UPSC CDS Previous Year Papers: PDF Download Question Papers of past 5 Years with Answers Keys

UPSC CDS Previous year papers are shared here in PDF Download format of past 5 years 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016. Download UPSC CDS Previous Year Question Papers here and practice to crack the UPSC Combined Defence Services exam with high score.

Created On: Jan 21, 2021 14:29 IST

UPSC CDS Previous Year Papers: UPSC is going to conduct the Combined Defence Services (CDS) 1 20211 exam on 7th February 2021 to fill vacancies to the courses carried out by Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Officers’ Training Academy, (OTA), and Indian Air Force Academy (IAF). We have shared here UPSC CDS Previous Year Papers along with Answers in PDF Download format of last 5 years. Candidates who have applied for the UPSC CDS Recruitment 2021 should download CDS Question Papers here to boost their preparation level for the upcoming exam. The CDS Question Papers are shared here of years 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 years for both CDS 1 & CDS 2. 

For recruitment in the Combined Defence Services, it is compulsory for the candidates to qualify the UPSC CDS Exam 2021. With just a few days left for the CDS Exam, it is recommended that the candidates should focus their energies on preparations. Previous Years’ Papers turn out to be the best resort when it comes to practice and preparations. For the ease of the candidates, we have provided here the UPSC Combined Defence Services (CDS) previous years questions papers along with their Answer Keys in Download PDF format.

UPSC CDS Exam Pattern 2021


No. of questions (MCQs)

Maximum Marks


General Knowledge*



120 minutes

English Language*



120 minutes

Elementary Mathematics



120 minutes




6 Hours

* Candidates, who applied for IMA, AFA and INA, need to attend all the 3 sections, while candidates who applied for OTA need to appear for the first 2 paper only - General Knowledge & English.

UPSC CDS Previous Years’ Papers – PDF Download

The UPSC conducts the Combined Defence Services (CDS) Examination twice in a year for recruitment in the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA), Officers Training Academy (OTA), and Indian Air Force Academy (AFA). Check here the previous years’ questions papers of the UPSC CDS and prepare for the exam accordingly. Have a look:

General Knowledge: This section tests candidates' knowledge of Current Affairs, General Awareness and Static GK such as Indian History, Geography, Economy, Physics, Chemistry and the like. Have a look at previous years' question papers of General Knowledge section:


Question Paper –PDF Format

2020 (CDS II)


CDS Examination (II) 2020 (General Knowledge Paper)

2020 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2020 (General Knowledge Paper)

2019 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2019 (General Knowledge Paper)

2018 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2018 (General Knowledge Paper + Answer Key)

2018 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2018 (General Knowledge Paper + Answer Key)

2017 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2017 (General Knowledge Paper + Answer Key)

2017 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2017 (General Knowledge Paper + Answer Key)

2016 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2016 (General Knowledge Paper)

2016 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2016 (General Knowledge Paper)

English Language: This section tests candidates' understanding of English language and asks questions on Reading Comprehension, Fillers, Synonym & Antonym, Sentence improvement, Cloze Test, etc. To get familiar with the level of reading comprehensions asked in the UPSC CDS exam, scroll below and see the comprehensions asked in UPSC CDS (I) 2019 Exam.


Question Paper –PDF Format

2020 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2020 (English Paper)

2020 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2020 (English Paper)

2019 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2019 (English Paper)

2018 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2018 (English Paper + Answer Key)

2018 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2018 (English Paper + Answer Key)

2017 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2017 (English Paper + Answer Key)

2017 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2017 (English Paper + Answer Key)

2016 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2016 (English Paper)

2016 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2016 (English Paper)

Elementary Mathematics: Questions in this section are asked from topics like Number System, profit & loss, percentage, decimal fractions, HCF & LCM, algorithm, algebra, trigonometry, geometry, mensuration & statistics.


