This coming week signals the final lap in the run-up to the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for the prestigious national law schools across the country. May 8 is when the examination for the Undergraduate (UG) and Post-Graduate (PG) courses will take place. The CLAT has gained recognition, almost exponentially, ever since its inception in 2008. This sector has regained importance, and stands shoulder-to-shoulder (sometimes, taller) with conventional career choices viz. engineering and medical.

The pattern of the CLAT for the UG level is such that the examination is holistic in approach-it covers English language skills, Mathematical ability, General Knowledge and Legal Reasoning.  If one were to analyze the pattern of the papers from the past years, it can be seen that most of the preparation for the examination is not accomplished in a knee-jerk reaction. Rather, it is something that has to be regular and over a period of time. For instance, the section on General Knowledge is vast and the best approach for it is to develop a habit of reading newspapers and staying up-to-date. This should be done not as a burden, or out of fear of CLAT but as a healthy habit in daily routine. General knowledge requires not just awareness of dates and statistics. It needs a more rounded understanding of concepts and current affairs. A similar case is made out for English and Mathematics, which one can excel in if practised regularly.

As far as the section on legal reasoning is concerned, it is almost always a daunting task for students are expected to answer questions on legal concepts, not having studied law as a subject at the school-level. But that is precisely why this section of the examination is called ‘legal reasoning and aptitude’ and not ‘law’. The aim of this section is not to adjudge the prior legal knowledge of a candidate. It is to see whether a candidate is worthy and capable of learning law. The candidate has to read the given principles of law, apply them to given facts, and then zero in on an answer to a question accordingly. It is much like English comprehension, where one reads the passage and answers the questions that follow, based on the passage and no other external knowledge.

CLAT for the PG level contains questions to test the overall knowledge a candidate has acquired in the UG level law course and fundamentals of law one is expected to have learnt. The importance of this level of CLAT has been increased since many Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) take the CLAT score into consideration for recruitment.

The difficulty level of CLAT is often said to depend on the institution that is in-charge of conducting the examination that year. But at the end of the day, an examination is as easy or as hard as we make it out to be and depending on our level of preparation.The coming Sunday will put to test one’s ability to take on new challenges and pole-vault into a new horizon- law.

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