The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is a centralised examination for admission to the existing 21 National Law Universities (NLUs) in the country. Over the years, the examination has faced several controversies and there has hardly been a year that has passed where it was smooth sailing for the aspirants appearing for it. The unpredictability of “what to expect” has always created a full-blown dilemma in the minds of aspirants, who have been thrown surprises in the previous editions of CLAT, in the form of changes in the mode of examination (the online-offline method) or in the pattern of the paper. Several PILs have been filed that have objected to the hot-and-cold manner in which the CLAT examination is treated, given that the future of several aspirants is at stake. In short, the CLAT can be perceived as a gamble, where your luck had greater chances of ensuring you make it to a law school.
On 21st November, the CLAT Consortium released a press note intimating that CLAT will be held on May 10th,, with the online application process commencing from January 1st,. The official notification for CLAT is slated to be released in the last week of December, 2019.
The Consortium proceeded to mention the major reforms to be introduced in CLAT, stressing on how, in the past, the examination has caused undue mental stress on the aspirants. The most vital change to be expected is the reduction in the number of questions in the examination. Since 2008, when the first CLAT was conducted, aspirants were expected to attempt a total of 200 questions in the duration of 120 minutes (2 hours). In CLAT, the number of questions are expected to be within the range of 120 to 150 questions and the duration of the examination continues to remain the same i.e. 120 minutes (2 hours).
Most of the sections that usually appear in the CLAT have been renamed, underscoring what you could expect to be tested on in a particular section. In addition, the CLAT Consortium has explicitly mentioned that the questions will now be “comprehension-based” and this term has confused several aspirants. A “comprehension-based” question is necessarily framed in such a manner that you arrive at the answer based on your ability to understand what the question deems and no prior knowledge regarding the subject matter would be required. In simpler terms, an aspirant will now be required to use their reasoning skills rather than knowledge-based skills to correctly answer the question.
The other phenomenal change that has been made is in the previously known “Legal Aptitude” section. Plenty of aspirants assumed wrongly that the section has been removed in its entirety. However, in a clarificatory video released by Prof. Faizan Mustafa, Vice Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, he has mentioned that the “Legal Aptitude” section will now be referred to as “Deductive Reasoning” section. What has changed in this section is that aspirants will no longer be required to come to the examination centres with conceptual legal knowledge that was required to correctly answer the legal reasoning type of questions. The CLAT paper had been testing aspirants on their knowledge on legal subjects such as torts, contracts, criminal law, constitution, etc. This method of testing required aspirants to not just apply the principle given to the factual situation but also apply basic legal concepts without which arriving at the correct answer would be impossible. The expectation of wanting 12th graders to have legal knowledge without any prior exposure to the aforementioned legal subjects was unreasonable and unfair to a great extent. Now, aspirants will be required to deduct the correct answer by solely applying the principle given in the paper. Therefore, greater focus is being given to reasoning rather than knowledge once again.
The “General Knowledge” section in the previous editions tested aspirants on their static knowledge as well as current awareness. However, the section has been renamed to plain-and-simple “Current Affairs” and aspirants can safely assume that they will be tested only on the current happenings around the world.
The “Quantitative Techniques” section has replaced the “Mathematical Ability” section and instead of questions based on elementary mathematics, aspirants can expect to be tested on how correctly they can read a graph, table, etc. i.e. drawing inferences out of the information provided in the question. Similarly, the “English” and “Logical Reasoning” sections can also be expected to focus on inferential reasoning rather than objective-based questions. For example, CLAT would rather have an aspirant qualify if he/she understands the context in which a particular word has been used rather than an aspirant who simply knows the meaning of that particular word.
There is no clarity on what the breakup of the marks in question paper could be and we will have to patiently wait for the official notification to release. Prof. Faizan Mustafa (in his video) has mentioned that the CLAT Consortium will provide more details on the sections, in addition to providing model questions. Currently, all we can possibly engage in is predicting what the changes could look like on the big day after understanding and interpreting the information given to us. From your end, all that is required is a continuum in your preparation, after taking into consideration the changes we are well-aware of and a sincere refusal to let these reforms affect you in a detrimental manner. In our next post, we will be explaining how you can work towards taking advantage of these changes and come out in flying colours!
With the CLAT Consortium announcing major reforms in the pattern of the CLAT paper, many aspirants have been left in the lurch, wondering what all these changes might mean and the manner in which they might affect their scores on the D-Day i.e. 10th May 2020. We, at Clat Possible, want to assure you that there is nothing to be overwhelmingly worried about since we have plenty of time left to tackle any developments that come our way.
If you haven’t begun your preparations for CLAT, it is high time you should because given the changed format of the question paper, there is a whole new ball game that you have to prepare for. The more you delay your preparation, the harder it will get for you to take into account the reforms and adapt in a beneficial manner.
If you have been sincerely preparing for CLAT for a few months now and feel that the press note released by the CLAT Consortium is your worst nightmare and absolutely unfair, please reconsider this thought process because things have been actually, in a way, become simpler for you. We do understand that you might have spent several hours attempting mocks of 200 questions and grasping the skill of time management, reading and understanding legal theory and going through copious amounts of Static GK modules, trying to memorize facts and information. However, with the change in pattern, all that hard work and memorizing amounted to nothing but you should remember that it has not affected you in a detrimental manner: that your score is tarnished and that there is nothing you can do about it. Because, now is the time where you get on the right track and pick up where you left off, albeit taking into consideration all the expected changes.
Reduction in Number of Questions.
