My experience with writing All India Bar Exam (AIBE) 2019- by Adv Mahboob –





This article will be helpful for new lawyers or law students who want to come into legal profession. Litigation or Court Practice is the primitive & primary form of lawyering. A person intending to get into this way of lawyering has to complete a law degree preferably LLB in many countries, then get enrolled with the bar council/association, and in many countries needs to write a Bar Exam. In India, we too followed other countries and started a Bar Exam for lawyers from 2010, thanks to Mr Gopal Subramanium, Senior Advocate, who while being Chairman of Bar Council of India, felt that LLB graduates in India were not skilled or knowledgeable enough to be given license directly to practice in Courts of Law, and that such an exam will filter the really good ones out. The fees for this exam in 2019 was Rs 3500 for General category candidates and Rs 2500 for Schedule Caste / Schedule Tribe category candidates. Many people have opposed introduction of such an exam, but still aspiring litigation lawyers have to pass this, to be fully licensed. Those who have completed LLB before 2010 do not have to write this exam at all, they can directly get enrolled with their local State Bar Council.


Why I say fully licensed is, that when this exam was introduced, it was strictly needed that the LLB graduate first pass this Bar Exam called as All India Bar Exam (AIBE) first, submit proof of the same and get license to practice. But, as the subsequent exam schedules were delayed, LLB graduates were frustrated as they had to wait too long to write this exam which in turn was delaying their work & earning, eventually Bar Council of India (BCI) which oversees the education of lawyers & conduct of lawyers in India, gave one good option. Any LLB graduate could upon getting his provisional pass memo could enroll with his local Bar Council and would be given Temporary Practice Certificate (TPC) & Identity Card which is valid for 6 months, and this could be renewed 3 more times, cumulatively allowing 2 years of Provisional Practice. This receiver of TPC has to pass AIBE within this 2 years, submit proof of the same, and receive a Certificate of Practice(COP) which is a permanent licence to practice in Courts of India, subject to some other rules. Many State Bar Councils have removed such lawyers from their rolls, meaning dis-allowed them from appearing before the Courts, who could not clear the AIBE within stipulated 2 years time. The AIBE has been conducted 14 times in about 9 years, where the average gap between each attempt has been ranging from 5 months to 13 months, bringing average conduction time to be 6-8 months, which means there can be about 3 attempts for applicants in 2 years time period. The BCI has also through a notification/circular said, any LLB graduate can appear this AIBE any number of time, ie no limit on re-takes.


I completed my LLB in July 2019 with first class grades, got enrolled with State Bar Council of Telangana in August 2019, applied for AIBE 14 to be held on 15-09-2019. The online application system asked for 3 location preferences, thankfully I was asked to eventually appear in my home town only. Procrastination has been my innate talent, hence I got serious with this exam in the last 2 weeks before the exam. The past papers of AIBE from 1st to 13th attempt were available for our perusal, also some publishers put them together with correct answers & short explanations into a book, which I purchased. Group study as we always did for our LLB papers, we sat with most Bare Acts & some text books in front of us. It is important to note that AIBE is not like other subject papers of different courses where looking at past years papers would determine which questions are going to be repeated. Looking at past AIBE can only tell the pattern of questioning. So, we tried to solve previous papers by doing the exact exercise we needed to do in the exam time.


The AIBE has 100 questions, which need to be solved in 3 hours, and 40 correct answers are needed to get pass. It is an open book exam, where there is no limit on the books to be brought to the exam, cell phones are not allowed. It is a multiple option – single choice type paper, where 4 options are given for each question. There are no negative marking. The exam result shows only Pass or Fail, there are no grades, no other distinctions in results. I believe that a person with average Law subject’s knowledge with good practice before the exam will surely pass AIBE. So, we during our ‘net practice’ looked at each question, determined which subject of law does it belong to. I have done a 3 year LLB and had 30 subjects to be passed in 6 semesters. Unless you are aware of legal jargon, you cannot understand which question belongs to which subject of law. Additional challenge is that there are no subject-wise categorization of questions in AIBE, compelling you to open a different book for every question you attempt in sequence.


The most important materials are Bare Acts, some short commentaries, print outs of laws whose Bare Act is not available, names & short notes on famous Supreme Court / Constitutional Cases. The syllabus of the exam is given online, which tells you which one is more important as it contains many questions. Constitution, CRPC, CPC, IPC, Evidence, together account for about 54 questions to be asked, other subjects each have 2-4 probable questions on average. I took 20 books, mostly Bare Acts, and some prints of Acts whose books were not with me or not available. I mostly scored 1 point each on the prints I took, where just the index of one peculiar Act was as high as 31 pages, so only index was taken. Prints of 103 amendments to the Constitution found at Wikipedia is also to be taken along, but for us on AIBE 14, important amendments question was not asked this time. I would suggest keep any such additional material other than books which could give extra points.


