What is NDA Exam

NDA Exam is a national level defence written exam; conducted twice a year by UPSC to test the eligibility at 1st stage of such candidates whose dream is to join defence & become an officer in Indian defence forces i.e. army, navy & air force after 12th at early stage. Since NDA exam is conducted after 12th, so +2 board i.e. class 11th + 12th become very important for the preparation of the NDA exam.

NDAig Elibility Criteria

When a student plans to join defence at the position of officer’s right after 12th, then some of the important questions arise in his mind. One of them is related to the NDA eligibility criteria. So, to know about the NDA eligibility criteria terms & conditions becomes very important for him.

Here in this article we are discussing detailed NDA eligibility criteria. To become successful in NDA entrance exam, one has to clear NDA written exam, SSB interview & medical fitness test. So, find below the NDA eligibility criteria in details as laid down in UPSC notification & defence forces.

Citizenship – Candidate must be a citizen of India OR a subject of Bhutan, Nepal OR a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before the 1st January, 1962 OR a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka and East African Countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire and Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Age criteria – The age of the candidate must be between 16½ years & 19½ years. Kindly note that age limit is count on the date of joining not the date of releasing of the NDA notification. So, candidate is advised to add 12 months to his present age & then match the age to lower & upper age limits. For NDA 1 2021 Exam, you must bear not earlier than 02nd July, 2002 and not later than 1st July, 2005.

Educational qualification – The candidates must have passed 10+2 board education from any state board & central board recognised school or college.

  • Open schooling / distance schooling +2 students are also eligible to appear in NDA exam. But you must note that the +2-education system should be of 2 years & your open school / board must recognize by concern authorities / education board.
  • For Air Force & Navy wings the students must have science with Physics & Maths as mandatory subjects in +2.
  • To apply for Army wing any science, arts & commerce students are eligible.
  • Is there any certain percentage of marks required for NDA?
    No, To appear in NDA exam, you only need to pass 12th board exam with any % of marks. The NDA merit list is prepared on the basis of performances of NDA written exam only.
  • 12th Board Appearing Students – Candidates who are studying in 12th & going to appear in board exam are also eligible to appear in NDA exam.

Marital Status & Gender – Only unmarried & male candidates are eligible to appear in NDA exam. Girls are not eligible to appear in this NDA exam.

Body Tattoos – Permanent body tattoos are only permitted on inner face of forearm i.e. from inside of elbow to the wrist and on the reverse side of palm / back (dorsal) side of hand / Permanent body tattoos on any other part of the body are not acceptable and candidates will be barred from further selection.

Physical Standard

Candidates must be physically fit according to physical standards for admission to National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination as per guidelines.

  • The candidate must be in good physical and mental health and free from any disease/disability which is likely to interfere with the efficient performance of duties.
  • There should be no evidence of weak constitution, bodily defects or underweight. The candidate should not be overweight or obese.
  • The minimum acceptable height for Army & Navy is 157 cms (162.5 cms. for Air Force). For Gorkhas and individuals belonging to hills of North-Eastern regions of India, Garhwal and Kumaon, the minimum acceptable heights will be 5 cms. less. In case of candidates from Lakshadweep the minimum acceptable height can be reduced by 2 cms. (These concessions are not applicable for Air Force.)
  • The candidates should have sufficient number of natural and sound teeth. A minimum of 14 dental points will be acceptable. When 32 teeth are present, the total dental points are 22. A candidate should not be suffering from severe pyorrhoea.
  • Chest should be well developed. Fully expanded chest should not be less than 81 cms. The minimum range of expansion after full inspiration should be 5 cms.

Physical Conditioning: Prospective candidates are advised to keep themselves in good physical condition by following the under mentioned routine :—

  • Running : 2 to 4 Km. in 15 minutes
  • Skipping
  • Pushups & Sit-ups : Minimum 20 each
  • Chin ups : Minimum 08
  • Rope Climbing : 3 to 4 metres.

