The Level 1 exam

Purpose of the Level 1 exam

The purpose of the Level 1 exam is to assess a candidate’s basic rules knowledge and understanding of the policies and procedures related to Regular REL events. A candidate demonstrates this by scoring 70% or higher on their Level 1 exam.

Since Regular REL events represent the bulk of all sanctioned events, it is important to ensure that certain sanctioning requirements are met and that related procedures are followed. Candidates should know the rules well enough to help a new player get started with the game, be capable of explaining general game rules, and understand the interaction of basic concepts and game mechanics. This helps guarantee that candidates can provide players with a basic level of customer service that has come to be expected from certified judges, as judges foster a positive environment for the community. Candidates are interviewed by their certifying judge to ensure that the candidate understands the important role they serve in the community and can otherwise act as an envoy to the community.

After passing the Level 1 exam, the certifying judge enters a review of the candidate into JudgeApps. The candidate is promoted to Level 1 upon submission of that review.

Materials to study

Based on the defined purpose of the Level 1 exam, candidates should study the following documents to understand the bulk of material covered by the exam:

This is the kind of information you need in order to make rulings and otherwise assist players by providing positive customer service. This also serves as the core of your rules and policy knowledge, upon which you will build future knowledge to become better at serving the community.

You are not expected to have studied the Comprehensive Rules, though some find that certain sections of the Comprehensive Rules can be helpful. Nor are you expected to have studied the Magic Infraction Procedure Guide, since that document governs how judges handle issues at Competitive REL events. It is very important that you understand the philosophy of judging at Regular REL event, which is a different experience than judging at Competitive REL events.

Subjects covered on the exam

As the exam is a general assessment of basic rules knowledge, as well as policies and procedures related to Regular REL events, a specific list of subjects was developed for inclusion on the Level 1 exam. While each exam is randomly generated to be unique to a specific candidate, you will want to make sure you understand the following subjects such that you understand general game rules and concepts, as well as policies and procedures, well enough to potentially apply your knowledge to a variety of situations:

  • General game concepts, such as the parts of a card. This covers card types, mana costs, etc.
  • The different zones of the game, and what each zone is used to represent as well as objects in those zones.
  • The turn structure, specifically the different phases and the steps of each phase along with what happens in each phase and step.
  • The combat phase, specifically the specific steps in the phase, the game actions that take place, and what/when players can cast spells or activate abilities.
  • The general process of casting a spell and/or activating an ability.
  • The general process of handling triggered abilities and putting them onto the stack.
  • The general process of resolving a spell and/or ability.
  • Determining a creature’s abilities and/or its power and toughness.
  • How replacement and/or prevention effects work.
  • How copy effects work on creatures.
  • The basic rules and elements of Two-Headed Giant.
  • The keyword actions and/or abilities present in Standard. (Referring to recent set Release Notes can be helpful here.)
  • Educating and helping players with Common Issues and Generally Unwanted Behaviors at Regular REL.
  • Dealing with players who commit Serious Problems at Regular REL.
  • How to sideboard in Limited and Constructed, especially at Regular REL events that don’t use decklists.
  • The general match structure in an event.
  • Minimum requirements to sanction and run an event.

While knowledge of specific rulings can be helpful, many questions represent a more general assessment of basic rules knowledge. So you will want to develop an understanding of these core concepts and how they may apply in different ways depending on the cards involved. In some cases, you may just want to focus on reading the card, to understand precisely what is going on in a given scenario. In other cases, you may have to be familiar with specific game terminology or the general turn structure itself.

Please remember that exam material is confidential, so you are prohibited from discussing that material with anyone other than your certifying judge

Using practice exams

Candidates should prepare for the Level 1 exam using the Easy Practice exams available on the Judge Center. Here’s more information on creating a Judge Center exam. The difficulty of the material present in the Easy Practice exam pool is comparable to the Level 1 exam, and the policy portion of that exam is geared more towards handling situations at Regular REL. Some of the rules content present in the Easy Practice exam pool doesn’t correspond exactly to what might appear on your Level 1 exam, as the Easy Practice exam does serve a broad audience to help with beginning rules/policy knowledge. But you can still compare material from your Easy Practice exams to those subjects potentially covered by your actual Level 1 exam. This will help you focus your efforts to improve your knowledge, and to study more efficiently. You should take at least three Easy Practice exams, trying to get at least seven questions correct on each exam you take.

Additionally, the Level 1 Practice exam has been developed to help Level 1 candidates more directly prepare for the actual Level 1 exam. The Level 1 Practice exam features content that used to be on the actual Level 1 exam, and is of comparable difficulty to the current Level 1 exam. The Level 1 Practice exam is available to anyone interested in becoming a judge, and all Level 2+ judges have the ability to generate the Level 1 Practice exam for interested candidates. A Level 1 candidate should take at least one Level 1 Practice exam, with a goal of getting a score of 65% or better. The Level 1 Practice exam is available both online and written, to provide individual Level 1 candidates with the most appropriate experience.

The Hard Practice exam and Policy Practice exam are not intended for Level 1 candidates. These exams cover the Comprehensive Rules and/or Magic Infraction Procedure Guide, which are not tested by the Level 1 exam, and the exams are designed to be challenging to more experienced individuals.

Study recommendations

More detailed study recommendations and suggestions are posted on a quarterly basis to the Magic Judge Apps forum. You can visit this JudgeApps forum post to read present and pass suggestions.

This page written by Brian Schenck