NDA Exam Pattern 2020-21

NDA exam Pattern
NDA exam Pattern

In today’s article of NDA exam pattern, we will not just restrict to exam pattern of NDA. We will have overview of every important term related to NDA exam which every NDA aspirant must know.

NDA exam pattern 2020 is explained in such a way that even a new NDA aspirant will understand everything, as we have covered concepts from basics to advance related to NDA exam pattern.

What is NDA exam?

NDA stands for ‘National Defence Academy‘ is a Joint Sevice Academy of Indian Armed forces, where cadets of Indian Army, indian Navy and Indian Air force are trained before joining their respective academies.

NDA is for aspirants between age group of 16.5 yrs to 19.5 years, who have completed their 12th standard and want to join Indian Armed forces.

In short, NDA is the best opportunity for an individual to join Armed forces and serve mother Nation in best possible way.  The career aspects which NDA provides to its young dynamic cadets is in-comaprable to any other academy in India (and even any other Academy in world)

NDA has provided graduates who have been honored with the highest gallantry awards, the Param Vir Chakra or the Ashoka Chakra.

(So, you are lucky tho read this article when you have NDA attempts left. Many aspirants relalize importance of National Defence academy when they have no time left in their hand)

Duration of training at NDA and Degree offered to cadets

NDA Offers these cadets 3 years training, after which they join speciailized academies of their domain:

  1. Cadets of Indian Army = join Indian Military Academy after NDA Course
  2. Cadets of Indian Navy =join Indian Naval Academy after NDA Course
  3. Cadets of Indian Air Force =join Indian Air Force Academy after NDA Course
Duration of Training at NDA 3 Years (If you pass all terms)
Duration of Training at IMA (after NDA Course) 1 Year
Duration of Training at INA (after NDA Course) 1 Year
Duration of Training at AFA (after NDA Course) 1 Year

When cadets pass out from National Defence Academy, they get Bachelor’s Degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Science /Arts. Cadet has a choice of selecting Arts field or Science field for Bachelors.

  • Science stream offers : Computer Science, Maths, Physics, Chemistry
  • Arts stream offers: Political Science, Geography, Economics, History and Languages.

So, total training of NDA cadets is 4 years

Exact NDA Exam Pattern with Number of questions asked

NDA Written exam has 2 papers:

  • Mathematics
  • General Ability Test
Subject Code of Subject Time Duration Marks Allotted
Mathematics 01 150 minutes 300
General Ability Test 02 150 minutes 600
Total Marks 900

After clearing the Written exam, you have to face SSB Interview which is of 900 Marks.

So, Final NDA Merit list  is calculated out of 1800 Marks (Written score+SSB Score)

NDA exam comprises of One Third Negative Marking. In short, if you have done one wrong question, following marks will be deducted from each paper:

Subject Marks Deducted
Mathematics 0.833 Marks
For English questions (GAT paper) 1.33 Marks
For GK questions (GAT paper) 1.33 Marks
NDA Mathematics paper 120 Questions
NDA English paper 50 Questions
NDA GK paper 100 Questions

NDA GAT paper has 150 questions (English + GK)

In order to score High marks in NDA written exam, you have to complete paper in time, which needs good conceptual clarity and ample practice.

For that, you need to know how much time you will get for solving each question in NDA written exam:

1 Question of NDA Mathematics Paper 1.25 minutes
1 Question of NDA English Paper 1 minute
1 Question of NDA GK Paper 1 Minute

There is no time management issue in NDA GAT paper, but in terms of Maths, you need good practice to solve 80+ questions. 

NDA Mathematics paper questions 2.5 Marks each
NDA English paper questions 4 marks each
NDA GK paper questions 4 Marks each

Which Academy will you join after clearing the NDA exam?

After clearing the NDA exam, you join the Joint Military Training Institute of India, that is, National Defence Academy.

Then why is this exam called as “National Defecne Academy and Naval Academy Exam”?

Good Question. While filling the NDA exam form, you have the option of Naval Academy.

  • So, in case you have selected Naval Academy, you need to have completed 12th standard in Science stream with Physics and Maths as subjects.
  • In this case, you will undergo 3 years of Joint training at NDA with Army and Airforce cadets and then you will be transfered to Indian Naval Academy for specialized training.
  • If you have selected for Naval academy, its mandatory for you to join Indian Navy. On the other hand, other NDA cadets can join field of their choice (before starting specialized field training at NDA)

How many times is NDA Exam conducted in a year?

NDA exam is conducted twice a year. In April and September.

Let us see NDA exam date and NDA exam age limit for upcoming 2 attempts:

  • NDA 1 2020 Exam date: 19th April 2020
  • NDA 2 2020 Exam date: 6th September 2020

NDA 1 2020 Age Limit

You must be born between 2nd July 2001 to 1st July 2004

NDA 2 2020 Age Limit

You must be born between 2nd January 2002 to 1st January 2005

Is NDA exam conducted Online or Offline?

NDA exam is conducted in offline format. NDA exam is conducted in all major cities of India.

There is a limit of number of aspirants alloted to one particular center. So, allotment of center depends on firsy-apply-first-allot basis.So, as soon as NDA Notification is released, you must fill the exam form with prefered preferences of exam center.

(Note: NDA exam application is released in Employment news paper and also on the upsc.gov.in website. NDA exam form filling process is completely ONLINE, and there is no option of offline form filling )

How is the form filling process of NDA exam?

