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About the Exam

The Common Law Admission Test is a high rated aptitude test designed for students aspiring to pursue law. The competitive exam enables the student to take admission into the highly National Law Universities or NLUs of the country. The NLUs are the most sought after since they are equivalent to IITs and IIMs for the legal profession. It is an online exam which is conducted once a year.

The exam includes topics from the following 5 broad subjects:

  • English (including comprehension): 40 marks testing the candidates verbal skills, proficiency in the language and vocabulary through passage and grammar related questions.
  • General Knowledge and Current Affairs: 50 marks covering a mix of current affairs of the past year or so and static general knowledge.
  • Mathematics (numerical ability): 20 marks testing the candidates aptitude in elementary maths i.e., up to Class X.
  • Legal Aptitude: 50 marks testing the candidate's legal knowledge and the ability to apply legal propositions correctly.
  • Logical Reasoning: 40 marks testing the candidate's problem solving abilities with respect to identification of patterns and logical/illogical links. 

Challenge of the Exam

The choice to opt for CLAT should be a well informed and self-motivated one. You should take guidance from close friends and family to make an informed decision as to whether CLAT is the best option for you. This kind of deliberation is needed because as the preparation for CLAT Exam requires constant dedication and hard work, thus leaving half-hearted preparation out of question.

The exam tests two basic things in a candidate: SPEED and ACCURACY. The exam consists of 200 questions which are to be solved within a time frame of 120 minutes. So even if you spend a full minute on each question, you will still be left with 80 questions. In addition to that, there is negative marking which means that for every incorrect answer, 1/4th marks will be deducted. Thus I do not need to stress upon the fact that it is imperative that the candidate is well prepared having done enough practice so that they can attempt all the questions. This article will be a comprehensive handbook on how to prepare for CLAT exam. The article will focus on how the candidate can prepare for CLAT without coaching and at home.

The exam enables the candidates to take admission into any one of the highly coveted NLUs across the country. These NLUs provide a platform to its students to enter into the legal field at top law firms in the country including Shardul and Cyril Amarchand, Khaitan & Co., AZB, JSA etc. The ones who wish to pursue litigation and more dispute oriented jobs, are often recruited by top senior advocates and boutique litigation firms. LLM admissions to renowned universities abroad also become easier as the NLU tag is well known and quite popular.

Given the fact that most of the candidates appearing for CLAT typically are in their Class XII preparing for boards and pursuing other extra-curricular activities, it becomes very important that their study is strategized in the most efficient way in respect of the time spent. Taking into account the amount of study material to be covered, the candidates should prioritise and plan out what all is to be studied and in what manner. Most of the students wonder as to how to prepare for CLAT exam since they do not wish to engage with coaching or they decided late for pursuing law. The following sections of this article will shed light on how to prepare for CLAT exam at home without coaching keeping in mind certain tips and techniques.

The Dilemma

Before even starting their prep, many people fret over finding suitable coaching institutes for their CLAT preparation. In my personal opinion, coaching institutes are not a prerequisite for someone who wants to score well. A dedicated student without coaching on the other hand can do wonders if he/ she follow a simple regime for their preparation while practicing regularly, solving papers and taking CLAT mock tests diligently. Coaching institutes merely provide guidance and supervised approaches at a hefty cost whereas the ultimate hard work will have to be done by you. At the end of the day it is you who will have to sit and go over all the CLAT study materials. Many people join coaching centres under the misconception that it is a fast track way to better scores and ranks whereas the truth is that the centres merely provide supervised practice and study materials which can be done and sourced otherwise as well.

Whether you opt for a coaching institute or not, a bonus of getting a high score and rank in CLAT apart from a world class NLU is a chance at a scholarship! The Aditya Birla Foundation in association with some partner NLUs offers a shot at a scholarship to the top ten rankers admitted to that NLU. Your hard work and dedication might just get you free education for 5 years at a top NLU.

How to Prepare

For any candidate looking to take the CLAT and wondering how to prepare for CLAT exam, he/ she should be aware of certain tips and techniques. The following tips have been tried and tested whereby many candidates have incorporated the same into their preparation and study plans and returned positive about the same. They are fairly simple and straightforward and be followed by all those aspiring to become future lawyers.

