This is a guest post by the very talented young judge – Pratik Sagar, (Civil Judge, 30th batch, Bihar). This is how it goes:
Hello, hope you are doing fine! If you are reading this article, it means either you are preparing for coveted judicial service examination or maybe you are still in the decision making process to prepare for it! This article could be helpful for both the categories. First, let me introduce myself: my name is Pratik Sagar and I am from Ranchi, Jharkhand. I had always been an average student with no major academic achievements. I graduated in History from the University of Delhi and did my LLB from the same in 2017. I cleared the 30th Bihar Judiciary Exam (2018-19) with 54th rank in my first attempt. Earlier, I also took mains of Delhi and UP. After cracking the Bihar Judicial Service Exam (BJSE), I have been asked many questions regarding my strategy for the exams by many people. This prompted me to write this article so that others may also get benefitted from it.
First, a disclaimer: There is no fixed route to success and everyone carve one’s path, so whatever I am discussing is what I followed in my preparation and many may beg to differ thus, may apply their discretion and prepare accordingly. Our destination is the same, routes may be different.
Since, the examination pattern of every state is different and requires different approach of preparation hence, I will be sticking mainly towards Bihar’s examination. However, it’s not that all these cannot be applied while preparing for another state examination.
Before delving towards the strategy I adopted for the exam, there are few things which I want to discuss with you all, and I hope you bear because trust me all these small things though seems trivial, could matters a lot.
Passing any college exam and clearing any competitive exam are two different things. To crack a coveted exam like judiciary you need a different approach; you cannot rely on any short trick or jugaad, or just wait for the night before the exam to study, or depend on someone’s photocopied notes. Here, you have to sail alone in the rough sea and become your light-house. You need to devote time, put effort, sacrifice many things, and have to convince your mind for the long battle ahead.
In two and half years of my journey, I have seen many students who have started the preparation with full zeal and vigor but lost the same within few months, or some held it till the preliminary exam but once failed to lose all the zeal and changed path. So, if you want to prepare for the exam then first make up your mind taking into consideration all the factors and problems which you would face. I am pointing out a few of them which I had to tackle:
- FINANCIAL PROBLEM: It is one of the biggest problems most aspirants usually face. You may be a fresh law graduate with no source of income or a practicing advocate. You have to be dependent on your family or your savings (if you have) for at least one to two years. Barring some, most of us would not afford a luxurious life with weekend parties and all. Besides, you continuously need money to buy books, fill up the exam form and for traveling to different cities to take exams, and if you are preparing by staying away from your home then add all the other expenses yourself. If you have savings then you don’t need to bother much, but still, you need to get your job as soon as possible.
- SOCIAL PROBLEM: You may have to face various irrelevant and annoying questions from your relatives, neighbors, and school or college friends regarding your career and future. There will be some kind of invisible societal pressure on you to get settled soon. You may face taunt or ridicule for being unemployed or for wasting your precious time. Some of your peers may get placed in good firms with handsome salaries or have flourishing practice, some may get admission in coveted universities for further studies, or some may even get married. And here you are struggling with your notes and burning the midnight oil. With the cloud of doubts and failures looming over your head, you might feel a loser in life and could question your decision of choosing this path.
- MENTAL PROBLEM: You have to live a mundane life; the same rigorous routine for every day except for a few off. No long vacations, not much weekend parties, not much binge-watching, etc. Your books and notes will be your only companion. You may, while scrolling through Instagram watch your friends having the best time which could give you FOMO(feeling of missing out). All these could take a toll on your mental health!
I have seen many succumbed to the above-mentioned problems, while few stronger ones came out as a winner. By mentioning the above problems, I do not want to dissuade or demotivate you. I just want you to be aware of the problems which you might face. The competition level is high these days. Some students are giving ten to twelve hours a day for the past one or two years. You need to beat them to get yourself in merit, so it will not be a walk in the park for sure. I don’t want you to start preparation and give your valuable six to seven months and retreat facing these problems. So it’s good to remain mentally prepared in advance. However, I must tell you this, if you prepare for this exam religiously then you may, God forbid, not clear it but you will never be the same person. As it is said, “what can’t kill you makes you stronger”. Thus, wherever you would go you will outshine others with your knowledge, persistence, and hard work.
