The introduction of Common Law Admission Test and the rise of a knowledge society have made the law degree attractive. Clearing the CLAT needs knowledge in many areas.
The legal discipline is gradually emerging as an attractive career option for students thanks to the spread of knowledge, information and awareness. This seems to be the direct result of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation, which has transformed the world into a global village and a knowledge society.
More and more students had started opting for legal discipline since 1980s when the national law colleges and universities came into existence. But the momentum gathered with the introduction of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) in 2008.
Since then the standard of entrance examination has touched a new high as the legal field has thrown open new avenues for law graduates. The biggest benefit of CLAT and the five-year L.L.B. degree course is that it saves one year for students; students earlier used to pursue the three-year L.L.B. degree course after a three-year degree course.
In the wake of increasing demand for law graduates in the private sector, the National Law College and universities, which recruit students through CLAT, have formulated new syllabi and techniques to equip them with the latest in the legal domain. This makes the students from these institutions not only well-versed in law but also skillful in the interpretation of law according to the demands of time and circumstances.
Another attractive career option for law graduates, especially for girls, is the judicial services. In the recent times, girls have been outnumbering boys in law entrance examinations and judicial services examinations.
The CLAT examination consists of four major components:
Legal awareness/ legal reasoning
Test of English language
Mathematical/ logical ability
The legal awareness segment is an entirely new arena for candidates with any background, be it science, commerce or humanities. This segment tests the candidate's basic legal acumen. It consists of four parts: legal terms and maxims, civil law, criminal law and Constitutional law.
A sound knowledge of Constitutional law is important, without which one cannot master the other laws. Legal terms are the backbone of legal awareness. For example, if one is not aware of the minute differences between terms such as accused, guilty or convicted, cognizable and non-cognizable offences, mens rea, caveat emptor and venditor, void, voidable or void ab initio, one cannot understand the problems of law and solve them. In the Civil and Criminal law segments, one must have a good knowledge of the basics.
For the test of English language, students must have a clear knowledge of the fundamentals of English grammar and composition, and vocabulary. The segment on vocabulary begins with important words, their meaning and usage. This is followed by synonyms and antonyms. These segments are a cakewalk for students who have a good vocabulary.
Good use of English language also includes good knowledge of idioms and phrases, and some special words related to some specific professions or trades. To check the level of competence in vocabulary building, one must practise answering multiple-choice questions (MCQs).
The vocabulary building segment consists of ten verticals: words and their meanings, their usage, synonyms, antonyms, idioms and phrases, one-word substitution, word formation, specific words, spelling of words and related MCQs.
The grammar part again consists of parts of speech (number/gender form of noun, degrees of comparison (adjective), prepositions, conjunctions and other cases). To be comfortable in composition of sentences, one must have good understanding of tenses, voice, and narration. The right understanding of modals, determiners, and non-finites is indispensable. Once candidates get acquainted with these aspects, then reading comprehension, sentence completion, sentence correction and other ancillary verticals become easy to tackle. One must also be aware of the common errors that are usually made by candidates in competitive exams.
The mathematical and logical ability segment tests a candidate's intelligence-quotient level and speed. To crack this segment one must able to use matriculation level mathematical formulae, their applications, tricks and short cuts to solve problems in the given time.
To clear CLAT test, candidates must focus on guided, qualitative and organised studies. It is important to remember that assimilation of knowledge is more important that its accumulation. To tackle the general knowledge segment, focus must be on history, polity, geography, science, general awareness and current affairs. Mere reading of matriculation level science textbooks along with a monthly magazine to keep in touch with current affairs will suffice.
Time management is most important
Brush up the fundamentals of English
Build up ample vocabulary
Prepare brief notes in general knowledge
For current affairs, read one monthly magazine
Try to understand the basics of legal awareness
Master legal terms and maxims
Practise answering MCQs
Solve previous years' question papers
Take mock tests
(The author prepares CLAT preparation guides for Tata McGraw-Hill.)