Visual Standard

Visual Standards for Army

  • Vision (corrected) better eye 6/6 and worse eye 6/9
  • Myopia of not more than minus 2.5 D
  • Manifest hypermetropia of not more than plus 3.5 D including Astigmatism

Visual Standards for Navy

  • Uncorrected without glass 6/6, 6/9
  • Corrected with glass 6/6, 6/6
  • Limits of Myopia – 0.75
  • Limits of Hypermetropia +1.5
  • Binocular vision III
  • Limits of colour perception I

Visual Standards for Indian Air Force

  • Candidates who habitually wear spectacles are not eligible for Air Force
  • Minimum distant vision : 6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other correctable to 6/6 only for Hypermetropia
  • Colour vision CPI Hypermetropia : +2.0 D Sph
  • Manifest Myopia : Nil

And now finally mark this point that a candidate who has resigned or withdrawn on disciplinary grounds from any of the training academies of Armed Forces is not eligible to apply.

NDA Exam Pattern

In NDA written exam, there are two papers. 1st paper is Mathematics & 2nd paper is General Ability Test. UPSC conducts both papers on same day back to back with one to two hours of break in between the papers. NDA exam pattern details are given below.

SubjectMathematicsGeneral Ability
Duration2.5 hrs2.5 hrs
Maximum Marks300600
No. of Questions120150
Time/Question90 secs72 secs
Negative marks0.831.33

Important take away points of NDA exam

  • There are two papers taken same day back to back in two shifts.
  • Allocated time is 2½ hours for each paper. Total marks are 900.
  • 1st Paper is Math comprises of 120 questions of Class XI & XII.
  • 2nd Paper is GAT comprises of 150 questions of English & GK.
  • One third marks will be deducted for each wrong answer.
  • Students have to pass in both papers Math & GAT individually.

NDA Syllabus

NDA Syllabus includes the subjects of Maths, English & General Studies. There are mainly two papers in NDA written exam. In paper 1 questions of Maths from 11th & 12th classes are asked while in paper 2, questions of English & General studies are asked. Please find below the brief / detailed nda syllabus.

Paper I (Mathematics – 300 marks)

  • Algebra
    Concept of set, operations on sets, Venn diagrams. De Morgan laws. Cartesian product, relation, equivalence relation. Representation of real numbers on a line. Complex numbers – basic properties, modulus, argument, cube roots of unity. Binary system of numbers. Conversion of a number in decimal system to binary system and vice-versa. Arithmetic, Geometric and Harmonic progressions. Quadratic equations with real coefficients. Solution of linear inequations of two variables by graphs. Permutation and Combination. Binomial theorem and its application. Logarithms and their applications.
  • Matrices and Determinants
    Types of matrices, operations on matrices Determinant of a matrix, basic properties of determinant. Ad-joint and inverse of a square matrix, Applications – Solution of a system of linear equations in two or three unknowns by Cramer’s rule and by Matrix Method.
  • Trigonometry
    Angles and their measures in degrees and in radians. Trigonometrical ratios. Trigonometric identities Sum and difference formulae. Multiple and Sub-multiple angles. Inverse trigonometric functions. Applications – Height and distance, properties of triangles.
  • Analytical Geometry of two and three dimensions
    Rectangular Cartesian Coordinate system. Distance formula. Equation of a line in various forms. Angle between two lines. Distance of a point from a line. Equation of a circle in standard and in general form. Standard forms of parabola, ellipse and hyperbola. Eccentricity and axis of a conic. Point in a three-dimensional space, distance between two points. Direction Cosines and direction ratios. Equation of a plane and a line in various forms. Angle between two lines and angle between two planes. Equation of a sphere.
  • Differential Calculus
    Concept of a real valued function – domain, range and graph of a function. Composite functions, one to one, onto and inverse functions. Notion of limit, Standard limits – examples. Continuity of functions – examples, algebraic operations on continuous functions. Derivative of a function at a point, geometrical and physical interpretation of a derivative – applications. Derivatives of sum, product and quotient of functions, derivative of a function with respect of another function, derivative of a composite function. Second order derivatives. Increasing and decreasing functions. Application of derivatives in problems of maxima and minima.
  • Integral Calculus and Differential equations
    Integration as inverse of differentiation, integration by substitution and by parts, standard integrals involving algebraic expressions, trigonometric, exponential and hyperbolic functions. Evaluation of definite integrals – determination of areas of plane regions bounded by curves – applications. Definition of order and degree of a differential equation, formation of a differential equation by examples. General and particular solution of a differential equation, solution of first order and first degree differential equations of various types – examples. Application in problems of growth and decay.
  • Vector Algebra
    Vectors in two and three dimensions, magnitude and direction of a vector. Unit and null vectors, addition of vectors, scalar multiplication of vector, scalar product or dot product of two-vectors. Vector product and cross product of two vectors. Applications-work done by a force and moment of a force, and in geometrical problems.
  • Statistics and Probability
    • Statistics – Classification of data, Frequency distribution, cumulative frequency distribution – examples Graphical representation – Histogram, Pie Chart, Frequency Polygon – examples. Measures of Central tendency – mean, median and mode. Variance and standard deviation – determination and comparison. Correlation and regression.
    • Probability – Random experiment, outcomes and associated sample space, events, mutually exclusive and exhaustive events, impossible and certain events. Union and Intersection of events. Complementary, elementary and composite events. Definition of probability – classical and statistical – examples. Elementary theorems on probability – simple problems. Conditional probability, Bayes’ theorem – simple problems. Random variable as function on a sample space. Binomial distribution, examples of random experiments giving rise to Binominal distribution.

