The National Defence Academy (NDA) is the Joint Services academy of the Indian Armed Forces, where cadets of the three services, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force train together before they go on to pre-commissioning training in their respective service academies. The exam is conducted twice every year. The notification is out in the month of October and April. The exam is conducted around the month of April and September subsequently.

In this article you will get information regarding UPSC NDA Preparation.

Examination Pattern

The UPSC NDA & NA exam is conducted in two stages.

  • Stage 1: Written Examination
  • Stage 2: Interview

Stage 1: Written Examination

Written Examination: The candidates are tested in two areas: Mathematics and General Ability. This exam consists of objective type questions only. The questions are asked in both Hindi and English language. Duration for both of the papers is 150 minutes.

Stage 2: Interview

The candidates who obtain the minimum qualifying marks in the written examination move to the next level. The candidates appear before a Services Selection Board for Intelligence and Personality Test. The candidates are assessed on officer’s potentiality. The candidates who opt for Air force are assessed in Pilot Aptitude Test and Officers Potentiality.

Selection Procedure

Selection Process consists of three steps:

Step 1 : Written Examination

  • Exam Mode : Offline
  • Total Marks : 900

The first step is to appear in a written examination. Two papers are conducted in this stage. The subjects tested are Mathematics and General Ability. Both the examinations are conducted for two and a half hours each.

Scheme of Written Examination:

Subject  Duration Total Marks
Mathematics 150 Minutes      300
General Ability Test 150 Minutes      600
Total      900
SSB Test/Interview      900
  • All the questions asked in this examination are objective type only.
  • The emphasis is on questions involving the metric system of weights and measures.
  • The Commission reserves right to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects.
  • The candidates are not allowed to use calculator or mathematical or logarithmic tables

Step 2: Interview Process

Total Marks : 900

  • UPSC declares the list of candidates who obtain the minimum qualifying marks in the written examination.
  • The qualified candidates then appear before a Services Selection Board (SSB) for Intelligence and Personality Test.
  • The candidates for the Army/Navy wings of the NDA and 10+2 Cadet Entry Scheme of Indian Naval Academy are assessed on Officers Potentiality.
  • Candidates who opt for the Air Force are assessed in Pilot Aptitude Test and for Officers Potentiality.
  • The SSB Interview process consists of two stages: stage I and stage II.
  • The candidates who clear the stage I move further and appear for stage II.

Step 3: Final Selection

  • For Final admission candidates should secure the minimum qualifying marks separately in :
    • Written examination as fixed at the commission’s discretion.
    • Officer potentiality Test as fixed at the SSB’s discretion.
  • All the qualified candidates for the Air Force and SSB as per their willingness, eligibility and preference for Air Force, should separately qualify the PABT.
  • The qualified candidates are selected on the basis of total marks secured by them in the Written Examination and the SSB Tests.
  • The final allocation/selection will be made as per number of vacancies available.

UPSC NDA Exam Preparation

Candidates should refer to NDA Mathematics Syllabus and General Ability Test Syllabus to know the topics from which the questions will be asked in the examination. Knowing the syllabus helps prepare better for the examination. Also candidates can refer to UPSC NDA Previous Year Question Papers to get an idea of the question paper pattern and difficulty level. Solving previous year papers is best for practice of the exam.

Stage 1: Written Examination

Paper 1 Mathematics (300 Marks)

The first paper tests a candidate’s aptitude in Mathematics. The syllabus directs candidates to prepare a variety of different topics such as:

Integral Calculus, Vector Algebra,
Differential Equations, Matrices and Determinants,
Trigonometry, Analytical Geometry,
Algebra Statistics & Probability

Preparation Tips:

  • This paper aims at testing a candidate’s basic understanding of maths concepts.
  • Candidates should start with their mathematics school text books of class XI and XII.
  • Focus on core concepts rather than solving intricate problems.
  • Prepare all the important formulae and note them separately for revision.
  • Candidates should solve mock tests and previous year questions on a daily basis.
  • Do not leave any section of the syllabus since the question paper covers all of them.
  • To gain speed and develop accuracy, always practice questions with a timer.

Important Topics:  Trigonometry, Quadratic Equations, Algebra, Geometry and Probability.


  • Mathematics for NDA and NA (English) 1st Edition by R S Aggarwal.
  • Quantitative aptitude for competitive examinations paperback By R.S. Aggarwal.
  • NDA Mathematics Paperback by Karan Deo.
  • Section wise Solved Papers NDA & NA by Arihant Experts.

Paper 2 General Ability (600 Marks)

This paper is further divided into two parts – English and General Knowledge. Candidates are tested on Basic English language skills and general knowledge on an array of topics.

