Author: Aditya Singh,
CLAT 2008 All India Rank 76
CLAT 2009, the second Common Law Admission Test being conducted for entry into the country’s premier national law schools is a fortnight away from testing your sincerity, focus, hard work and above all, your determination to soar as a legal eagle. Being a matter of 15 days it’s high time that the law aspirant get into launch mode now, similar to the mood in a space center during countdown time. Being tested in English, Mathematics, Logical Reasoning, Legal Reasoning and General Awareness, he should be studying in a streamlined, focused and tight manner. He ought to have finished learning the theory and must be practicing to be perfect. Here are some humble suggestions for our budding lawyers regarding preparation for and answering the different parts of the paper.
GENERAL AWARENESS: Being of vital importance in any field, the Common Law Admission Test requires thoroughness in current affairs, something achieved over a lengthy period of time. Reading the newspaper comprehensively on a daily basis is the optimum way to achieve this. However, the short span of a fortnight requires preparation on a war footing. Newspapers make for leisure while Competition Magazines do so for quick grasp. Indeed Competition Magazines are the best way to tighten your grasp on current affairs. Preparation for a law entrance examination shouldn’t stop you from venturing into the realm of the CAT and the IAS. Go to your nearest News Stall and scoop up all the IAS Competition Magazines with your wallet. Do the same for those MBA Entrance Ones! Upon doing so, open them up in the cosy confines of your study room-Your Mission Headquarters for the CLAT. Turn the cover page of your IAS refresher, chronicle, times etc. Etc. And go straight to the general awareness section. One must take note of the fact that the IAS Prelims are around a month away. To cater to the demands of last minute preparers who need loads of facts and figures, events and happenings in a 20-30 page module, magazine publishers have dedicated sections for general awareness and current affairs compressing all the relevant events of the past one year into 10 or 15 pages. In addition special articles are devoted to cover the Indian Constitution, Government and the Economy. These sections convey in a nutshell what encyclopaedias do in volumes.
Words, their meanings and their usages too occupy a respectable place in the CLAT marking. To ease the onerous task of memorisation a number of tests are required which can help you refresh after each round of memorisation. For this the Merriam Webster Vocabulary Builder is recommended. The book has an extremely concise format which covers the words, their meanings and their usage. This sort of approach kills two birds with one stone as you learn the meanings as well as their usage in real sentences. The Merriam Webster book is divided into 20 or 25 sections with each section comprising 40 to 60 words, their meanings and their usages. There is a memory test every 10 words which tests the candidate’s ability to recall the meanings as well use the words in the correct sentences (given in ‘fill in the blanks’ format). Thus the student learns not only the meaning of the word but also when and where to use it. The importance of MBA entrance magazines too cannot be neglected in this regard. These magazines almost convert themselves into dictionaries, having hundreds of word meaning and usage tests. These are great for practise purposes.
Mathematics, thankfully, is limited to Class 10 having the nightmarish calculus and logarithms chucked out of the window. The test is beautifully arithmetical comprising simple problems of time, distance, speed, profit and loss, discount, simple interest and area and volume, which surely makes it a piece of cake for the arts student also. The theory can be done from any basic school text book and the rest is all but practice. Practice makes a man perfect, doesn’t it! Cracking the CLAT too requires you to be faithful to this time honoured rule. Solving 50 to100 practice problems per chapter should get you soundly prepared. Don’t balk at the humongous three digits figure…it’s all about reading and ticking options- a very basic task indeed! In a nutshell, practice what you study. Study of each chapter should have the solving of at least 200 to 400 questions accompanying it. Do multi-chapter practise on a daily basis given the limited time. Solve around 15 to 20 questions from each chapter. This way, adjusting the number of practised questions with the amount of time you have, tried covering all mathematics chapters in the limited time that you have.
Legal General Knowledge: In legal GK you may be asked questions regarding: Indian Constitution, various commissions, general information on the Indian judiciary and the law commission. As regards the Constitution, you may be asked questions on its article, especially those Articles pertaining to the Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, Directive Principles of State Policy, and some other articles covering the central government and the state government. Cover in brief the Articles governing Supreme Court and High Court. However it should not be in depth. If you have a ‘bare act’ of Constitution of India, you can see the opening pages which have a list of all articles (1 to 395) along with a one line description of each. It will help you. Moreover Universal’s book might have some good legal GK.