Paper-II (General Ability Test – 600 marks)

  • Part ‘A’ – ENGLISH (Maximum Marks 200)
    • Grammar and usage
    • Vocabulary
    • Reading Comprehension
    • Cohesion in extended text
  • Part ‘B’ – GK – Section A (Physics) ~ 100 marks
    • Physical Properties and States of Matter, Mass, Weight, Volume, Density and Specific Gravity, Principle of Archimedes, Pressure Barometer.
    • Motion of objects, Velocity and Acceleration, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Force and Momentum, Parallelogram of Forces, Stability and Equilibrium of bodies, Gravitation, elementary ideas of work, Power and Energy.
    • Effects of Heat, Measurement of temperature and heat, change of State and Latent Heat, Modes of transference of Heat.
    • Sound waves and their properties, Simple musical instruments.
    • Rectilinear propagation of Light, Reflection and refraction. Spherical mirrors and Lenses. Human Eye.
    • Natural and Artificial Magnets, Properties of a Magnet, Earth as a Magnet.
    • Static and Current Electricity, conductors and Non-conductors, Ohm’s Law, Simple Electrical Circuits, Heating, Lighting and Magnetic effects of Current, Measurement of Electrical Power, Primary and Secondary Cells, Use of X-Rays.
    • General Principles in the working of the following – Simple Pendulum, Simple Pulleys, Siphon, Levers, Balloon, Pumps, Hydrometer, Pressure Cooker, Thermos Flask, Gramophone, Telegraphs, Telephone, Periscope, Telescope, Microscope, Mariner’s Compass; Lightening Conductors, Safety Fuses.
  • Part ‘B’ – GK – Section B (Chemistry) ~ 60 marks
    • Physical and Chemical changes. Elements, Mixtures and Compounds, Symbols, Formulae and simple Chemical Equations, Law of Chemical Combination (excluding problems). Properties of Air and Water.
    • Preparation and Properties of Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Carbon dioxide, Oxidation and Reduction.
    • Acids, bases and salts.
    • Carbon – different forms
    • Fertilizers – Natural and Artificial
    • Material used in the preparation of substances like soap, Glass, Ink, Paper, Cement, Paints, Safety Matches, and Gun-Powder.
    • Elementary ideas about the Structure of Atom, Atomic, Equivalent and Molecular Weights, Valency.
  • Part ‘B’ – GK – Section C (General Science) ~ 40 marks
    • Difference between the living and non- living.
    • Basis of Life – Cells, Protoplasms and Tissues.
    • Growth and Reproduction in Plants and Animals.
    • Elementary knowledge of human Body and its important organs.
    • Common Epidemics, their causes and prevention.
    • Food – Source of Energy for man. Constituents of food, Balanced Diet.
    • The Solar System – Meteors and Comets, Eclipses.
    • Achievements of Eminent Scientists.
  • Part ‘B’ – GK – Section D (History) ~ 80 marks
    • A broad survey of Indian History, with emphasis on Culture and Civilisation.
    • Freedom Movement in India.
    • Elementary study of Indian Constitution and Administration.
    • Elementary knowledge of Five Year Plans of India.
    • Panchayati Raj, Co-operatives and Community Development.
    • Bhoodan, Sarvodaya, National Integration and Welfare State, Basic Teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.
    • Forces shaping the modern world; Renaissance, Exploration and Discovery; War of American Independence. French Revolution, Industrial Revolution and Russian Revolution. Impact of Science and Technology on Society. Concept of one World, United Nations, Panchsheel, Democracy. Socialism and Communism. Role of India in the present world.
  • Part ‘B’ – GK – Section E (Geography) ~ 80 marks
    • The Earth, its shape and size. Latitudes and Longitudes, Concept of time. International Date Line. Movements of Earth and their effects.
    • Origin of Earth. Rocks and their classification; Weathering – Mechanical and Chemical, Earthquakes and volcanoes.
    • Ocean Currents and Tides
    • Atmosphere and its composition; Temperature and Atmospheric Pressure, Planetary Winds, cyclones and Anti-cyclones; Humidity; Condensation and Precipitation; Types of Climate. Major Natural regions of the World.
    • Regional Geography of India – Climate, Natural vegetation. Mineral and Power resources; location and distribution of agricultural and industrial activities.
    • Important Sea ports and main sea, land and air routes of India. Main items of Imports and Exports of India.
  • Part ‘B’ – GK – Section C (Current Events) ~ 40 marks
    • Knowledge of Important events that have happened in India in the recent years.
    • Current important world events.
    • Prominent personalities – both Indian and International including those connected with cultural activities and sports.

