Basics, Strategies, Section-wise Tips and List of Important Books
Preparation is crucial if you want to crack CLAT. The best time to start preparing for CLAT is now. Before going into detail on how to crack CLAT, let us first clear out the basics.
What is CLAT?
CLAT stands for Common Law Admission Test. It is conducted on an annual basis by National Law Universities (NLUs) across the country. This exam lets you enter and gain admission into NLUs and other law colleges in the country. NLUs offer undergraduate and post graduate law programmes such as BA LLB, B.Com LLB, B.Sc LLB.
Some additional information about CLAT:
- It is an annual exam.
- Earlier it was an online exam. But due to some technical difficulties every year, it is now an offline exam.
- It is entirely MCQ based paper.
- 19 NLUs participate in this exam.
- There are approximately 45,000 test takers every year for the UG programme
- There are 200 MCQs which are divided into 5 subjects.
- The duration is 2 hours.
- The five subjects are: English (40 questions), General Knowledge and Current Affairs (50 questions), Mathematics (20 questions), Logical Reasoning (40 questions), and Legal Aptitude (50 questions).
- There is a negative marking of 0.25 marks per incorrect answer.
CLAT Preparation Tips
It is important to have a clear strategy and goal in mind before you attempt the paper. These tips and strategies are highly recommended to all CLAT aspirants. If you follow these, you are bound to succeed.
Tip 1 –Begin early and start now: CLAT is a competitive exam – it doesn’t matter whether you do good, you just have to perform better than others. And to perform better than others, you need to be more prepared and practice more than others. This is easier when you have more time. Therefore, start today!
Tip 2- Understand the syllabus and syllabus distribution: This is the simplest yet the most common mistakes made by students. Students spend disproportionate time on one subject and not enough time on the other. While English and Legal Aptitude are important, equally important is Current Affairs. Though 20 marks are a lot, you cannot waste more than half your exam time on a mathematics question, the answer of which you are not even sure of. It is crucial you plan out how long you are going to take each section of the paper so you do not over spend time on a particular section and realise there is very little remaining for the rest.
Tip 3- Practice, Practice, and Practice: This cannot be stressed enough. I have personally seen students spending more time learning theory than actually practicing MCQs. You need to practice questions a lot. And by a lot, I mean a lot. Do not waste your time thinking you will first fully understand legal concepts and then start practicing for legal aptitude. Though understanding the concepts is crucial, spend more time practicing MCQs for legal aptitude, even if you do not know the answers to the questions or haven’t studied the topic. It’s okay to get an incorrect answer since you are only practicing. Moreover, this can be a test if you ever face a brand new topic in the actual exam. Furthermore, you are actually also studying while reading the correct answer to a MCQ question.
Tip 4–Know your strengths and weaknesses: It is crucial that you figure out early-on what your strengths and weaknesses are. Take section-wise tests and mock tests to figure that out. Work on your weaknesses. Make them your strengths. If you want to make it to the top 5 NLUs, you must perform well on all 5 sections of the paper. Break down your subject wise weaknesses into topics. Work hard on those topics on which you do not perform well. Practice them so much that you can not only solve all of them, but also with speed.
Tip 5- Time yourself from the very first day!: At the very first day of your preparation, take a mock test and time yourself. Time yourself on how long it takes you per section and the entire paper as well. Don’t worry too much about getting all the right answers from the very first day. Just give your best. Next, take mock tests every 3-4 weeks or less, and time yourself. Each time, try to beat your last recorded time and your best recorded time. CLAT is all about time management.
Tip 5- Time management is crucial: Statistically speaking, CLAT has 200 questions and 120 minutes to solve them. This means you have 36 seconds to solve one question. This means you need speed. While Mathematics and English Comprehension take longer time to solve, you can make up for that time in GK and Legal Knowledge questions. These questions do not require you to give a lot of thought into them; you either know the answers to these questions or you don’t – don’t waste time on them.
Tip 6- Choose your questions wisely: CLAT is a tricky exam and there are many questions which will leave you confused. Do not dwell on these questions and do not spend too much time on them. If you spend too much time on a question, chances are that you will not have enough time for other questions which are easier and more straight-forward. Attempt these questions first.
