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In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 34, 18-24 November 2023

Gearing up for Common Law Admission Test (CLAT)

 

Vijay Prakash Srivastava

In a democratic set up like ours the term 'Rule of Law' carries immense significance.  The term is self-explanatory. In a broader sense rule of law is a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, both private and public, including the state itself, are accountable to laws which are known and certain .These laws should apply equally to all.

To promote rule of law and to strengthen its foundation, there has to be a system in place. This system requires people who know the laws and/or able to interpret it. This brings us to the importance of law as a subject. Law as a subject of study has in existence since much long. However, the legal education is more professionalised now and obtaining such education has come as a preference for many ambitious young people.

An undergraduate degree in law is known as LL.B and LL.M is a postgraduate qualification in law.  All major universities in our country and their affiliated colleges have been conducting undergraduate, postgraduate and other courses in law since long. In the year 1986 the first Law University was established at erstwhile Bangalore, now Bengaluru. Second Law University at Hyderabad came after 10 years. After that many such universities were established to offer much needed legal education. As of now there are 22 Law Universities in the country. These are located at Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Kolkata, Lucknow, Patiala, Patna, Kochi, Jodhpur, Gandhinagar (campus also at Silvassa), Raipur, Cuttack, Ranchi, Guwahati, Visakhapatnam, Tiruchirapalli, Mumbai, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Shimla, Jabalpur, Sonepat and Agartala.

Till the above Law universities came into existence, taking up an undergraduate course in law was possible only after completion of a degree like B.A., B.Com, and B.Sc. etc. Though LL.B is an undergraduate course, it can be pursued only after having undergraduate qualification in other subjects like humanities, science, commerce or technology etc. Five years integrated undergraduate law courses were launched at these law universities and then many other government and private universities too began such integrated courses.

Except National Law University (NLU), Delhi, all the above offer admission through Common Law Admission Test, popularly known as CLAT. NLU, Delhi conducts its own All India Law Entrance Test (AILET). However with your preparation for CLAT, you may also take the AILET.

The first CLAT was held in 2008.Since then it’s conducted every year. Those who want to appear in CLAT after a year or two, may start their preparations in right earnest.

CLAT comes in the league of entrance tests like IIT JEE, CAT (for admissions to IIMs).The number of aspirants wanting a seat at National Law Universities has been rising consistently. Only a good merit in CLAT can make it possible. To do well in CLAT, a candidate should’ve a detailed understanding of the test pattern after which intense preparation would be required. Under the control of Consortium of Law Universities, two different CLATs are held for five year integrated undergraduate (UG) course and postgraduate course. In this article we’re going to cover UG CLAT.

Structure of CLAT

In its present form, this examination has a duration of two hours in which 120 questions of one mark each are given under five sections-English Language, Current Affairs (inclusive of General Knowledge), Legal Reasoning, Quantitative Techniques and Logical Reasoning. The segment of Current Affairs (inclusive of General Knowledge) and Legal Reasoning will have 28 to 32 questions each whereas English Language and Legal Reasoning will carry 22 to 26 questions each. Under Quantitative Techniques 10 to 14 questions would be asked. Wrong answers cost one fourth mark each.

Considering that there are large number of candidates competing in CLAT, one should prepare well for all the above segments of the test to collectively build a good score and to stand in merit. Test structure and preparation strategy in brief have been given below-

English Language: This part would judge how good you’re in written English communication. Students educated in English medium will also need to put their efforts to become equipped for answering questions of specific nature in this English Language segment.

You may expect large number of questions from passage based comprehension. You will be provided passages of about 400-500 words each which will be from contemporary or historically significant fiction and non-fiction writing and may take about 5-7 minutes to read.

Based on the passages or otherwise, there would be questions on word meanings, fill in the blanks, replacing phrases/words without change in the meaning, finding a sentence from given options that is most appropriate as a  beginning/closing sentence, choosing intended meaning or the meaning which is not intended for a particular word or statement, idioms and phrases etc. Be careful as few questions may be asking ‘what is not’ than ‘what is’.

The kind of questions asked in English section of CLAT, are hardly found in books of General English, so a candidate would be expected to go through previous years papers to understand the pattern of questions and accordingly customise her preparation.

The comprehension passages have to be read very carefully. Focus only on what is said or intended in the passage to answer the questions. Your personal views and opinions must not be influencing your answers. Most of us have limited vocabulary and we don’t give a thought to exploring different meanings of words according to context .For CLAT you should not only learn new words and their meanings but also understand various ways in which a word can be used. For example the familiar word ‘first’ is used to denote division, top position and priority and the meanings here are not interchangeable.