Part A – English (200 Marks)

  • This section is less time consuming and very easy to score.
  • Candidates are tested on Basic English Language skills like reading & writing.
  • One should focus on practicing comprehensions, vocabulary and basic grammar.
  • Newspaper reading is one of the best ways to learn new words.
  • Try to solve as many mock tests as you can and go through previous year papers.
  • To gain speed and develop accuracy, you should always practice comprehensions with a timer. Comprehensions can easily fetch you 5 -6 marks with one passage.

Important Topics:  Comprehensions, Synonyms, Antonyms, Vocabulary & Grammar.


  • 10 Practice Sets NDA and NA Paperback by Expert Compilations.
  • Pathfinder for NDA & NA Entrance Examination Paperback by Arihant Experts.
  • Objective English By R.S. Aggarwal
  • Objective English for Competitive Examinations By Hari Prasad & Uma Sinha

Part B – General Ability (400 Marks)

  • This paper weighs 400 marks and tests the candidate on a variety of topics.
  • Candidates have to prepare six sections for this paper. These are General Science, Indian History, Physics, Geography, Chemistry and Current Affairs.
  • Out of maximum marks assigned to this section questions on Sections ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘F’ carry 25%, 15%, 10%, 20%, 20% and 10% weightages respectively.
  • Candidates should keep track of the latest events in the fields of sports, arts, culture, society, health and technology.
  • Keep a tab of daily national and international events through newspaper reading.
  • Candidates can prepare Science section from Class 12th text books.
  • The candidates should prepare topics like Indian freedom struggle from NCERT text

Important Topics: Current Affairs, Indian Constitution, Compounds and Mixtures, Environment Science, recent policy changes.


  • Objective General Knowledge & Current Affairs Paperback by Disha Experts
  • Manorama Yearbook 2015 (English) by Mathew M.
  • Objective General Science by BK Editorial Board.
  • Geography and Environment 2012 by UPSC Portal.
  • Indian Polity MCQs 1000+Q by Sachchidanand Jha.

Stage 2 : Interview

The SSB selection process undergoes two stages. All those candidates who clear the stage I are allowed to appear for stage II.

Stage I :- Candidates are shortlisted on the basis of their performance in OIR Test ( Officer Intelligence rating Test)  and PP and DT (Picture Perception & Description Test )

Stage II:-  At this stage , the shortlisted candidates from stage I take Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and the Conference. These test aim at testing the Officer like qualities of the candidate. All of these tests are conducted over 4 days.

Candidates are assessed by three different assessors. These are the Interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and the Psychologist. The assessors take the overall performance of the candidate into consideration and then allot marks.

There is no specific weightage of any of these tests. Although marks for the conference test are allotted on the basis of the initial performance of the Candidate in the three tests. Plus decision of the Board is also considered. All of these carry equal weightage.

Preparation Tips:

  • At the interview stage, candidate’s overall personality is assessed.
  • One can also practice psychological tests like Psychometric tests, Word Association Test (WAT), Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Situation Reaction Test (SRT) online.
  • Be honest while answering questions. If you have no idea about something, admit it.
  • Taking Mock interviews helps as it prepares the candidate mentally for the interview.


  • SSB Interviews by Arihant Experts.
  • SSB Interviews Guide for Armed Forces Exams 2015 by Ram Singh Yadav.

Disqualification for admission to the training course :- All the Candidates who were admitted to an earlier course at the National Defence Academy or to the 10+2 Cadet Entry Scheme of Indian Naval Academy but were removed later due to lack of officer-like qualities or on any disciplinary grounds shall not be admitted to the Academy.

Candidates who previously left the National Defence Academy or Indian Naval Academy on medical grounds or left the Academy voluntarily are eligible for admission. These candidates are supposed to satisfy the medical and other prescribed conditions of the academy.

Candidates cannot withdraw at any later stage. Once the candidate has submitted an application, no request for withdrawal at any later stage will be entertained.

Important Tips to remember for NDA & NA Exams

  • Go through the official notification carefully and make sure you are eligible for the examination.
  • Understand the syllabus, exam pattern, and marking scheme.
  • Never wait for the last date to fill out your application form.
  • Go through previous year papers of at least last 5 years and practice the questions.
  • Time is the prime factor in the written examination. Use it wisely.
  • Average time taken to solve a question in paper should be less than a minute.
  • Always carry a watch with you into the examination hall.
  • Try to cover all subjects on a daily basis.
  • Try to stick to one book for every section of the examination. Do not Clutter yourself with too many sources of preparation.
  • You should always keep your admit card and other documents ready before hand.
  • These days many online websites provide very cool and fun methods for exam preparation. They can be your secondary source of prep after conventional books.
  • Practice as many Mock Tests as you can and sit on a table with a timer.
  • Never underestimate the basics of a subject hence you must refer to the class texts.
  • Practice to improve your English language speaking skills.
  • Read newspaper and magazines on a daily basis.

-:Words of Wisdom:- 

Since this exam focuses on testing Officer like qualities, make sure you analyse yourself enough to be a better version of who you are right now. Your polished personality can take you a long way into this examination process.

NDA/NA Complete Information

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