the above-mentioned books, candidates must make sure to include the following in their everyday routine:

  • Read Newspapers: The Hindu/The Times of India/ Economics Times
  • Practice Previous Year Papers
  • Take Mock Practice Papers
CDS Sample Papers Download here

CDS OTA Paper 2 Structure

Paper 2 is made of General Knowledge questions which is an important part of the exam and fairly difficult.

SectionGeneral Knowledge
No. of Questions120
Total Marks100
Time allotted120 minutes
MediumEnglish or Hindi
Level of SectionDifficult

CDS OTA Syllabus: General Knowledge

The section that tests a candidates level of awareness within the country and worldwide as well.

  • There will be static GK questions as well. Static GK signifies facts about the places, people and things that will remain same in the future as well.
  • Questions are asked from the recent topics and current affairs broadly featuring between March 2019 and April 2019.

Tabulated below are some important topics that form CDS syllabus for GK section:

PoliticsAncient, Medieval, Modern and World History
GeographyEconomics (Outline of Indian Economy, Five Year Plans, National Income of India, Indian Tax Structure)
Science and technologyEnvironment & Ecology
General ScienceNational & International Burning topics
Books and AuthorsEnvironment
IndustriesMajor Industries in India
AgricultureAwards and Achievements

Weightage of Topics in Paper 2

Paper 2- General Ability has the following weightage distribution for various topics

TopicPercentage Weightage
Current Affairs13%

CDS OTA Best Books – GK Section

CDS Preparation Books
CDS Book NameAuthor/ Publisher
Manorama Yearbook 2018Mammen Mathew
Current Affairs Yearly 2018Arihant Experts
General Knowledge 2018: Latest Current Affairs & Who's WhoRPH Editorial Board

Other Recommended Books for CDS

The following books listed below are a compilation of both the sections in OTA Paper of CDS.

CDS OTA Books, OTA Best Books, CDS Books
Book NameAuthor/ Publisher
Combined CDS (OTA) BookDDE – Defence Direct Education
Pathfinder CDSArihant Experts
Lets Crack CDS ExamSSBCrack

CDS-OTA Marking Scheme

The entire paper is allotted marks in the following way-

Total marks200
Marks per Section100
Marks per question0.83
Marks allotted per correct answer0.83
Marks deducted per incorrect answer0.27
Marks deducted per unanswered question0

About OTA

Officer Training Academy is one of the most renowned training establishments of the Indian Army. It totally focuses on training officers for short service commission. Individuals who aspire to serve and protect their country are always welcomed at the two campuses of the Academy, one at Chennai and the other at Gaya. The expected vacancies offered by the academy will be around 200. Know more



1 Comment
Soumya Bhadouriya

I'm doing my bcom final can I apply for CDs ota

01 Nov, 2018 11:10
Akansha Expert

Hi Soumya, You may please check the link for getting CDS Exam Eligibility.

01 Nov, 2018 15:58

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