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Best Books for CDS Exam

CDS Books: 9 Best Books for CDS Examination [2023 Edition]

Are you looking for some of the best books for the CDS examination? 

No matter whether you are a newbie or already had given the exam a few times in the past, without proper books – it is quite hard to practice enough which subsequently means lesser chances of selection.

Every year more than 2 lakh students fill the form of CDS, & less than ten thousand students qualify for the examination.

Thus, proper practice is very necessary for clearing the exam.

Well, in order to make it easy for you, we have listed some of the best books for the preparation of the CDS examination. These books are listed in a subject-wise manner. 

These books are picked after taking reviews from students & several coaching institutes. Additionally, you will also find the previous year’s papers at the end.

Let’s start by knowing a bit about the CDS examination & its syllabus!

About CDS Examination

CDS stands for Combined Defence Services. This exam is conducted twice a year for the recruitment of commissioned officers by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission).

The candidates are recruited in four major academies:

  • IMA (Indian Military Academy) – trains Army officers
  • INA (Indian Naval Academy) – trains officers for Naval service & Indian Coast Guard.
  • AFA (Indian Air Force Academy) – trains officers for Indian Air Force
  • OTA (Officers Training Academy) – trains officers for SSC (Short Service Commision)

Out of these four girls are only allowed in Officers Training Academy (OTA). 

The exam is conducted in the months of February & October. Let’s also have a look at the eligibility:

Eligibility: Only Indian Candidates with a minimum age limit of 19 having a graduation degree or are in the final year of graduation are allowed to apply for the examination. 

CDS Syllabus & Exam Pattern

For candidates preparing for IMA, INA & AFA, the three main subjects are English, General Knowledge & Elementary Mathematics. Students preparing for OTA only have to study English & General Knowledge.

The duration of each exam is 2 hrs & 200 MCQ types of questions are asked in it. Total marks for IMA/INA/AFA is 300 & for OTA is 200 (Mathematics is excluded).

If we look at the syllabus, it is divided into 3 sections: Elementary Mathematics, GK & English. 

The syllabus of mathematics involves Algebra, Trigonometry, Arithmetic, Mensuration, Geometry & Statistics. 

In GK, around 29% of the questions are asked from Current Affairs & rest from History, Geography, Polity, Science, Economics & Defence.

Last but not the least, the syllabus of English comprises grammar, compositions, sequencing, etc.

The complete syllabus of CDS can be downloaded here 🙂

CDS Books: Subject-wise Best Books for Exam Preparation

As we have already covered the syllabus – it is now time to have a look at some of the best books for exam preparation. 

Before, we begin – please note that this is a subject-wise list of books. Starting from English, then GK & mathematics we have listed recommended textbooks for each section. You will also find the last ten years solved papers at the end.

All the books listed here are available on Amazon & you can easily buy them online.

CDS 2022 English Language Books

01. English Improvement Course – DGP

English Improvement Course by DGP (Dhillon Publications) is one of the best books for the preparation of English for various competitive examinations.

It is one of the hidden gems when it comes to strengthening your Grammar, Composition & Vocabulary. You can use it both for improving your communication skills as well as for any written examination.

This book is authored by Prof. R.S. Dhillon (Hindustan Times Medalist in Journalism), Dr. S. Chaudhury, Deep Priya Dhillion & Manoshi Sinha.

Salient Features:

  • Comes with four other books: Handbook of Practical English Grammar, Composition, English & Common Errors in English.
  • To the point of teaching methods.
  • A variety of problems are given at the end of each chapter for better practice.


  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Dhillon Group of Publications
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Author: R.S. Dhillon, Dr. S. Chaudhury, Deep Priya Dhillion & Manoshi Sinha
  • Ratings: 4.1 / 5.0 (154 ratings on Amazon)

02. Objective General English – Arihant Publications 

Arihant Publications is well known for its variety of amazing books for competitive examinations. Objective General English, authored by S.P. Bakshi is one of the most popular English books for the CDS examination.

It is claimed to be a preparation booster for examinations like Bank, NDA, CDS, SSC, MBA, UPSC & other examinations.

