This article is written by Abhyuday Agarwal, COO, LawSikho and Gauriza Nagelia, a student of O.P. Jindal Global University.

Study of trends from the previous three All India Bar Exams

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 is 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 amount 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. 

#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: 

Q. 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.

Q. 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: 

Q. 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:

Q. 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. 

Q.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)

Q. 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)

Q. 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: 

Q.“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)]. 

Q. Mohan gets married to his sister’s daughter Kriti:

The marriage is valid if the custom allows it 

  1. The marriage is void 
  2. The marriage is valid only if the Court approves it
  3. 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.

Q. 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:

Q. 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. If you want, you can use a structured program such as BarHacker to have a clear direction and preparation strategy, so that you can spend all your time to prepare and practice what is important, and not spend it in acquiring irrelevant knowledge or studying voluminous books, or worrying about other unidentified risks and uncertainty. 

Some people think that they must crack exams on their own, otherwise they are not smart enough. I want to let you know that taking the support of a training program in no way means that you are dumb or less intelligent. The world’s most successful businessmen also take support from executive coaches through their journey of building great companies. In fact, smart people take additional steps to prepare for the challenges they face.

BarHacker has provided providing training materials to students for the past nine years, evolved as the Bar Exam evolved and ensured a 100% pass rate.  Many candidates who had earlier failed the All India Bar Exam have passed after taking BarHacker’s guidance in the past.

If you plan to attempt the exam in August, how do you plan to prepare? Have you already started?  Keep sharing about your preparation strategy and challenges with us. Just hit reply and let us know. We’ll be glad to guide.

If you have any questions, comment below or call 4084 5203

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