If you are a law aspirant then it is impossible that you are not aware about CLAT (Common Law Admission Test), conducted by 18 National Law Universities under an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) agreed upon. CLAT is conducted by one of the universities on a rotation basis; every year on the basis of year of establishment one of the National Law University’s conducts the exam. NLSIU conducted the first-ever CLAT in the history of law aspirants and this year’s responsibility for deciding the future of more than 45,000 law aspirants is upon Chanakya National Law University, Patna. There are innumerable opinions on CLAT, some agreeing upon it being consistent while others not. I believe that CLAT has been one of the most-progressive of the examinations in India, calling CLAT as unsurprising or consistent would be kind of a bluff to the law aspirants, because of the numerous changes been introduced in the examination. It started in the year 2008, with only seven NLUs being part of the exam but with passing years number of universities increased with number of test-takers. Not only the seat-student ratio declined in CLAT but also the level of examination kept increasing, in the year 2013 negative-marking was introduced and in the year 2015 the exam was converted to Computer-Based examination. Many people would question how converting the mode of examination would increase the difficulty, but it does, because since our beginning of the education we are paper-pen friendly, reading online to solve questions is different from general surfing and using facebook. It requires more concentration because you tend to lose important points in questions like comprehension passages and legal aptitude. Further more time is required while solving questions involving calculations, more seconds are lost when head is moved up and down compared to sideways, because we are very used to solving the examination in a sideway pattern.
This year we have a new NLU on list, Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur, further there is also Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla, at present its inclusion in CLAT is not confirmed. The official notification about it is still awaited which would probably be by end of December and if it is included the count would increase to 19. Now CLAT is an aptitude based examination and no exceptional knowledge is required for cracking it. Henceforth mentioned are details about the exam and how to prepare it:
ABOUT THE EXAM
CLAT applications begin from 1st January every year and last date for registration is 31st March which most probably gets extended by a week. But do not wait for the extensions please, do fill the form on time. The registration process is completely online, so be ready with the documents to be uploaded within the specified size limits, i.e., your photograph, signature, birth certificate, 10th marksheet and if you are a dropper 12th marksheet and pass certificate. Official Notification here: http://clat.ac.in
Registration Begins: 1st January, 2017
Registration Closes: 31st March, 2017
Examination Date: 14th May, 2017 (Every year CLAT is conducted on second Sunday of May)
Since you already know that exam is online but you can easily change between sections and questions, also there is a grid at the side which gives complete information about questions that have been attempted, not attempted, marked for review, and not attempted marked for review. 200 questions have to be attempted in a time of 120 minutes, every correct answer awards 1 mark and every wrong deducts 0.25. Questions are divided in five sections:
English: 40 Marks
This section includes comprehension passages, idioms, phrases and grammar. It might also include some foreign words and phrases, synonyms, antonyms and meaning of some difficult words. Comprehension passages are generally followed 5-7 questions.
General Knowledge: 50 Marks
This section includes questions from current affairs and general awareness covering subjects like Economics, Geography, Science, and History. Knowledge of current happenings is very important.
Logical Reasoning: 40 Marks
This section includes questions based on analytical reasoning and critical thinking. Questions revolve around topics like number series, syllogisms, blood relations and others. For critical thinking generally a short paragraph is given, and a question followed has to be answered.
Mathematics: 20 Marks
This section includes questions of mathematics upto class 10th level. Topics include Speed, Time and Distance, Ratio and Proportion, and others.
Legal Reasoning: 50 Marks
This is the most creative section of the examination. Under this section, a factual situation is given and a legal principle is provided which may or may not be true in real life, applying such principle on the factual situation answer has to be accorded on the options given. This section might also have questions based on general legal awareness.
First and foremost that has to be kept in mind is that CLAT is a speed based aptitude test, 200 questions in 120 minutes is not an impossible task but without practice achieving this is an impossible task. Then the exam has negative marking, its good to keep the negative marking in mind but then you cannot come out of the hall attempting only 50 questions on the pretext of being unsure. Even in the most difficult of CLAT exams cut-offs have been higher than 50, and if you are not able to make through the cut-offs then there is no point in attempting the exam. So even how difficult the paper is, the attempt should be more than 100-120 questions. Further students are generally confused about whether to attend coaching classes or not, attending a coaching centre is not really important. CLAT is an aptitude based examination which can be clarified without prior any specific knowledge. But then coaching centres can narrow down your preparation because there is no specific syllabus for CLAT and the materials provided for with mocks would result in great help. Also they would teach you some short-cuts which could help save time during the examination, if you are an average I am pretty sure how much you prepare you will never be able to develop those. Also exam is computer based, reading on a screen is much different than reading on a paper. If you are not used to reading onscreen then do develop a habit for one. It will help you in saving your time on the D-Day. You tend to miss lines while reading on a screen.
Moving further to section-wise preparation, it is very important to read newspapers including the editorial section. It will help in two-sections specifically, English and general knowledge. Also develop a habit of reading to increase your speed. Attempting all questions is a challenging task and if you are planning to get through then you have to attempt all questions. For logical reasoning many books are available, practice questions as much as possible, because scoring in this section is really easy. Questions are generally of moderate difficulty and with some practice a hundred percent score is not difficult. The section to which many aspirants might be allergic to is mathematics, but many questions in this section are very easy. If you are planning to skip this section, I would advice to ponder over your decision and next time when you are attempting a mock or past year paper do solve some questions and then you can easily see the difference in your score. Even plus of 0.25 can make a lot of difference. Legal reasoning also involves critical thinking and decision making, so this section can only be mastered by practice and good reading speed.
CLAT has many questions which are paragraph based and a lot of time goes in reading the question, again a reminder having a good reading speed is as important as breathing. Practicing past year papers and mocks is very important. Do get hold of some mocks online to get a taste of solving a paper on the screen. Only practice and consistency can help you get through CLAT...
All The Best!!