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How to become SDM? Eligibility, Syllabus, Preparation Details

How to become SDM? Eligibility, Syllabus, Preparation Details

How to become SDM? Eligibility, Syllabus, Preparation

The role of a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) is quite prestigious in the Indian Administrative System. The concerned individual is responsible for law and order, revenue administration and development in their designated sub-division. Becoming an SDM is a dream for many people who want to serve their country and work towards its betterment. However, the path is not easy and requires grit and gumption. That is what this article is all about – it will clear all your doubts regarding how to become SDM and other related topics, such as its eligibility, preparation and syllabus.

How to become SDM? Eligibility, Syllabus, Preparation

How to become SDM Eligibility, Syllabus, Preparation Details

Millions of people apply each year for jobs for the Government of India, but only a few make it. However, there are many individuals who are unaware of the application process and eligibility for such jobs. SDM is one such lucrative job and we will provide all the details regarding it in the following sections.

Who is an SDM?

SDM, or a Sub Divisional Magistrate, is a state civil officer. An IAS or Indian Administrative Service officer who has passed the UPSC examination can be chosen to serve as an SDM in their training period. They are then referred to as Deputy or Assistant Collector or Assistant Commissioner.

How to become SDM?

How to become SDM Eligibility, Syllabus, Preparation Details

Being a position of high responsibility and importance, with different types of roles to fulfill, we can only say that it is not easy if you ask – how to become SDM. Not everyone can be an SDM, and there is a fixed path that one must follow, depending on the eligibility criteria.


  • The most basic qualification is that the person applying should be an Indian.
  • They need to be a graduate or at least in their final year of graduation. Students who have done distance education or opted for correspondence can also give Civil Services Exam.
  • Without results of the previous years, a graduating student can apply for Prelim exams only, since for the main exam marksheet is needed as a proof.
  • Students from any background can apply to become SDM – technical, professional, medical and accounting.
  • The age of application should be between 21 and 32 years for candidates belonging to the general category, 21 and 37 years for SC/ST category, 21 and 35 years for people from the OBC category. This age is as of 1st August of the year of examination.
  • A person from the defense services who hasn’t completed an operation with any foreign country also gets an age extension to 35 years. People suffering from illness like autism, deafness, intellectual disability, locomotor disability, etc. get an extension of 10 years and can apply till the age of 42.
  • As per UPSC, individuals can apply for the civil services exam if they meet certain physical requirements – proper vision, hearing ability and normal condition of heart, lungs and blood pressure. Also, the person has to be free from diabetes mellitus or other related complications.

Students from the General category get 6 attempts to pass the exam, and OBC category, OBC handicapped students, and General category handicapped students each have 9 attempts available. SC/ST and handicapped SC/ST students don’t have a limit on the number of attempts until they are 37 years old.

Regardless of these differences, all students who want to become SDM have to follow the eligibility criteria as prescribed by UPSC. After learning about it, we will also look at how to become SDM without UPSC and SDM age limit.

Eligibility for SDM

  • The minimum requirement for becoming an SDM is the completion of education up to 12th standard and graduation from a UGC-approved university.
  • The next step is to apply for the Civil Services Exam, conducted every year by Union Public Service Commission.
  • Make sure to keep an eye on any notice released by UPSC, regarding the exam dates, release of admit cards and venue. Keep up with everything and ensure you don’t miss out on a single announcement.
  • After giving each exam, check the results when they are released and make sure you have passed for the next round of exam.
  • The final round is held in UPSC Delhi Bhawan, where you have to reach on the given date and time to give the interview.

Once you crack all stages of the UPSC exam, you become an IAS and can get posted as an SDM based on your rank. You have to undergo training and can be posted in different places in the country, based on the decisions taken by the administration.

As SDM is an important post, you have to crack difficult tests and interviews and get marks above the cut-off. But before starting to prepare for the same, you must know SDM exam syllabus, that can help you excel the exams.

Cross-reference: UPSC Success Story

SDM Exam Syllabus

After knowing how to become SDM, let us look at this important aspect. The exams for SDM are divided into three phases: the Preliminary exam, the Main exam, and Interview. The question pattern and SDM exam syllabus for each category is described below:

Preliminary exam

There are two papers of 200 marks each, conducted in English and Hindi language. Paper I and Paper II contain 80 and 100 questions of multiple-choice type (MCQs) respectively. Each paper has to be completed within 2 hours, and both are generally held in the same day at two different time slots in the offline mode.

Paper I is about Current Affairs and General Knowledge. Though these topics don’t need specialization, you need to prepare yourself by having in-depth knowledge about things that are happening around you every day – such as schemes, policies, programs, meetings, etc. You also need to know about important events that took place in your country and the world at large. The topics that are important in SDM exam syllabus for Paper I are:

  • Current Affairs.
  • Indian independence movement and other important events in Indian History.
  • Geography – physical, social, economic – of India and the World.
  • Constitution, political system, Public Policy, civics of India and its government.
  • Social development, economic and sustainable development, demographics, poverty, etc.
  • General issues related to environmental studies, biodiversity, climate change.
  • General Science.

Paper 2 is the Civil Services Aptitude test (CSAT). It contains problem-solving, decision-making, and other types of aptitude questions. Though it doesn’t need much preparation and only depend on your skills and basic knowledge, you can still solve question papers from the previous years to enhance your knowledge. Some important topics are:

  • Logical and analytical reasoning.
  • Decision-making and problem-solving.
  • General mental ability.
  • Basic concept of numbers.
  • Data interpretation of charts, graphs, tables, etc.
  • English comprehension skills.
  • Communication skills.

