How to Prepare for CLAT
Hello there, future lawyers! I see that you are about to start with your law school prep, or have already started.
My name is Shubhi Agrawal, and I am currently studying at The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. I took my CLAT in the year 2015, and yes, it was the first online CLAT.
Preparing for Law Entrance exams can seem like an overwhelming journey. But it really isn’t, if you study smartly and stay calm. I shall share with you today a few things I gathered from my own CLAT-prep experiences. I will deal with each section in detail, then give a few general tips:
- English: I’ll start off with English. This is one section of CLAT that is not that worrisome if you are generally well-versed with the language. Even if you aren’t - don’t worry, it can be dealt with. You must get into the habit of regular reading, which should ideally be spanned out over at least a year, if not more. You should read newspapers (preferably The Hindu, but anything substantial will do), books, magazines (EPW, Pratiyogita Darpan, the Chronicle, the Frontline). Not only will the newspapers and certain magazines help you with your English, but they will also help you with the much dreaded GK. Sometimes, questions in English can also be based on legal maxims, idioms or general legal vocabulary. All those things, you must sit down and learn and keep revising to refresh your memory.
- Maths: Acing CLAT maths is not a Herculean task. According to the conventional CLAT ‘pattern’, elementary concepts up till class 10 maths are tested. Some of the important topics can be easily identified (with the help of a CLAT guide or your coaching center’s study material). You should learn the short tricks (shortcut methods) to solve maths questions to save time. I would recommend you to practice questions topic-wise. Choose a topic and attempt a bunch of questions of varying difficulty to analyze where you stand. Once you know your weak topics, there’s only one thing you have to do – practice. Keep practicing until your hands fall off… Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But you catch my drift. There is literally no other way to get around maths. Moreover, even people who consider themselves to be strong in maths should practice a lot to reach a level where you are fast as well as accurate. Personally, I had done maths so well that a few days before my CLAT if I picked up any past year question paper, I could solve almost the whole maths section orally. Finally, one word of caution when it comes to this section – don’t even thinkabout “leaving” maths for CLAT. Whenever you have thoughts like that, just think that these are easy 10-15 marks that you are letting another student competing with you take. In competitive exams like CLAT, even 0.25 marks can make all the difference. 10 marks will make a difference of thousands of ranks.
- Logic: Logical reasoning will be divided into two sub-categories – Verbal reasoning and Analytical Reasoning. This is how my teacher explained logic to me, and now I shall do the same to you. Most of the questions in analytical reasoning are objective type – that is they have only one correct answer, and whoever in the world solves them, will arrive at that answer (syllogism, blood relations, mapping, directions etc.). You should aim to get as much accuracy in this type as these questions are undisputed and one can reasonably aim to master these questions. Now coming to verbal reasoning: these ones are somewhat subjective (subject to individual interpretation) and time consuming, but you can work on your speed and accuracy in these questions with the good old way - practice. All in all, logic is a scoring section.
- General Knowledge: “GK”… How can this two syllable acronym be so daunting for a CLAT aspirant? I don’t know, this section has been there for years and it is here to stay, so might as well tackle it strategically. The ‘strategy’ that I am talking about here is simply being regular. One cannot sit down one week before CLAT and say “K, let’s study GK now.” GK is unending, but should be studied smartly. General knowledge can roughly divided into two subsections: current affairs and static GK. To keep up with current affairs, the best thing that you can do is read the newspaper every day. Not only read it, but also make notes for the most important headlines of the day. This keeps you updated of the news regularly, so in the end current affairs don’t seem so unnerving. Also, keep revising old notes that you made to keep refreshing your memory. It is important to read quality newspapers (for example: The Hindu). Coming to static GK, you must learn up from standard and trusted books (for example: Arihant). Ask your CLAT guide for advice on what the important sections are in static GK from which questions are likely to come.
- Legal aptitude: This was personally my favorite section in the law entrance exams. Legal aptitude has majorly 2 kinds of questions: legal reasoning and legal knowledge. Legal reasoning are the principle/fact questions. The thumb rule to such questions is that you must strictly stick to the given principle when applying to the given facts. After attempting a number of questions, you will come to realize that there are only limited set of principle/facts questions from which questions are usually recycled. So it makes a lot of sense to save time in the exam by being extremely well-versed with at least the principles. That way, you will not spend time figuring out the essentials stated by the principle and can give more time to the reading of facts and application. Another tip with these questions is that whenever in doubt of two options, select the one that is closer to the principle. Next is legal knowledge – these are nothing but GK questions, but of the legal nature. There’s no way out but to learn facts and keep up with all the latest legal developments.
Time management. I couldn’t stress enough just how important it is to get your timing right. Anyone can finish the test and score well given unlimited time, but it’s absolutely essential to learn to do so within the prescribed 2 hours (or 90 minutes, in case of AILET).
This leads to my next tip: take as many mock tests as you can. Time yourself strictly while taking one and try to simulate the exam conditions as much as possible. Dedicate a specific time slot for each section before each mock and try to finish as many questions as you can in this self-determined time. You will have to devise your own strategy that works well for you by trial and error. Once you arrive at this strategy, stick to it.
Attempt all previous years’ entrance exams’ question papers. If you want to go the extra mile, go through the objective type questions from the entrance exams of the various NLUs before CLAT was introduced.
After certain amount of practice, you should start timing yourself even when you are practicing. For example: do 50 legal aptitude questions in 30 minutes.
While attempting papers, you must learn not to get stuck on one question. Every second is precious during the exam; you must learn to not spend too much time on one question and move on to the next question.
The biggest suggestion I would give you is to not get overwhelmed by thinking about the consequences of these tests. Have a clear strategy in mind and then focus on your preparation. Just focus on the input, forget about the outcome.
On a final note, find a good CLAT mentor and follow their advice. Mine was eptitude and I blindly