NDA Exam Pattern: Section Wise Paper Pattern

NDA is an important examination for the students who are interested in joining the Indian Defence Forces. This exam works as a getaway for students wanting to join the Indian Air Force, Indian Army or Indian Navy. It is a national level examination conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) twice a year.

This article will cover in detail almost everything a student must go through before writing the exam; preparation tips for the NDA examination, the pattern of the NDA exam, the syllabus, the marking scheme and the types of questions asked in the examination.

Also Read: 8 Book Should be Follow for CISSP Certification Exam

NDA 2021 Exam Pattern

NDA examination is held twice a year through a written test (offline mode). The registration process began on 9th June 2021, and the second NDA examination will be held on 14th November 2021. The NDA examination consists of two sections: Mathematics and General Ability Test, and the total time to complete both sections is five hours.

  • The examination is conducted through offline mode (written test).
  • The questions in the exam are all multiple-choice questions, that is, objective.
  • There are two sections: Mathematics, this section contains 120 questions of 300 marks, and the section of General Ability Test contains 150 questions of 600 marks.
  • The General Ability Test has two sections of English (200 marks) and General Knowledge (400 marks).
  • The syllabus is the standard of CBSE 10 2.
  • There are negative markings based on the marks allotted to each question in the exam.
  • The examination is held in both English and Hindi languages.

The table below explains the score distribution of NDA examination 2021:

SubjectPaperTotal Number of QuestionsDuration of ExamMaximum Marks
Mathematics11202.5 Hours300
General Ability Test21502.5 Hours600

The table below explains the score distribution of the General Ability Test:

SectionsMaximum Marks
Part A – English200
Part B – General KnowledgePhysics100
General Science40
Current Events40

Also Read: 6 Tips to Prepare for the PMP Exam

NDA Interview

When the students qualify for their NDA examination, they have to appear before the NDA interview. Qualifying for the examination is only the first step in joining the Indian Defence Forces; candidates must prepare well for the interviews and the examination. The dates for the SSB interviews have not been announced yet. The SSB interview is conducted in two stages.

  • Stage 1 SSB Interview:
    The candidates who qualify for the entrance exam sit through this interview. Two tests are conducted in this stage – Officers Intelligence Rating-test (OIR), Picture Perception (PP) and Description Test (DT). The candidates who qualify at this stage have to appear for the stage 2 SSB Interview.
  • Stage 2 SSB Interview: This process takes around four days to complete. The qualified candidates are required to go through many conferences, group testing officer tasks and Psychology tests.

The overview and score distribution:

Stage-1Sceening Test
  • Verbal and non-verbal tests.
  • PP and DT
Stage-2Psycological Test
  • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
  • Word Association Test (WAT)
  • Situation Reaction Test (SRT)
  • Self Description Test (SD)
Group Testing Officers Test
  • GD
  • GPE
  • PGT
  • HGT
  • IOT
  • Command Task
  • Snake race/Group Obstacle Race
  • Individual lecture
  • FGT

Also Read: How to Prepare for the Class 7 Math Olympiad

NDA Syllabus 2021 and Marking Scheme

To prepare for the General Ability Test (GAT), the candidate must read the newspaper daily and keep up with current affairs. The questions in the GAT section will cover not only General Knowledge (GK) and current affairs but also Chemistry, Physics, English, Geography and General Science.

For the section of Mathematics, the candidates must expect the level of questions from CBSE 10 2.

The table below summarises the topics which can be asked in the entrance exam and the allotment of scores:

SectionsRelated TopicsNumber of Questions
MathematicsTrigonometry, Statistics, Probability, Integral Calculus & Differential equations, Differential Calculus, Algebra, Logarithms, their applications, Vector Algebra, etc.120
EnglishGrammar, Vocabulary, Comprehension50
General KnowledgeGeneral Science, History, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, Current Events.100

The table below summarises the marking scheme of the NDA Exam 2021:

Total Questions120150
Total Marks300600
Marks alloted to each Question2.54
Negative marking for each incorrect response– 0.83– 1.33

Also Read: How can I clear the SBI PO exam in one month?

NDA Preparation 2021

This section will cover some basic and necessary tips to ace the NDA Examination:

  • Planning – It is necessary to go through the syllabus so the entire study plan can be crafted. Management of time and NDA syllabus is the key to smartly mastering every topic in the syllabus with the efficient practice of the questions.
  • Clarity on basics – Having a solid foundation on the basic topics will help the candidates face difficult questions, so brush your basics as you go up.
  • Previous years question papers – Solving previous years question papers will help analyse a pattern in NDA examinations. Solving these papers is one of the best ways to practice the questions asked in different subjects. This practice offers you range and tests your preparation. So, don’t forget to solve previous years question papers.
  • Study Material – Using suitable study material to prepare the NDA examination is highly advised by professionals. There are plenty of books, but not all are worth the attempt. So, the advice is to carefully select the right books for the preparations.
  • Lastly, along with solving the previous years’ question papers, you should plan to solve model test papers and attempt the mock tests for the NDA examination.

Also Read: Why use NCERT Books Class 11 Biology in Hindi


With the right guidance and preparations, it is easy to crack the NDA entrance examination. Qualifying the entrance examination for NDA helps candidates build up confidence for appearing in the interviews, which last for five days at least.

Candidates’ mental and physical strength is tested in the interviews as there are many physical tests like Snake Race, Obstacle Race, Group tasks, Military Planning Exercise, etc.

Students planning to join India Defence Forces must begin their preparations way earlier to have enough time to go through each topic and ace the examinations and interviews.