Question Paper –PDF Format

2020 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2020 (Elementary Mathematics Paper)

2020 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2020 (Elementary Mathematics Paper)

2019 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2019 (Elementary Mathematics Paper)

2018 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2018 (Elementary Mathematics Paper + Answer Key)

2018 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2018 (Elementary Mathematics Paper + Answer Key)

2017 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2017 (Elementary Mathematics Paper + Answer Key)

2017 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2017 (Elementary Mathematics Paper + Answer Key)

2016 (CDS I)

CDS Examination (I) 2016 (Elementary Mathematics Paper)

2016 (CDS II)

CDS Examination (II) 2016 (Elementary Mathematics Paper)

Reading Comprehension Questions from English Section of UPSC CDS (I) 2019 Exam (Source: UPSC Official Website)


Directions: In this section you have few short passages. After each passage, you will find some items based on the passage. First, read a passage and answer the items based on it. You are required to select your answers based on the contents of the passage and opinion of the author only.

Passage - I

From 1600 to 1757 the East India Company's role in India was that of a trading corporation which brought goods or precious metals into India and exchanged them for Indian goods like textiles and spices, which it sold abroad. Its profits came primarily from the sale of Indian goods abroad. Naturally, it tried constantly to open new markets for Indian goods in Britain and other countries. Thereby, it increased the export of Indian manufacturers, and thus encouraged their production. This is the reason why Indian rulers tolerated and even encouraged the establishment of the Company's factories in India. But, from the very beginning, the British manufacturers were jealous of the popularity that India textiles enjoyed in Britain. All of a sudden, dress fashions changed and light cotton textiles began to replace the coarse woolens of the English. Before, the author of the famous novel, Robinson Crusoe, complained that Indian cloth had “crept into our houses, our closets and bed chambers: curtains, cushions, chair, and at last beds themselves were nothing but calicos or India stuffs”. The British manufacturers put pressure on their government to restrict and prohibit the sale of Indian goods in England. By 1720, laws had been passed forbidding the wear or use of printed or dyed cotton cloth. In 1760 a lady had to pay a fine or 200 for possessing an imported handkerchief Moreover, heavy duties were imposed on the import of plain cloth. Other European countries, except Holland, also either prohibited the import of Indian cloth or imposed heavy import duties. In spite of these laws, however, Indian silk and cotton textiles still held their own in foreign markets, until the middle of the eighteenth century when the English textile industry began to develop on the basis of new and advanced technology.

The East India Company was encouraging the export of Indian manufacturers because

(a) it was a philanthropic trading corporation

(b) it wanted Indian manufacturers to prosper in trade and commerce

(c) it profited from the sale of Indian goods in foreign markets

(d) it feared Indian Kings who would not permit them trade in India

The people of England used Indian cloths because

(a) they loved foreign and imported clothes

(b) the Indian textile was light cotton

(c) the Indian cloths were cheaper

(d) the Indian cloths could be easily transported

What did the British manufacturer do to compete with the Indian manufacturers?

(a) They pressurized the government to levy heavy duties on export of Indian clothes

(b) They pressurized the government to levy heavy duties on import of Indian clothes

(c) They requested people to change their fashion preferences

(d) They lowered the prices or the Britain made textile

which source is cited by the author to argue that Indian textile was in huge demand in 18th century England?

(a) The archival source

(b) The scientific source

(c) The journalistic source

(d) The literary source

“New and advanced technology” in the paragraph refers to

(a) the French Revolution

(b) the Glorious Revolution of England

(c) the Industrial Revolution

(d) the beginning of colonialism


Zimbabwe’s prolonged political crisis reached the boiling point earlier this month when President Robert Mugabe dismissed the Vice-President, Emmerson Mnangagwa. A battle to succeed the 93-year-old liberation hero-turned President had already been brewing within the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), with the old guard backing Mr. Mnangagwa, himself a freedom fighter, and 'Generation 4o’, a grouping of younger leaders supporting Mr. Mugabe's 52-year-old wife, Grace. Ms. Mugabe, known for her extravagant lifestyle and interfering ways, has been vocal in recent months about her political ambitions. Mr. Mugabe was seen to have endorsed her when on November 6 he dismissed Mr. Mnangagwa. But Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980, erred on two counts: he underestimated the deep connections Mr. Mnangagwa has within the establishment and overestimated his own power in a system he has helped shape. In the good old days, Mr. Mugabe was able to rule with an iron grip. But those days are gone. Age and health problems have weakened his hold on power, while there is a groundswell or anger among the public over economic mismanagement. So when he turned against a man long seen by the establishment as his successor, Mr. Mugabe left little doubt that he was acting from a position of political weakness. This gave the security forces the confidence to turn against him and make it clear they didn't want a Mugabe dynasty. The military doesn't want to call its action a coup d'etat, for obvious reasons. A coup would attract international condemnation, even sanctions. But it is certain that the army chief, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, is in charge. His plan, as it emerges, is to force Mr. Mugabe to resign and install a transitional government, perhaps under Mr. Mnangagwa, until elections are held.

