CLAT or Common Law Admission Test is the national level entrance exam for 18 National
Law Universities in the country. The test has existed for 10 years now and the pattern and the
syllabus or the scope of questions has become more or less settled. This is especially
important as in the early years there were a lot of sudden changes in the syllabus, where legal
general knowledge questions were introduced suddenly one year and the general knowledge
section had static general knowledge questions another. While in the last three-four years
there have not been any major changes and it’s a welcome move particularly for aspirants, as
they know now what to expect and prepare for.
CLAT has a total of 200 marks which are to be attempted in 120 minutes. Every correct
answer adds one mark (1 mark per correct answer) and for every four incorrect answers you
lose one mark (-0.25 per incorrect answer). These 200 marks are divided over 5 sections. The
break-up of marks CLAT is mentioned below;
General Knowledge = 50
Legal Aptitude = 50
English = 40
Logical Reasoning = 40
Mathematics = 20
Given the break-up of marks it is easier to presume that General Knowledge and Legal
Aptitude are the two most important sections. However, when we consider the time limit
imposed for the test which is 120 minutes, both these sections come to stand at a very
different footing. As, 50 questions of G.K. will not take more than 12 minutes, while 50
question of Legal Aptitude will easily take up to 35 minutes. Therefore, it is imperative that
all the sections be looked at in a strategic manner, without extra importance being attached to
one and neglecting another. Strategy is the most important part of any competitive
examination, because it is not about how much you know but it is about how much you can
score in the exam.
The following discussion has been aimed at giving you an insight on what goes into
preparing a strategy suited to your needs, and what are the areas you should be careful about.
1. Identify your Strengths and Weaknesses
The first thing you can do as an aspirant is to sit with the previous year’s question paper and a
timer, and attempt the entire paper in real time. This exercise does not only make you
understand how it is to take the test within a time limit but it also gives you a fair idea as to
which section are you most comfortable with and which section was difficult for you. Having
attempted the test, the next aim is to identify your score and not just the total score, but also
section wise scores.
At this point, marks are not that important but it is to identify your comfort zones and to
identify the areas you need to work on. This will differ for each one of you. Some of the
people will be more comfortable with English and Legal section, while the other will have an
inclination towards Logical Reasoning or Mathematics.
You can also take more than one test to identify this with more certainty. The goal is just to
see how much time you are devoting to each question in a section and see how much score
you are getting out of it. For example, you will not take more than 15 seconds to attempt a
G.K. question, but if you are not good with the section you might be guessing answers and
losing marks. While you might be taking as much as 40 seconds in a legal reasoning question
and getting it right. So in this case, you can make out that Legal section is your strength while
G.K. might be a weakness.
2. Take it Step-By-Step
The second step is to identify topics under the sections and prepare for them individually. It is
much more advisable to prepare topics in a topic to topic manner than practice with a mix bag
primarily because every topic has a certain way in which the questions belonging to the topic
can be twisted and therefore requires individual set of knowledge which will be handy while
attempting a question belonging to it. For example, Legal Reasoning will generally have
questions on Torts, Murder, Kidnapping, Defamation, Theft and Robbery, as has been seen
over the years. For a question dealing with Defamation, it is only while studying it separately,
that you can learn that Truth is a defense under defamation. This piece of knowledge can give
you a better chance at choosing the right answer from the given choice of answers.
This is particularly important while studying for logical reasoning and mathematics, as
certain topics, for example questions relating to Clocks and Calendars generally have a set
formulae that can be directly applied to get the correct answer.
3. Time, Time, Time
The complete 200 questions are to be attempted within 120 minutes. This adds up to 36
seconds for each question. Given the structure of the exam there is a lot to read, especially in
the English and Legal sections of the paper and there is a good chance you cannot read the
entire question in 36 seconds which means your reading speed will be a major factor while
attempting the paper. The primary goal should be to increase the reading speed to a level
where you are at least able to read all the questions in the paper.
Another important habit to adopt is to keep a timer while practicing questions topic wise or
section wise and try and take all the time you can to get the answers correct (without cross
checking), this will give you an idea of the places you need to skip in case you’re habitually
taking a lot more time while attempting them or attempt it in the start of the test when you
can spend the time and not leave it for the last 15-20 minutes.
Will attempting any mock test make it a habit to divide your 120 minutes amongst different
sections before-hand. For example, 8 minutes for G.K.; 32 minutes for Logical Reasoning; 25
minutes for English; 35 minutes for Legal Reasoning and 20 minutes for Mathematics.
Depending upon your requirement and preparation you can change the amount of time you
spend on each section.
4. Do Not Ignore Negative Marking
It is a common mistake to ignore the negative marking while attempting topic-wise tests or
mock tests, as a quarter of the mark does not seem to be that relevant. However, a better
approach is to see it not as -0.25 but -1.25 from the total. This means, if the section is out of
10 marks and you attempt 2 questions wrong your score is 7.5, and you lose 1.25 for each of
incorrect answers. It is advisable to get used to the negative marking by incorporating it into
your practice and not attempt the questions that you are not too sure about. It’s the accuracy
that will count and not the number of questions attempted.
As has already been mentioned, CLAT, much like any other competitive exams is not about
how much you know, but how much you can score. And to score marks in the exam, the only
way is to practice and keep practicing. Attempting 200 questions over 120 minutes is taxing
to a level when you might feel that you are losing your concentration midway. To overcome
this and to make sure any such problem does not arise, you have to practice. More you
practice, the better equipped you will be in giving the actual exam, and there is no such thing
as too much practice. It is advisable to try to attempt one mock every day for as long as
Given the nature of the exam is not something where you need to learn a lot of facts, as major
portion of the exam is based on Logical Reasoning, English, Legal Reasoning and
Mathematics, on days where there is hardly any time to read and learn anything, it is still
advisable to solve some MCQs of any preferred section/topic.
6. Read the Newspaper
The General Knowledge section does carry a hefty 50 marks. And all these questions are hit
or miss. This is one section that requires patience and continued effort. The G.K. asked in the
paper has a major portion of current affairs and some static G.K. The newspaper is the best
way to prepare for this section as it will give you information for both of these. It is advisable
to go through certain current affairs websites too once a while in order to check your
knowledge and even learn other important points.
With these things taken care of, it does not matter if you have one month or one year worth of
time to prepare. But, skipping any one of these can be detrimental to the overall performance
in the test. Having been said that it is to be understood that CLAT is just an entrance exam, it
is not the make-all or end-all of anyone’s career. It is just a small step towards a much larger
pools of opportunities waiting for all of you.