The National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Combined Defence Services (CDS) examinations are used to select candidates into the Indian Armed Forces. Despite the fact that both examinations are administered twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission, there are several similarities and differences in terms of recruitment, training, salary, bonuses, promotion, eligibility, and so on. In this article, we will talk about the difference between joining the Army through NDA Exam and joining through CDS Exam.

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Difference between joining the Indian Army through NDA and CDS

The National Defence Academy (NDA) is the combined services academy of the Indian Armed Forces. Cadets from the Army, Navy, and Air Force all train together here before moving on to their respective service academies for further pre-commissioning training.

Candidates for admission to the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy, and Indian Air Force Academy take the Combined Defence Services (CDS) exam.

What is the difference between an NDA and a CDS? Many online casinos like to offer their own jackpot slots in order to keep their players interested and the game is probably one of the most popular types of online casino game.

Candidates who have passed or will be appearing in Class 12 are eligible to participate in the NDA. The CDS test, on the other hand, is only for applicants who have completed or are about to complete their education. Both the CDS and NDA tests are now open to female applicants. The table below shows how the qualifying conditions for the NDA and CDS tests vary.

Parameter NDA CDS
Age 16 ½ -19 ½ Years 19 to 25 Years
Eligibility Men and Women Men and Women
Educational Qualification Class 10 Graduation


Training, Degrees Awarded, Ranks, and Stipend: NDA vs. CDS

Both the NDA and the CDS have the identical selection process: a written test followed by an SSB interview. Candidates are given the rank of Lieutenant upon commissioning. Candidates are paid INR 21,000 per month for training. Check out the NDA and CDS test training method, degrees available, and training centres listed below.

Parameter NDA CDS
Duration of training Approximately four to four and a half years

NDA for three years and IMA for one year (For Army cadets)

Three years at the Naval Academy and one year at the Naval Defense Academy (For Naval cadets)

NDA for three years and AFA Hyderabad for one and a half years (For AF cadets)

18 months for IMA Cadets

37-40 months for Navy Officers

74 months for Air Force Officers

Training  centres ●      National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune

●      Indian Military Academy, Dehradun

●      Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala

●      Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad

●      Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun for Army Cadets

●      Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala for Navy Cadets

●      Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad for Air Force Officers

●      Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai

Degrees awarded ●      Army Cadets: BSc/BSc (Computer)/BA /BTech degree

●      Naval Cadets: BTech degree

●      Air Force Cadets: BTech degree

Army Cadets in IMA: PG Diploma in Military and Defence Management

OTA Chennai: Post-Graduate Diploma in Defence Management and Strategic Studies


NDA Vs CDS: Exam Pattern

The exam pattern of NDA vs CDS is given below.

Parameters NDA CDS
Number of papers Two IMA, AFA and INA: Three

OTA: Two

Name of the subjects General Ability Test (GAT) and Mathematics IMA, AFA and INA: English, General Knowledge and Elementary Mathematics

OTA: English and General Knowledge

Exam duration Each paper is for 2 ½ Each paper is held for two hours
Number of questions GAT: 150

Mathematics: 120

Maths: 100

English: 120

General Knowledge: 120

Total marks Written Exam: 900

SSB Interview: 900

IMA, INA, and AFA: 300

OTA: 200

The SSB Interview for IMA, INA, AFA is for 300 marks each while for OTA, it is 200

Negative marks GAT: 1.33

Maths: 0.83

Nature of syllabus The NDA syllabus is designed for students in grades 10, 11, and 12. The subjects in the CDS Elementary Mathematics curriculum will be of a Class 10 level. The calibre of other topics’ papers will be at the graduate level.


NDA Vs CDS: Pay, Allowances and Promotional Avenues

Pay and allowances offered to the officers selected through the NDA and CDS exams differ significantly. The difference in the pay, allowances and promotional avenues is given below.

 Rank  Promotional Avenues (Min. Commissioned Service for Promotion)
         NDA Officer CDS Officer
Lieutenant On Commission On Commission
Captain 02 Years 02 Years
Major 06 years 06 years
Lieutenant Colonel 13 years 13 years
Colonel(Selection) 15 years 15 years
Colonel (Time Scale) 26 years 26 years
Brigadier On Selection 23 years
Major General On Selection 25 years
Lieutenant General On Selection 28 years
General On Selection No restrictions
Rank                              NDA Officer Salary (In INR) CDS Officer Salary (In INR)
Rank Pay Grade Pay
Lieutenant 15,600-39,100 5,400 56,100-1,77,500
Captain 15,600-39,100 6,100 6,13,00-1,93,900
Major 15,600-39,100 6,600 6,94,00-2,07,200
Lieutenant Colonel 37,400-67,000 8,000 1,21,200-2,12400
Colonel 37,400-67,000 8,700 1,30,600-2, 15,900
Brigadier 37,400-67,000 8,900 1,39,600-2,17,600
Major General 37,400-67,000 10,000 1,44,200-2,18,200
Lieutenant General HAG Scale 67,000-79,000   – 1, 82, 200-2,24,100
HAG+Scale 75,500-80,000 2,05,400-2,24,400
VCOAS/Army Cdr/ Lieutenant General (NFSG) 80,000 2,25,000 (fixed)
COAS 90,000 (fixed) 2,25,000 (fixed)



Officers in the ranks of Lieutenant through Brigadier are eligible for Military Service Salary in addition to pay (MSP). In place of MSP, NDA officers get a set payment of INR 6,000 per month, whereas CDS officers receive INR 15,500 per month. In addition, officers are entitled for a variety of benefits.

Type NDA Officer (In INR per month) CDS Officer (In INR per month)
Dearness Allowance Equal to Civilian Gazetted Officers Equal to Civilian Gazetted Officers
Kit Maintenance Allowance 400 Subsumed into DA
High Altitude Allowance 1,060 3,400-25,000
Siachen Allowance Not Applicable 42,500
Uniform allowance 14,000 (initial) and 3,000 (every three years) Subsumed into proposed DA
Transport allowance 1,600-3,200 and DA 3,600-7,200 and DA
Children Education Allowance Not Applicable 2,250 per month for two children from kindergarten to grade 12

Army Aviators (Pilots) in the Army Aviation Corps are eligible for the following flying permission.

Rank/Position NDA Officers (In INR per month) CDS Officers (in INR per month)
Lieutenant 9,000 25,000 (fixed)
Captain 11,000
Major to Colonel 14,000
Brigadier & above 10,500

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