According to the author, this book is divided into four sections:

i). Foundation Module, in which you will learn basics of grammar including Tenses, Modals, Noun, Pronoun, Articles, etc.

ii). Verbal Ability, covering the Synonyms, Antonyms, One Word substitutions & other similar things.

iii). Sequences of Sentences & Objective Comprehension.

iv). Practical Grammar, which includes Punctuations, Writing Rules, Narration, etc.

Objective General English by Arihant

Salient Features:

  • One book for all major competitive examinations & the trust of Arihant Publications.
  • Can also be used to learn communication skills.
  • Divided into four parts: Foundation Module, Verbal Ability, Sequencing & Practical Grammar.


  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Arihant Publications
  • Paperback: 755 pages
  • Author: S.P. Bakshi
  • Ratings: 4.3 / 5.0 (9,199 ratings on Amazon)

03. English Grammar & Composition by S.C. Gupta

Authored by S.C. Gupta, the English Grammar & Composition is another great book by Arihant Publications. It is best for those who want to solve a variety of problems before the examination.

Divided into 69 chapters, this book covers solved problems for almost every topic in the English language. It consists of 10000 sentences, 7000 solved questions, 7000-word problems &  over 550 solved exercises.

This book claims to give you an in-depth idea of the pattern of questions asked in the examination & how you can deal with common issues that arise during the exam.

Salient Features:

  • A large number of solved problems that you can practice: 7000 questions & word problems, 550 exercises.
  • Various tips & tricks are exhibited so as to save you a lot of time.
  • #1 Books for Hindi medium students – as the language of the book is Hindi.


  • Language: Hindi
  • Publisher: Arihant Publications
  • Paperback: 936 pages
  • Author: S.C. Gupta
  • Ratings: 4.2 / 5.0 (1,181 ratings on Amazon)

CDS 2022 GK Books

04. General Knowledge by Manohar Pandey

Manohar Pandey’s general knowledge book is considered the best work for prestigious examinations held by UPSC.

Aside from making one aware of the world and providing authentic and detailed solutions, general knowledge is also an essential part of everyday life.

The book will provide you with a better understanding of important GK concepts and help you to prepare for competitive exams.

Salient Features:

  • The book is divided into five sections, in which questions are drawn from history, geography, polity, general knowledge, general science, and the Indian economy.

    Furthermore, a section dedicated to current affairs consists of more than 500 questions relevant to current affairs.
  • The complete syllabus has been organized into different sections in order to make understanding it easier for you.
  • It has been designed specifically for those seeking jobs in the fields of banking, railway, police, SSC & UPSC.
  • This book provides accurate, authentic & complete coverage of facts & is considered the compact version of the entire year’s current affairs.


  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Arihant Publication
  • Paperback: 591 pages
  • Author: Manohar Pandey
  • Ratings: 3.9/5 ( 28 ratings on Amazon)

05. 14000+ Objective GK by Arihant

It was also written by Manohar Pandey and published by Arihant publishing house.

A total of 14000+ general knowledge questions are included in this book. In order to avoid unnecessary material, only exam-useful questions have been included.

This book has been carefully crafted to ensure that no useful questions are missed during an examination.

Salient Features:

  • By categorizing the entire syllabus into sections, the topics will be easier to locate.
  • There are almost 14000 questions included in this question bank, covering every general studies concept.
  • There are more than 500 current affairs questions.


  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Arihant Publications
  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Author:  Manohar Pandey
  • Ratings: 4/ 5( 953 ratings on Amazon)

CDS 2022 Mathematics Books

06. Mathematics for CDS entrance by RS Agrawal

RS Agrawal authored Arihant Publications mathematics book is a comprehensive guide for beginners. 

With its variety of questions, it will help you prepare for a variety of exams. According to reviews, it’s an excellent book for CDS preparation.

This book contains all the mathematics basics, and it will enhance your calculation skills while simultaneously providing you with a large collection of objective-type questions.

Mathematics by RS Aggarwal


  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Arihant Publications
  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Author:  RS Agrawal
  • Ratings: 4.3 / 5.0 (455 ratings on Amazon)

07. CDS Pathfinder

Compared with other study guides, Pathfinder by Arihant Publications covers mathematics, English, and general awareness most efficiently. 800+ MCQs are featured in this book to help you while you practice and revise your curriculum.

