CLAT 2016: Brief overview and tips for preparation

March 14, 2016

The entry ticket to leading law schools in India is obtained through smart work and positive attitude. Systematic preparation and knowledge of the right subject areas will help you sail through CLAT 2016.

Almost a decade ago, when I decided to choose “law” as my career option, there was very little detail available about law schools in India. A lot has happened in these many years and today there are more alternatives available when it comes to law as a career right after higher secondary education. A number of law prep schools, guides, books, study materials and coaching websites have thrived now, which are useful tools for the students who aspire to crack the Common Law Admission Test 2016 (CLAT 2016). However, accessing the above-mentioned helping tools are not sufficient. The appropriate use of available sources of the preparation and a methodical system of preparing for the exam are equally important.

CLAT 2016 is the all India level entrance exam to be held on 8th May 2016 for getting admission to 17 prestigious national law schools in the country. The exam for this year is being organized by the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab (RGNUL). The online applications are already available and the last day for submission of the forms is 31st March 2016. Details related to the procedure for applying and important dates related to it are available on the official website of CLAT i.e. CLAT for undergraduate program for law (5 years course) will run for a duration of 2 hours. The question paper will constitute a total of 200 questions carrying 1 mark each. 0.25 mark will be deducted for every wrong answer. The paper will be divided into five different sections namely: (1) English including Comprehension (40 marks), (2) General Knowledge and Current Affairs (50 marks), (3) Elementary Mathematics (Numeric Ability) (20 Marks), (4) Legal Aptitude (50 Marks) and (5) Logical Reasoning (40 Marks).

Since I appeared for both first and second CLAT that took place in the years 2008 and 2009 respectively, I had the opportunity to try all available means to prepare sufficiently for the exam. By way of trial and error method, I realized that a thorough study of all the subjects for several hours is not enough to crack the exam. What is required is to prepare in a smart and efficient manner without allocating a huge number of hours towards reading everything. First and foremost, it is required that one understands his/her weak as well as strong areas in relation to the five sections of the paper. While one should provide sufficient time to prepare and improve on its weaker areas, it is also necessary that the confident sections are revisited on a daily basis. One of the basic facts to be kept in mind is that no amount of preparation can be considered as complete or sufficient. However, a target should be set, the achievement of which should seem satisfactory to the candidate.

On reading the above, the immediate thought that strikes one’s mind is “how do we fix such a target”. Determining the target is not a complex task, nevertheless, a basic reading and practicing of previous years’ questions and model test papers will be helpful estimating the key areas which require improvement. In the case of English section, a strong knowledge of vocabulary and basic comprehending skills are to be in place. To improve vocabulary, lots of students start reading and mugging pages of the dictionary which is not a very wise and helpful method. One of the easiest ways to get through this (which I have personally tried and it definitely worked) is to make sure that you read a book every night before going to bed, and while reading keep marking out the words whose meaning you are not sure of. Keep a pocket dictionary handy, so that whenever you come across such a word, you can figure out its meaning at that very moment. This way you can always remember the meaning of the word and the context in which it is used. The similar approach can be taken by people while reading newspapers or any other material, in case they are not very keen on reading books.

For general knowledge, the fundamental rule says that anything and everything under the sun could be asked. The most promising book to prepare general knowledge section (the static G.K.) is Pearson’s publisher’s general knowledge manual for the current year. Apart from this, the monthly/annual issues of competition success, Pratiyogita Darpan and any other G.K. based books/magazines used for various other competitive exams are helpful in preparing current affairs. One should seriously adopt the daily habit of reading any reputed English newspaper such as Times of India, Hindu etc., to have current affairs on the tip of the fingers. General knowledge and current affairs are one such section which cannot be prepared in a span of few days. Hence, a daily habit of reading and watching the news is a must.

Mathematics questions which are asked in CLAT are only up to the 10th standard level. However, time being the most important factor, one needs to learn the quickest methods to solve these questions. Practicing these questions in a time bound manner is a good method here. These tricks are mostly taught in the law prep classes and are also included in various study materials. Students needing assistance in this area should consider looking out for options mentioned above. Logical reasoning will have questions testing the general application of mind and reasoning. Questions of deductive logic, syllogism, analogies etc. are asked in this section. Study materials and preparatory classes can be of great help in preparing this section. As far as legal aptitude section is concerned, questions will be based on basic law subjects such as torts, contracts, constitution etc. The most important bit for this is that one should be clear with the basic legal concepts so that he/she can apply it to choose the correct option among the ones given. In this regard, previous years’ questions and study materials give a lot of idea about the kind of legal concepts on which the questions are generally based upon.

It’s normal to have a dilemma between joining any law prep classes or preparing on your own. Considering the amount of time available to a candidate (after also considering appropriate time for Class XIIth boards and any other courses [if any]), one should decide the feasibility of spending time and money in attending law prep classes. Of course, it is not mandatory to enroll in any coaching or law prep classes. However, attending such classes definitely add on to the preparation level of a candidate. Tutorials such as Career Launcher’s Law School Tutorials (LST), IMS etc are spread across most of the cities in the country and all of them offer full year/crash courses depending upon the requirement of the students. Books play a major part in preparation for CLAT and one should definitely have a hang of guide books and study materials published by various law houses such as Universal, Lexis-Nexis etc. These are very easily available in law bookstores as well as online.

Apart from everything else, it is essential that students opting for CLAT have fair knowledge and understanding of law as a career and law school as institutions. One should keep reading about these on the internet to be absolutely clear about their options and interest areas. There is no alternative to hard work. A positive outlook with self-determination is the keys to crack CLAT. Any aspirant can smoothly achieve his/her goal of qualifying for a national law school provided he/she prepares all sections of the exam with utmost dedication and sincerity. By preparing in an organized manner and having a healthy competitive attitude, CLAT can be child’s play for every student who desires to study in any of the prestigious law school of our country. ALL THE BEST TO EVERYONE!!

By Riya Lala

The author is an alumni of NLU Jodhpur and a former associate of Trilegal.