What is the difference between entry through CDS and AFCAT?


AFCAT stands for Air Force Common Admission Test and CDSE stands for Combined Defence Service Examination. Both are written exams which are followed by a SSB in order to select suitable young boys and girls for the Defence forces of India.

Eligibility: For both you must be a graduate at least (BA, B.Com, B.Tech etc.) further qualification depends on the type of service you want to join.

Both of these exams differ from each other in a great deal and given below are the major differences between the two exams:

1. AFCAT which means Air Force Common Admission Test is a test which is taken to select young boys and girls for Air force only


CDSE which means Combined Defence Service Examination is an exam meant for selecting candidates for all the three wings i.e. Army, Navy and Air force.

2. AFCAT is conducted by the Indian Air force twice an year

CDSE is conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) twice a year.

3. For AFCAT 1 the notification comes in the first week of December and lasts for a month

CDSE 1 the notification comes generally in the beginning of November and filling of application lasts for a month.

For AFCAT 2 notification comes in first week of June and applications are accepted for a month


CDSE 2 notification comes in the last week of month of May and applications are accepted for a month

4. AFCAT 1 is conducted in the last week of February and AFCAT 2 in the last week of August

CDSE 1 is conducted in the beginning of the month of February and CDSE 2 in the beginning of the month of September

5. AFCAT results are declared within a month of conduction of exam i.e. for AFCAT 1 by end of March and for AFCAT 2 by the end of September after which the qualified candidates are called for SSB’s.

The results for the written of CDSE 1 are declared by the month of June and for CDSE 2 by the month of January after which SSB follows for the qualified candidates.

6. For AFCAT the age depends on the course you want to join. Age limit is:
Flying: 19-23 years

Technical: 18-28 years.

Ground Duties: Graduate (20-23yrs), PG (20-25yrs), LLB (20-26 yrs.), MEd/PhD/CA/ICWA (20-27yrs).


For CDSE the age limit differs for different forces

Indian Army 19-24 years

Indian Air Force 19-24 years

Indian Navy – 19-22 years

7. AFCAT makes the girls and boys to join the Indian Airforce in Flying, Technical or Ground Duty course.

CDSE makes a way for the young boys to join the IAF for the Flying course only, girls can join only OTA i.e. SSC for Non-Technical course of Army and no other wing of the Defence through CDSE

8. AFCAT exam pattern consists of a single paper which comprises of English, GA, Mathematics and reasoning making a total of 100 questions to be done in 2 hours.

CDSE exam consists of three papers English, GA and Mathematics (optional for OTA candidates). Each paper consists of 120 questions each and time is 2 hours each.

9. Level of difficulty also varies:

In AFCAT – English – Variety of questions is less, the antonym synonym is usually difficult, and passage is easy.

In CDSE –English- Variety of questions is more, the level is moderate.

AFCAT – General Awareness consists mainly of current affairs and level is easier as compared to CDSE.

In CDSE General Awareness consists of a blend of questions, the level is tougher and needs a good level of basics.

In AFCAT the Mathematics paper simple class 10 level maths.

In CDSE the Mathematics level is slightly higher than AFCAT, but class 10 level.

10. Within the Services there will be difference in the level of questions at the SSB interview level as well.