Have you heard of people aiming for a career in law? Most often, law is perceived as a last option if one does not get into engineering, medicine or accountancy. After graduation, when one does not get a job, one thinks of studying law instead of sitting idle. Another three years of law graduation, and then an endless hunt for cases. This was the scene upto 15 years ago.
So what has changed now? Today, people aim for law from the 10th class itself. Just as engineering and medicine aspirants aim for entrance exams right from school, in the same way, law aspirants aim for the CLAT exam. But what is CLAT? Who takes it and for what? Well, CLAT is my recommendation for all those students in +2, who aspire for fame and prestige in society, while developing an all-round personality, enjoy interacting with people, like to think, analyze, reason… and most of all, enjoy solving puzzles. CLAT is a gateway to a career in LAW from one of the premier National Law Universities in the country. CLAT is an acronym for Common Law Admission Test, which is an All India Entrance for admission into 18 National Law Universities, out of which the top 3 include National Law School of India University, Bangalore (NLSIU), NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad (NALSAR) and The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata (WBNUJS). These institutes offer a 5 year integrated programme of BA, LLB or BBA, LLB.
What are the prospects after Law? Earlier, the only option for lawyers was litigation, or in other words, practice. However, today, only 15% of the law graduates go for litigation. The remaining graduates opt for corporate jobs or the judiciary. Corporate jobs include legal firms or legal departments in major firms – national or international. Legal process outsourcing is another hot area. Some interested students opt for higher studies, either in Law or Management and go further into research.
Now, how is CLAT different from other entrance exams? Well, the CLAT exam tests a student on their aptitude and not on the “knowledge”. The ability to think on their feet, agility in reading and comprehension, reasoning capability, awareness of current affairs… these are tested in CLAT. How is that done?
The CLAT exam normally consists of 200 questions to be attempted in 2 hours or 120 minutes with 1 mark awarded for a correct answer and 0.25 marks deducted for a wrong answer. There is no penalty for a skipped question. The following areas are tested:
English and Comprehension: This section comprises 40 questions predominantly in the areas of Vocabulary, Grammar, Reading Comprehension and Parajumbles. A very good vocabulary and speed in reading will help the candidates do well in this section.
General Knowledge and Current Affairs: This section contains 50 questions and you will be tested on your general awareness of what is happening in the world during the last one year, with an emphasis on India and also static general knowledge.
Mathematics: This section contains 20 questions and is based on your knowledge of elementary mathematics, which is taught in school upto Class X.
Legal Aptitude: The Legal aptitude section consists of 50 questions in the areas of Legal Reasoning and Legal Knowledge. Legal Reasoning questions do not require prior knowledge of law. A legal principle would be provided along with a factual situation. You need to apply the principle to the given situation and choose the appropriate solution. No prior knowledge should be applied while solving such questions. Legal knowledge questions are generally based on Contracts or Constitutional Law. A good knowledge of high school civics is needed in order to do well in this section. Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law and legal maxims/terminology are the areas to focus on. This section is critical because in case of a tie in overall marks, the marks in the Legal aptitude section will be taken into account to resolve the tie.
Logical Reasoning: This section consists of 40 questions. The purpose of the logical reasoning section is to test your ability to identify patterns, logical links and rectify illogical arguments. It includes a wide variety of critical reasoning questions such as syllogisms, logical sequences and arguments. A variety of arrangements, blood relations-based puzzles and analogies are also tested in this section.
Negative marking was first introduced in CLAT 2013. The negative marking discourages students from making random guesses. You should not mark a response unless you are confident of your answer.
Who is eligible to apply?
Anyone who has completed +2 or equivalent exam securing 50% marks, or those who have appeared for their Board exams by the date of the exam, having not more than 20 years is eligible. Which means anyone who is currently in Class XII or Intermediate IInd year is eligible. It is open to students from Arts, Commerce and Science. So students who never had a penchant for Maths or Engineering, what are you waiting for? Here is a wonderful opportunity for you. Engineering or Medicine aspirants who took up Science in Intermediate, but are now looking for other options, can also utilize this opportunity.
How to apply?
The application and the entire admission process is available on the CLAT website – www.clat.ac.in
In addition to the 18 NLUs, the CLAT score is also accepted for admission in new NLUs which are yet to get accredited into CLAT as well as private institutions like NIRMA. GITAM and ICFAI too offer admission based on the CLAT score.
Additional Law Entrance exams
Apart from CLAT, there are other competitive exams that could be attempted in order to gain admission in some reputed law schools.
Symbiosis Entrance Test (SET)
Symbiosis conducts a common entrance for its undergraduate program in law in the following law schools –
- Symbiosis Law School, Pune
- Symbiosis Law School, Noida
- Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad
Those who qualify the written test are then called for a writing ability test and personal interview.
The Symbiosis Entrance Test consists of five sections.