Before reading this book, candidates should familiarize themselves with concepts and basics as this understanding will enable them to gain maximum benefit.

Salient Features:

  • The whole syllabus is divided into four main sections.
  • The last 5 year solved papers (in chapter-wise mode) are also given in this book.
  • More than 800 MCQs for the better revision of concepts.
  • Through it, you can observe previous year’s exam questions to get a better idea of the types of questions asked in the examinations.


  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Arihant Publications
  • Paperback: 1266 pages
  • Author:  RS Agrawal
  • Ratings: 4.5 / 5.0 (1288 ratings on Amazon)

CDS Previous Year Papers

08. CDS Chapter/ Section-wise Solved Papers by Arihant

When it comes to the previous year’s papers, you can choose any book as the content will remain the same. But since Arihant is a well-known & reputed publisher, we should go for them.

This book “Chapter-wise / Section-wise Solved papers” by Arihant divides the entire syllabus of CDS into four sections: Elementary Mathematics, English, Science & General Studies.

Under each section, you will find year-wise solved problems. Solving the problems in such a way will help you revise your syllabus in a sequential manner.

Section-wise Solved Papers by Arihant

Salient Features:

  • Problems are given Section-wise & in the chapter-wise module.
  • Questions from last 10+ years
  • 45 chapters covering almost all the sections of GS, Mathematics, English & Science.


  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Arihant Publications
  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Author: Editorial Team
  • Ratings: 4.4 / 5.0 (121 ratings on Amazon)

09. Kiran UPSC CDS Solved Papers

If you are not interested in solving problems in a topic-wise or chapter-wise manner, then you can go for this book. 

Published by Kiran Prakashan, this book consists of the last 10 year solved papers. It is simply a collection of papers & nothing else.

Kiran UPSC CDS Solved Papers

Salient Features:

  • A collection of solved papers that you can solve year-wise.
  • More than 10 years of previous papers which is around 20+ papers as the exam is conducted twice a year.


  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Kiran Prakashan
  • Paperback: 1128 pages
  • Author: Editorial Team
  • Ratings: 4.4 / 5.0 (11 ratings on Amazon)


How many questions are asked in the CDS examination?

OTA exam is divided into two sections, while the INA, AFA & IMA exams are divided into three sections. In both exams, each section carries 100 marks, and each question carries 1 mark. Additionally, there is a negative marking. Every wrong answer will result in one-third of the mark deduction.

Is NCERT helpful for CDS preparation as well?

NCERT books are always helpful when learning a subject, as they clarify your concepts & help you gain a better understanding of the subject. Nevertheless, we cannot claim that they are sufficient for the exam. It is absolutely essential that you have exceptional math and reasoning skills in order to succeed in the CDS exam. Thus, we’ve recommended some handy books for preparation.

Is Manohar Pandey’s GK adequate for current affairs?

This book is said to be the compact version of events that occurred in all previous years. Although every book will never contain all the knowledge you want, this book will surely give you the best return on your investment.

Where can I find CDS sample papers?

The Arihant Publication books provide sample papers as well as previous year’s question papers.

Does RS Agrawal cover all mathematics topics?

Throughout this book, you will find different types of questions that will assist you in preparing for different exams. Several reviewers praised it as a valuable CDS preparation tool. Every concept of mathematics is covered in this book, making it easier to understand. Therefore, we can say that it is sufficient for this exam.

Are the books listed here sufficient for CDS preparation?

Since exam trends and difficulty levels don’t depend on a single source as they change and increase, we cannot rely on a single textbook or guide. But these books will definitely be going to help you crack the exam.

How relevant are these books to the NDA exam?

For sure, these books will be going to help you in the NDA exam as well. However, make sure you check your syllabus and only select books that will help you cover the whole syllabus.

Final Words

The Combined Defence Services (CDS) exam is conducted twice a year by the UPSC for the recruitment of commissioned officers. Graduate degrees or final-year examinations are the requirements for applying for CDS.

In this post, we have got you covered with some of the top books for the CDS examination. We have sorted this list after analyzing thousands of reviews by the students & several coaching institutes.

We hope these books will help you crack the exam & score well. 

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