Our intern Shivam Sharma conducts his first ‘DJS topper interview’. He plans to come up with a lot more.
In this interview, Akanksha Singh shares honestly about this grueling journey that is the judiciary exam prep!
Congrats on your success in the Delhi Judicial Services Examination! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I am Akanksha Singh, a law graduate from NUSRL, Ranchi with Criminal Law Honors. I completed my LLB in 2018 and have qualified in Delhi Judicial Services Examination, 2018 with rank 111.
This was my first attempt at DJSE. I love reading, teaching and I write occasionally.
What made you choose judiciary as a career option?
Well, it wasn’t something very instinctive but was the result of a long thought process.
While selecting my Honors paper in the 3rd year of law school, I realised that I didn’t want to work in a corporate job. I needed something that would connect me with law and justice on a more ground level.
The conflict, however, continued and I kept switching options in my mind between Civil Services and Judicial Services.
It was only in the later part of my 5th Year in law school that I realised that my love for the law and the desire to stay connected to it can only be realised if I become a Judicial Officer.
So, I guess the charm and respect for judicial services, coupled with my love for the law is what lured me towards choosing judiciary as a career preference.
What’s the pattern of the DJS exam?
The Delhi Judicial Services Examination is conducted in three stages:
- Preliminary Examination, which is a qualifying examination.
- Mains Examination for 850 marks.
- Interview for 150 marks.
The theme of the question papers is mostly practical and problem-based.
Have you appeared for other judiciary exams also?
Yes, after I graduated in June 2018, I appeared for Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh Judicial Services, both of which I could not clear due to lack of preparation and guidance.
I was willing to take Jharkhand Judicial Services and Bihar Judicial Services as well but was underage for both. So, after the two setbacks, I decided to work harder and the result is here.
What was your overall strategy for DJS Prelims?
When I took Delhi Judiciary Prelims, I had already taken the prelims of two more states, i.e. MP and UP. So, I knew what my weak areas were. The entire strategy was to focus on those weak areas. I read and re-read the bare acts for all the subjects.
Most of us take the bare acts for granted but you will actually be surprised to know how much new information you find in these bare acts every time you read them.
Now talking specifically about Delhi Judiciary, the format is a little different from other states as the questions are more practical in nature.
The format focuses on recent developments through case laws and the understanding and interpretation of questions. So, my entire focus was not to mug things up but to understand the provisions of laws. For case laws, I read LiveLaw on a daily basis, as well as its list of important judgments for the year.
What was your overall strategy for DJS mains?
For the mains part of the examination, we had only approximately 20-25 days time between the preliminary examination results and the mains examination.
It was tough to divide my schedule and study everything in a go.
So, my strategy was to first have a detailed look at the previous year question papers and get an idea of the type of questions asked in the examination.
I knew that criminal law was my strong point, so I focused more on the civil law papers since there is a sectional cut off for every paper along with the total cutoff.
Studying recent case laws of Supreme Court and Delhi High Court is very important as questions based on them are asked generally in every mains paper. Further, answer writing is an important skill in mains which gives you an edge over other candidates.
So, you should always know how to frame a good answer and practise answer writing if you have enough time. Most of the questions in mains examination are problem-based and all the bare acts are provided, but my strategy was to not count on the bare acts since time constraints hardly allow you to refer to them.
The most important strategy in any mains examination is to attempt the entire paper and that is something I had resolved to and did follow.
How did you prepare for the interview?
For the interview, I think you do not need to prepare much except for boosting your self-confidence. However, on my part, I read all the important judgments of the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court for the last 16 months.
Also, I made a list of the amendments and new statutes and kept reading them along with the current affairs. A cursory revision of all the subjects in mains was also a part of my strategy.
Being well prepared helps you stay calm and confident during the interview which, of course, is very important.
Can you share your book list for all subjects/parts for prelims and mains of Delhi Judiciary?
The idea is not to read too many books but to read one book again and again. I focused on the basic books I used to read back in college.
- CPC: Takwani
- CrPC: Kelkar
- Constitution: VN Shukla
- Contract Act: Avtar Singh
- SOGA: Mulla
- Torts: Bangia
For the rest of the subjects, I focused on bare acts and different topics from different books. For Mains, case laws on all the above subjects are important.
Concise books like AK Jain are good for revision purposes only as they give a quick look at all the topics in minimal time.
DJS has many local laws and other laws not asked in other judiciary exams. Which books did you refer for these? How did you prepare for these subjects?
