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Everything you wanted to know about the NDA & NA Exam

Published on : 09-08-2022 Powered by

What is NA in NDA & NA Exam?

NDA stands for National Defence Academy which is located at Khadakwasla, Pune.
NA stands for Naval Academy which is located at Ezhimala, Kerala.

The exam is conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) - the same entity that also conducts the IAS/IPS/IFS exam among many other central Govt. exams.

What is the difference between joining NDA vs joining NA (Naval Academy)

Cadets joining NDA Khadakwasla in Pune end up joining the Army, Air Force, and the executive branch of the Navy.
At end of 3-Years,
- Army cadets receive a 3-Year BA/B.Sc./B.Sc (Computer Science) degree
- Air Force cadets of Ground Duty non-Tech receive 3-Year B.Sc./B.Sc (Computer Science) degree
- Air Force cadets of Flying Branch go to Air Force Academy Hyderabad and complete their pre-commission training for 1 Year to receive a B.Tech degree.
- Air Force cadets of Ground Duty–Tech stream receive  4-Year B.Tech degree and go to Air Force Technical College, Bengaluru to complete their pre-commission 1-year training
- The Naval cadets from NDA are given further training at Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala for a period of 1 year after which they receive their B.Tech from JNU

Cadets joining the Naval Academy (NA) at Ezhimala, Kerala under 10+2 cadet entry scheme and upon passing out at the end of 4-years receive a B.Tech degree from JNU

What are the eligibility differences between Army, Navy & Air Force through NDA & NA exam?

Educational qualification:
For Army wing of NDA: Class 12 Pass in any subject (no min marks requirement)
For Air Force & Navy wing of NDA & 10+2 cadet entry scheme at Naval Academy Ezhimala: 12th Class pass with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics

Further, to join the Flying Branch (pilot) in the Air Force or the Navy, a candidate has to
Qualify the CPSS (Computerized Pilot Selection System) aptitude Test

Note that each service has slight variations in the Medical / physical requirements too.

What are the physical & medical requirements for joining the armed forces through the NDA & NA exam?

NDA & NA have very stringent medical requirements and vary for each service.
Details can be found here: Download medical requirements

What are the eyesight requirements for NDA & NA?

For Army & the Navy, one must have
6/6 and 6/9 in uncorrected, correctable to 6/6 and 6/6
Hypermetropia +1.5D Cyl
Myopia: -0.75D Sph
Astigmatism: +/- 075D Sph/Cyl

For the Air Force Flying branch
6/6 in one eye and 6/9 in other, correctable to 6/6 only for Hypermetropia
Hypermetropia +1.5D Sph
Myopia: Nil
Astigmatism: +0.75D Cyl
(within +1.5 D Max)
Retinoscopic myopia: Nil

For the Air Force Ground Duty branch
6/36 and 6/36 in uncorrected, correctable to 6/6 and 6/6
Hypermetropia +2.5D Sph
Myopia: -2.5D Sph
Astigmatism: +/- 2.0D Cyl

When is the NDA & NA exam held?

The NDA & NA exams are held twice a year.  This year the dates are

The Dates of NDA-I are as follows:
Start of Applications: 22-Dec-2021
Last Date to Apply: 11-Jan-2022
Date of Exam: 10-Apr-2022
Commencement of course: Jan-2023

The Dates of NDA-II are as follows:
Start of Applications: 18-May-2022
Last Date to Apply: 14-Jun-2022
Date of Exam: 04-Sep-2022
Commencement of course: Jul-2023

What is the difference between permanent commission & short-service commission?

A Permanent Commission means a career in the Army till you retire. Cadets who graduate from the National Defence Academy or the Naval Academy get a permanent commission.

Under the Short Service Commission scheme of the armed forces, one has the option of serving as a commissioned officer for 10 years. At the end of this period, one can opt for Permanent Commission or opt-out.

Are girls eligible to apply for NDA & NA exam?

Yes, girls are now eligible to apply as cadets into the NDA & NA.  The educational and age requirement remains the same as for boys.

Do women receive a permanent commission in the armed forces?

Yes, women now can get a permanent commission.  Joining the forces via NDA also enables them to get permanent commission.

What is the test pattern for NDA & NA exam?

NDA & NA exam consist of 2 papers:
Mathematics  (Algebra, Matrices & Determinants, Trigonometry, Analytical Geometry, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus, Vector Algebra, Statistics & Probability)
General Ability Test (English, GK, Physics, Chemistry, General Science, History, Freedom Movement, Geography, Current Events)

The written test is conducted in pen-and-paper mode and comprises multiple choice type questions.

Candidates from any stream will need to attempt both papers.
Students in Humanities & Commerce who do not have Maths will need to prepare Maths as per the syllabus in order to clear the NDA & NA exam.

What are the final selection criteria for getting into NDA or NA?

The NDA & NA exam is worth 900 marks
The SSB process is worth 900 marks
Total marks: 1800

Candidates who score above a desired min qualified marks are recommended to join the NDA or NA.
Note: One needs to score min 25% in each subject in the NDA & NA exam to be considered for SSB.

For example, in 2020 NDA & NA I Exam, min qualified marks at written exam was 355 (out of 900 marks)
Marks secured by the last candidate recommended for selection was 723 (out of 1800)

And in 2020 NDA & NA II Exam, min qualified marks at written exam was 355 (out of 900 marks)
Marks secured by the last candidate recommended for selection was 719 (out of 1800)

What is SSB?  Is it mandatory?