  • Mock Tests: The simple facts of taking practice tests regularly can prove to be the making or breaking point for anyone. This can be contrasted with re-studying the material where you read the same concept over and over again which remains the same. However, taking tests repetitively helps you understand the concepts better and enables you to attempt the questions from all different angles leaving very little to one's imagination. Practice tests also help improve your retention skills since this activity alone creates information linkages which are remembered better than when you just read the concept from the study material. And when these practice tests are spread out over a period of time, they become more effective in increasing your performance. 
  • Pacing Practice Sessions: Many studies have shown that when these practice tests and sessions are spread out over a period of time and further apart, performance in these tests sees a substantial increase. What this does is that it helps your body accustom to the 2 hour exam pattern in such a way that the actual exam will not feel any different from your practice tests and will be a much smoother sail. Many students are not able to perform well in their actual exam despite having high scores in their practice tests as they are caught by the exam day anxiety and eventually lose focus. This is when the candidates have not taken enough tests before the exam to accustom their body to it. 
  • Doubt Clearing: When attempting practice tests or simply studying, questions are bound to arise while answering certain questions. Asking and clearing these doubts as and when they arise is extremely important since that doubt can clear up the understanding of a particular concept. Some doubts may be pivotal to one topic that if not cleared can cost you under the negative marking scheme of the exam. Do not hesitate to bother your friend or coaching institute instructors for the same since clearing doubts is an important part of the preparation. 
  • Marking Important Things: For those who liked to own colourful markers and highlighters in your high school, this tip will interest you a lot. Here the candidates should always keep a marker or highlighter ready with them and then underline and mark all the important portions, paragraphs, methods, formulas, topics that they believe are essential to their understanding. Along with this, post-it notes should be used judiciously so that you do not waste time while referring back to your notes when a doubt arises later while taking tests.
  • Evaluate Yourself: You should incorporate a process known as 'periodic objective evaluation' in your CLAT studies. All students should maintain a personal diary with them where they note down all their tasks which they have completed, preferably updated daily. This will help the candidates in keeping a track of their progress so that they know how much time they are left with till the exam in light of the topics left. This technique is a must do since it will give you the most accurate reality check when you open your diary to assess your prep.
  • Summarizing: While reading important concepts, it is recommended that you make small notes and summaries of the same. Read the whole topic, shut the book and then write whatever you have understood in a small summary. This helps in memorizing that particular concept as well as understanding it. After writing down this summary, discuss it with someone else so that you make sure that nothing important is left out and whatever is written is correct and accurate. This technique may not be applicable to all the sections of the exam, but whatever concepts you think are a little tough for you, make summaries for them so that they can be revisited later easily. 
  • Regular Revision: This technique has been cited by most of the students as their number one technique. There is widespread evidence that constant, regular revising and reviewing of concepts can help improve test scores. This will be visible automatically in your performance when you track it through your progress in the practice tests. After taking a few practice tests, go back, revise and reread the concepts you have summarized. You will start to generate more and more clarity in your understanding of all the topics with an increased retention power. This is a time consuming exercise but with time and repetition it is bound to become more expedient and less droning.

Self Study for CLAT

The CLAT exam requires a significant level of commitment and dedication of your time which will anyway be scarce considering the Class XII studies. Once people start, they are often faced with the question how to prepare for CLAT exam, i.e., whether to engage with a coaching institute or prepare on their own. Let me make this clear here, coaching institutes DO NOT guarantee a high score/ rank in the test and definitely do not guarantee admission to a top rated NLU.

There are a lot of factors which one should consider before opting for self study or classroom coaching. This medium takes up a lot of hard work, determination, confidence and patience to be managed. You need to be highly motivated to be successful through this study. As I have previously stated, half hearted preparations will not get you anywhere especially when you are preparing on your own for the exam. It is important that you are self aware about the learning styles and modes that suit you the best. Take an unflinching look at yourself and explore your history of learning and ask whether this would be the best medium for you or not. For people wondering how to prepare for CLAT exam at home and without coaching, then you must be aware of the following perks offered by self study while simultaneously noting the disadvantages of classroom CLAT coaching.

  • Self study simply refers to making a study plan on your own and compiling the study material by yourself. Many view this as a herculean task but there are a lot of websites and online sources where you can procure quality material for the exam. A tip for scoring good material is to contact your friends who have already engaged coaching institutes and ask them for references on good books and online databases. 
  • Many students have noted that classroom coaching for them is ineffective and exclusionary since it does not focus on them individually. The classroom moves at the average pace of the students and whoever falls behind has to catch up on their own. All students have individual styles of learning which the classroom coaching does not cater to hence making the same monotonous and boring. 
  • The classroom coaching is not flexible at all as the students are required to meet at strict times failing which they may miss out on the important topics being taught that day. Self study comes as an incorporating alternative which is nothing but flexible in nature and can accommodate all whims and fancies of the student (pertaining to the test, of course). It provides for leeway and a comfortable pace at which the student can practice more effectively. Time management through self study becomes simpler because the need to accommodate other students time is absent here. 
  • Many times in the classroom, information is simply bombarded onto the students without catering to the curiosity aspect of the students. No opportunity to ponder over this information is provided since the coaching institutes have a strict deadline with respect to the amount of course material they need to finish within a given time frame. 
  • A big hesitation that many students have with respect to classroom coaching is the fees charged by coaching institutes. The well renowned coaching institutes charged hefty fees especially for their one and two year programs. Several people find that engaging such institutes is often not worth it as they feel they are self sufficient and motivated enough to manage the studies for the exam on their own. 

Things to Remember

The studies for the exam many times become monotonous and boring. It is always preferable to study for short times over a long period and pace out the preparation. Make sure that everything in the syllabus for the exam is covered by you and nothing is left to chance. That being said, no tip mentioned above will guarantee a good score or admission to a top NLU.

What these tips and techniques do is act as a guidance mechanism to streamline and structure your studies so that you do not go haywire with the amount of study material. This will merely simplify and strategize your study so that you are able to increase your speed and accuracy which are pivotal for cracking the exam. Diligence and hard work are very much needed; there is no shortcut to success.

No good results come from negativity, thus I would request all of you to stay positive throughout your prep time and be around positive people who constantly motivate you. If you have put in the midnight oil, the results will show.

Good luck for your exam!

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Law, Management & Hotel Management Exam Preparation | Clear Law Entrance: The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for CLAT Exam
The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for CLAT Exam
Law, Management & Hotel Management Exam Preparation | Clear Law Entrance
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