— Written By Amandeep Rajgotra
A graduate degree in law has garnered huge popularity among students. As per HRD Ministry’s AISHE report, a total of 1,56,546 students had enrolled for LLB or Bachelor of law in 2011-12, which has increased to 3,62,493 in 2018-19. The reason for this rise is that firstly, this stream is a neutral option and secondly, the law as a profession has huge scope in terms of career and respect in society.
During the global recession, we witnessed companies downsizing and adapting retrenchment strategies. It became hard for graduates to find employment and there was a safe harbour, doctors and lawyers. Companies went on using the strategies of amalgamation; mergers and acquisitions took place to provide a cushion to businesses, and when the economy started to recover, the legal advisers were there to cater to the capital market issues and other regulatory procedures.
Those who wish to pursue a career in law can appear for Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for undergraduate courses. This law entrance exam has been unpredictable, to say the least. It is advisable to see the trends over the years and cut-offs which will help you focus on the sections which are important.
CLAT history, changing trend
If we look at the last five years we will see how the exam has changed over the past years. CLAT 2015, conducted by the Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University (RMLNLU), brought in a major change. It was the first computer-based CLAT and it came with its own anomalies. First, there were a lot of technical issues faced by the students at their respective centres. Second, the paper wasn’t on familiar lines. A few questions in the Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Ability sections were shockers, as the questions asked were almost as difficult as those on CAT. The legal aptitude section also had a lot of questions based on legal knowledge — prior knowledge of law played a significant role in the score.
A few students filed writs before various courts of the country. Calls were made to do away with the present system and instead have a permanent body organise the CLAT. The Supreme Court’s final decision is still awaited on this issue.
But all this did not deter RGNLU from conducting CLAT in 2016. It was one of the easiest papers in CLAT history, resulting in significantly higher cut-offs. Only the Quantitative Aptitude section had a few tricky questions that required intensive calculations, making the section a bit more time-consuming. It was no surprise that most of the top scorers in CLAT 2016 did well in this particular section as the rest of the sections were of an easy to moderate level. In other words, the QA section was the make-or-break section for this exam.
CLAT 2017, organised by Chanakya National Law University at Patna, was largely on expected lines. The pattern of the paper was quite similar to that of 2016, however, some changes stood out. It was a bit more difficult and hence, the cut-off saw some decline.
Then came in CLAT 2018, which was a game-changer. The issues in conducting the exam escalated to such a level that the Supreme Court had to set up a CLAT Secretariat at NLSIU. A new committee was constituted to conduct future CLATs.
The major change in 2019 was that the paper was made offline. The cut-off for this paper was in the range of 130- 140.
CLAT 2020: Major changes
An entrance exam like CLAT demands a lot of focus for preparation along with determination and perseverance. On November 21, 2019, there was a notice that was issued by the consortium of National Law Universities. The notice states that CLAT 2020 will undergo major changes in its structure. It left all of us in surprise and in anticipation.
The major change in CLAT 2020 is its pattern. According to the press release, the exam will have comprehension based questions from Quantitative Techniques, English, Current Affairs, Deductive Reasoning and Logical Reasoning. It was also resolved to reduce the number of questions from 200 to 120-150.
What remains similar is that the exam will be offline and the duration will be for two hours. Prof Mustafa, president of the consortium, explained that the idea is to get better students to National Law Universities who have competence in reading text and demonstrate skills in inferential reasoning.
Focus on reading and practice
A student should pay attention to reading a lot and to develop an expertise in inferential based reading and will be included in the deductive reasoning section itself. A student should be comfortable in answering questions based on it, and this will all happen when we practice a lot.
To score high in an exam like CLAT, one should be thorough with the basic concepts of topics asked in the paper. It becomes all the more important to brush up the fundamentals.
General Awareness: The GK section in the CLAT as per the new notification will primarily have Current Affairs. This section is important as it helps save time and one can utilise this to allocate more time to more significant sections of the examination. This section also helps to increase the overall score as the questions asked usually, are factual and direct.
CLAT has always been a test of surprises and GK have not been an exception, either. This year, we expect questions that require more reading and will test students deeper understating of ongoing important news/events.
Numerical Ability: Many students are scared of mathematics, but if a student is regularly practising the basic concepts, then they can solve most of the questions from this section. Including reading-based questions in Math will make the level slightly more difficult. One should focus to prepare for the Mathematics section with aplomb.
Candidates must practice a number of quantitative aptitude questions. The questions which cover a varied number of topics including Number systems, Percentages, Time Speed and Distance, Time and Work, Algebra, Co-ordinate Geometry, Trigonometry, Mensuration, and Probability.
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Logical Reasoning: It is again a very unpredictable section. The unfamiliarity of students with this section makes it difficult. It has questions which are based on Coding-Decoding, Family Tree, Arrangements, Syllogisms and Critical Reasoning.
Critical Reasoning is the most important part of this section. This topic will be of key importance. As the notification clearly states, emphasis will be given on inferential-based reading.
Verbal Ability: This section mostly has questions that test your reading skills. A lot of students tend to leave Reading Comprehension because they lack aptitude for reading. The reasons to leave reading comprehension are that it consumes time and also, the accuracy level is low. It is highly recommended that you attempt these questions if you can work on improving reading skills, as this will also help you in attempting questions based on Sentence Completion and Sentence Arrangement.
Time management is crucial
One of the most important things once should need to keep in mind when it comes to time management is that unless you are exceptionally intelligent and gifted, you will most probably not be able to attempt all the questions on the test. This is perfectly fine. In fact, sometimes the desire to attempt all the questions can land students in trouble because your accuracy level can fall down drastically under timing pressure. The new pattern suggests that the time duration of the paper is the same, but the number of questions will decrease.
What you should do is pick and choose which questions to attempt and which to skip, so that you are in control at all times. It’s absolutely fine if you are not able to solve one question. Move ahead and try to solve other questions in the paper. A smart test taker will leave out all the questions that look time-consuming and lengthy initially and only come back to them at the end if there is time left in the test. This strategy works particularly well on the CLAT because there are no section-specific cut-offs that need to be cleared.
Practice mock tests
As an aspirant for the CLAT entrance exam, your target should be to attempt questions with 90 per cent accuracy. The only way to achieve accuracy is to practice. When you practice, try to identify the question types within each section that you are good at, and those that you are not so good at. This will help you save time on the actual exam.
It is very important to constantly work on improving vocabulary and learning current affairs. This will help you enhance your score. Of course, you should always modify this strategy based on your performance in mock tests.
— The author is National Product Head- Law, PRATHAM Test Prep
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