Tip 7- Make a Study Plan- and stick to it! I recommend studying at least 2 subjects every day early-on, and then moving up to 3 every day. Practice at least 250-400 MCQs every day when you initially start studying for CLAT, and move up to at least 600 MCQs per day. Leave a day out for revision. On that day, revise everything you did in the week, and see if you remember them clearly.
Tip 8- Mark and highlight important MCQs- While practicing, you will come across certain MCQs which you will want yourself to have a look at later and before the exam. Mark them. Review them on the revision day every week until you are absolutely familiar with them. This applies to legal maxims, Articles in the constitution, logical reasoning patterns etc.
Tip 9–Buy online question banks and practice books: Purchase online resources from coaching institutes such as Career Launcher. Their question bank – topic-wise, section-wise questions and mock tests are too good to be ignored. Moreover, they provide an analysis of your incorrect questions, which you can use to find your weaknesses. Since CLAT is now offline, you should also be practicing on paper. Therefore, buy practice books which contain MCQs and practice.
Tip 10- Ensure that you are improving after every mock test: Analyse your previous and current mock test and see where you went wrong. Is there a pattern? Are you making the same mistakes again and again? Has your speed improved? Ask yourself these questions. Work on your weaknesses and ensure that when you take another mock, you do not make the same mistakes again.
Section-wise break down and preparation:
This section will test your vocabulary, grammar and comprehension skills. Vocabulary takes time to build-up. So every day, learn and memorise 5-10 words. Do this the first thing every morning and revise them the last thing every night. If you think learning words is difficult, learn their roots (I highly recommend “Word Power Made Easy” by Norman Lewis; it has improved my vocabulary a lot). Develop a habit of reading the newspaper everyday. Practice reading faster. Mark important and difficult words, words which you do not understand and write them down. Read them everyday until you have them memorized. Reading newspapers will also help you in the comprehension section of the paper as well as the current affairs section.
2. General Knowledge and Current Affairs
You need to be fast in this section. Spend no more than 10 seconds on each question in this section. It will help make up time for mathematics, logical reasoning and English comprehension. I say 10 seconds because the answer should strike to you the moment you read the question – either you know the answer or you don’t know. If you don’t know the answer then just move on to the next question. It is essential that you read not only the newspaper, but also other current affairs websites. I recommend jagranjosh and gktoday. Make notes every day on the important news. Write them down in bullet point form so it becomes easier to read later on. For the General Knowledge section, read Pearson or Lucent.
Students tend to be afraid of this section and leave it. Don’t be. It’s very simple and only 10th grade mathematics. Learn the basics. Learn the formulas. There are tricks to solve the questions and reach your end answer rather than by actually solving the questions. Learn these tricks. They are the short cuts. You can ace maths very easily. Try to score at least 12-16 correct questions. For that you need to practice all the topics. Spend 90% of your mathematics time in solving and practicing questions.
4. Logical Reasoning
You will be asked to identify patterns, understand logical links and correct illogical statements. The questions asked in this section are on syllogisms, logical sequences, analogies, etc. All I can say is learn the tricks and practice hard. This section is actually very easy and you can easily score above 30.
5. Legal Aptitude
This is probably the only section in CLAT which would be new for you. This is the tie-breaker section, meaning if you and another score the same total marks, but you scored higher than him in Legal Aptitude, your rank will be higher than his. But don’t worry about this too much. Learn some of the important Articles in the Constitution, legal maxims. The rest of the section is based on principle-fact questions. Practice as many mocks and past-year papers for this section. Here is a link to the important legal maxims: http://www.indianlawinfo.com/a-compilation-of-the-most-important-legal-maxims/
A List of Important Books
These are some books which I highly recommend you use and study. They will help you in your CLAT Preparation.
1. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis – English
2. English is Easy by Chetananand Singh – English
3. Lucent’s General Knowledge/Pearson’s Concise GK Manual (only one of them is fine) – GK
4. Manorama Year Book – Current Affairs
5. Legal Awareness and Legal Aptitude by AP Bhardwaj – Legal Aptitude
6. Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Aggarwal – Logical Reasoning
7. Analytical and Logical Reasoning by R.S. Aggarwal – Logical Reasoning
8. Quantitative Aptitude by RS Aggarwal – Mathematics
9. Universal’s LLB Entrance Guide
Apart from these, I also recommend you subscribe to a coaching institutes’ mock series. They will immensely help you