Both the papers have a negative marking scheme, where one-third of the total marks gets deducted for each wrong answer. The cut-off marks for qualifying Paper I vary from year to year. For paper II, you need to have 33% marks at least to be considered eligible to appear for the next round.

Mains exam

This is the intermediate step between the prelims and the interview. Once you pass the preliminary exam, then you become eligible for this exam. You have to appear for all the 9 papers, but only seven compulsory ones from them will be considered for final marking. Securing minimum marks decided by UPSC is sufficient for the remaining two papers. All the papers are 3 hours long and the total combined marks for all the papers is 1750.

  • Paper A and Paper B are the primary two papers based on English language and any other Indian language you choose from the ones prescribed by UPSC. Both these papers, each of 300 marks are just qualifying papers and contain questions related to comprehension, essay, grammar, and translation.
  • Paper I (Essay – 250 marks): Here, you have to write essays on two topics that will be given to you.
  • Paper II (General Studies I – 250 marks): General studies on Indian culture, history and society. topics from World history and geography are also important.
  • Paper III (General Studies II – 250 marks): Topics from civics and politics, like Constitution, Parliament, Government and its policies, departments and ministries; schemes and policies.
  • Paper IV (General Studies III – 250 marks): Budget, economics, science and technology, disaster management, media and social networking are some important topics that are asked in this paper.
  • Paper V (General Studies IV – 250 marks): Ethics, integrity, family, moral values are important for this paper.
  • Paper VI and VII are two optional papers, each of 250 marks. For these, you can choose from a list of subjects given by UPSC according to your preference.


Woman talking in interview

Once you get through the Mains exam, you become eligible for the Interview round which has a personality test worth 275 marks. Here, questions are asked to check your thinking, mental ability and strength, ability to handle difficult situations, general knowledge, current affairs, interests and leadership. The interview is not based on cross-examination but on a natural, informative and purposeful conversation.

This is the most difficult round of UPSC exam as majority of candidates fail to withstand the pressure in front of the interviewers. Thus, you need to be calm and composed to answer all the questions confidently.

Now you know all about SDM exam syllabus. Prepare well and remain confident in your skills and knowledge to crack this exam with ease.

Also Read: How to become Space Scientist in ISRO?

How to become SDM without UPSC?

Now you know how to become SDM. All the necessary information that has been compiled so far indicates only one thing – it is not possible to become an SDM without cracking UPSC exam. There is no alternative, no matter how much you research about it. It is one of the basic requirements, or rather eligibility criteria, that needs to be fulfilled to become an SDM. It is like how you can’t play cricket without a bat or football without a ball.

All the steps mentioned above are sequential – passing the 12th standard, having a graduation degree – you cannot skip one and move to the next. All the parameters and requirements must be fulfilled in the given order.

Cross-reference: Paan seller’s daughter bags 21st rank in UPPSC exam, appointed as SDM in UP’s Gonda

Functions of Sub Divisional Magistrate

When we talk about India, along with multiple perks and benefits, an SDM has multiple roles to fulfill which fall under executive or managerial positions. The roles and responsibilities are mentioned in the Criminal Procedure Code 1973. There are revenue functions, executive functions, disaster management, and managerial functions that are taken care of by the SDM. Under each category, they have different responsibilities that they need to fulfill. Let’s look at some of them:

Revenue Functions

  • They need to maintain the records of land.
  • They need to conduct revenue cases.
  • Doing demarcation and mutation is another task that they need to look after.
  • They need to work as custodians of public land and with that, they also need to look after settlement operations.
  • An SDM is designated as an Assistant collector and Revenue Assistant and so, one of their primary duties is to look after day-to-day revenue work.
  • They also have the power to give away important statutory certificates like SC/ST and OBC, Nationality, Domicile, documents concerning Registration of Property, Power of Attorney, Sales Deed, Share Certificate, and all other important documents that need to be compulsorily registered by law.

Managerial Functions

  • A Sub Divisional Magistrate gets to exercise the power of an Executive Magistrate. And, under this role, they are responsible for the operation of preventive sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • They also look into the matter of unnatural death of women within seven years of their marriage and then direct the police about registering the case and other stuff.
  • They also are concerned with inquiring about deaths that have taken place in women’s homes, jails, lockups, etc.
  • They also are the government’s ears and eyes when it comes to conducting inquiries in serious matters like natural calamities, major fire incidents, riots, etc.

Disaster Management

  • When it comes to relief and rehabilitation operations during any natural or man-made disaster, the primary responsibility to look after it is of the Sub Divisional Magistrate.
  • They also have to coordinate and implement disaster management plans for natural as well as chemical disasters.
  • They also have to run an awareness generation program on disaster preparedness and in this, they are helped by the United Nations.

Salary and Perks of an SDM

Being such a responsible and important position, it is evident that an SDM would get exceptionally good remuneration and other benefits along with it. The salary ranges from Rs 56,100 to Rs 1,77,500, which is pretty high compared to other mediocre jobs available in India. Combined with the various pay scales, this can rise even further.

Along with it, Government house, free water and electricity, health and transportation costs, Dearness Allowance are only some of the perks that are enjoyed by an SDM. No wonder people put in their blood, sweat, and tears to become SDM.

We hope there are no more doubts in your mind about this role. You know now how to become SDM. To prepare for the exam, you can join special classes, take help of standard books and online resources, and appear for mock tests. Apart from academic qualifications and knowing the SDM exam syllabus, you should also possess various skills and a deep understanding of the law needed for this role. With proper guidance and hard work, you can surely fulfill your dream of becoming an SDM.

Sushma Singh

Sushma Singh

Sushma is an expert in personal finance and business with lots of experience. She loves helping people understand how to make money online, build income without much effort, and become financially independent. Focusing on easy-to-use apps and fun games, she shows people the best ways to earn money online.

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