How to crack the State Judicial Service Exam? –

Becoming a Judge in India is a big dream for many and a respectable public service option for Law graduates only. In India, Judges of District Courts and Magistrate Courts are hired by State Judicial Exams conducted either by the respective High Court or the Public Service Commission. We will discuss how an aspirant can clear the State Judicial Service exam. If you want to more about Judiciary in India and various ways to become a Judge in India, please read our other article on this theme, by clicking here.


The first thing to follow is that the exam conducting authority will give notification through its website and popular newspapers, aspirants must follow these media, and also be in touch with Judicial related information portals to know when any such opening is announced. Each State may announce openings once or twice a year. The number of Judge positions are dependent on the size of the State, the retiring Judicial Officer numbers, the requirements of the administration at that particular time. Important point to note is that any such hiring authority generally states that it can increase or decrease the positions offered, and also it can arbitrarily cancel the whole recruitment process.

This notification document contains all the requirements which are necessary for eligible candidates. Primarily the required percentage in LLB degree is defined for general and reserved category candidates, age limits & exemptions are defined, stages of the exam are defined, number of papers and syllabus for the exam is defined.

Designation of the Judge:

There are only two categories of designations where the State Judicial Services exam is conducted to select the Judges. The first type is the lowest level, where the Judge is called as Judicial Magistrate or Junior Civil Judge. For this category no experience as an Advocate is needed, minimum age generally required is 23 years, and maximum age is 35 years. Exemption of 5 years is given for socially backward, underprivileged, disabled candidates. Special reservations for women are present in all categories usually. This category will have good number of positions in each notification. Fresh Law graduates have some advantage as they have a habit of writing academic papers.

The second type is called District & Sessions Judge. Here, minimum 7 years practice as an Advocate is needed, the papers on the exam have more syllabus than the first category, and also the difficulty level is also on the higher side. This category will see less number of positions in each notification. One more difficulty with this stage of exam is that candidates find it difficult to work on academic exams as they have been involved mostly into Advocacy work for the previous years.

To take coaching or not?

Generally, huge number of LLB graduates take coaching at institutes to clear the Judicial Service Exam. What the students get at these institutes is basic understanding of the exam, lectures are given to explain important concepts in the syllabus, doubt clearance sessions are done, guidance regarding each stage of preparation is given, many mock tests and interviews are conducted for the students. The main advantage is the aspirant gets an environment of learning, he/she get to see other students prepare and get motivated, they have someone to ask if they get stuck at any stage. There indeed is a cost for such support which is to be paid, which can range from thousands to lakhs of rupees, depending on the reputation of the Institute.
On the other hand, there have been instances of candidates clearing the Judicial Service exam without any coaching. These candidates understand the exam well, and prepare with the best of efforts using best available materials. Some candidates clear the initial stages by themselves, but seek help of Institutes for the interview stage. Finally, it is upon the candidate to choose which way to walk on and get the best for themselves.

Syllabus for the Exam:

The main papers of this exam are on Criminal Law, Civil Law, General Knowledge, Current Affairs, Judgment Writing etc. Each State has different set of permutations & combinations, which can be ascertained by looking at the previous papers.

Criminal Law syllabus contains Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence Act, Negotiable Instruments Act, Domestic Violence Act, Juvenile Justice Act, Gaming Act, etc.

Civil Law syllabus contains Civil Procedure Code, Limitation Act, Specific Relief Act, Easements Act, Indian Contracts Act, Transfer of Property Act, Hindu Law, Muslim Law, Land Laws, Local Municipal Laws, Registration Act, Stamps Act, etc.

Stages of the Exam & Preparation:

The first stage is the Preliminary exam, the second stage is Mains exams and final stage is Interview. The syllabus for all the three stages is the same, but the preparation method for each is different.

The Preliminary exam contains Multiple Choice Questions where the exam taker has to choose one correct option. The candidates get marks for correct answers. In some states there is negative marking for wrong answers. Usually minimum 40 percent is to be procured by the candidate to pass this stage, but to go to the next stage, based upon merit, the top candidates are chosen. Preparation for this exam needs thorough understanding of the most important concepts of the syllabus. There are certain books available in the market where there are mock papers which contain most important concepts and most repeated questions. If an aspirant is perfect in understanding & remembering the whole questions in such a book, he/she may get good scores in the exam. But again, the cut off keeps changing each year and there is no specific number which can predict the candidate’s going to Mains stage. Candidates from reservation category also have relaxation in terms of cut off marks.

The Mains stage contains written papers which may number from 3 to 6 according to different State. Each paper usually is 3 hours long. This stage needs deep and wide study of the subject. The candidates need to have good writing skills, under timed conditions. English language proficiency is highly needed. The papers are very lengthy and you need to write in simple language but a lot of content. This stage is the back bone of the recruitment process which can make or break your chances.

The Interview stage contains an interview with some Judges of the High Court or a panel of important persons designated by the Public Service Commission according to respective State. The top candidates in the Mains exams result are called for the interview. One important point to note is that there is no preference given to the scores of the Preliminary exam to be called to the Interview stage. Preliminary exam is done just to filter the best candidates, the score of this exam is not used for making final merit list.

Final Selection:

Final selection depends on the cumulative score of the Mains exam and the Final Interview, and the highest scorers are selected, with the imposition of reservation policy where ever applicable. General category candidates may compete for 50% of the actual job positions only as the other half is reserved, which means extra challenge.

How early can I succeed?

It is very difficult to declare when a candidate can be successful at the Judicial Services Exam. It is found in some instances that about 20% of the successful candidates are fresh Law graduates, it may be understood that most of the other successful candidates are repeaters. Some candidates keep working and sit for the exam whenever it is conducted. Some candidates dedicate their whole time for exam studies. It can be fairly said that Judicial Service Exam needs about 2 years of strong preparation for succeeding in it, which means the those candidates who are very clear of such a goal do start preparing in the final years of LLB study.


Lastly, we can say that if a Law graduate wants to serve the country through the route of Judicial service, if he/she works hard with proper guidance, they can become a Judge in India. There is no better feeling than sitting on a high place and delivering Justice to the people, and even getting paid for it.



The author is the founder of and an Advocate practicing in Hyderabad, Telangana. This article was first published on 05 July 2020.



Mahboob Ali Mohammed

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