Unpacking CLAT 2019: The #10yearchallenge, check past 10 years trends in difficulty level
As we all are living in an era of digitization and information technology are remarkably progressive. Young or aged both generations are using social websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc. Social media is more precisely known as a trending force in India and around the globe too. It has tremendously revolutionized the way people communicate and socialize with each other on the web.
It is not at all new for us that each New Year brings a trendy #hashtag on social media, and 2019 is also no exception to this fast-growing online tradition. Like many other internet trends, which makes millennial crazy to follow, the first major one of the 2019 is ‘#10yearschallenge’. The challenge is not at all challenging, but the other way to see the transformation in you within 10 years and to introspect how they adapted them to make best version of themselves.
The Common Law Admission Test, or CLAT, came into existence in 2008 as a result of the legal challenge against each National Law University conducting its own admissions test. Before CLAT, the various NLUs conducted individual entrance exams and aspirants had to appear for exams equaling the number of NLUs.
Due to difficulties like clashed dates, tiresome of students etc, Supreme Court intervened in 2006 with changes to make it easier for the aspiring students.
It was historic in every sense of the word to have a unified entrance exam for a profession which requires skills like aptitude and rational thinking. The first CLAT was conducted by NLSIU, Bangalore, and met expectations as far as question types were concerned.
However, what baffled some students were the number of questions and differential marking. For example, the GK section had 100 questions worth 0.5 marks each, making the section a little lengthy, while the legal aptitude section had about 15 questions with differential marking. This was quite unlike earlier NLSIU papers, in which a lot of emphasis was given to legal reasoning.
CLAT was in news for all the wrong reasons. The paper was reportedly leaked and consequently had to be rescheduled. It wasn’t very different from the 2008 paper as far as the types and quality of questions were concerned. But the differential marking scheme was done away with.
The paper had 200 questions to be solved in 120 minutes and had a clear division of questions amongst the five sections, with every question carrying one mark.
Many students were caught off-guard as the test tilted in favour of static general knowledge and legal knowledge. The overall difficulty level of the paper, however, didn’t change much as the Mathematics and English sections were quite easy.
NUJS, Kolkata came up with some stellar changes in the year 2011. The English section had only reading comprehension and the Legal Aptitude section had some superior reasoning questions.
Neither there was a single Legal Knowledge question asked nor were any static GK questions.
The exam really pushed the time management skills of test takers. With the exception of the English section, it is considered the best CLAT paper till date by many.
After the high of 2011, came CLAT 2012. National Law University, Jodhpur conducted the CLAT, and the exam was once again marred by several controversies. CLAT takers alleged that some questions were out of the syllabus and the pattern was entirely different from syllabus given. The main issue was the presence of static general knowledge and legal knowledge questions which were contrary to the information published on the CLAT official website.
Perhaps to make up for the 2012 fiasco, the 2013 exam experience was ‘smooth sailing’. The biggest challenge was the new rule of deducting 0.25 marks for every wrong answer. All the sections were on expected lines with an easy-to-moderate difficulty level. Much to the delight of the test takers, there were no legal knowledge questions and the GK section, too, had a healthy mix of static and current affairs questions, with majority of questions from current affairs.
The major surprise was the logical reasoning section as there were no questions on critical reasoning. The GK section was somewhat easy with the current affairs questions dominating the section. The Legal Aptitude section was a little lengthier as compared to that of the CLAT 2013.
Conducted by the Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University (RMLNLU), brought in another 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 the Quantitative Ability sections were shockers. The Legal Aptitude section also had a lot of questions based on Legal. Calls were made to do away with the present system and instead have a permanent body organize the Common Law Admission Test. The Supreme Court’s final decision is still awaited on this issue.
But all this did not deter RGNLU from conducting an almost ‘seamless’ 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.
The CLAT organized 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 southward direction.
Then came in CLAT 2018, which was a game-changer. The issues in conducting the exam escalated to such a level that Supreme Court had to set-up a CLAT Secretariat at NLSIU. A new committee was constituted to conduct future CLATs.
All in all, one can say that the CLAT could also stand for “Controversial Law Admission Test’, looking at how problematic it has been through the years! CLAT 2018 saw close to 50 thousand students writing the exam to for admissions to the 19 National Law Universities across India, and in coming years the number will only rise.
(The author is National Product Head – LAW, Pratham Education. Views expressed are personal).