 

Current Affairs and General Knowledge: Current Affairs covers events of recent past, say one year. We come to know of these events through newspapers, radio, television and internet. Take a note of the events which could possibly lead to a question. This note taking has to be done on a daily basis. Of course on many days, there won’t be anything to note down. You would also need to find out about important events of past few months. These events may be related to sports, announcement of prizes and awards, launch of new government schemes, international developments and legal matters such as court decisions.

General knowledge has a very large domain. Here the questions may be from constitution, history, geography, important dates, books and authors, Olympics etc. Your preparation here should be based upon good and updated general knowledge books which can easily be found. For the entire section latest Year Books shall also provide useful input.

Legal Reasoning: This section is exclusive to CLAT and few other law entrance tests. As the term legal reasoning suggests, here you’ll be exposed to questions dealing with wrong or right, legal points or some issue of ethics. So you’ll have a few passages, each with an issue of law, public policy or moral philosophy. To answer the questions you needn’t have studied such subjects before. All you need is common sense to understand the stated facts, draw proper inference after identifying the key points which the moral or legal dilemma can be related to. You may need to apply general principles or propositions to the given facts or scenarios.

To prepare for this section study the court decisions published in general and financial newspapers and try to understand what made the court to take that particular decision. You may go through important legal decision in past one year. Reading few articles on moral philosophy and cases related to it may also help. While answering questions in this section you need to focus on legal principles involved. However you may also be required to apply common sense, reasoning and rational assumptions within the scope of that principle or rule.  High performance in this section may be an indication of your aptitude for a career in law.

Quantitative Techniques: In other entrance tests this section may have a different nomenclature such as quantitative aptitude or numerical ability. Quantitative techniques section would comprise of small set of facts or propositions or other textual, graphical, pictorial or diagrammatic representation containing numerical information after which a series of question would follow. The candidates are expected to choose selective information from the above representation and apply mathematical operation as required. For example in a graph, sales for different years may be given and you may be asked about the sum of difference in two different year sets.

This section will have questions from topics which we studied in mathematics in HSC (10th standard).To solve this section you need to have clear concepts of BODMAS, ratio, fraction, equation, mensuration, percentage, interest  among others. You should solve a lot of questions to practice and achieve perfection.

Logical Reasoning: Logical Reasoning is a test component in various competitive examinations. A law practitioner has to use reasoning to put forth her arguments in legal profession, hence this test. Logical reasoning questions are asked in different forms such as verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and analytical reasoning. In CLAT, more questions are from verbal reasoning

Questions in this segment will carry some statement, this statement may be called stimulus. Subtle or clear evidence may appear in support of the statement. These form the basis to answer questions which may ask what assumption is necessary to the argument or point made in the statement or what must be logically true according to the statement. There is no set order to an argument’s component. The conclusion may be found at the beginning, middle are close. The choices given may carry only minute difference, so the correct option needs to be identified with much diligence. Towards this end, you need to zero on the main point(s) and assumption(s), if any, and then relate these to conclusion.

Finding resources for preparation

By searching at internet, you may easily find previous years’ question papers of CLAT which will give you a fair idea about nature of questions asked. Also, if you visit CLAT website, you’ll find key to 2023 question paper. Exclusive guides for CLAT preparation are available in the market. You may get one or two for you after ascertaining their quality and coverage given.  In few CLAT guides sample questions have been provided with applicable rationale for correct answer. These can be very useful for a candidate. There are printed workbooks available for CLAT for practice. Various websites also provide free access to preparation material including old question papers with keys, sample questions and model papers etc. You should make best use of that.

 

Validity of CLAT score beyond National Law Universities

Your CLAT score is accepted at various other institutes for admission to LL.B or five years integrated courses which may not be conducting their own entrance test. So even if you’re not targeting the National Law Universities, you may think of having a CLAT score to seek admission at other institutes accepting the score. CLAT score is handy also for those who for some reason couldn’t make it to any of the 22 National Law Universities. In case of private colleges or universities accepting you on the basis of CLAT score, you need to make sure that the institute provides quality education, charges reasonable fee and the degree offered by it carries value in the job market.

 

Opportunities for Law Graduates

After qualifying in CLAT and completing your law degree, a whole new world of career and work opportunities opens up for you. After registering with Bar Council, you may practice as an advocate in a court of law, appear in Judiciary Services examination conducted in different states (like UP PCS J),choose to work as a Law Officer in a bank or insurance company or join a public sector organisation as  management Trainee in Law. Other pathways include working with legal consultancy firms or firms engaged in legal process outsourcing. Some of you may prefer to take up post-graduation in law or specialise in a particular area of law.  Some of such specialisations are Cyber Law, Copyright Law, Constitutional Law, Forensic Law, Marine Law etc.

 

Author : Vijay Prakash Srivastava

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