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Find and Study the trends from the previous three All India Bar Exams along with the analysis of the Tenth All India Bar Examination(AIBE) in AIBE: Bar Hacker Course.

Over the years significant tweaks have been made in the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) pattern. How has the paper evolved? 

For those who are scheduled to attempt the AIBE in August 2019, understanding recent trends are important. Given below is the detailed analysis of the question paper pattern in view of the past 3 All India Bar Exams. 

#1 – The Increasing difficulty level 

Many people consider the AIBE to be an easy exam merely because it is an open book exam, but that is not true. It gives the question paper framers tremendous leverage to ask you esoteric and difficult questions.

As you may know, the All India Bar Examination is an open book exam consisting of 100 questions. A time period of 3 hours and 30 minutes is provided to solve these questions. There is no negative marking for the wrong answers. 

That leaves about two minutes to attempt each question, and 10 minutes for any last minute review, or initial reading time.

While two minutes per question sounds like ample time, that is only true if you already know the answer or if you can quickly arrive at it through some quick calculations. When you search for the answer in your carry-in materials, two minutes usually get over really quickly.

There is also a large number of study materials to carry into the examination hall. To ensure your carry-in materials are not unwieldy, you need to carry a condensed set of material. You also need to learn how to find answers to each question in a short span of time. 

If you are not prepared and you have not practiced how to find the answers quickly, you may not make much progress in two minutes. You may also find the constant process of sifting through different books very exhausting. 

Over the years, there has been a shift towards concept-based and application-based questions for which understanding of the law is necessary. You cannot presume that you will be able to search for answers in the examination hall for such questions. You cannot expect to grasp a new concept and find an answer based on it in the examination hall. It is fanciful thinking. 

There has also been a greater focus on case-law based questions and emergence of general knowledge-related questions, as compared to earlier editions of the AIBE. 

If you are thinking of revisiting your LLB books and class notes (if you still have them) or beating yourself up for not paying attention in some class in the past  3 or 5 years of study, don’t. The books are voluminous, so you cannot go through all of them now. 

Classroom teaching is also irregular and inconsistent for different aspects, so going back to class notes will not help. The AIBE syllabus is more exhaustive. You need a different strategy to prepare specifically for this exam. 

AIBE: Bar Hacker Course

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#2 – Conceptual Questions

In the last three AIBE question papers, almost equal focus has been placed on the Bare Acts and concept based questions. Bare Act-based questions have become more difficult and sometimes they are indirect. 

Examples of some concept-based questions are given below: 

Which is the correct statement:

  1. There can be a will without a codicil
  2. There can be a codicil without a will 
  3. Every will has a codicil
  4. A codicil proceeds will

(AIBE XI, Q.No.11, Set A)

This is a concept-based question. One can identify from the options that it is asked from the Indian Succession Act but it gets difficult to find the exact section during the exam because of the limited time available. Therefore, prior knowledge of law helps immensely while solving such questions.

Which Act is covering cyber crimes:

    1. Indian Telecommunication Act
    2. Indian Penal Code
    3. Indian Evidence Act
    4. Information Technology Act

(AIBE XII, Q.No.93, Set A)

Where the name of the statute is not mentioned, it is difficult to identify the Law, let alone the section, if you are unprepared. This is especially true because questions from each subject are no longer in a sequence. You will not find questions from Civil Procedure Code bunched together. A question on documentary evidence (Evidence Act) could be followed by a question on sentencing powers of courts (CrPC), followed by a question on compensation for illegal arrest (Constitutional Law). The combinations can be far trickier and on a quick glance you may be intimidated. 

Therefore, leaving preparation for the last minute because this is an open book exam would not be the smartest choice. 

The paper consists of a mixed bag of questions curated to test conceptual skills as well as one’s ability to retain the knowledge gained by studying law. For instance, even if the Law is referred to in the question and the section number is given in the options, still the application of basic knowledge of the Law or logic would be required to mark the correct answer. For example, consider the following question: 

Doctrine of “LIS PENDENS” is given under which section of the Transfer of Property Act:

    1. 41
    2. 52
    3. 53
    4. 53A

(AIBE XII, Q.No. 74, Set A) 

#3 – Focus on case law based questions

The weightage of case law-based questions has increased over the years. There were 10 case-law based questions in the AIBE XIII. 