So we tried to solve each question, looked for relevant law book, searched for answers. There are 4 category of questions according to me, first those questions whose answers you know by heart, eg- time for accused to be produced before magistrate is ’24 hours’ , which do not need research. Second, such questions which want you to just look at index of that Act and tell where does the said question topic lies in which section. Third, such questions which will require you to read the relevant section in detail and answer. Fourth, such question for which you do not have any answer as you may have not read that subject or you dont know which subject it belongs to. In the actual exam, there are usually 2 persons sitting on a bench. The problem is there are 4 sets of AIBE, wherein all your neighbours, ie 2 guys on the front bench, 2 guys on the back bench and your co-bencher, all will have the same question paper but all the questions are jumbled to make different sets. Its not allowed, but guys do small whispering with their neighbours, which may/may not help. One funny friend told us before exam to ask a neighbour a question whose answer we already knew to test his knowledge and whether to trust him for subsequent doubts (lol). Different centers have different rules, they may not even allow you to move on the bench, or to talk with others. This brings us back to age old saying ‘Aim for the Best, Prepare for the Worst’. Mind me, those 3 hours went like some minutes. There was no time to do any other thing, except look for right answers.


I am a speed reader, so was able to do 2 full rounds of the 100 questions. The best strategy I found in my experience of taking many entrance & MCQ tests is, firstly there may be 20-30 questions whose answer you already know, tick that correct answer right away on the question paper, nothing to research. Secondly, see those question on which you could work and find out the correct answer. Lastly look at those question which are too tough to research or out of your knowledge base. How this helps is, you utilise the first available time for the questions on which you could score probably the best. The last period of time is given to hardest questions, where even if you lose attempting well, you dont lose much and good points are already scored in the beginning. It happened exactly as planned. I was able to work on about 70 questions, and was unable to remaining 30 for which I randomly chose ‘B’ as an option. The reason is too less time was available. Please start bubbling the circles when there are 30 minutes left for end of the paper. Bubbling 100 circles is no easy task. I could have lost some questions, but luckily before my exam invigilator snatched my OMR sheet, I was done bubbling all 100 circles.

Problems with OMR Sheet:

We are given an OMR sheet, which basically is a paper where you have to fill up bubbles using your pen, this may be to write your name or exam roll no or even your answers. There is also other space given to write your details. There are so many bubbles in the sections other than question paper section, that you may bubble the wrong circle. Be careful in this, put light line in that bubble before you fully darken it, check again. I did some mistakes, but on taking help of the exam center officials, was told I am safe. The problem occurs as we dont do such exercise everyday.


The results key was released within 1 or 2 days of the exam, I checked it and found 67 correct answers according to this key. Also I found 6-8 questions which had errors in it, and I trust that I will get additional points when the Exam conductors check them. We found looking at previous papers, many errors had come in questions and those who attempted such questions were given points for free, so advice is to attempt all 100 questions for sure. Also BCI asks feedback on the paper, we are allowed to report any problems in the paper, my suggestion to you all is find the errors, write them well with some explanation, suggest appropriate book or act for them to verify, send many emails through distinct persons, this will make them realise the errors and give away free points, this will surely help those weak applicants who are struggling to cross the 40 point winning barrier.


I am aware of the importance of Bar Exam in USA, UK & other countries. Some countries may even have requirements that lawyers write & clear some papers every 2-3 years to keep them updated about latest changes in laws. Firstly, BCI is ignoring that the applicant has already passed the LLB degree syllabus exams. Those who passed LLB before 2010 are not needed to write AIBE, which means without writing AIBE they are capable of law practice which is strange. Secondly, AIBE is putting additional burden on aspiring lawyers by asking Rs 3500 as fees, in addition to various fees given to Bar Council for initial enrollment. Thirdly, I dont think real world problems are same as the questions asked on the paper, this skill of passing may or may not help you become good lawyer or deliver good legal solutions. If you think its all dark with AIBE, let me brighten you up, AIBE actually creates a filter by giving you lifelong license to practice in courts, whereas your mates who cannot clear AIBE within 2 years of enrollment cannot file vakalatnama for cases, cannot argue in court, or if I exaggerate, cannot wear the band & gown, a distinct additional dress for enrolled advocates.


Be well prepared, you can easily pass if you fulfill the requirements as I have given in this article. For every notification of future AIBE, read all requirements well.

Please share this article with someone who could benefit.



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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