Now, let’s start the business for which you are here. Bihar Judiciary exam consists of three stages: Preliminary, mains, and interview. I will be dealing with the preparation for each stage separately.
Paper 1 (100 marks)
i) General Knowledge including current affairs
ii) Elementary general science
Paper 2 Law (150 marks)
- Law of Evidence and Procedure( CPC and CrPc)
- Constitutional and Administrative law
- Hindu and Muslim Law
- TPA, Equity, Trusts, and Specific Relief Act
- Contracts and Torts
- Sale of Goods Act, Negotiable Act, Company law, Partnership Act
P.S: No Indian Penal Code 1860
First, let’s see how to prepare for the law part. Ideally, one should prepare for PT and Mains simultaneously.As once you clear the PT you will have quite a less time (around 40 to 50 days) for mains preparation. Thus, I would suggest you devote time for both till the notification is out and after the release of notification, you should prepare only for the PT.
Preliminary exam check your command over the bare Acts, the basic concept of law, and landmark case laws. So your primary tools will be the following:
- Bare Acts of all the subjects (latest).
- Notes self-prepared or of any good coaching.
- Books to solve MCQ: Universal MCQs or Singhal MCQs.
- Previous years questions: OP Tripathi or Pariksha Manthan( I had this) or Singhal.
- Highlighters( colors matter in our boring life)
- Live Law website or app for legal current affairs.
Books I referred:
Constitution: Laxmikanth (polity), J. N Pandey, Singhal’s law guide, Ghatnachakra(polity)
IPC: Pillai’s (for interview)
Administrative law: Takwani
Evidence: V.P Sarathy, you can go for Batuk Lal
TPA: R.K. Sinha’s
Trust: Bare Act
SRA: Singhal’s law guide
Torts: Singhal’s law guide, Bangia
Hindu law: Singhal’s law guide, Paras Diwan
Muslim: Aquil Ahmad, Singhal’s law guide
P.S: I also had Rahul’s IAS coaching notes.
Bare act will be your Bible, Quran, and Bhagwat Gita for the PT, so you need to give it the same respect and keep it close to your heart and mind. Your preparation starts and ends with it.
The following are the methods that I adopted to cover the bare acts and clear the PT of almost all the states in my first attempt.
- First, read the contents to get an acquaintance with the Act. Then give a slow first reading from the first line to the last (only if it is a small act like SRA, Contract). Don’t highlight or underline in the first reading.
- Then start reading slowly chapter-wise. Try to understand the provisions keeping in mind words like – notwithstanding, provided etc. Read all the illustrations as well, since, lots of questions come from those. Once you are done with the chapter close it and open PYQ (previous year’s questions) and try to solve the questions related to that chapter. Mark the questions and sections in which you were unable to answer correctly and simultaneously read the concerned section in the bare act. Try to analyze the trend of the questions and figure out the pattern of the questions – how they are framing the questions, which portion and illustrations seem relevant, etc.
- Once done with this, read again the same chapter and highlight the important words and illustrations.
- After doing the above, close everything and try to mentally recall all the important provisions of that chapter and see if you can recall or you are missing anything. If you are missing anything then open and read again. Sometimes, I would just open the index and try to recall all the ingredients and landmark case laws of the sections.
- After completing one Act before heading to a new one do give one revision, if it is not possible, then must try to revise it within one week.
I know all the above-mentioned steps seem time-consuming and exhausting, but trust me it’s very important. It is very easy to forget everything if you do not imbibe it in your memory, otherwise, you have to start de-novo. Whatever we remember get store in our short-term memory; we have to convert it into our long -term memory. For this, revision is the only key so try to revise as many times as possible.