- Logical Reasoning
- Legal Reasoning
- Analytical Reasoning
- Reading Comprehension
- General Knowledge
Each section consists of 30 questions carrying 1 mark each. The exam duration is 150 minutes and carries 150 marks. There is no negative marking in this exam.
All India Law Entrance Test (AILET)
National Law University Delhi conducts a separate test in the first week of May. The pattern of AILET is as follows:
- General Knowledge/Current Affairs
- Legal Aptitude
- Elementary Mathematics
Each section consists of 35 marks carrying 1 mark each. The exam duration is 90 minutes and carries 150 marks. There is no negative marking in this exam.
Law School Admission Test(LSAT-India)
The LSAT test is conducted by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and administered by Pearson Vue. It is designed to test the reading and verbal reasoning skills of the aspiring law school students. There are four sections:
- Analytical Reasoning
- Logical Reasoning 1
- Logical Reasoning 2
- Reading Comprehension
Each section has approximately 24 questions and it ranges from 92 to 100 questions. There is no negative marking and the score is given on a percentile basis , comparing each candidate’s performance to that of the others. The duration of each section is 35 minutes and the entire test is for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Some of the colleges that accept the LSAT score include the following:
- Amity Law School, Gurgaon
- UPES – Dehradun
- Jindal Global Law School – Sonipat(Haryana)
- JSS Law College – Mysore
- KLE Society’s Law College – Bangalore
- MATS Law School – Raipur
LAW Common Entrance Test(LAWCET)
In order to study law in the universities and colleges in Telanagana or Andhra Pradesh, one needs to write the TSLAWCET or APLAWCET exam respectively. The areas tested in LAWCET include –
Part A – General Knowledge and Mental Ability – 30 questions
Part B – Current Affairs – 30 questions
Part C – Aptitude for the study of Law – 60 questions
Now that you have an idea of the different exams that you can attempt, how should you prepare for this exam?
It is ideal to start preparing for the exam as soon as you decide to embark on a career in law. There are things you could do right from Class IX onwards and continue upto the day of the exam.
1) Improve your vocabulary and reading speed. This is a crucial step towards your success in the CLAT. Read for atleast 30 minutes every day and atleast 1 hour during holidays. You could read fiction, autobiographies, sports magazines, blogs, newspapers. Try to read a variety of topics based on your interest. As you read daily, you will improvise on the techniques to read faster and develop the capability to retain information and avoid regression. Your vocabulary will increase and though it might seem a challenge initially, you would be able to read effortlessly. This will help you attempt the entire paper during the limited time that is available to you.
2) Follow the news regularly. Though news coverage of the last one year is generally tested, the ability to assimilate the information and retain it needs to be built gradually. Moreover, events that occur in the last one year do have some connection with the incidents of the previous years. So develop this habit of following the news. You could read the English newspapers, listen to the news on television or radio. As you come across various incidents, do make your own notes in order to review and remember them.
3) Develop your reasoning capability. You could solve cross-word puzzles, Sudoku, mathematical puzzles, jumbled words. These would be available in the daily newspaper as well as websites or specific books. Play word-based games like scrabble. Read book reviews and movie reviews. Read the editorials of the newspaper, opinions of journalists/personalities and interviews. This would broaden your horizon as well as develop your reasoning capability.
As you step into Class XII, start focussing on the examination pattern. Go through the content required for the exam. Practise regularly in the areas of the CLAT exam. Once the notification is out, you could write to the organizing university and obtain the previous years CLAT papers. Solve the previous years papers and also mock tests based on the latest CLAT pattern. The biggest challenge in the exam is to read all the 200 questions and attempt as many as possible. You would not have the time to solve all the 200 questions in the given time. You need to develop your strategy to score as many marks as possible. Since there is negative marking, accuracy in responses is very important. So you need to figure out your strong areas and your ability to guess. You need to figure out which sections take more time and which ones can be done fast. Your strong areas need to targeted first in the exam in order to build your confidence. After tackling the stronger areas, you could target the remaining ones. Once you attempt the mock tests, you need to analyze your performance in the tests and then tune your strategy to decide the order of attempting the various sections as well as the choice of questions to guess.
Universities included under CLAT (in the order of establishment)
|Name of the Institution||Location|
|1||National Law School of India University||Bangalore|
|2||Nalsar University of Law||Hyderabad|
|3||The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences||Kolkata|
|4||National Law Institute University||Bhopal|
|5||National Law University, Jodhpur||Jodhpur|
|6||Hidayatullah National Law University||Raipur|
|7||Gujarat National Law University||Gandhinagar|
|8||Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University||Lucknow|
|9||Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law||Patiala|
|10||Chanakya National Law University||Patna|
|11||National University of Advanced Legal Studies||Kochi|
|12||National Law University, Orissa||Cuttack|
|13||National University of Study and Research in Law||Ranchi|
|14||National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam||Guwahati|
|15||Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University||Visakhapatnam|
|16||Tamil Nadu National Law School||Tiruchirappalli|
|17||Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai||Mumbai|
|18||Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur||Nagpur|