How to become SDM? Eligibility, Syllabus, Preparation

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Basic education is a human right and there is a good reason for it. Very few people can come into this world with certain skills already in them, others have to work their way to success by picking up these skills along the way. Even to go from one class to the next the students need to meet the target of scoring marks in a predetermined range or else their progression is halted. The same goes with jobs, you need to have the correct information to progress in your career. Today, we will learn about the post of SDM. It is a lucrative job desired by many. In this article, we will cover how to become SDM, eligibility for SDM, SDM exam syllabus, SDM age limit and how to become SDM without UPSC.

How to become SDM? Eligibility, Syllabus, Preparation

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India has a variety of government jobs for which millions of people apply each year but only a few make it. However, there are many who are not even aware of the application process and eligibility for such jobs. SDM is one such job and we will provide all the details regarding it in the following sections. Let us get right into it.

What is an SDM?

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SDM stands for Sub Divisional Magistrate. An SDM is a state civil officer and depending on the structure of the country’s government, an SDM can be the head office of a district subdivision or an administrative officer below the level of a district. An IAS or Indian Administrative Service officer who has done their UPSC can also be chosen to serve as an SDM in their training period. They are then referred to as Deputy or Assistant Collector or else Assistant Commissioner.

When we talk about India, 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.

Functions of Sub Divisional Magistrate

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As mentioned above, a Sub Divisional Magistrate had more than one task to look after. They have revenue functions, executive functions, disaster management, and managerial functions among others to look after. Under each role of theirs, they have different roles and responsibilities that they need to fulfill. Now let’s take a look at the various functions of a Sub Divisional Magistrate.

Revenue Functions

Following are the revenue functions performed by SDMs.

  • 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

SDMs also have some managerial duties which are mentioned below.

  • 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

In time of crisis, the role of SDMs increases and they are required to perform these tasks.

  • 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.

How to become SDM?

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Sub Divisional Magistrate is a position of high responsibility and importance, we hope we have established that by now. You have seen above that they have a lot of different types of roles that they need to fulfill, and their duties are different under each category. But now we turn our attention to how to become SDM. It is not like anyone and everyone can be an SDM, there is a fixed path that one needs to go through and there are eligibility criteria that need to be met in order to become an SDM.

First and foremost, the journey to becoming an SDM starts with school and college. You must complete education up to 12th standard, which is a minimum requirement. Post that you are supposed to graduate from a recognized university. The next step is to apply for the Civil Services Exam, which is conducted every year by Union Public Services. Once you crack UPSC and become an IAS, you get posted as an SDM. So, it is essential to become an IAS officer and for that, it is necessary to qualify for the Civil Service Exam. However, to apply for UPSC and to become an SDM there are certain eligibility criteria that need to be met and now we will take a look at them. We will also look at how to become SDM without UPSC and SDM age limit later in the article.

Eligibility for SDM

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Do you know how to become SDM? What is the SDM exam syllabus? SDM is a big post and they have great roles and responsibilities placed on their shoulders and so it is common knowledge that to become one you must go through some kind of test or journey to prove that you are capable. Only the top eligible candidates are allowed to take up the post and these eligibility criteria are the same for everyone and compulsorily need to be met.


The most basic qualification or criteria that need to be met is that the person applying should be an Indian. Then they also need to be a graduate or at least in their final year of graduation and must take up Civil Services Exam. Students who have done distance education or opted for correspondence can also take up CSE. A student waiting for results can also apply for Prelim exams but for the main exam passing proof is needed. Students with a technical degree can also apply, similarly, a student with a professional degree can also apply. A medical student doing their internship or a student who has done ICAI, CWA, or ICSI exams also are eligible.

The age of the person applying should be between 21 and 32. For people belonging to SC/ST category, the age limit for applying is 37 instead of 32. For people from the OBC category, the age limit is 35 years. A person from the defense services who haven’t completed an operation with any foreign country also gets an age extension to 35 years. People suffering from issues like autism, deafness, intellectual disability, locomotor disability, etc. get an extension of 10 years and can apply till the age of 42.

Next up, as per UPSC sets physical standards which need to be met by each candidate, and then they can apply for Civil Services Exam. Students from the General category get 6 attempts to pass the exam. SC/ST students don’t have a limit on the number of attempts until they are 37 years old, also handicapped SC/ST students have no attempt limit. Students from the OBC category, OBC handicapped students, and General category handicapped students each have 9 attempts available. Let us now learn about SDM exam syllabus.

SDM Exam Syllabus

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After knowing about eligibility for 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. And the SDM exam syllabus for each category is mentioned below.

Preliminary exam

There are two papers of 200 marks each which are either conducted in English or Hindi language. The test has a negative marking scheme where each wrong answer gets you a 0.33 mark cut and the exam is a multiple-choice type. Both exams are 2 hours long, and one paper has 100 questions and the other has 80 questions.

Paper 1 is about Current affairs and the subject is pretty self-explanatory, you need to have an idea about current affairs and other such stuff. Paper 2 is the Civil Services Aptitude test. Here there are problem-solving, decision-making, and other such types of questions.

Mains exam

This is the middle step between the prelim and the interview. Once you pass the preliminary exam, then you become eligible for this exam. This exam is mostly conducted in January and there are 9 papers that a student has to pass. All the papers are 3 hours long and the total marks are 250 for 7 papers and 300 for 2 papers.

One exam is about writing an essay, one subject is about Indian heritage, culture, and geography. Constitution, governance, and social justice make up the topic of one paper. Another paper consists of questions based on Technology, Environment, and Disaster Management. Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude make up the syllabus list for one paper. There are two optional subjects and the last two papers are English language and any other Indian language paper.


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Once you get through the Mains exam you become eligible for the Interview round which has a personality test worth 275 marks. Here, a basic questions and answers type test is conducted which is a personality test. Current affairs and General Knowledge questions might also be asked here. Now you know all about SDM exam syllabus.

SDM Age Limit

As mentioned above in the eligibility criteria, the age limit for appearing for the SDM post via the UPSC exam path is 21 to 32 years. Depending on the category that one belongs to the age limit might extend further. For a student from the General category the age limit is different and for a student from SC, ST, or OBC the age limit is different, and similarly for ex-servicemen or for students with special cases get a further extension when it comes to the age limit.

Also Read: How to become Space Scientist in ISRO?

How to become SDM without UPSC?

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By now you must know how to become SDM. All the necessary information that has been compiled so far indicates towards only one thing, that it is now possible to become an SDM without UPSC. We asked ourselves how to become SDM without UPSC, we researched, we looked for answers, and did everything in our power but could not come up with an alternative. It is a basic requirement or rather eligibility criteria that need to be present for you to be able to go ahead and become an SDM.

It is like how you can’t play cricket without a bat or football without a ball, similarly without UPSC, SDM is merely a dream that can’t be achieved no matter what. And like UPSC, other requirements like passing the 12th standard, having a graduation degree, and other requirements are also a must, you cannot expect any compromise on any of the essential parameters set in place.

We hope there are no more lingering doubts in your mind about the profession of SDM. You know now how to become SDM. You also know the eligibility for SDM, and there is also clarity regarding the SDM exam syllabus, SDM age limit, and how to become SDM without UPSC. With that, we have done our part and hope to have provided well-rounded information. Now it’s your turn to rise and shine if the article has indeed inspired you to take up UPSC and become an SDM.

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