How To Become SDM in 2023-24

How to become SDM
How to become SDM

It is a dream of many students to become a civil servant, whether it be an IAS Officer or a government official or a Magistrate. Now the first question is: What is SDM ? How To Become SDM in 2023-24.

SDM Full form

SDM full form is Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM)

Becoming a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) is another such dream of many aspirants. How to become SDM is a question asked by many. This post title is at times given to the head official of a country subdivision, or an administrative unit that is below the level of district. The Criminal Procedure Code 1973 enforces the SDM with several executive and magisterial roles as well as several other minor acts. This post will help one get a clear understanding about the role of a SDM and how to become SDM.

How To Become SDM

The journey of an IAS Officer starts with it’s first posting as a SDM who is the head of the sub-district and a representative of the State Government. He is expected to have familiarity with including revenue, environmental, election, land, food, socio-economic legislation.

SDM Exam Syllabus

UPPSC PCS Exam Syllabus – (New) PCS Exam Pattern

The PCS Exam pattern for UPPSC Mains 2021 is given below. The same pattern was followed in UPPSC Mains 2020:

Name of ExamCombined State/Upper Subordinate Services (General Recruitment/Physically Handicapped – Backlog/Special Recruitment) Main (Written) Examination
Number of PapersEight; General Hindi Essay General Studies I General Studies II General Studies III General Studies IV Optional Subject – Paper 1 Optional Subject – Paper 2
UPPSC Exam DateMains 2021 – October 3, 2021, onward Mains 2020 – January 22, 2021, onward (UPPSC Admit Card for Mains 2020 ) Mains 2019 – September 22, 2020, onward
Duration of Exam3 hours each; Papers will be conducted over a week’s duration; Morning Session – 9.30 AM – 12.30 AM Afternoon Session – 2 PM – 5 PM
Maximum MarksGeneral Hindi – 150 marks Essay – 150 marks All General Studies papers and Optional subject papers will be of 200 marks each Total – 1500 marks
Type of ExamOffline (Pen-paper)
Nature of QuestionsEssay/descriptive type
Optional SubjectsAs per the new UPPSC exam pattern, candidates have to select only one optional subject (2 papers) now, from the list given.
How to become SDM

Given below are the 34 optional PCS exam subjects for UPPSC Mains 2021 per the latest exam pattern:

Agriculture & Veterinary ScienceArabic Lit.Zoology
ChemistryHindi Lit.Statistics
Defence StudiesPersian Lit.Physics
ManagementSanskrit Lit.Mathematics
Political Science & International RelationsGeologyCommerce & Accountancy
HistoryCivil EngineeringPublic Administration
Social WorkMedical ScienceSociology
Agricultural EngineeringPhilosophyAnthropology
Mechanical EngineeringBotanyElectrical Engineering
LawEnglish Lit.Animal Husbandry
Urdu Lit
How to become SDM

The candidates who clear the Main stage of the PCS Exam are eligible for Interview.

The interview (in the new PCS exam pattern) is for 100 marks and tests the general awareness, character, expression power/personality, intelligence and general suitability for the service.

UPPSC Syllabus – PCS Exam Syllabus

The UPPSC syllabus overlaps significantly with the UPSC Syllabus for the IAS Exam. With the new PCS exam pattern and UPPSC syllabus, candidates preparing simultaneously for the Civil Services Exam (UPSC) and the state civil services exam will have a slightly easier task.

UPPSC PCS Syllabus – Prelims

The Prelims syllabus for Paper 1 and Paper 2 is given below.

Paper 1:

  1. Current events of National & International importance
  2. Indian History and National Movement
  3. Indian and World Geography – Socio-economic, Physical geography
  4. Indian Governance and Polity – Political System, Constitution, Public Policy, Panchayati Raj, Rights issues, etc.
  5. Social and Economic Development – Demographics, Sustainable Development, Poverty Inclusion, Social Sector initiatives etc.
  6. Environmental Ecology, Climate Change, and Biodiversity – general issues that do not require subject specialisation
  7. General Science

Note: – Candidates are expected to have general awareness about the above subjects with special reference to Uttar Pradesh.

How to become SDM after 12th:

Becoming SDM immediately after 12th is not possible. After 12th, the candidate has to first complete the Graduation, then only he can sit in the SDM exam.

SDM Qualification:


  • A candidate must hold a degree from any university recognised by the government of India.
  • The applicant should be between 21 to 30 years of age.
  • The candidate should be in good mental and physical health, without any physical defects.


  • The candidate should be proficient in the local state language 
  • The applicant should be between 21 to 40 years of age.
  • A candidate must hold a degree from any university recognised by the government of India.
  • The candidate should be in good mental and physical health, without any physical defects.


