NDA Exam Details: Exam Dates,Prparation Tips & Strategies

The National Defence Academy (NDA) exam is more than just a test; it’s a dream for thousands who aspire to don the prestigious uniform of the Indian Armed Forces. This journey, while rewarding, is strewn with challenges. Let’s navigate this path together, drawing from the experiences of those who’ve treaded it before.

About NDA Exam

The NDA exam, full form National Defence Academy exam, conducted twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), is the gateway to the National Defence Academy. Here, cadets undergo rigorous training, evolving into the future leaders of the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force. Rahul, an NDA graduate, recalls, “The moment I stepped into the academy, I realized it wasn’t just about serving in the forces; it was about upholding the honor of our nation.”

NDA Exam Pattern with Marks

The NDA exam comprises two main papers. NDA exam marks for Mathematics is 300 and for GAT is 600 marks. The written test will be conducted for a total of 900 marks

  1. Mathematics (300 marks): Over 2.5 hours, candidates grapple with topics from Algebra to Calculus. It’s a test of analytical prowess and problem-solving skills.
  2. General Ability Test (GAT) (600 marks): This 2.5-hour paper, divided into English and General Knowledge, assesses a candidate’s linguistic skills and general awareness.

NDA Exam Date Calendar For 2023 & 2024

NDA 2 Admit Card 202311 Aug ’23 – 3 Sep ’23 (On Going)
NDA 2 2023 Exam3 Sep ’23
NDA 1 Notification 202420 Dec ’23
NDA 1 Application Form 202420 Dec ’23 – 9 Jan ’24
NDA 1 2024 Exam21 Apr ’24
NDA 2 Notification 202415 May ’24
NDA 2 Application Form 202415 May ’24 – 4 Jun ’24
NDA 2 Exam Date 20249 Sep ’24

NDA Exam Question Paper

The multiple-choice format, while seeming straightforward, is tricky. A wrong answer deducts 0.33 marks. Aniket, who secured an All India Rank of 5 in 2020, advises, “It’s a balance between speed and accuracy. I focused on strengthening my core concepts, which made answering questions intuitive.”

Preparation Strategies

Know Your Syllabus

A clear roadmap is indispensable. Break down the syllabus, understand the weightage, and plan your study hours. As Priya, an NDA aspirant, shares, “I created a vision board, highlighting topics I found challenging. It kept me motivated and focused.”

Time Management

Consider the analogy of a marathon. You wouldn’t sprint the entire distance; you’d pace yourself. Allocate specific hours to each subject, interspersed with breaks. “I used the Pomodoro technique, studying for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break. It kept me refreshed,” shares Arjun, an NDA topper.

Mock Tests and Previous Year Papers

Mock tests are the dress rehearsals. They familiarize you with the exam environment, time constraints, and question patterns. “By my tenth mock test, I had a strategy for every section,” recalls Sneha, an NDA qualifier.

Recommended Books

  • Mathematics: “Mathematics for NDA and NA” by R.S. Aggarwal is a favorite. Its comprehensive coverage and ample practice questions make it indispensable.
  • English: “Objective General English” by S.P. Bakshi offers a structured approach to grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  • History: “History of Modern India” by Bipan Chandra provides a nuanced understanding of India’s freedom struggle.
  • Geography: “Oxford School Atlas” by Oxford Publishers is a visual treat, making geography engaging and informative.
  • Science: “Science and Technology in India” by Kalpana Rajaram is a holistic guide, especially for those rusty with their school science.

NDA Exam Eligibility

  • Age Limit: The age bracket of 16.5 to 19.5 years is strict. It’s essential to ensure your date of birth falls within the stipulated range.
  • Educational Qualification: The Army Wing is more lenient, requiring a 12th pass from any stream. However, for the Air Force and Naval Wings, Physics and Mathematics in the 12th standard are mandatory.
  • Gender and Marital Status: The NDA, as of my last update in 2021, admits only unmarried male candidates. However, it’s always good to check the latest notifications for any changes.

Physical and Medical Standards

Stay Fit

Physical fitness is non-negotiable. A mix of cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and flexibility routines is essential. “I started with 10 push-ups a day and gradually increased my count. By the time of my SSB, I was doing 50 at a stretch,” shares Ramesh, an NDA cadet.

Medical Standards

Clear vision, a healthy BMI, and overall robust health are prerequisites. Regular medical check-ups, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep are non-negotiables. “I had to wear spectacles. So, I focused on ensuring my eyesight didn’t deteriorate further with exercises and a vitamin-rich diet,” shares Lakshmi, an NDA aspirant.

NDA Exam Interview Tips

Post the written exam, the SSB interview is a 5-day process testing psychological, physical, and social attributes.

  • Know Yourself: “They asked me about my failures. I shared my experiences candidly, focusing on what I learned,” recalls Aman.
  • Stay Updated: Current events are crucial. “I discussed a recent space mission, which impressed the panel,” shares Neha.
  • Group Tasks: Teamwork is key. “I ensured I listened to others and contributed meaningfully,” says Vikas.
  • Communication Skills: Clarity and confidence can set you apart. “I practiced speaking on diverse topics, which helped during the interview,” shares Meera.

Learning from Toppers

Success Stories

Toppers’ journeys, filled with struggles and triumphs, offer invaluable insights. Their strategies, routines, and even their mistakes can serve as lessons.

Common Tips from Toppers

  • Consistency: “I studied for four hours daily, without fail,” shares Ishaan, an NDA topper.
  • Holistic Learning: “Instead of rote learning, I focused on understanding the ‘why’ behind concepts,” says Aditi.
  • Stay Calm: “Meditation helped me maintain my composure during the exam,” recalls Pranav.

NDA Salary Structure

NDA salary structure is based on the rank and the service (Army, Navy, Air Force) the officer is commissioned into, along with other allowances.

RankBasic Monthly Salary (Approx.)Other Allowances
Cadet (During Training)INR 56,100
LieutenantINR 56,100 – 1,77,500Military Service Pay, Dearness Allowance, Transport Allowance, etc.
CaptainINR 61,300 – 1,93,900Military Service Pay, Dearness Allowance, Transport Allowance, etc.
MajorINR 69,400 – 2,07,200Military Service Pay, Dearness Allowance, Transport Allowance, etc.
Lieutenant ColonelINR 1,21,200 – 2,12,400Military Service Pay, Dearness Allowance, Transport Allowance, etc.
ColonelINR 1,30,600 – 2,15,900Military Service Pay, Dearness Allowance, Transport Allowance, etc.
BrigadierINR 1,39,600 – 2,17,600Military Service Pay, Dearness Allowance, Transport Allowance, etc.


  1. The above table provides a general overview of the NDA salary structure based on rank.
  2. Other allowances like High Altitude Allowance, Field Area Allowance, etc., might be applicable based on the posting and service conditions.

Wrap Up: NDA Exam

The NDA exam, while daunting, is a journey of self-discovery. It tests your mettle, determination, and passion. But with the right resources, strategies, and mindset, it’s a challenge you can surmount. As you embark on this journey, remember the words of an NDA graduate, “It’s not just about the destination; it’s about the journey and the person you become along the way.”

FAQs: NDA Examination