NDA form filling process is completely conducted in Online format. NDA form filling process is conducted in 2 parts:

  • Part 1 Registration (for NDA exam)
  • Part 2 Registration (for NDA exam)

NDA Part 1 Registration includes

  • Name 
  • Gender 
  • Date of Birth 
  • Fathers and Mothers Name
  • Marital Status
  • Community
  • Fee Remission 
  • Educational Qualification 
  • Address and Email ID 
  • Preferences of Branch

NDA Part 2 Registration includes

  • Exam Fee payment
  • Selection of examination center
  • Uploading of scanned copy of photograph and Signature




After filling the Part 1 Registration form of NDA, you have the option to UPDATE the filled form BEFORE SUBMITING. So, check your personal details once again as per your documents. Because, NDA exam form cannot be edited later.

(If you have submitted NDA form with wrong details, you have to fill the New exam form again with exam fees. Once submitted, NDA exam form cannot be edited)

What are the exact stages of NDA exam?

NDA exam is conducted in 2 stages. NDA Written exam and SSB interview. But I have given below a list of simplified stages of NDA exam pattern you have to go through to be part of Armed forces.

  • NDA Written Exam of 900 Marks (clearing NDA cutoff must to qualify for stage 2)
  • SSB interview of 900 Marks (Interview of 5 days)
  • Medical test
  • Merit list (Calculated out of 1800 Marks)

It takes around 1 year for whole process of NDA examination (from NDA Exam form to Final merit list)

Is there any negative marking for the NDA exam?

NDA written exam has One Third Negative Marking for both papers. While calculating marks, you need to know how many marks are deducted per 1 wrong question. Check table below for more clarity:

Subject Marks Deducted
Mathematics 0.833 Marks
For English questions (GAT paper) 1.33 Marks
For GK questions (GAT paper) 1.33 Marks

What is NDA Cut off for written exam?

In order to clear NDA written exam, you have to clear 2 cutoff’s

NDA Individual Cut off

Individual Cut off is also called as NDA Sectional cut off.

You need to score atleast 25% marks in each subject to clear Sectional cutoff

NDA Cut off (Overall)

After clearing the NDA secdtional cut off, you also have to clear NDA Cutoff (Overall) which is calculated out of 900 Marks  (GAT=600 marks +Maths=300 marks)

NDA 1 cut off is generally higher than NDA 2 cut off

Why is NDA 1 Cut off higher than NDA 2 Cutoff ?

  • NDA 1 exam is conducted in April which comes immediately after the Board’s exam due to which:
  1. NDA 1 exam is given by large number of aspirants
  2. Their majority of preparation is done due to 12th boards and Engineering entrance test preparation
  3. Number of aspirants giving the NDA exam after taking admission in Graduation is less. So, comparatively less competition for NDA 2 exam.

NDA Written exam cutoff is calculated out of 900 Marks

NDA 2 2019 Expected Cut off: 337-347 Marks
NDA 2 2018 Cut off : 325 Marks
NDA 2 2017 Cut off: 258 Marks
NDA 2 2016 Cut off: 229 Marks

Now, let us see NDA 1 Cutoff for last 4 years:

NDA 1 2019 Cut off:  342 Marks
NDA 1 2018 Cut off : 338 Marks
NDA 1 2017 Cut off: 342 Marks
NDA 1 2016 Cut off: 288 Marks

( Checking nda previous year cut off is important part of understandind NDA pattern )

Can I clear NDA Exam if I fail in Maths paper but clear the overall cut off of NDA exam?

No. You have to clear the sectional cutoff of 25% marks in each subject to clear NDA written exam.

In fact, if you fail to clear the sectional cutoff of NDA Maths paper, your NDA GAT paper will not even be checked.

Are both papers of NDA exam conducted on the same day?

Yes. Both papers of NDA exam are conducted on the same same day with just a gap of 3 hours between them.

NDA English paper timing 9:30 am to 11:30 am
NDA GAT paper timing 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Conducting both papers of total 900 marks makes this exam even challenging and demands proper study with revision from NDA aspirants.

What is the syllabus for NDA exam?

Instead of just checking NDA syllabus, I will recommend you to watch our detailed article on NDA syllabus where we have also given topic-wise weightage of each paper which will help you to manage time as per weightage.

Moreover, it is necessary to understand the latest exam trends and patterns (and not just rely on NDA Syllabus given in NDA Notification) So, do check out NDA exam syllabus article which includes much more than just syllabus.

Can a 11th standard student give NDA exam?

No. 11th standard student cannot give NDA exam. You need to be either 12th Pass or 12th appear to be eligible for NDA exam.

Do we need coaching for NDA exam?

To crack NDA exam, you do not need coaching, you just need proper guidance. Which I give free of cost on this website. If you are self-enlightened and motivated enough to join Indian Armed forces, you do not need any paid coaching. Self preparation is more than enough.

I have already made detailed strategies for NDA exam preparation which can guarantee you success if you follow them as told. Do check it out:

And if you still have any doubts, do let our team know in the comment section below.

Can girls apply for NDA exam?

No. Girls are not eligible for NDA exam.

In this detailed article of NDA exam pattern, we have seen much more than just exam pattern of NDA. So, make sure you study as per detailed strategies provided and crack NDA exam in your upcoming attempt.


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