The common practice is that the examiner asks questions based on the cases which have played a significant role in building the Indian legal system. Questions may even be asked from the cases which are being discussed in the news and hence, one needs to be abreast with the major judgements being delivered. For example, consider the following question:

Rupa Bajaj v/s KPS Gill, is a famous case which the Supreme Court decided on

  1. Wrongful restraint
  2. Wrongful confinement 
  3. Outrage the modesty of a women 
  4. Maintenance to the divorced women 

(AIBE XI, Q.No.81, Set A)

Although this is an old case, in 2017, KPS Gill’s demise had reopened conversations on this high profile case. The issue in this case was related to sexual harassment at workplace. 

Supreme Court has decided in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala that:

    1. Parliament can amend any provision of the Constitution 
    2. Parliament cannot amend any provision of the Constitution
    3. Parliament can amend any provision of the Constitution but cannot alter the basic structure of the Constitution
    4. None of the above

(AIBE XII, Q.No. 32, Set A)

Section 66A was invalidated by the Supreme Court of India in:

    1. Anvar P.V. Vs P.K. Basheer, (2014) 10 SCC 473.
    2. Shreya Singhal Vs Union of India, AIR 201 SSc 1523.
    3. Dr. Prafulla Desai Vs State of Maharashtra, AIR 2003 Sc 2053
    4. State (NCT of Delhi) Vs Navjot Sandhu, (2005) 11 SCC 600.

(AIBE XIII, Q.No.37, Set C)

Supreme Court decided in S.R. Bommai v/s. Union of India, 

  1. Relating to the President’s Rule in the state
  2. Relating to illegal detention 
  3. Relating to the right to clean environment 
  4. None of the above 

(AIBE XII, Q.No. 26, Set A)

Many of you may know the answers to these questions, but you must notice the shift towards testing candidates on the basis of knowledge of important case laws. BarHacker has prepared case lists on important subjects to provide last minute ready reckoners, called Hacksheets. You can print and carry these Hacksheets and refer to them during the exam. 

#4 – Illustration-based questions

Focus on illustration based questions has also increased. There were 9 illustration-based questions in AIBE XIII. In contrast, in AIBE XI and XII, there were 2 or less illustration-based questions.

Illustration-based questions have been asked from the Contract Act, Family Law and Indian Penal Code. So far, the focus has been to frame questions directly from the illustrations given in the Bare Acts, without identifying the statute. For example: 

“A” finds a purse with money not knowing to whom it belongs, he afterwards discovers that it belongs to “B” and appropriates to his own use. “A” is guilty of: 

  1. Criminal breach of trust 
  2. Cheating 
  3. Criminal misappropriation 
  4. Theft

(AIBE XII, Q.No. 87, Set A)

The above question is from Section 403, Indian Penal Code [illustration (c)]. 

Mohan gets married to his sister’s daughter Kriti:

  1. The marriage is valid if the custom allows it 
  2. The marriage is void 
  3. The marriage is valid only if the Court approves it
  4. The marriage is valid only if the Panchayat permits

(AIBE XI, Q. No. 84, Set A) 

This question highlights the concept of ‘custom and usage’ given under the Hindu Marriage Act. Section 2 of Hindu Marriage Act defines the expression “Customs” and “Usages”, and Section 5  of the Act lays down ‘Conditions for a Hindu Marriage’, Section 5 (iv) (iv) the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two.  

 These set of questions require concrete preparation and concise reading material so that it is easier to revise the entire syllabus before the exam. A detailed understanding of the provisions is required to be able to solve such questions. You cannot expect to acquire such an understanding in the examination hall or even at the last minute. Advance preparation is necessary.  

#5 – Emergence of “current issues” and “general knowledge” based questions

There are questions based on current issues, general knowledge, historical events (related to law) in the AIBE paper. 

For example, climate change has been in the news repeatedly, and a question was asked based on the climate change conference in a prior Bar Exam.