It may happen that when you try to revise any subject after a month or later, you feel you have forgotten most of the things and that may put you in anxiety. It happens with most of us so, don’t worry, and keep on revising, with time everything will get etched in your memory.
- For Acts like CPC and CrPC, I did not follow the above methods, as these are lengthy Acts and take the most time to cover. I would suggest never try to cover these in one go. Keep reading these along with other minor Acts. What I used to do was, every day I would give one hour to these (either CPC or CrPC) and rest for others. By adopting such a strategy there was harmony in my preparation. I would never get bored of reading only the dry provisions of procedural law and simultaneously my other minor Acts would also get completed, which would further boost my confidence (much needed in a long time). Every day I would try to complete one or two orders of CPC and solve Mcqs, same with CrPC (a few sections every day).
Here, I would also like to clarify that reading CPC and CrPC requires understanding. You should not just open the Bare Act and start reading. First, prepare these subjects according to the mains examination with the help of books or notes of any coaching. The above-mentioned suggestion should be adopted when you are done with mains and have entered in PT preparation. As when you are studying from a PT perspective, you need to read the whole Acts (at least once) and a basic understanding of the subject will help you in remembering the provisions.
- If you look at the previous year’s questions of procedural law of all the states, you will find that you do not need to read and remembers all the sections or orders. For CPC, I feel, out of 51 orders, 30 around are the important ones. So, after reading all the orders once, focus more on these orders while re-reading.
I find the following most important: Order 1 to 20, O 21(few rules related to Garnishee etc) O 22, O 23, O 24, O 32, O 35, O37, O38, O39, O40, O43, O47, O48 along with all the sections. You ought to have a good command over these orders. Rest you can read and remember if you have time, keeping in mind the marks allocation of the subject.
- Do try to remember all the chapters numbers and orders number, as you may get direct questions from there, mostly from CrPC, CPC, TPA, IPC, SRA.
- In one place write down the date of enforcement (including important amendments date) of all the Acts, since, many Acts have the same date of enforcement it will be easier to remember.
- While reading gives more importance to amended sections and new sections inserted in the Act.
- If possible, try to write landmark case laws related to particular sections near those sections only. I had dual-language bare acts so I would stick notes of case laws on the Hindi side of the Acts. It becomes easier to remember case law by this method.
- Try to make learning as interesting and active as possible– use highlighters of different colors, sticky-notes, tables, charts, tricks, etc whatever aids you in your learning. Keep trying new and innovative methods to learn sections and case laws. Passive reading will not take you further.
Self Assessment is the key
If you are not attending any coaching class, then you need to know whether you are on the right track or not. A mock test is the most important tool for that. Generally, most of us solve MCQs after completing one subject; it’s good and necessary, but may not prepare you completely for the examination. In the examination questions may not be divided subject-wise. Your mind needs to jump from one subject to another which makes it difficult to recall the exact provisions, and with time running it becomes even trickier. Therefore, once a week try solving question papers of previous exams from all the states, even if the pattern is different or some subjects are out of your state syllabus (leave those).
Try to create the exam-hall atmosphere; don’t let anyone disturb you during your mock. By giving mocks regularly, your mind will be trained to solve questions under pressure within the time. It will be immensely helpful to you on your D-Day. We all know how important the mock-test is; still, due to fear of self-assessment, we tend to avoid it.
Remember, the primary purpose of giving mocks is to prepare ourselves for the examination. Even if you are getting bad marks, it is okay keep doing it. Further, it will also help you analyze what kind of mistakes you are making and in which subject you need to work more. If you take my example, I found that I would not read all the options carefully, and despite knowing the correct answer I was committing mistakes. So always try to attempt mocks with utmost diligence.
For General Knowledge and General Science
It is said that Gk/GS is the one which decides whether you will clear the exam or not. I, from my own experience, can say that I have seen many bright and hard-working students who did not able to clear the exams due to GK/GS (especially in Delhi, UP, and Bihar). It is because of the step-treatment which we give to these subjects. Since the beginning of the preparation, we focus all our attention on law papers.