BASICALLY you must know which article contains what. There is no need to go deep into it and try to interpret it using case laws or read up intensively on it. You may also be asked on legal history, such as the legal developments in India before and after independence. For example, establishing of Supreme Court and High Courts and some basic but important information on them, such as the number of judges, types of cases decided and Also keep abreast of the latest in legal current affairs. You may search for “law” , or ‘law commission’ or ‘commissions’ or ‘constitution’ in the Times of India website.
45 marks of Legal GK is a lot. There I would advise you to study this from a source which can give it to you in a concise and compressed format. Thus try out Manish Arora’s book on Legal General Knowledge titled ‘Legal General Knowledge On Law’. You may also get information on the Indian Constitution from the Manorama, CSR or Penguin yearbooks.
LOGICAL REASONING (LR): Comprising tests like Assertion and Reason, Passage Reasoning and Statements and Contradictions, the LR section tests the ability of the candidate to understand paragraphs and logically connect them. Fifteen days permits one to buy a specialised book on logical reasoning and practise its questions. 300 to 400 questions can be very easily practised in 10 days. For that purpose, RS Agarwal’s book on Logical Reasoning is recommended. However look for other books because its passage reasoning questions weren’t sufficient for practise purposes.
Last but definitely not the Least, Practising Previous Years Question Papers is by far the best way to get you in tune for the examination. For that purpose the candidate should practise one question paper in during the time from 3pm to 5pm- the time period during which the CLAT will be conducted. This will help one get accustomed to giving the test in Exam-Like Conditions. Get hold of a question paper of CLAT-2008 and practise it out a timeframe of two hours. Be ruthless with yourself. An ambiguous answer deserves a zero. Tabulating your score at the end of the session will show your current preparation status. Target a minimum percentage score of 70 per cent marks. In CLAT ’08 the corresponding rank at this score (140 out of 200 =70 %) was 76. Target a double digit rank. It is sure to get you a college with guaranteed placement.
Analyse your performance after each test. Check your sectional performance from your marks in the five sections. Locate mistakes and see which chapter they concern. Get the correct answer from the solution papers (they come along with the test paper). Having done that, pick up that guide book of yours and practise 30-50 questions of that type of problem to seal its fate.
Practise one question paper daily. In addition also practise a model paper from a good guide book. While buying a guide book make sure that it has plenty of ‘passage reasoning’ questions. These questions occupy 10 or 20 marks of the paper and can seal your fate if you don’t get it right. Solve the previous question paper and the model paper at different times of the day so that you can work on the preparation defects you encountered in each paper, fine tuning yourself for the next test paper in the process.
Which test papers to buy? Considering that CLAT is just a year old and one question paper definitely is not enough for mastering the test, it would be advisable to purchase the last 16 years question papers of National Law School India University, Bangalore. These question papers come in a module and can be ordered from the University itself. NALSAR, which is conducting the CLAT this year, too is selling its own question papers. The question paper of CLAT 2008 can be purchased from there but the previous papers of NALSAR’s own entrance examination differ significantly from the CLAT pattern. The NALSAR paper does not have a Mathematics section and there is a long essay question which accounts for 25 to 30 marks. However the standard of legal and logical reasoning is very high as well as that of reading comprehension. Therefore, buy both if your wallet permits but given the paucity of time, buy NALSAR’s because it is setting the CLAT paper. Good Maths practise can be obtained from any decent guide book.
Wait! I completely FORGOT to mention a few tips on ANSWERING THE PAPER. This is the most important of them all, as how you carry yourself during those two hours of writing the paper will decide whether what you’ve being doing over the past one-two months was in vain or not. Remember; start with what you are familiar with. Start with your strengths. If your GK is strong, solve it first. If it’s Maths, solve it first. But remember to give the correct answer in the first shot. If unsure, just mark the correct choice by intuition. DO NOT spend time thinking over a doubtful question. You may or may not win the right answer but you will definitely end up losing time. Remember one thing for sure: You will NEVER get time to come back and answer the unanswered questions after completing the paper. You will probably still be marking answers when your answer sheet will be snatched by that merciless invigilator.
Having said this much, I am quite sure that many of our budding lawyers may still have doubts persisting. Worry not, for I am there to guide you. Don’t hesitate to write to me. Any questions, please check here below in the comments or check in our FAQ for CLAT.
Wishing you all the Very Best!
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Author: Aditya Singh
Knowledge Manager – Legal
Aditya Singh wrote the Common Law Admission Test in 2008. He scored an All India Rank of 76. He is currently pursuing BALLB Hons. at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org