Five Exams to join Defence - All you need to know


Several young people are interested in entering the military, but most are unaware of how to do so. Many vacancies exist in the officer cadre of the defence services, and aspirants are unaware of all options to join the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard at various periods of their lives.

There are several exams and tests conducted by Services Selection Board (SSB), for specific entries.


Eligibility: 10 + 2

National Defence Academy (NDA): UPSC conducts a national level examination twice a year to select male candidates for admission to Army, Navy, Air Force and Naval Academy to fill approximately 415 vacancies. Presently, Air Force is inducting officers for both flying and ground duties through NDA. This examination has two stages: written examination and SSB Interview.

Two question papers - General Ability Test, which has English and GK, and Mathematics of class 11th & 12th level. This needs minimum of 6-8 months of focused preparation.


Indian Army and Navy Technical Entry Schemes: Requires 10+2 examination with a minimum of 70% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

Plus for the Navy, JEE(Mains) rank has now been made compulsory.

On completion of training, candidates are awarded a PC and an engineering degree. After shortlisting, candidates are required to clear SSB of Army/Navy. In case of the army, shortlisting is done based on cut off percentage of marks scored in class 12th, while in case of Navy, short listing is based on JEE (Mains)-All India Rank (AIR) for BE/B Tech Curriculum.


Entry for pre-final year (3rd year) BE/BTech Students


Indian Navy University Entrance Scheme (UES): Students studying in BE/B Tech course in the 3rd year also have a great opportunity to get SSC in the Navy through this entry in Executive (IT) & Technical branches. Candidates will have to undergo Naval campus selection process organized by Navy at various colleges/universities. Screened candidates are shortlisted to undergo SSB interviews and the candidate should have BE/B Tech degree with 60% marks. For the present, UES entries for the army and Air Force have been discontinued.


Entries for graduates

Combined Defence Services (CDS):Like NDA, UPSC also conducts CDS written examinations for graduates twice a year, for both male and female aspirants for joining Army (IMA and OTA), Air Force and Navy. However, to join the flying branch of AF, graduation with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level or BE/B Tech four years’ degree is needed. Similarly, to join Navy, BE/B Tech qualification is prescribed. Different age limits have been prescribed for different entries for men and women candidates. The number of vacancies for each CDS exam varies between 350 to 450. CDS exam for Army(IMA), Navy, and AF has 3 sections: English, GK and Mathematics, while for OTA, there are only 2 sections: English and GK. After passing CDS exam, candidates are needed to clear SSB interviews.


Technical Graduate Entries

Men and women can also join defence services for both PC/SSC after their technical graduation. For the Technical Graduate Course (TGC) of the Army, the candidate should be BE/B Tech in notified streams of engineering. While to become a technical officer in Electronics or Mechanical branches of the Air Force, one needs to have an engineering degree with a min of 60 % marks in the relevant subject. To join the Engineering Branch (Marine Engineers and Naval Architect) or Electrical branches of the Navy, the candidate must have a relevant BE/B Tech degree.


Non-Technical Graduate Entries

Both men/women graduates or PG with non-technical subjects can still join defence services for PC/ SSC. To join the army, you should be a graduate, however, to join JAG and Education branches, one must be a graduate and LLB with 55% marks and MA/MSc in 1st/2nd Div in notified subjects, respectively.


To join the flying branch of AF, one must be a graduate with 60% marks having passed Physics and Maths at 10+2 level or BE/B Tech degree with 60% marks. However, for ground duty branches i.e., Administration, Logistics and Accounts, graduation with 60 % or PG with 50% marks is specified. For Education or Meteorology branch, PG with 50% marks in specified subjects is required.


In Navy, for PC/SSC for men/women, one must be BE/B Tech to join General Service (executive/hydro), Logistics/Logistics (works), Armament Inspection, IT and other duties of the executive branch and could be a graduate/Law graduate for other non-tech /legal duties. However, to join Aviation(pilot/observer) cadres, requirements including CPL are specified. To perform duties of the education branch, an engineering degree/MSc/MA/MCA is essential.


NCC Special Entry

Candidates can join the three defence services for both PC/SSC as specified, if they are graduates and hold senior division NCC ‘C’ certificate of the concerned service. However, for joining the flying branch of AF, a graduate degree with 60% marks, having passed Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level or BE/B Tech degree is essential. Similarly, for joining the Navy, BE/B Tech degree is a requirement.


Indian Coast Guard (ICG)

ICG also offers officer-level job opportunities as assistant commandant for male/ female aspirants in the categories of general duty, Pilot Navigator, technical and law for both permanent and Short Service appointments. For these, one should be a graduate with Mathematics and Physics (12thof 10+2+3 scheme of education). However, for Short Service appointments for flying duties, Commercial Pilot License is needed and a Law degree is essential for law entry. Final selection involves testing at two stages: while Stage-1 involves preliminary examination or written test, Stage-2 includes psychological test, group task and interview. Approximately, 25-50 candidates are selected every year for these posts.