The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is a centralised examination for admission to the existing 21 National Law Universities (NLUs) in the country. Over the years, the examination has faced several controversies and there has hardly been a year that has passed where it was smooth sailing for the aspirants appearing for it. The unpredictability of “what to expect” has always created a full-blown dilemma in the minds of aspirants, who have been thrown surprises in the previous editions of CLAT, in the form of changes in the mode of examination (the online-offline method) or in the pattern of the paper. Several PILs have been filed that have objected to the hot-and-cold manner in which the CLAT examination is treated, given that the future of several aspirants is at stake. In short, the CLAT can be perceived as a gamble, where your luck had greater chances of ensuring you make it to a law school.
On 21st November, the CLAT Consortium released a press note intimating that CLAT 2020 will be held on May 10th, 2020, with the online application process commencing from January 1st, 2020. The official notification for CLAT 2020 is slated to be released in the last week of December, 2019.
The Consortium proceeded to mention the major reforms to be introduced in CLAT 2020, stressing on how, in the past, the examination has caused undue mental stress on the aspirants. The most vital change to be expected is the reduction in the number of questions in the examination. Since 2008, when the first CLAT was conducted, aspirants were expected to attempt a total of 200 questions in the duration of 120 minutes (2 hours). In CLAT 2020, the number of questions are expected to be within the range of 120 to 150 questions and the duration of the examination continues to remain the same i.e. 120 minutes (2 hours).
Most of the sections that usually appear in the CLAT have been renamed, underscoring what you could expect to be tested on in a particular section. In addition, the CLAT Consortium has explicitly mentioned that the questions will now be “comprehension-based” and this term has confused several aspirants. A “comprehension-based” question is necessarily framed in such a manner that you arrive at the answer based on your ability to understand what the question deems and no prior knowledge regarding the subject matter would be required. In simpler terms, an aspirant will now be required to use their reasoning skills rather than knowledge-based skills to correctly answer the question.
The other phenomenal change that has been made is in the previously known “Legal Aptitude” section. Plenty of aspirants assumed wrongly that the section has been removed in its entirety. However, in a clarificatory video released by Prof. Faizan Mustafa, Vice Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, he has mentioned that the “Legal Aptitude” section will now be referred to as “Deductive Reasoning” section. What has changed in this section is that aspirants will no longer be required to come to the examination centres with conceptual legal knowledge that was required to correctly answer the legal reasoning type of questions. The CLAT paper had been testing aspirants on their knowledge on legal subjects such as torts, contracts, criminal law, constitution, etc. This method of testing required aspirants to not just apply the principle given to the factual situation but also apply basic legal concepts without which arriving at the correct answer would be impossible. The expectation of wanting 12th graders to have legal knowledge without any prior exposure to the aforementioned legal subjects was unreasonable and unfair to a great extent. Now, aspirants will be required to deduct the correct answer by solely applying the principle given in the paper. Therefore, greater focus is being given to reasoning rather than knowledge once again.
The “General Knowledge” section in the previous editions tested aspirants on their static knowledge as well as current awareness. However, the section has been renamed to plain-and-simple “Current Affairs” and aspirants can safely assume that they will be tested only on the current happenings around the world.
The “Quantitative Techniques” section has replaced the “Mathematical Ability” section and instead of questions based on elementary mathematics, aspirants can expect to be tested on how correctly they can read a graph, table, etc. i.e. drawing inferences out of the information provided in the question. Similarly, the “English” and “Logical Reasoning” sections can also be expected to focus on inferential reasoning rather than objective-based questions. For example, CLAT 2020 would rather have an aspirant qualify if he/she understands the context in which a particular word has been used rather than an aspirant who simply knows the meaning of that particular word.
There is no clarity on what the breakup of the marks in question paper could be and we will have to patiently wait for the official notification to release. Prof. Faizan Mustafa (in his video) has mentioned that the CLAT Consortium will provide more details on the sections, in addition to providing model questions. Currently, all we can possibly engage in is predicting what the changes could look like on the big day after understanding and interpreting the information given to us. From your end, all that is required is a continuum in your preparation, after taking into consideration the changes we are well-aware of and a sincere refusal to let these reforms affect you in a detrimental manner. In our next post, we will be explaining how you can work towards taking advantage of these changes and come out in flying colours!