CLAT legal reasoning
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This article is written by Jagriti Sanghi, an Advocate practising in the Courts of Telangana. This article gives insight into how to secure a good rank in CLAT- PG examination by tackling challenges with the new pattern and managing time before and during the exam.


CLAT- Post Graduate (CLAT PG) examination is a National Level Entrance Examination conducted every year for law graduates to secure a seat in top-ranked national law schools in India. It is organized by the consortium of 22 National Law Universities excluding NLU-Delhi which facilitates law students to achieve high standards of legal education by pursuing LLM programs from reputed and cutting edge universities. NLUs broaden a law graduate’s horizon and exposure. Especially if the law graduate is a non-NLU student, then CLAT PG will play a major role in giving the most sought after “NLU tag”. CLAT PG also serves as a gateway to be employed at top Public Sector Undertakings with a high opening salary package.

New pattern and duration of CLAT PG examination

The CLAT-PG exam like the CLAT-UG exam has a changed pattern now and it focuses on the comprehension and analytical abilities of law graduates. The paper is of two hours’ duration with 120 objective type questions carrying 1 mark each. For every incorrect answer marked by the student, there shall be a negative marking of 0.25 marks. On an average, 5 questions follow from a 300-400 words passage which needs to be read and comprehended carefully. A few answers are hidden in the passage and rest depends on one’s knowledge and application of law and general awareness.  

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As per the official website of Consortium of NLUs, the questions will be posed from the following undergraduate law subjects:

  1. Constitutional Law
  2. Jurisprudence
  3. Administrative Law
  4. Law of Contract
  5. Torts
  6. Family Law
  7. Criminal Law
  8. Property Law
  9. Company Law
  10. Public International Law
  11. Tax Law
  12. Environmental Law
  13. Labour & Industrial Law

Analysis of CLAT PG 2021 paper

An analysis of 2021 CLAT PG examination paper shows that an aspirant must have the ability to read and discern the issues involved in the passage; to summarize the passage; to be aware of the statute, or judgment the passage is extracted from and to be adept at application of legal knowledge to questions followed from the passage. A few questions are directly from current developments and updates in fields of law.

The weightage of each subject is not provided. It makes it tougher for an aspirant to go about the preparation. However, it is seen from past year questions papers that more weightage is generally given to Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Contract Law. Those subjects need to be thoroughly prepared before moving to other subjects. Having said that, it is not advisable to skip any subject. At the very least, the bare acts of all legal subjects need to be read to not be thrown off guard.

Since there is negative marking, it is best to mark only sure shot questions which you are fully confident of. However, if one can use intelligent guesswork to narrow down the options from 4 to 2 then those questions can be answered since the probability of getting the right answer is much increased.  

The mode of preparation for an aspirant

The aspirants who take the examination is increasing every year with upto 10,000 students eyeing for top ranked NLUs. Do not forget that there are reserved seats as well. The success mantra to secure a good rank in CLAT PG is ‘Read, Prepare Notes, Revise and Practice.’ A CLAT PG aspirant needs to be aware of all noteworthy legal developments, important provisions of law from the aforementioned subjects, major amendments in law and their application. For instance, a few legal issues in recent times which can be material for the exam are Aryan Khan’s rejection of bail application in cruise drugs case; 50 years old dispute with 5 litigation rounds to recover Rs. 3000; difference between parole and furlough as explained by Supreme Court while denying it to self-proclaimed godman and rape convict Asaram’s son; under what circumstances Anticipatory Bail can be cancelled et cetera.   

Regular study of 6-7 hours a day will go a long way in bagging a good rank in CLAT PG exam. One should start brushing up the undergraduate law subjects as early as one can. Last minute preparation might not be advantageous for managing time and obtaining a seat. 

  1. Strategize. Make a daily set routine;
  2. Read from bare acts and suggested commentaries and textbooks;
  3. Prepare short notes of important decisions and ratios from those judgments;
  4. Make Flow Charts;
  5. Keep practicing mock tests.