A district is divided into various subdivisions, and each subdivision is headed by a SDM. The powers and responsibilities of the Sub Divisional Magistrate includes topics such as revenue, magisterial, executive and development powers within his jurisdiction.

  • Revenue Functions-  As the primary Assistant Collector, the revenue duties of the SDM include matters such as assessment and collection of land revenue.  Furthermore, coordination of work of all officials in the subdivision, particularly in the departments of Revenue, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Public Health within the subdivision.
  • Magisterial Functions- As the magistrate of a sub divisional section, it is the duty of the SDM to watch over and coordinate the relations between various communities and classes, especially during an emergency or festivals. He is also empowered to carry out enquiries in cases of unnatural deaths.
  • Executive Functions-  With an aim to restore peace and security, SDM keeps the criminal activities in check. He also plays an important role in the rural development activities and is responsible for coordinating and implementing disaster management plans for natural disasters.


SDM Preparation:


The first step towards becoming SDM is to crack the Civil Service Examination which is conducted by UPSC. This would let you in the IAS Cadre. The Civil Service Examination consists of three steps- Preliminary Exam, Mains Exam, Interview Method. The exam pattern for the exam for both UPSC and PCS is almost the same with the only change of the difficulty level and that in the PCS exam, questions asked are more factual in nature.

  • Preliminary Exam- The Preliminary Exam is just a qualifying test which means it’s marks would not be considered for the final merit. It consists of 2 papers containing 200 marks. Paper 1 consists of topics relating to History, Geography, Polity, Science, Current Affairs and Environment. Marks secured in paper 1 are considered for calculating the minimum cut off.  In paper 2, you need to acquire the pass mark only. It includes questions based on logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, english and maths. All the questions asked in this section are of MCQ type.
  •  Mains Exam- An applicant is allowed to sit for the mains exam only if he qualifies the prelims. The mains exam is a descriptive exam. This exam consists of 9 papers. One paper is an essay. Paper 2 is an optional subject. The rest of the 4 subjects are in General Studies. Each of this consists of 200 marks, but the total marks is 7*200=1400 marks. The 1 paper on essay includes current affairs. Paper 2 is a language paper which deals with grammars from English and Mother tongue language. The rest of the 4 subjects involve topics ranging from history, geography, economics, science, environment, ecology, disaster, ethics, current affairs.
How To Become SDM in Delhi
  •  Interview Method- The final stage of the exam is the Interview Method. This consists of 200 marks. The  Interview Method judges the personality dimension of the candidates. The members of the Interview Board ask questions to know the administrative aptitude and decision making ability of the candidates. The final merit list will be prepared from (1400+200)1600 marks.


The following books and preparatory materials are highly recommended for becoming a SDM:

  • History-  History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra (Old NCERT) has good coverage of topics of Medieval History of India. ‘Concise History of Modern India by Sujata Menon has good coverage of the Modern History syllabus for SDM Prelims Exam.
  • Geography- Old NCERT books are most preferred for the preparation of Indian Geography. For Physical Geography Goh Cheng Leong’s ‘Certificate Physical and Human Geography’ is more relevant.
  • Indian Polity- Books most recommended for the preparation of Indian Polity are ‘Indian Polity’ by Laxmikanth, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution of India’ by D. D. Basu and ‘The Constitution of India’ by P. M. Bakshi.
  • Economy-  It is essential to reach the Macroeconomics Class 12th textbook by NCERT because it covers the basic terminologies of an economy which are quite helpful for understanding the growth and development of a country.
  • Current Affairs- The study of newspapers on a daily basis will help them out for the preparation of Current Affairs for SDM Prelims Exam. Reading newspapers such as The Hindu, Economic Times, Indian Express, Jagran Josh.
  • Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability-  RS Aggarwal has good coverage of various topics, but in terms of comprehension MK Pandey’s explanations and illustrations are much more advanced.


The Public Service Commission was set up by the Indian Constitution to provide assistance to the state governments in terms of recruitment, transfers and disciplinary actions. The starting point of an IAS Officer is as a SDM, whereas the promotion and posts of the PCS Officer is decided entirely by the state service rules. But if one is under the UPPCS(Uttar Pradesh Provincial Civil Service), then the starting of the career would be that of SDM.

The path to become the SDM isn’t an easy one. Whether it be through UPSC or PCS Exam, hardwork and perseverance is the only way to reach the goal. UPSC gives a direct way to become SDM as it is provides All India Services, whereas becoming SDM through state government exams could cost a bit longer.

The role of SDM is very important in the administration of the country. It is just a primary step towards becoming an IAS Officer. There are a lot of  benefits and powers enjoyed by the SDM during his posting. Later based on their abilities, they are promoted.

A SDM gets promotion after 5 years of his service. He can get promotion only twice, not more than that. Thus it is the duty of SDM to carry on his duties to the best of his abilities during his reign. 

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