NDA Selection Process

To know selection procedure of nda is very crucial for all those students who are going to start preparation of nda. Below we have mentioned nda selection process step by step. As you go through it, you will become fully aware of the all tests & interview which will be conducted in your journey of joining nda.

For Army & Navy Wings – To get the admission at nda especially in army & navy wings, candidates have to pass three stages. The first stage is written test, second stage is ssb interview / intelligence / personality test and third stage is medical fitness test. The detailed nda selection process is mentioned below.

For Air Force Wing – Those candidates whose aim is to join Air Force wing, have to appear in one additional stage in addition to above 3 stages. This means air force wing candidates have to give written exam, ssb interview, Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS) & then medical fitness test. Kindly note this CPSS test is done once in a life.

Stage 1 – Written Exam

In the first stage of nda selection process, candidates have to appear in written exam of two papers i.e. Maths & GAT. Both papers are conducted on same day back to back by giving a break of 1 to 2 hours. Result of written exam is published in approx 2 months of the written exam. Candidates have to pass both papers individually. Successful students are called to appear in next step of ssb interview.

Where to get SSB Centre & Date of SSB Interview – After having cleared the written examination the candidates should log on to the following websites for their ssb centre & date of interview.

Kindly note that candidates must check or process all these details within 15 days of publishing the result.

Stage 2 – SSB Interview

In the second stage of nda selection process, candidates have to appear in ssb interview. This stage is also known as Intelligence and Personality Test. The SSB procedure consists of two stage selection process i.e. Stage I and Stage II. Only those candidates who clear the stage I are permitted to appear for Stage II.

  1. Stage I comprises of Officers Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and Picture Perception Description Test (PP&DT). The candidates will be shortlisted based on combination of performance in OIR Test and PP&DT. These tests are conducted on 1st day of the 5 days ssb interview process.
  2. Stage II comprises of Interview, Group Testing Officers Tasks, Psychology Tests and the conference. These tests are conducted over next 4 days.

The personality of candidate is assessed by three different assessor’s viz. the interviewing Officer (IO), Group Testing Officer (GTO) and the Psychologist. There are no separate weightage for each test. The marks are allotted by assessors only after taking into consideration the performance of the candidate holistically in the entire test.

Document Verification

Document Verification will be conducted only after the candidate has qualified for Interview/Personality Test.

Stage 3 – Medical Examination

In the third stage of nda selection process, various medical fitness tests are conducted. A candidate recommended by the Services Selection Board for final selection into nda will undergo a medical examination by a Board of Service Medical Officers. Only those candidates will be admitted to the National Defence Academy who are declared fit by the Medical Board.

Final Merit List: On the basis of marks of Written Exam and SSB Interview, candidates will be selected for the limited number of vacancies.

