With the introduction of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) in 2008, the standard of entrance examination has gone very high because now the legal field has thrown open innumerable avenues for law graduates. The first and foremost benefit of CLAT and the 5-year LLB course is that it saves one year of a student's career because earlier they would have had to pursue 3 years of LLB after completing 3 years of graduation.
The National Law College and Universities, which provide admission to students through CLAT, have formulated new syllabi and techniques to equip the students with the latest legal developments and technicalities of law in the wake of growing demand of law graduates in private sector. Students at the National Law Colleges and Universities get so much exposure that they not only become well-versed in law but can also interpret law according to the demands of time and circumstances. Now, a law graduate has many avenues. If you are a law graduate, practicing at high court, Supreme Court or the lower court is always your own prerogative and a matter of temperament.
Judicial services is another very dignified avenue especially for girls and that is why girls are outnumbering and outshining boys in law entrance and judicial services examinations. The avenues thrown open by private sectors are massive.
But qualifying CLAT is not an easy task. CLAT examination mainly consists of 5 components –
1. Legal awareness / Legal reasoning
2. General knowledge
3. Test of english language
4. Mathematical ability
5. Logical ability
As far as legal awareness is concerned, it is entirely new for candidates from all streams, including humanities, commerce and science background. It is meant to check the candidates’ basic legal acumen. It consists of five parts:
1. Legal terms and maxims
2. Civil law
3. Criminal law
4. Constitutional law
5. Law of torts
Constitutional law is the most important ingredient because without sound grounding in constitutional law, one cannot master the other laws. Legal terms are the backbone of legal awareness because if one does not understans the difference between accused, guilty or convict, cognisable or non-cognisable offences, Mensrea, caveat emptor and venditor, void, voidable or void ab initio, one cannot understand the problems of law and solve them. In civil and criminal law, one must be aware with the basics.
The test of English language demands clarity of fundamentals of English grammar and composition, and test of vocabulary. Vocabulary building 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 their Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs).
The grammar part consists of ten verticals: parts of speech (number/gender form of noun, degrees of comparison (adjective), prepositions, conjunctions and other cases). Without the understanding of tenses, voice, narration, one cannot be comfortable in composition. The right understanding of modals, determiners, non-finites is quite indispensable. Having the knowledge of common errors is one of the utmost importance to qualify any competitive exam. Once one gets acquainted with these two aspects then reading comprehension, sentence completion, sentence correction and other ancillary verticals can be of no problem for the candidates.
Mathematical and logical ability is meant to check your basic IQ level and your speed. It requires mastery over matric level mathematical formulas, their applications, tricks and short cuts to solve the problems within stipulated time limit.
GK has no limit, but the focus should be on history, polity, geography, science, general awareness and current affairs.
Things to know:
Core Components of CLAT
1. Legal awareness and legal reasoning – 50 marks
Legal terms, constitutional law, civil law, criminal law, law of torts, PIL
2. English – 40 marks
Vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension
3. GK – 50 marks – with special thrust on reintroduction of STATIC GK from 2013 onwards.
History, geography, science, general awareness, economy and current affairs
4. Mathematical ability – 20 marks
5. Logical ability- 40 marks
10 quick tips
1. Time management is most important
2. Brush up fundamentals of English
3. Build up ample vocabulary
4. Prepare brief GK notes
5. For current affairs read one monthly magazine
6. Try to understand basics of legal awareness
7. Master legal terms and maxims
8. Practice of MCQs is must
9. Solve previous years' papers
10. Take mock tests
(AP Bhardwaj is the author of Pearson’s Legal Awareness And Legal Reasoning, Legal Aptitude Workbook, General English and CLAT Solved Papers)