In the past, the requirement of attempting 200 questions in 120 minutes was seen to be quite stressful and law school aspirants complained of the shortage of time. Most of them were unable to attempt the entirety of the 200 questions and those who could, were harrowed by the strain it had on their reasoning faculties. Under pressure, they were not able to answer questions that they could have ordinarily solved and complained of reaching a saturation point in the middle of the examination.
The most welcome change in CLAT is the reduction in the number of questions with the paper expected to have questions within the range of 120 to 150. At least 1/4th of the load has been reduced and aspirants will have to complete attempting the test within the two hours duration that existed earlier as well.
However, with the introduction of “comprehension-based” questions in all sections, you will still be required to be wary of the time limit because as we all know, that it takes time to read a paragraph and understand the gist of it. Once the breakdown of the sections is provided, you must ensure that you start attempting mock tests based on that pattern. Do not become too comfortable with the “I have to attempt lesser questions in the same time” thought-process because then, you will end up slacking on your performance.
If you have been preparing for CLAT, you might already know what the introduction of “comprehension-based” questions would mean. For the uninformed, you must be ready to tackle questions that follow paragraphs. This will necessarily mean that you will have to read more, starting today.
When we say “read more”, we are keen on asking you to expand your horizons in matters of the content you normally would enjoy reading. You will now have to wade through waters of non-fiction and opinion pieces that appear in the editorial columns for you to get accustomed to the types of paragraphs that could appear in the examination. It is a known fact that it is easier to follow a fact-based paragraph than to comprehend a write-up that is trying to throw light on a subject you have never been remotely interested in.
In order to get better at reading, pick up the editorial column of any good English daily newspaper and read the opinion pieces. Do not glimpse through the content and actually read the content. While reading, try to comprehend what the subject of the write-up is, whether the author is offering his opinion or is initiating a dialogue or debate on that subject. If you come across new words, jot them down and find out their meaning, not just generally but also in the context in which it has been used.
The greatest pro of a comprehension-based question is that the answer is limited to what is provided in the question paper. To arrive at the correct answer, you will not be required to apply any further information or any other assumption that you might have about the topic. You will simply have to restrict yourself to what the paragraph informs you of, try to comprehend the paragraph and answer the question that follows accordingly.
Where did the Legal Aptitude section go?
That CLAT 2020 will not test aspirants on Legal Reasoning section was a misconception and it must be noted that the entire section has taken on a new name of “Deductive Reasoning”. Over the years, this section had grown into quite the mountain to surpass, given its expectation of wanting 12th graders to have legal knowledge, when they had never seen the portals of any law school. It was unfair to expect them to be equipped with the understanding of basic legal concepts even before they stepped into institutions, whose job was to instill these very legal concepts.
In the past editions, an aspirant would be required to not only apply the principle given to the factual situation provided but also would have to apply prior legal knowledge to the factual situation. For example, if the principle defines “Absolute Liability”, the candidate was expected to understand what “Absolute Liability” meant and apply that knowledge while answering the question. The principle would not mention that defences or exemptions are not permitted in a situation where a party is being held absolutely liable i.e. Act of God or contributory negligence were not valid defences. Therefore, if an aspirant did not have this prior knowledge of the principle of “absolute liability”, then he would definitely choose the wrong answer option.
In CLAT 2020, candidates would have to merely stick to the principle as is given in the examination without applying any prior knowledge to arrive at the correct answer. Before you enter the examination centre, you must remember that you are an “aspiring” law student. Your ability of reading texts and comprehending their meaning will be tested in the examination on the whole. There will be no focus on how well you know what the law is. You will have your time in law school to show that.
Another aspect that the aspirants for this year’s CLAT can celebrate is the clarity that has been provided with regards to what the General Knowledge section will test them on. For years, there have been various students who have taken a chance of not preparing for Static General Knowledge and being greeted with a considerable chunk of questions based on history, geography and the like. But this year, you can be rest assured that you will not have to glimpse through the Pearson’s and Lexis Nexis’ that you were yet to go through.
That being said, you will have to extra cautious about how you tackle Current Affairs. There cannot be any compromise on your preparation for this and you must go all out. Read the newspaper daily and be aware of what is happening around you. Instead of paying attention to just simply retaining information, try understanding the context of an event or happening around the globe. For example, there have been plenty of legal developments in the past year in India, read up on them extensively.
At the moment, we have very little clarity on what to expect with the other sections – Mathematics (now named Quantitative Techniques), English and Logical Reasoning. However, since it has been mentioned that the examination will solely have comprehension-based questions, it will be ideal if you start focusing on those questions where you are required to comprehend the question and draw inferences from the information given. In Quantitative Techniques, questions based on graphs and tables are highly recommended and also, attempt Puzzles type of questions from Analytical Reasoning. For the English and Logical Reasoning section, focus on Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning passages instead of objective type questions that test you on synonyms and antonyms. You should also pay attention to Syllogisms because they are again those types of questions that help you deduct the right answer by comprehending the information provided.
Is It Too Late for Me?
CLAT is a little over five months away and instead of delving into how life has been unfair to you that it is throwing a new pattern of paper at you, take the situation head-on and try to strategize on how you can make the best of the time you have. Till the official notification is released, spend time focusing on sections that you have clarity on such as Current Affairs, Reading Comprehension, Deductive Reasoning and Critical Reasoning passages. Once the CLAT Consortium releases the official notification with more details regarding the pattern of the paper, the break-up of marks across the sections and model type of questions, you will have to work towards converting anything that goes against you (as per the new pattern) in your favour.
There is no point in indulging in baseless predictions and self-wallowing at the moment. Continue your preparation with greater concentration on the context of the passages and spend your time comprehending correctly what appears before you. And please, engage in reading as much as you can.