The Convention on Climate Change was the outcome of:

  1. The Stockholm Conference
  2. The Nairobi Conference 
  3. The Vienna Conference 
  4. The Rio De Janeiro Conference 

(AIBE XII, Q.No.5, Set A)

Since a debate on Lokpal and appointment of Lokayukta was in the news, a question was asked regarding ombudsman in the exam:

The word ‘Ombudsman’ is derived from:

    1. French administration
    2. British Administration
    3. Swedish Administration
    4. German Administration

(AIBE XI, Q.No.15, Set A)

Although the number of such questions asked in the exam is not significant currently, we identify this as a new category of questions. 

How to prepare 

Preparation for any exam involves analysis of syllabus, past years’ question paper analysis and then creation of a preparation strategy.  

Your preparation strategy will involve answering the following questions:

  • Which subjects to focus on first and which ones to focus on later?
  • How to solidify your understanding of the concepts?
  • How to familiarize yourself with the structure of the Bare Acts?
  • How to prepare so that you can answer questions fast?
  • How to develop proficiency in answering each type of question asked? 
  • How to practice past years’ papers to identify where you stand? 
  • How to build your confidence? 
  • Which materials to carry into the examination hall?
  • How to use the materials to find answers quickly?
  • Which questions to answer first in the examination hall?
  • What to do if something unexpected happens in the exam? (For example, if there are too many unfamiliar or difficult questions)? 

If you are preparing for the All India Bar Exam for the first time, this can be quite an overwhelming task, even if you have been a very bright student. The biggest challenge is in identifying the correct direction and sticking to the track. Most students who fail the exam are unable to cross this challenge.  

It is not necessary for you to cross this challenge on your own. This is where BarHacker can support you in your preparation. 

Date of Exam September 15, 2019 (Revised)
Conducting Body Bar Council of India
Mode of Exam Offline
Medium of Exam 11 languages
Duration of Exam 3 hours 30 minutes
Certification Offered “Certificate of Practice” for the legal profession


Tenth All India Bar Examination (AIBE) – An Analysis

The tenth All India Bar Exam took place last Sunday, and we are undertaking a short analysis of the paper.   

As with the earlier editions, the question paper had multiple sets, with a different question sequence in each set. The questions in each set were the same, but in a different order. Also, questions, so our strategy recommended earlier by BarHacker in the twenty hour preparation video to first identify questions pertaining to the same subject was fruitful.  

Overall distribution

There were 13 case law-based questions and 58 bare act based questions. Most of the remaining 29 questions were largely knowledge-based, which required you to have prior knowledge of some concept, other than case law-based knowledge.

Bare Act based questions

The bare act based questions were not always direct, and they required you to be familiar with the statutes that were part of the subjects prescribed in the syllabus. For example, look at the following question:

A perpetual injunction can only be granted by the decree at the hearing and upon the – 

    1. Demand of the party 
    2. Discretion of the court 
    3. Merit of the suit 
    4. None of the above 

Answer c (Section 39, Specific Relief Act)

To answer the question, you would need to know which act and tentatively which section deals with specific injunction. You needed to know that this was part of the Specific Relief Act.

Knowledge-based questions and their types

Apart from case-law based questions, several other kinds of questions which required you to have prior knowledge of a subject were there. In some cases, that knowledge was not statute based or concept based. 

For example, consider the following question: 

The objectives of the EU Directive on the mediation is: 

  1. Reducing backlogs of cases at the courts in the member states
  2. Dividing the cases between all the dispute resolution methods
  3. Economical reasons in times of crisis, thus ensuring that mediators will have a better a proper income.
  4. Ensuring better access to alternative dispute resolution in cross-border commercial conflicts. 

Broadly, knowledge-based questions were of various types, apart from case-law based questions – i) conceptual or ii) history based. 

Some questions pertaining to constitutional history were also knowledge-based. For example,  there was also a question based on a Philippines’-based law! Presumably, the rationale behind the idea to introduce knowledge-based questions is to make the exam difficult and unpredictable. 

There were very few application-based questions, which can test the application of legal skills acquired during law school.

