Combined Defence Services (CSD) Examination is usually conducted twice in a year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in the months of May and October. The examination is conducted to select direct entry candidates as officers to the following four training academies.Pre-Commission Training
(i) Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun for permanent Commission in the Indian Army.
(ii) Officers Training Academy (OTA) Madras for Short-Service Commission in the Indian Army.
(iii) Naval Academy Goa, for Commission in the General Services in the Indian Navy.
(iv) Airforce Academy, Begumpet, Hyderabad for Commission in the Indian Airforce.
The selection process in which over 500 candidates are usually selected every time for all four academies, has the following three stages:
(a) Written Examination by the UPSC.
(b) Intelligence and personality test by the Service Selection Board (SSB).
(c) Medical Examination.
All such candidates as qualify all above tests may hope to get a call for pre-Commission training on the basis of their final rank and choice.
(a) Written Examination: All unmarried male graduates are eligible to appear for IMA and OTA, whereas the qualification required for Naval Academy is B.Sc. with Physics and Mathematics or Bachelor of Engineering. For Air Force Academy a degree with Mathematics and Physics or equivalent is required. The minimum age is 18 years at the time of taking the examination. The upper age limit, however, varies. It is 24 years for OTA, 23 years for IMA, 21 years for Naval Academy and 22 years for the Airforce Academy. Since the selection process takes almost one year (from the time of filling up the form), the actual lower and upper age-limits are enhanced by one year in all above cases.
Subjects of Nepal, Bhutan or Tibetan refugees who immigrated before January 1, 1962, are also eligible subject to a certificate of eligibility from the Government of India. It is also pertinent to add that no reservations on the basis of caste and tribe are there there in Defence Services. However, there are certain seats reserved for the holders of "C-Certificate" of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) who are exempted from passing the written examination. Married candidates, if otherwise eligible, are allowed to take the examination only for OTA Madras.
The written examination is objective type in nature. The candidates are tested in the following three subjects for IMA, Naval Academy and Airforce Academy.
1. English 100 marks (2 hours)
2. General Knowledge 100 marks (2 hours)
3. Elementary Mathematics 100 marks (2 hours)
For OTA Madras, only first two papers are required to be qualified. Question papers are set only in English. The English paper is designed to test the understanding of English language and the use of workman-like words. The syllabus is equivalent to the graduate level examination. The General Knowledge paper includes questions on History of India, Geography, current affairs and the matters of day-to-day observation and the experience in their scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person without specific study of any subject. The paper in Elementary Mathematics is of matriculation standard and includes questions on Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Mensuration and Basic statistics.
There are 30 centres of examination all over the country. The names of these centres are: Agartala, Ahmedabad, Aizawl, Allahabad, Bangalore, Bareilly, Bhopal, Bombay, Calcutta, Chandigarh, Cochin, Cuttack, Delhi, Dharwar, Dispur, Gangtok, Hyderabad, Imphal, Itanagar, Jaipur, Jammu, Jorhat, Kohima, Lucknow, Madras, Madurai, Nagpur, Panaji, Patna, Port Blair, Raipur, Sambalpur, Shillong, Shimla, Srinagar, Tirupati, Trivandrum, Udaipur and Vishakhapatnam.
(b) Intelligence and Personality Test: All the candidates declared successful by the UPSC in the written examination are then put to intelligence and personality test by the SSB, popularly known as the SSB interview. This interview is a comprehensive test of one's personality, intelligence and suitability to be chosen as an officer in the Defence Services. SSB interview lasts for 3 to 4 days and has several components like intelligence tests, group discussion, small lectures on general issues, group planning, outdoor group tasks, physical fitness tests, an interview and several psychological tests like situation reaction test, picturestory writing test (TAT), etc. All these tests are intended to judge the physical and mental faculties of a candidate. In broad terms, S.S.B. interview is in fact an assessment of not only intellectual qualities of a candidate but is also an appraisal of his social traits and general interests which help in assessing his suitability for the service.
(c) Medical Examination: The candidates declared successful after SSB interviews are then required to undergo a detailed examination by a medical board in the nearest Military Hospital. This test again lasts for 3 to 4 days. The minimum required standards of medical fitness are quite stringent which are different for all three wings of services. To avoid last minute disappointment the candidates are advised to get themselves medically examined on their own before they apply for the examination.
A merit list is finally prepared, consisting of candidates who qualify all the three tests listed above. On the basis of their ranking in the final merit list and choice of service, the candidates are selected for pre-Commission training in the concerned Academy and are called upon to join the Academy as a "Gentleman Cadet".
The training is quite rigorous in nature and lays emphasis on physical fitness, drill, academics, weapon training, tactics and professional competence at junior leadership level. After a given duration of training (which varies from Academy to Academy) the successful candidates are Commissioned in the concerned Defence Service i.e. Indian Army, Indian Navy or Indian Airforce. It is also pertinent to add that all the cadets Commissioned through OTA Madras as short-service Commissioned Officers are initially Commissioned for a period of five years, after which they have an option to either continue or leave the service. All the non-optees are then released from service who are eligible to get all the benefits, except pension, that are available to ex-servicemen. Service record of those who opt to continue is scrutinised and all those found suitable are then granted permanent Commission. All those who are not found fit for permanent Commission are given an extension of service for a period of five years during which period they are allowed to apply for alternate employment and as soon as they get a job, they are released from service.
Coaching and Preparation
Candidates are advised to carry out a planned preparation for the written examination. A review of previous question papers is particularly beneficial. Regular reference to a good competition magazine like "The Competition Master" may be of immense use as it would assist the candidates in preparing English and General Knowledge papers. Features on Personality Development and General Intelligence are quite useful during the SSB interview.
The interview needs special preparations. As different from usual interviews, it is a comprehensive personality test to which most fresh candidates have no previous exposure. It is suggested that the candidates should go through some standard book on SSB interviews. It is also recommended that fresh candidates should join some coaching academy providing fruitful coaching for SSB interviews. Such academies/institutions are being run by retired service officers in several cities and towns.
Detailed advertisement is published about six months before the date of examination in all leading newspapers which gives details of the examination. Complete details like rules, syllabus, medical standards, number of vacancies, etc are given in the corresponding issue of "Employment News". In addition, candidates Information Manuals containing details of objective-type-tests including sample questions, are supplied to all candidates alongwith the admission certificate, by the UPSC.Visit www.upsc.gov.in to read the complete notification of the exam.