Delhi Judicial Services Examination does not have any local laws. For the mains paper, they have the Delhi Rent Control Act. Initially, I was very confused as to where should I seek a commentary for this Act as it wasn’t available in my State.
It was then that I thought of searching if Manupatra provides for commentary on this Act. It was a complete hunch but turned out to be really good as Manupatra had an amazing commentary on the Act which was sufficient for my Mains Examination.
What were your ‘secret sauce’ recipes, if any?
There is no shortcut to success. You have to work hard and smart.
For me, the recipe that you are asking for can be made by a thousand hands in a thousand ways giving the same results. So, rather than finding out others’ secret sauce, the key is to create your own recipe with your secret ingredients, i.e. finding out your strengths and putting them to good use.
For how long did you prepare and how many hours did you put in?
I graduated in 2018 and decided to prepare for Judicial Services Examination. I wasn’t preparing specifically for Delhi Judicial Services till December.
So, I prepared for one month approximately for the preliminary examination. The fact that I had earlier read almost all the subjects for one purpose or the other helped me a lot.
Even after preliminary examinations, I hardly got a month to prepare for mains. So, that is where all the prior study comes handy.
As far as the hours are concerned, I was preparing at my home, so I devoted most of my time to studies but there were no fixed hours. I think consistency is important and most difficult to maintain. So, the focus should not be on long hours, but on consistent hours.
Do you think if one is aiming for judiciary exams he/she should start preparing from the college itself? If yes, then what would be the strategy for the same?
Of course, one should start as early as possible. But even if one hasn’t started preparing till graduation, I don’t think that is a reason to be worried.
The core thing that you have to keep reminding yourself is that you have read almost all of these subjects during your 5 year/3 year course.
However, to be able to do that it is important that in college life you should be seriously studying those subjects not just with a view of securing good marks in exams but with a view to developing the understanding of the subjects taught.
Once you have made up your mind and started preparing in your college life, make sure you maintain consistency, even if it is just for 2-3 hours every day. Also, start with the basics and do not overburden yourself.
What were some challenges you faced/mistakes you made, and how did you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge you face is with yourself. The decision to study and prepare when your friends are earning and to let yourself hover among uncertainties requires huge willpower and the ability to keep motivating yourself.
When you prepare alone at home with no competition, the challenges get tougher as you have to deal with all those sessions of self-doubt and keep holding up without straying away from the path.
So, I had my issues with staying focused as well as with staying motivated. But I made it a point not to lose track.
I loved teaching so I joined a coaching institute as a teacher for CLAT aspirants. Teaching the kids at National CLAT Academy kept me busier and gave me lesser time to sink into self-doubt.
Secondly, I had my cheat days.
There were days when I would not study a thing and end up feeling guilty about it. But the important part of these days was that they made me feel a lot better and I could get back on track with extra motivation. I think the family environment and support also helped me a lot in tackling these challenges.
What were the most important ‘right things/strategies you implemented?
Trust me, there were many more mistakes than the right strategies. But to learn from every mistake is what sets things right for you.
I think there is one important strategy I would like to share specifically for Mains candidates, whenever there is a problem-based question, remember to write the facts in short at the introduction of your answer, even if you are suffering from a paucity of time.
This fetches good marks and casts a good impression on the examiner.
Did you take coaching from anywhere? If yes, how did it help in your preparation for Delhi Judicial Services Examination 2018?
No, I did not take coaching from anywhere. I do not think that coaching is necessary for cracking judicial services examination if you have studied law properly during the five/three years of your law course.
I perform better in an uncontrolled environment and that is why I thought I should prepare on my own. Of course, coaching institutes ease your way towards the exam and take some pressure off you. But, I think it is a matter of personal preference. For me, I think books are the best teachers.
How was your interview and what sorts of questions were asked to you?
My interview was good except that I got a little nervous.
It was hardly a 5-8 minutes interview for all the candidates. The board in Delhi is very generous and they make sure that you are very comfortable interacting with them.
I was asked questions about Ranchi (it being my town of residence and education), the tribal art of Jharkhand, etc.
They also asked me two legal questions relating to dowry death. I answered all of the questions correctly. However, the lack of confidence comparatively lowered my scores.
Anything else you’d like to tell our readers.
There is no ideal way to prepare.
What works for me, might not work for you.
The only ideal way is to find what suits you best. Preparation stage makes you feel left out and isolated. Take that time and discover yourself. Also, remember to never give up easily.
Read more Judiciary toppers’ interviews here.