How to prepare for CLAT

Author: Rishima Rawat

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is the entrance exam for various national law universities (NLUs) in the country. If you wish to study law from some of the best universities in India, you have to qualify for this test. Over the years, law as a career has become popular among students. Automatically, the number of applicants for CLAT has drastically increased. In 2019, more than fifty thousand candidates appeared for a select number of seats in the NLUs. So you can imagine how tough the competition is. This is not to say that it is very difficult to ace CLAT. If you have a logical mind and can analyze scenarios, you can score well with a disciplined and dedicated preparation. The changes in the pattern have been introduced to encourage students to focus on applying their minds rather than rote learning. The aim is to make the paper application-based, as the field of law is more about application than memorizing. Since this will be the first time that the new pattern will be tested, every candidate is at the same level. Nobody knows exactly what the paper is going to be like.

As per the official website, the CLAT undergraduate (UG) paper is divided into five sections:

  1. English Language
  2. Current Affairs, including General Knowledge
  3. Legal Reasoning
  4. Logical Reasoning
  5. Quantitative Techniques

While the Consortium is yet to release a model paper, the kind of questions that will be asked has been explained by Prof. Faizan Mustafa, former president of the Consortium, currently a permanent member of the Consortium’s Executive Committee and Vice-chancellor of NALSAR, Hyderabad. He has repeatedly emphasized that the exam will not test a student’s memory and they have no reason to worry

Let’s take each section first. We will follow it up with some general tips and tricks.

  1. English Language

To improve your command over the language, there is no better way than to read as much as you can. Read novels, magazines, the editorial and ideas sections of newspapers and online articles. Read on topics that are out of your comfort zone. For example, if you have not read a non-fiction book yet (maybe because you don’t like the genre), pick up one such book and read it. Understand what it says. Mark the words that you have not read before and find their meaning. This goes for all the reading that you do. It will help you improve your vocabulary. The questions in the exam will be based on the context of the given paragraph. So it will be easier for you to understand the meaning of the words used. If your grammar is weak, practice exercises from Wren & Martin or any other good English language book of your choice.

When reading articles or newspapers, practice reading fast while also understanding the text. As a law student and future lawyer, you will be expected to do tonnes of readings. It is better to get into practice as early as you can. To give you a more proximate cause, all sections of the CLAT paper will have passages that you will have to comprehend and subsequently answer questions. Since you will only have limited time, you cannot spend more than a set number of minutes on a passage. Here is where your practice of swift and effective reading will come into play (provided you have been sincere in your preparation).

  1. Current Affairs including General Knowledge

There will be no questions on static GK in CLAT 2020. It will only test current affairs. For that, you must read newspapers such as the Hindu and Indian Express. There are plenty of online resources that offer daily current updates. Stay aware of all the legal developments taking place. Write down the events daily and revise them before going to bed.

  1. Legal reasoning

The focus of this section will be on a student’s ability to draw inferences from the given paragraph. Your knowledge of legal maxims will not be tested. Like previous editions, there will be questions where you will be given a legal principle and a fact situation. You will have to apply the principle to the given facts and arrive at an answer. These questions can be very confusing at times. Practice these as much as you can. Always remember to stick to the given principle and not apply your external knowledge.

  • Logical reasoning

This section remains unchanged. It will also contain paragraphs and accordingly you will have to answer the questions. Solve logical sections of not just previous CLAT papers but also other exams. LSAT papers can offer some serious preparation for this section. You can try to attempt the reasoning section of CAT papers. But since its level is way beyond CLAT, if you are able to solve even a few questions, you should be happy. Read the paragraphs carefully. Understand its tone and meaning before answering the questions.

  1. Quantitative Techniques

This section has undergone a major change since previous editions of the exam. Earlier, questions were based on topics covered until standard 10th. This time, you will be given a graph, table or pie chart and will have to answer questions based on the data provided therein. The questions will still be based on mathematics up to standard 10th.

Things will become clear once the Consortium releases a model question paper. Till then, keep practicing while keeping the above tips in mind.

Moving on to some general tips. Every candidate has a different way of preparing. What works for someone else might not work for you and vice versa. So figure out your own schedule and strategy and test it while taking mocks.

  • Use the internet wisely. There are numerous resources available for preparation. If you are not going to any coaching center, you can subscribe to online materials.
  • Since the test is offline, download a copy of a standard OMR sheet and always practice on it. Take as many mocks as you can. They are the real indicators of your performance. Analyze your mistakes. See where you went wrong. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Give some more time to your weak areas and address the issues.
  • Time yourself. Depending on the number of questions in each section, decide how much time you will spend on that section. Formulate a strategy so that you are able to complete all the questions in time.
  • Having stated the above point, you must be careful of negative marking. Do not go on a guessing spree. It may not always work. A difference of even 0.25 marks can drastically lower your rank (and change your preferred college).
  • Speak to people who have written the exam before you. It helps. Ask them what they did during their prep. Implement it in your prep to see if it works for you. What worked for them may not work for you. So you will have to try a few things before settling on one strategy. Since the pattern is new this time, you may have to formulate your own strategy. Once you have figured it out, stick to it in every mock that you take.
  • Whenever you prepare, focus on the quality of the preparation, not the number of hours. If you put in 3 hours of focussed preparation, it is as good as 6 hours of a distracted and disturbed prep.
  • Study group: If you have a circle of friends who are also preparing, form a group where you can study together for some time. Use that time to address doubts and discuss current events. It helps when everyone is positively competitive and wants everyone to do well. It keeps you disciplined. Try it out and see if it works.

While preparing for the test, do not lose sight of the fact that the Consortium has tried to make it easier for you. Do not take unnecessary stress. It is very important to stay healthy- eat well, sleep well. Do not sacrifice your health in the name of exam preparation. If you are overstressed, no matter how much you have prepared, you will not be able to perform on the final day. And that is what matters- how you perform in those 2 hours. The final two hours are a culmination of the process of your preparation. So trust the work that you have put in the preceding months. Do not leave room for regret where you may feel that you could have done better.