How to Prepare for NDA

Clearing any exam is not a matter of luck but you must consider it as a result of sincere & smart work done by you under the guidance of experts. The experts’ guidance is very crucial in your preparation as it only not saves your important time but it also helps you in keeping on right track. Beside experts / mentors / teachers support, here we want to take your focus on your preparedness & self-study. No matter how good you are in study but without giving proper attention on the preparation of NDA, you won’t be able to achieve the success.

To know the exact time duration for the best preparation of NDA, you first check your preparedness. To know this you can take tests of several NDA previous years questions papers. After taking the tests, you must analyse your result with the help of experts or you can do it yourself & then you able to know how much you are prepared & how much you need the preparation.

The next big thing is self-study. Most of students don’t able to dedicate enough time for their self-studies. Such students who are doing NDA preparation along with +2 should dedicate at least 3-4 hours per day and those students who are preparing it after 12th, should give 10-12 hours per day. Below we are mentioning 5 key points to add more perfection in your study of NDA preparation.

NDA Preparation Tips

  1. IQ Level & +2 Preparation – How good you are in study, also plays an important role in deciding the time duration of NDA preparation. Also you know that the IQ level of every student is not the same. So each student’s inheriting & learning ability will be different also. The preparation of NDA papers especially when you talk about math paper, you must study +2 math i.e. class 11th & 12th math sincerely because you have 2 years in +2 standard.
  2. When to start NDA preparation – Before starting the preparation, when you go thru its syllabus then you become aware of NDA syllabus vastness. To do the best preparation of NDA written exam it is advised to start NDA preparation at early stage right after 10th board exam. Some students want to prepare after their 12th board exam. They can also crack the exam but they have to give 8 to 10 hours per day on their study for 8 to 12 months.
  3. Focus on Concept & Accuracy – Developing the concept strong is very necessary to get the command over the topics & subjects. Examinations which are conducted by UPSC, you have to study & understand the concept & syllabus deeply & more carefully. Now come to another very important point of maintaining higher accuracy level. Most of students believe that they have performed best in written exam of NDA but they fail in getting the result. This happens because accuracy level is very poor of these students. While preparing the NDA, you should take attempt of only those questions you know how to solve it correctly. Day by day, when you constantly do practice more & more, your accuracy automatically get improved.  
  4. Practice & Time Management – Time management is something not like that you get just by learning more & more short-tricks & short-cuts. Time management means ability to solve more questions with accuracy in min time & this can be achieved only when you do more & more practice. You must solve more & more NDA previous year questions papers. You can take topic tests, part tests & full length NDA mock test series also to add more practice hour under your belt.
  5. Find a right Mentor & Guide – From getting the right information to developing the right skill sets for cracking NDA exams, you might need a mentor or guide. There may be some students who are enough capable of doing it by self with the help of some guidance

NDA Preparation Books

Till now there is no such any text book or side books for NDA preparation available. What the books available online or in market are of NDA previous year questions. You can consider these books as NDA previous year question banks. In these books, solutions are also given but we would like to advice that you shouldn’t follow its solutions. You should solve the questions as per the guidance given by your teachers.

Although we have summarised the list of books you can opt as an alternative to prepare for the NDA written exam.

  • Math– N.C.E.R.T Text books of class 11th & 12th & you can also purchase RS Aggarwal.
  • English
    • Objective General English by SP Bakshi
    • Wren & Martin High School English Grammar and Composition
    • Word Power Made Easy by Norman & Lewis
  • Science – N.C.E.R.T Text books of class 9th & 10th for Physics, Chemistry & Biology.
  • History & Geography – N.C.E.R.T Text books of class 6th to 10th & you can purchase Sanjiv Kumar’s Lucent Publication.
  • Current Affairs – Current Affairs are usually asked form the past six months – (Defence deals, national & international events, books, author, games & sports, important personalities). You can purchase Pratoyogita Darpan & Competition Success Review.

After going thru above all points, we hope you got enough tips on how to crack NDA in first attempt, when to start NDA preparation & suggested lists of NDA preparations books.

We wish you best of luck for getting success in NDA & fulfilling your dream of joining defence.

Above information is prepared on the basis of individual account experience. An individual can have own set of experiences & this is not necessary that each individual view or opinion will be the same.