Education

Going forward: Offline

After facing flak for glitches and errors in the past years, The Common Law Admission Test 2019 has been streamlined, and is all set in its new format

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) has been the gateway to step into the premier National Law Universities since 2008, and every year, a growing number of students write this entrance test to join these coveted law schools. CLAT, hitherto, was conducted by different National Law Schools on rotation with no permanent board/committee. In the last couple of years, CLAT has been plagued with errors in questions and answers, besides technical glitches in the conduct of the entrance test, thereby shattering the confidence and dreams of thousands of students.

Changes

In early October this year, for the first time, a CLAT consortium was formed to regulate the exam. The CLAT consortium has announced the date of the next exam as May 12, 2019. In a major move, the consortium has decided that CLAT 2019 will be an offline exam. This decision was taken following complaints from students across the country in the last few years about technical glitches in the conduct of the online CLAT exam. Though the exam is conducted by different law schools in rotation each year, this year, a permanent CLAT Secretariat has been established in the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) campus in Bengaluru. This is a much-needed system to streamline conduct of the exam. CLAT 2019 will be conducted by an executive committee of the consortium consisting of NLSIU (Bengaluru), NALSAR (Hyderabad), NLU (Bhopal), and CLAT Convenor of the year, which is NLU (Odisha) and the CLAT Convenor of next year along with few other member universities. The exam is expected to shortly launch its permanent website which will carry all pertinent information relating to CLAT 2019. With this arrangement in place, it is hoped that the exam will be devoid of errors and lapses.

With about six months to go for CLAT 2019, law aspirants must start preparation right away.

Systematic planner

CLAT is a simple aptitude test which tests a students’ competence in subjects such as English, arithmetic, general knowledge, and logical and legal reasoning. Though the content of the exam is simple, it is the time factor and negative marking, which makes the entrance test challenging. The question paper has 200 questions to be tackled in 120 minutes and 0.25 marks deducted for every wrong answer.

English

This section tests the students’ vocabulary including Latin words, grammar skills and comprehension ability. Students who are voracious readers and those who have an eye for grammar usually do well. However, many students, these days, have trouble with this section owing to decline in reading habit.

Arithmetic

This segment tests students’ basic math skills by testing them on topics such as profit and loss, ratios, time, work and distance, simple and compound interest, averages and other general math topics which are learnt in the middle-and-high-school level. Since time is a constraint in this exam, students need to employ strategic thinking and “short-cuts” to arrive at solutions.

General knowledge

This segment aims at finding out students’ awareness of current happenings and general topics. A good memory and systematic preparation of a wide gamut of topics such as world organisations, history, everyday science, books and authors and such other topics are required. Reading newspapers is an indispensable requirement to ace the current affairs questions asked in this section. The availability of several current affairs apps and dedicated general knowledge websites have made students’ preparation quite easy.

Logical reasoning

To assess the lateral thinking of aspirants, this segment has been designed. Word and number analogy, direction sense test, puzzles, relationship tests, syllogism, critical reasoning form the core of this section. Thanks to the oympiad exams initiated by schools right from primary level onwards, most students can crack this section with confidence. However, the key to high score in this section is loads and loads of practice, as students need to hone these problem-solving techniques.

Legal reasoning

The selection test to study in top law schools will be incomplete without testing basic analytical reasoning ability of law aspirants. Since every legal professional needs strong deductive reasoning skills, this section has questions which include a legal premise followed by a situation and four plausible conclusions. Students are expected to choose the most appropriate answer on the lines of the given legal principle while remaining unemotional. This segment also tests students’ awareness of contemporary legal developments and basic legal awareness. Working out the past year papers of CLAT will give you a clear idea of what to expect in this section.

Tips and strategies

1. Begin your systematic preparation well in advance, preferably six to eight months prior to the examination. Last–minute preparation hardly helps.

2. Take sample/mock CLAT tests to assess yourself. This will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.

3. There are no quick-fix methods to tackle your poor vocabulary. Reading is the only time-tested method to enlarge your vocabulary, however, reading vocabulary building books does help.

4. Reading newspapers and quality books has in-built advantages such as widening your current affairs knowledge, improving your reading speed and building a robust vocabulary, all of which are required for a successful career in law.

5. Since time is a vital factor, taking mock tests and doing practice tests at regular intervals will improve speed.

6. Since the level of math tested is of basic standard, students should take it as an opportunity to develop basic arithmetic ability, which will be useful later in professional life.

7. Students aspiring to study law must develop a keen interest in the functioning of the Constitution and other laws. Further, a strong interest in political and international developments will kindle their enthusiasm to pursue law.

8. While there are excellent job prospects upon completion of law degree, students should not have myopic view of just placements and salaries, rather cultivate a desire for knowledge in all facets of law and hone excellent communication and reasoning skills to become a top-notch legal professional.

9. The preparation style for an entrance exam vastly differs from that of a Board exami. Constant test-taking and analysing test performances and varying strategies in approaching the exam hold key to success in this exam.

10. Finally, a strong will power, tons of hard work, perseverance and valuable guidance are truly the secrets of success in not just CLAT but any entrance test.

Hema Raman is director, Sriram Law Academy and mentor for CLAT aspirants.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 2:59:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/going-forward-offline/article25402151.ece

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