I know we get a certain kind of satisfaction reading law which we may not get while reading Gk. But we also need to keep in mind that the clearing exam is our main purpose, which requires giving equal importance to GK/GS. Mind my words; do not underestimate GK/GS. You may think you can do it anytime or you may plan to do it after completing your law subjects. Trust me on this it could be your biggest mistake.
Syllabus of GK/GS is not limited; they can ask questions from anywhere or on anything. For example, in my mains, there was this question- why the Red Sea is red? Or when Doctor’s day is celebrated and why on that day? I knew the date but did not know the reason for its celebration. I think I need not give you more examples to show you the variety of questions which you can expect. So I beg you to start reading GK/GS at least for two hours from day one.
BOOKS I REFERRED FOR GK/GS
For General knowledge:
- Newspaper – The Indian express/ The Hindu (English), Dainik Jagran (national edition, Hindi). If offline is accessible then prefer that over online.
- News and Events (you can find on Readwhere app) and Pratiyogita Darpan or Arihant special editions
- Study IQ youtube channel, Live Law, some telegram channels etc.
- Self notes for Current Affairs and Static GK
- General knowledge (Crown publication/ Lucent)
- Ghatnachakra special edition for History and Polity
- Lucent General Knowledge objective
For General Science:
- Lucent General science special edition
- Upkar General Science ( First 100 pages only)
- Ghatnachakra Special Edition for Science ( Must)
- NCERT class 6th to 10th ( one reading)
- Some PDF notes such as “most important MCQs for Science” got online.
For the preparation of the above paper, there is no fixed strategy; every one prepare as per one’s strategy. However, I would like to bring out a few important points which we must keep in mind while doing so.
- Do not run after materials: Internet and market are flooded with materials for general knowledge. We download hundreds of pdfs, apps for current affairs, e-books etc. Then give one or two readings of those and moved on. You should never do it. Go through past year papers of ten years, analyze the questions properly and then decide which books and sources would be appropriate to you; stick to those till the end.
I used to live in Mukherjee Nagar (Delhi) (hub of IAS coaching’s) and in the market, I would get all types of material. Not buying them seemed irresistible. But after a few setbacks, I realized I need to stick to few sources only. As revision is the key. You need to revise the same material throughout the year so that all the facts get fixed in your mind. And, reading from multiple sources will not serve that purpose
- History and Geography: Almost 50 questions come from these two in PT. So prepare it nicely. If you do not have any idea about History, then, first I would suggest you read NCERT (from 6 to 10) to have some basic understandings of the entire event so that you may connect while remembering the facts. – If not much time left then you may leave reading NCERTs. Further, you must give at least three readings of Ghatnachakra. No need to read and remember all the explanations, just try to remember the questions and answers. Same strategy for Geography. Try to remember all the important tables of History and Geography from lucent, lots of questions come from those.
- Current Affairs: I reiterate don’t run after materials. Follow one standard newspaper and read it as per the requirement. Remember, we are not preparing for Civil Services so no need to research everything. Just have a good understanding of everything important happening all around the world. No need to read political, entertainments, local news much. Focus on what is relevant.
Notes from the Newspaper! I do not suggest you to make daily notes from the newspaper. Though, I will suggest having one notebook, and whenever you come across anything important from the essay, mains, or interview point of view note down only those. For the rest, you have your monthly magazines. Read and revise those throughout the year.
I will also suggest having one notebook for current affairs wherein you make various categories such as – books and authors, awards, sporting events, important relevant abbreviations, deaths of famous personalities, days of the year, etc (analyze previous years). While reading newspaper and current affair magazines if come across important facts related to these categories then note down in your notebook. By doing so, you will have all the important facts in one place. Then it will be easy to remember and revise at the last moment say a day before the exam.