In the paragraph, who has been called liberation hero?

(a) Constantino Chiwenga

(b) Emmerson Mnangagwa

(c) Robert Mugabe

(d) Army Chief

Mrs. Mugabe is supported by

(a) Mr. Mnangagwa

(b) Mr. Mugabe

(c) Generation 40

(d) Zanu-PF

Mr. Mugabe's political weakness became apparent when

(a) he endorsed his wife

(b) he turned against the army

(c) he suffered from health issues

(d) he dismissed Mr. Mnangagwa

The security forces of Zimbabwe staged a coup against the President because

(a) they wanted Mrs. Mugabe as the President

(b) they were aware of Mugabe's failing wealth

(c) they disliked Mugabe's extravagant lifestyle

(d) they did not want a Mugabe dynasty

Why does the military not want to call it a coup d’etat?

(a) Because coup is immoral

(b) Because coup is illegal

(c) Because coup would lead to intern national censure and sanctions

(d) Because it would make the public revolt

Passage - III

Over-eating is one of the most wonderful practices among those who think that they can afford it. In fact, authorities say that nearly all who can get as much as they desire, over-eat to their disadvantage. This class of people could save a great more food than they can save by missing one meal per week and at the same time they could improve their health. A heavy meal at night, the so-called “dinner”, is the fashion with many and often is taken shortly before retiring. It is unnecessary and could be forgone, not only once a week but daily without loss of strength. From three to five hours are needed to digest food. while sleeping, this food not being required to give energy for work, is in many cases converted into excess fat, giving rise to over-weight. The evening meal should be light, taken three or four hours before retiring. This prevents over-eating, conserves energy and reduces the cost or food.

Why should those who over-eat refrain from doing so?

(a) Because over-eating leads to loss of wealth

(b) Because over-eating is bad for health

(c) Because over-eating conserves food

(d) Because over-eating is immoral and unhealthy

Over-eating is more prevalent among

(a) the rich

(b) the poor

(c) everybody

(d) the bourgeoisie

The writer is asking the readers

(a) to skip the heavy dinner and take light evening meal instead

(b) to stop eating anything at night

(c) to take food only during the day

(d) to eat food before the sunset

what is the most appropriate time for having evening meal?

(a) An hour after the sunset

(b) Three or four hours before sleeping

(c) Before the sunset

(d) Just before sleeping

According to the passage, how many times a day should we have food?

(a) Three times

(b) Two times

(c) Once

(d) Has not been specified

According to the passage, people over-eat

(a) because they can afford to

(b) because they are hungry

(c) because they have to work more

(d) because they have to conserve energy

Passage — IV

Much has been said of the common ground or religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if anyone here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction or the others, to him I say, “Brother, yours is an impossible hope.” Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.

The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.

Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.

If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: it has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams or the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom or my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: “Help and not fight,” “Assimilation and not Destruction,” “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.”

According to the author of the passage, people should

(a) change their religions

(b) follow their religions and persuade others to follow it

(c) follow their own religions and respect other religions

(d) disrespect other religions

The Parliament of Religions is

(a) a Christian organization

(b) a Buddhist organization

(c) a Hindu organization

(d) a platform for discussion about every religion of the world

What does the author think about those who dream about the exclusive survival of their own religions and the destruction of the others?

(a) he hates them

(b) He desires to imprison them

(c) He pities them

(d) he praises them

According to the passage, what is “impossible hope”?

(a) One day, all the people of the world will follow only one religion

(b) One day, there will be no religion

(c) Purity and charity are the exclusive possessions

(d) Banner of every religion will soon be written

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