National Defence Academy Exam
National Defence Academy Exam

NDA Exam Pattern 2024: Check Marking Scheme, & Topic-wise Weightage

The NDA exam 2023 comprises two stages: written examination and SSB Interview. Only candidates who clear the written exam will be invited for the SSB interview round.
UPSC NDA Exam Pattern 2024

UPSC NDA Exam Pattern 2024

NDA Exam Pattern 2024: The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the NDA/NA exam twice a year generally in the months of April and September. The exam is conducted for candidates aspiring admission to the National Defence Academy and Indian Naval Academy. The NDA exam pattern consists of the written exam and SSB Interview. The written exam consists of two papers - Mathematics and General Aptitude Test (GAT) which is conducted in two different sessions on the same day. Read More: NDA Exam 2024

The NDA written exam consists of 900 marks, with 300 marks allocated to the Mathematics paper and 600 marks allocated to the General Aptitude Test (GAT). Class 12 level mathematical questions are asked in the NDA mathematics paper, while topics such as English, General Science, and General Knowledge are covered in the NDA GAT paper.

After the NDA written exam is conducted, selected candidates are invited for the SSB Interview round. The NDA SSB Interview round comprises two stages - Stage I and Stage II. The SSB Interview Stage I includes Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) tests and Stage II includes Interview, Group Testing Officer Tasks, Psychology Tests and the Conference. These tests are conducted over 5-6 days. Read More: NDA Syllabus 2024

NDA Exam Pattern 2024: Highlights

Candidates aspiring to join Indian Armed Forces in either Army, Air Force, or Naval Wing can check table below to learn more about the latest UPSC NDA exam pattern:



Mode of Exam


Medium of Exam

English & Hindi

No. of Papers

Paper I: General Aptitude Test (GAT)

Paper II: Mathematics

Number of questions

General Aptitude Test (GAT): 150

Mathematics: 120

Total marks

General Aptitude Test (GAT): 600

Mathematics: 300

SSB Interview: 900

Negative Marking

General Aptitude Test (GAT): 1.33 marks for each incorrect answer

Mathematics: 0.83 marks for each incorrect answer

Duration of the Exam

General Aptitude Test (GAT): 2.5 hour

Mathematics: 2.5 hour

Timing of the Exam

General Aptitude Test (GAT): 10 am to 12.30 pm

Mathematics: 2 pm to 4.30 pm

  • The questions in both papers will be in the form of MCQs. Part "b" of the general ability test and the mathematics question paper (test booklets) will be bilingually set in Hindi and English.
  • Wherever necessary, questions involving the metric system of Weights and Measures will be set in question papers.
  • Candidates must complete their papers on their own. They will not be permitted to use a scribe to write their answers for them under any circumstances.
  • The Commission has the authority to set qualifying marks in any or all of the examination subjects.
  • Candidates are not allowed to use a calculator or a mathematical or logarithmic table to solve objective-type questions. Therefore, candidates should not carry it to the examination centre.

NDA Exam Pattern for Mathematics Paper

NDA mathematics paper involves questions of Class 12 level. Candidates are required to have a thorough practice of mathematical questions involving topics like Algebra, Trigonometry, Matrices And Determinants, Differential Calculus, and others. The detailed exam pattern is discussed below:

  • The Mathematics paper consists of 120 questions.
  • Each question carry 2.5 marks
  • The total maximum marks is 300
  • There is a negative marking of 0.83 for each incorrect answer
  • The duration of the exam is 2.5 hrs.

NDA Exam Pattern for GAT Paper

NDA GAT paper involves questions from topics like English and General Knowledge. The detailed exam pattern for the paper is discussed below:

  • The General Aptitude Test (GAT) paper is divided into two parts: Part A: English and Part B: General Knowledge
  • The paper is of total 600 marks. The Part A which is English is of 200 marks, while Part B is of 400 marks.
  • The Part B of the GAT paper consists of questions from topics like Physics, Chemistry, Geography, General Science, Indian History (Freedom Movement), and Current Events.
  • There are a total of 150 questions asked in the paper.
  • Each question carries 4 marks.
  • There is also a negative marking of 1.33 marks for each incorrect answer.

NDA Exam Pattern for SSB Interview

The SSB Interview process is split into two stages: stage I and stage II. Only those applicants who pass stage I are eligible to take stage II. Around five to six days are dedicated to the interview process, with the first day being dedicated to Stage I.

Day I - Screening Test (Stage I)

After you have reported to your SSB Interview centre, you will be summoned the following day for the Stage I round, which is the Screening Test. On the screening day, candidates will go through the Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) Test which involves Verbal and Non-verbal tests. Following the OIR test, candidates will go through the Picture Perception * Description Test (PP&DT).

Day II - Psychology Test

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

  • The Thematic Apperception Test is also commonly known as the Picture Story writing test. 
  • The participants are presented with clear images, which they must view for 30 seconds before writing a description about it in four minutes. 
  • There are a total of 12 slides displayed, 11 of which will be shown one after the other. 
  • The twelfth slide will be an empty slide on which a candidate can write any storyline of his or her choosing.

