NDA vs CDS Exam Which is Best For You ?

In India, if we will ask anybody about various exams held for Defence Aspirant, then with no doubt, we will get the most commonly two names that are NDA and CDS. Both of these exams are considered to be very prestigious in India. Here as the topic’s name suggests, we would be discussing about NDA and CDS which one is best. Before going to any conclusion, it would be great for us if we will discuss more about them in detail.

Starting with the full forms, NDA stands for National Defence Academy, and CDS stands for Combined Defence Service. Though, through both the exams, candidates could go into any of the services but the type of commission might vary from entry to entry. Both the exams are held by UPSC and are conducted twice in a year in offline mode. Not only this, the exam procedure of both the exams are too much copy of one another until someone goes into the academies. Not only this, when the candidates are passed out from the academies after their full training, the rank allotted to them is also the same that is Lieutenant.

Though being having a lot of similarities, they still differ from each other in many ways. Some of them will be discussed below.

  • Firstly, the criteria for candidates at the NDA exam is from 16.5-19.5 years, while for the CDS exam, it is 19-25 years.
  • While for the NDA exam, only men can fill the form; on the other hand, both men and women can apply for the CDS exam.
  • The minimum education qualification required for the NDA exam is that the candidate should have passed his 12 class at the start of training time. For the CDS exam, the candidate should have done any undergraduate degree until the time of training.
  • Though the SSB procedure of both the NDA and CDS entry is the same, It is often said that the level of maturity is expected more from the CDS candidate than the NDA candidate.
  • The Duration of training for NDA aspirants is three years at National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, and approximately one and a half years at their respective service academies. In contrast, for CDS, the training periods are different for all the services, which are 18 months for IMA cadets, 37-40 months for Navy Cadets, and 74 months for Air force candidates.
  • The degree awarded to any NDA cadet is an undergraduate degree, which could be BSc, BA, or BTech, whereas on the other hand degree provided to candidates of CDS is a Post-Graduation Diploma in Defence Management.
  • It is often said that life at NDA makes scholars tougher than the candidate’s through CDS entry as NDA cadets surely get more intense training for a longer time than CDS candidates.
  • One more fact that could be indirectly said is that candidates passing out from NDA have a higher chance of promotion than CDS entry candidates, which is evident from the point that NDA has produced more than 25 chiefs of different services.

So, these were some of the differences between the two exams. I hope you have decided the best one for you until now, but I will suggest you to go for both the exams. One should try it at the earliest with the NDA entry, but if he fails in that, then CDS would be the best option.

Here, both the exams are equally prestigious and branches of the same tree. Their main aim is common in one way or another, so never miss this golden opportunity whenever you get it.


Bashu Tiwari

    Intern at SSBCrackExams. Recommended from 4 AFSB Varanasi and 19 SSB Allahabad NDA AIR-49. Secured all india rank 26,137 in JEE Mains and 18,000 in JEE advance.

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