What is NDA Exam?

NDA (National Defence Academy) Exam is an entrance examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) of India. It is a national-level exam that is conducted twice a year to select candidates for admission into the National Defence Academy, which is a joint services academy of the Indian Armed Forces, where cadets from the army, navy, and air force are trained together before they go on to their respective service academies for further training.

The NDA Exam is open to unmarried male candidates who have completed their 10+2 education. The selection process consists of a written examination, followed by an interview and medical examination. The written examination is divided into two papers – Mathematics and General Ability Test (GAT). The exam is considered to be highly competitive, and candidates who clear the exam are selected based on their overall performance in the written exam, interview, and medical examination.

Exam Name National Defence Academy (NDA) Examination
Conducting Body
Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
Exam Level
National Level
Exam Frequency
Twice a year (April and September)
Mode of Exam
Offline (Pen and Paper-based)
Total Questions
2.5 hours for Mathematics and 2.5 hours for General Ability Test (GAT)
Language of Exam
English and Hindi
Total Marks
Mathematics and General Ability Test (GAT)
Negative Marking
Yes (0.33 marks for each wrong answer)
Unmarried male candidates who have passed 10+2 or equivalent exam
Age Limit
16.5 to 19.5 years
Selection Process
Written Exam, SSB Interview, Medical Examination
Application Mode
Application Fee
Rs. 100/- for general and OBC candidates; No fee for SC/ST candidates and sons of serving/ex-servicemen/NCOs
Exam Centers
All major cities in India

NDA Exam Pattern

The NDA exam is conducted in two stages – written examination and SSB interview.

The written examination consists of two papers –

Subject Duration Marks
2.5 hours
General Ability Test (GAT)
2.5 hours
5 Hours
  • The Mathematics paper consists of multiple-choice questions and covers topics such as Algebra, Matrices and Determinants, Trigonometry, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus, Vector Algebra, etc. The maximum marks for this paper are 300.
  • The General Ability Test (GAT) paper is divided into two parts – Part A and Part B. Part A consists of English questions, while Part B covers topics such as General Knowledge, Physics, Chemistry, General Science, Geography, Current Events, etc. The GAT paper consists of multiple-choice questions and has a maximum marks of 600.
  • The exam is conducted in pen and paper mode (offline).
  • Both papers of the exam are conducted on the same day with a gap between them.
  • There is negative marking in the exam, with 1/3rd marks being deducted for each incorrect answer.
  • Candidates who qualify in the written examination are then called for an interview and a medical examination.

NDA Exam Syllabus

Subject Topic Covered
Algebra, Matrices and Determinants, Trigonometry, Analytical Geometry of Two and Three Dimensions, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus and Differential Equations, Vector Algebra, Statistics and Probability
General Ability Test (GAT)
English Language (Grammar and usage, vocabulary, comprehension, and cohesion in extended text), General Knowledge (Current events, history, geography, science, and technology, and general awareness), Physics (Physical properties and states of matter, motion, and force, and gravitation)

NDA SSB Interview Details

Stage Test/Task Description
Stage - I
Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) Test
This test consists of verbal and non-verbal reasoning questions to assess the candidate's intelligence and mental ability.
Picture Perception and Description Test (PPDT)
In this test, the candidate is shown a picture for 30 seconds and asked to write a story based on it in 4 minutes.
Stage - II
Psychological Tests
This stage consists of various psychological tests like Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Word Association Test (WAT), Situation Reaction Test (SRT), and Self Description Test (SD).
Group Testing Officer (GTO) Tasks
This stage consists of group activities like group discussion, group planning, and outdoor group tasks.
Personal Interview
In this stage, the candidate is interviewed by the SSB panel to assess their personality, confidence, and communication skills.

NDA Medical Examination Details

  1. The medical examination is conducted by a Board of Service Medical Officers to assess the medical fitness of the candidates.

  2. The medical examination includes a detailed medical history check, physical examination, and laboratory tests.

  3. The physical examination includes measurements of height, weight, chest expansion, and vision test.

  4. Laboratory tests include urine and blood tests, and X-ray of chest and spine.

  5. The medical standards for NDA examination are different for Army, Navy, and Air Force. Some common medical standards for all three services are as follows:

    • The candidate should be free from any contagious disease or disability that can interfere with the efficient performance of duties.

    • The candidate should have normal hearing, vision, and color vision.

    • The candidate should not have any evidence of weak constitution, bodily defects, or underweight/overweight.

  1. The medical examination is carried out to determine whether the candidate is medically fit for entry into the Armed Forces. Candidates who fail to meet the medical standards are not eligible for admission to the National Defence Academy.

Selection Process for NDA Exam

Selection Stage Details
Writtern Exam
The first stage of the selection process is the written exam, which consists of two papers - Mathematics and General Ability Test (GAT). The Mathematics paper carries 300 marks, while the GAT paper carries 600 marks. The written exam is conducted in offline mode and consists of objective-type questions.
SSB Interview
Candidates who clear the written exam are shortlisted for the SSB interview, which is conducted in two stages. Stage I consists of Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) test and Picture Perception and Description Test (PPDT). Stage II consists of Psychological Tests (TAT, WAT, SRT, SD), Group Testing Officer (GTO) Tasks (group discussion, group planning, and outdoor group tasks), and Personal Interview.
Medical Examination
Candidates who clear the SSB interview are required to undergo a medical examination conducted by a Board of Service Medical Officers. The medical examination includes a detailed medical history check, physical examination, and laboratory tests.
Final Selection
The final selection of candidates is based on the marks obtained in the written exam, SSB interview, and medical examination. The merit list is prepared based on the total marks scored by the candidates, and those who make it to the merit list are offered admission to the National Defence Academy.