SSB stands for Service Selection Board.  After qualifying for the NDA & NA written exam, the candidate is instructed to appear for the SSB.  It is mandatory.

What is the SSB Selection Process?

Each service (Army/Air Force/Navy) conducts its own SSB.
The candidate, depending upon his/her preference of service, is invited to a particular SSB center to undergo the SSB process. But at times depending upon the availability, candidates may be called to other services SSBs.

The candidates are assessed for various Officer Like Qualities at the Service Selection Boards. The qualities include planning & organizing ability, social adaptability, social effectiveness, and dynamic ability.  The SSB is conducted in two stages as under:-

(i)   Stage I  Officer Intelligence Rating Test, Picture Perception, and Discussion test. (Day 1)
(ii)  Stage II Psychological testing (Day 2), Group testing, and interview (Day 3 & 4).
(iii) Candidates who have applied for flying branch and have been recommended, will also have to undergo Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS) test

Successful candidates are thereafter required to undergo medical examination (Approx duration 03 to 05 days).

An All India Merit List is compiled on the basis of candidate performance in the written test and SSB interview, subject to being medically fit. Based on the vacancies available in various branches / sub-branches, joining instructions are issued to join NDA or NA.

Where is the SSB test & interview process held?

Each service has its own SSB centers:
Army SSB centers: Allahabad, Bhopal, Bangalore
Navy SSB centers: Coimbatore, Bangalore, Bhopal
Air Force SSB centers: Dehradun, Mysore, Gandhinagar, Varanasi

Candidates who qualify for the NDA & NA written exam are called to one of the SSB centers depending upon the choice of the service provided by him/her.  

Which city/cities does a cadet go to after clearing the NDA & NA exam + SSB?

Candidates report to either the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla (Pune) or the Naval Academy in Ezhimala (Kerala) after clearing NDA & NA and the SSB process

Can I give my choice of services - (Army/Navy, etc.) while applying for NDA & NA exam?


How much does it cost to do a course at NDA or NA?

The cost of training including accommodation, books, uniforms, boarding and medical treatment will be borne by the Government.

However, the personal expenses will need to be met by the cadet which is estimated to be Rs.3000/- per month.  At the time of joining cadets will need to deposit a sum of Rs.59,850/- towards meeting 5 months personal expenses, incidental expenses, clothing, equipment, and insurance.

What degree do I get after completing the course through NDA & NA?

3-Year B.A. (History, Political Science Economics, and Geography)
3-Year B.Sc. (Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics)
3-Year B.Sc (Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics)

4-Year B.Tech  in  Applied  Electronics  &  Communication Engineering  (for  Executive  Branch)
4-Year B.Tech in Mechanical  Engineering  (for Engineering  Branch  including  Naval  Architect  specialization)
4-Year B.Tech in Electronics & Communication Engineering (for Electrical Branch)

Air Force:
4-Year B. Tech
3-Year B.Sc. (Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics)
3-Year B.Sc (Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics)

All degrees are granted by Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

How many attempts can one make for NDA & NA?

There is no limit to the number of attempts one can make at NDA & NA.  However, the candidate must satisfy the age criteria - i.e., he/she must be between 16 ½ to 19 ½ years (at the time of commencement of course).

What is the selection ratio for NDA & NA?  

Nearly 4-5 lac candidates appear for each NDA & NA exam of which nearly 8200 (i.e., 2.65% - 2% of applicants) are called for the SSB.
Of which finally nearly 400 to 500 are selected.

Which implies a selection ratio of 0.1% - 0.125%

Pretty tough indeed but it's candidates like you who make it finally.  Hence, prepare well and give it your best.

I have a compartment in one subject in Class 12.  Am I eligible to appear for NDA & NA exam?

Yes, that is not an issue if you have written the compartment and passed.  As per the UPSC criteria, you must have passed Class 12.

Are there minimum marks in Class 12 to apply for NDA & NA exam?

No. You need to have passed Class 12 or equivalent.

Are IB / IGSCE board students eligible for NDA & NA exam?

Yes, as long as your age is between 16 ½ to 19 ½ years at the time of commencement of course and satisfy the subject eligibility conditions for the 3 services can apply.

How many times is the NDA & NA exam held in a year?

NDA & NA exam is held twice each year.  Once in April and then in September.

Are reservations applicable in NDA & NA exam?

There are no reservations in the NDA & NA exams.

I am in Class 11.  Can I apply for NDA & NA exam?

No, you cannot.

Is there an age criterion for applying to NDA & NA exam?

Your age must be between 16 ½ to 19 ½ years (at the time of commencement of course)

Are the Class 10 marks applicable for applying to NDA & NA exam?

No, Class 10 marks are not applicable. You only need to have passing marks in Class 10.

Is there any weightage for NCC cadets or cadets from Sainik schools when applying for NDA & NA exam?


Is NDA the only route to join as an officer in defence services after Class 12?

Actually, NDA & NA exam is just one way of getting into the defence services as an officer after Class 12.  Here are the other avenues:

Army: Technical Entry scheme via JEE Main & SSB
Navy: Technical Entry scheme via JEE Main & SSB
Inter-services into Armed Forces Medical College via NEET

Download the armed forces entry option chart

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About the Author : Akriti is a content specialist at Opasis

Keywords : UPSC NDA 2022, NDA 2022 Application Form, NDA Eligibility, NDA 2022 Exam Date


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