P.S- Remember your purpose should be to prepare in such a manner that you can revise everything a week from the exam as that is the most crucial time.
- Legal Current Affairs: Being a law student, propriety requires that you should be aware of all the important happenings of the legal world including landmark judgments. Even in the interview as well as mains questions could be asked on the latest case laws, thus, you should follow it from the beginning.
For this, live law (blog) and newspapers are the best source. Daily try to give half-hour reading legal news and make short notes. I had one notebook which was divided into three parts: civil, criminal, and Constitutional. I would write down all the important case laws therein with brief facts and whatever was held by the Supreme Court as well the High court of my targeted states.
Other useful online sources for legal knowledge are the following:
- Bar & Bench
- Law Octopus
- The Leaflet by Indira Jai Singh
- Faizan Mustafa’s (VC of NALSAR, Hyderabad) youtube channel, quite informative and analytical.
- Youtube channel- Vidhik Shikhsa by Man Mohan Joshi, Theory of Abrogation, Finology Legal, Delhi Knowledge track ( for interviews of judiciary toppers)
- Telegram channels: Judiciary my dream, Judicial Services etc
Choti Magar Moti batein (little things matter most)
- Eat healthy think better: Never compromise on your health while preparing. Every day gives at least thirty to fifty minutes to physical exercise such as yoga, stretching, running, anything you like. One of my friends has suffered ignoring his health. Sitting long hours for studies gave him a spinal problem and he was bedridden for a month before mains. You don’t want that to happen to you right?
Mind is your biggest tool so take extra care of it. Do meditation regularly, if you don’t know then learn it; no need to be a master of it, simple breathing exercise would suffice. In the long term, you will feel its benefit trust me on this. It will keep you calm, and ward off negative thoughts, and also help in concentration as well as retention. There are so many videos available on youtube, even there are apps such as headspace, etc.
Try to avoid junk foods and include in your diet food which is good for your mental health such as green vegetables, milk, egg, almonds, etc. I still daily eat almonds.
- When you are down: It will be a long journey for sure (around 1.5 years for everything to get completed) and not every day will be the same. Some day you may feel low in energy and lack of motivation or someday you may feel like Spartan warriors. It happens with everyone, it is okay! If you don’t feel like studying, take a break, go out meet your friends watch movies, have dinner and forget everything for a while, refuel yourself for the next day.
Someday, you may need to motivate yourself to get going, watch motivational videos or interviews of IAS or Judiciary toppers. Close yourself and imagine yourself fulfilling your dream and the smiling faces of your closed ones. Believe me, the day you will achieve your dream, that feeling cannot be expressed in words, it will emotional and magical at the same time. I used to imagine how I will tell my parents about my result and how will they react Study for that day.
Sometimes, I would also, to inspire myself, watch movies and read books related to law and courtroom drama.
Following are my all-time favorites, do watch and read when you get time, you will also get to understand our responsibility as a judge or as an advocate in the society.
Movies- Shahid(2013), A few good men(1992), Twelve angry men (1957), Witness for the prosecution(1957), A time to kill(1996), Primal Fear(1996), The Firm(1993), Erin Brockovich(2000), Suits (series)
Books- To kill a mockingbird (movie also), the Rainmaker, the Alchemist (motivational), Before Memory Fades, Legal Eagles, Courtroom Genius.
- Have a goal: Always have goals for your preparation. It should be a short-term goal and long-term goals. Short-term goals include your daily and weekly targets. Long-term include monthly target.
Whenever you go to sleep, just a few minutes before that, you must decide what you will study tomorrow and how much you will have to cover so that when you wake up, you have a goal to achieve for that day. Never start a day without a goal. It will have a psychological effect on your mind, followed by many toppers.
At last, have faith in your hard-work and destiny, if you have given your best then your effort will never go in vain. And the most important, enjoy the journey and the learning process. ALL THE BEST! SEE YOU AGAIN.
Guest post by Pratik Sagar. (Civil Judge, 30th batch, Bihar)