Conceptual knowledge-based questions

Examples of knowledge-based questions testing your understanding of a concept are:  

Q. The right to equality before the law under Article 14, is subject to restrictions of

    1. Public order and morality
    2. Reasonable classification
    3. Reasonable restriction
    4. Reasonable situations

Answer b 

To make the criminal harmless by supplying him those things which he lacks and to cure him of those drawbacks which made him to commit crime is known as 

    1.  Expiatory or penance theory of punishment 
    2. Deterrent theory or preventive theory of punishment 
    3. Reformative or rehabilitative or corrective theory of punishment 
    4. Retributive theory of punishment 

Answer c

Constitutional history and knowledge-based questions

There were some knowledge-based questions pertaining to the constitutional history of India. For example, consider the following questions:  

In the Government of India Act 1935 , which subjects are included in the concurrent list ? 

  •  Marriage
  • Divorce & Arbitration 
  • Criminal Law & Procedure  
  • All of the above  

Answer d

Minto- Morley reform is associated to which act?

  • Indian Councils Act 1912
  • Indian Councils Act 1856
  • Indian Councils Act 1908
  • Indian councils Act 1909

Answer d      

Unclear questions

There are some questions which are either not clearly worded, or whose answers are not a clear match to what the question is seeking. For example, consider the following:

A’ does not fall under the clause of memorandum of association. ‘A’ here is :

  • Subscription
  • Director
  • Capital
  • Situation

Answer b (Although the subscribers are deemed to be the first directors of the company, there is no clause in the MOA pertaining to directors. An MOA contains clauses pertaining to all the above)

‘Subscription’ could refer to the subscribers or the subscribed capital. It could have also been a plausible answer as the memorandum does not mention subscribed capital (only the authorized capital is mentioned). However, since the memorandum mentions who are the subscribers of the company, we have not chosen this to be the correct answer.   

The parties which cannot be compelled to perform specific performances of contract are provided in which section of Specific relief act –

  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30

Answer d (Refers to restoration, and not specific performance, on the basis of equity, where a contract is rescinded) (From Bare Act) 

This question came from a law in the Philippines! This seems to be a knowledge-based question in administrative law. 

According to Republic Act No. 6770 these powers is not provided to office of Ombudsman

  • Prosecutory power 
  • function to adopt , institute and implement preventive measures 
  • Public assistant functions 
  • None of the above

Answer – Unclear (most likely option is b)

Q. In most EU member countries, which of the following is the most visible form of ADR?

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Litigation
  • Conciliation

Minor deviations in weightage from syllabus

In terms of number of questions pertaining to each subject, there were some deviations from the weightage in the syllabus, typically plus or minus 1 mark, as per the table below. We have also classified whether the questions were bare act based or knowledge based. 


Detailed weightage and distribution of different types of questions


Subject and number of questions as per syllabus (in brackets)

No. of Questions in the Paper

Knowledge based

Bare Act based

Constitutional Law (10)


9 (2 on Constitutional History)


Indian Penal Code (8)




Criminal Procedure Code (10)




Code of Civil Procedure (10)




Evidence Act (8)




Alternate Dispute Redressal including Arbitration Act (4)




Family Law (8)




Public Interest Litigation (4)




Administrative Law (3)




Professional Ethics and Cases of Professional Misconduct under BCI Rules (4)




Company Law (2)




Environmental Law (2)




Cyber Law (2)




Labour and Industrial Laws (4)




Law of Tort (including Motor Vehicles Act and Consumer Protection Law) (5)




Law Related to Taxation (4)




Law of Contract, Specific Relief, Property Laws, Negotiable Instrument Act (8)




Land Acquisition Act (2)




Intellectual Property Laws (2)




Total 100




Was it possible to pass?

Over the past years, bare act based questions have fallen in number, though they are still well over the 40 marks passing criteria. There has been increased focus on knowledge-based questions. We saw a lot of knowledge-based questions other than those focussed on  case-laws. In a way, the bar exam is probably just beginning to test your conceptual knowledge. However, there has been 

Considering there were 58 bare act based questions, if you just carried the bare acts pertaining to the syllabus and were familiar with how to use them, you would have passed. Those who had taken BarHacker would have found the paper to be relatively easy, with respect to clearing passing criteria.

 For your reference, the question paper can be downloaded from this link.


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