Word Association Test (WAT)

  • As part of the SSB selection process, the WAT is the second psychological test.
  • During this test, participants are presented a word on a screen for 15 seconds.
  • During this interval, the candidates are required to write the first thing that comes to their mind after seeing/reading that word.
  • One after the other, 60 words will be displayed i.e. between each word, there will be a duration of 15 seconds
  • The words displayed will be of common use vocabulary; this exam will not measure a candidate's command of the English language.

Situation Reaction Test (SRT)

  • Candidates will be given 60 scenarios, one by one, on a piece of paper where they are required to write the answers in a subjective format.
  • The time restriction for this is one hour, thus applicants must consider carefully before writing their answer.

Self-Description Test (SD)

  • Candidates will be asked to write about themselves from the perspective of their parents, teachers, friends, and themselves in the Self Description Test. 
  • Candidates are also asked to write about what they want to become and what they wish to improve about themselves.

Day III & Day IV: Group Testing Officer Test

On Day 3 & Day 4, the Group Testing Officer conducts the following tests:

  • Group discussion (GD)
  • Group Planning Exercise/Military Planning Exercise (GPE/MPE)
  • Progressive Group Tasks (PGT)
  • Half Group Tasks (HGT)
  • Individual Obstacles (IOT)
  • Group Obstacles Race/Snake Race
  • Command Task
  • Lecturette
  • Final Group Task (FGT)

Day V: Conference

Day 5 is the conference day which is the last phase of the SSB Interview round. On this day, assessors and candidates meet for a lengthy discussion to determine if the candidate is competent to join the National Defence Academy or the Naval Academy.

Important Points to Remember:

  • Three distinct assessors evaluate a candidate's personality: the Interviewing Officer (IO), the Group Testing Officer (GTO), and the Psychologist.
  • There is no specific weightage for each test. Adjudicators only award marks after considering the candidate's overall performance across all tests.
  • Furthermore, marks for Conference are assigned depending on the Candidate's initial performance in the three approaches and the Board's judgment. All of these are weighted equally.

NDA Marking Scheme

The NDA written Exam is divided into two parts: Mathematics and General Ability Test (GAT).

  • In the Mathematics paper, there will be 120 questions for 300 marks.
  • 0.83 marks will be penalized for each wrong answer in the Math paper
  • The general ability test will be worth 600 marks, with English worth 200 marks and General Knowledge worth 400 marks.
  • This portion will have 150 questions, 50 from English and 100 from General Knowledge.
  • 1.33 marks will be deducted for each wrong answer in the GAT paper.
  • Candidates will not be awarded marks for unanswered questions, nor will they receive negative marking for them.



General Ability Test

Number of questions



Marks Per Question



Total marks



Negative Marking

1/3rd of the marks the question carries

Topics to cover for NDA Exam

The NDA written paper consists of two broad topics, Mathematics & General Ability. The NDA Math paper assesses the candidates’ mathematical ability to solve complex questions in a given time. On the other hand, the General Ability test of the NDA exam assesses the candidates’ knowledge of History, Current events, Physics, Chemistry, and General Science.

The detailed topics that candidate must cover for the NDA exam are as follows:




  • Algebra
  • Matrices And Determinants
  • Trigonometry
  • Analytical Geometry Of Two And Three Dimensions
  • Differential Calculus
  • Integral Calculus And Differential Equations
  • Vector Algebra
  • Statistics And Probability

General Ability Test

Part A: English

Part B: General Knowledge

Sub-Topics in General Knowledge:

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • General Science
  • History, Freedom Movement etc
  • Geography
  • Current Events

NDA GAT Question Weightage

The Part A of the GAT paper is of English language where all questions will be asked with respect to Grammar and usage, vocabulary, comprehension and cohesion. The Part B of the GAT paper consists of different topics for which weightage is given below:






General Science

Current Events








Note: The weightage is approximately in nature and is mentioned in the NDA official notification. The weightage is subject to change at the discretion of the examining authorities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is passing marks in the NDA exam?

To qualify for the next stage, students must get at least the cut off scores in the written test, with 25% marks in each subject.

How many stages are there in the NDA exam?

The UPSC NDA Exam selection process constitutes two phases. The written examination and the SSB Round are the two stages of the examination. The selection process carries 1800 marks in total.

What is a safe score in the NDA exam?

To stay on the safe side, candidates should aim for at least 360 marks in order to pass the NDA written examination and at least 25% in each paper individually.

How much marks SSB Interview carry in the NDA exam 2023?

The SSB Interview in the NDA exam carries 900 marks.

Is there negative marking in the NDA exam 2023?

Yes, there is a provision of negative marking in the NDA exam 2023. For each incorrect answer, 1/3rd of allotted marks (per question) will be deducted.

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