Bare acts and books to be referred to by aspirants

Bare acts are to be finished before moving to textbooks/commentaries. After clear understanding from bare acts, textbooks can be referred to for case laws and interpretations of complex provisions. Good sources of textbooks are as mentioned below:

  1. MP Jain textbook for Constitutional Law;
  2. VD Mahajan for Jurisprudence;
  3. Poonam Pradhan for Family and Property Law;
  4. Avatar Singh for Contract law and Company Law;
  5. R.K. Bangia for Tort law;
  6. Oppenheim/ V.K. Ahuja textbooks for Public International Law;
  7. KD Gaur for substantive criminal law (Indian Penal Code).

Majority of aspirants face difficulty in Jurisprudence, and Procedural Laws. It is crucial that these subjects are read and a flow chart is made to create a picture memory for easily remembering the provisions and concepts in the long term.

The modus operandi for reading lengthy landmark judgments  

A student is expected to read and revise the basics of the law subjects learnt in their undergraduate programme. The landmark decisions of courts need to be thoroughly analyzed to comprehend the issues involved in the case, application of law to factual matrix and reasoning by the Hon’ble judges. Dissenting opinions of judges are also important to be understood as it has a significant effect on future court rulings.

It is often seen that judgments are quite lengthy to be read fully. It is humanly impossible for an aspirant to read and completely mug up long and life altering judgments like the landmark Ayodhya judgment on Babri Masjid issue runs to 1045 pages, Puttaswamy judgment on Privacy issue is 1500 pages; Sabarimala judgment on right of menstruating women to worship a deity is 411 pages long. The aspirant is not expected to memorize each and every word of the landmark judgment. It is well and good if the aspirant has the time, energy and mindset to go through every judgment completely. But for most aspirants, it is usually not possible due to paucity of time, vastness of subjects to be read and revised and lack of interest among other things. Therefore, an aspirant has to smartly work around a way towards judgment reading.

First, it is advisable that a well-written case note on a lengthy judgment is thoroughly read. One can find case notes from online legal databases like SCC Online, Manupatra or legal news portals like LiveLaw, Bar & Bench or even legal journals/exam guides. After understanding the case note, it becomes easier for the aspirant to move to the second step that is to dissect the brief facts, important issues involved and reasoning of judges on each of the issues. Once that is done, in the third step, the aspirant can traverse through the relevant portion in the lengthy judgment where the reasoning/ratio is clearly laid down. This method is interesting as well as effective in preparation from an exam point of view.

Ways and means for aspirants to manage time

Before the examination

Reading around 25 passages with 300 to 400 words with time ticking can be a very challenging task. The ability to read and perceive fast is one of the indispensable skills a CLAT-PG aspirant must possess. Therefore, it is important to learn certain tricks and techniques before the exam to manage time. 

  1. Practise as many mock questions papers as possible to get the hang of the actual examination.
  2. A student should practice reading at least 5 editorials daily from newspapers to increase the speed of reading and grasping the content in a timely manner.
  3. Follow Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer of 50 minutes and focus on a subject until the timer rings. Then enjoy a 10 minutes break to watch, meditate, walk, play or just do nothing. Repeat the process again 50/10 cycle again. Long hours of study should be avoided as it can affect one’s concentration level and grasping power.
  4. Practise paced reading using a timer. Avoid re-reading passages/questions. Use a marker to underline keywords.
  5. Work on improving vocabulary, especially legal terms and maxims.
  6. Practise skimming passages. Read the beginning first, then the end and finally a few lines from the middle. Make sense of it in your head and answer questions accordingly.
  7. Learn the concepts well, make the foundation strong and have a picture memory in mind. This helps in saving a lot of time.

During the examination

In the examination hall, it is very important to maintain peace of mind and not be perturbed by the question paper. A few tricks which will help during the exam to manage time are:

  1. Skim through the passages. First those passages should be attempted which one is sure of. It helps in saving time and boosting one’s confidence.
  2. Since the duration of question paper is 120 minutes, not more than 5 minutes can be spent on a single passage and its related questions. You need to remember that bubbling of answers in the answer sheet will also take time as it is currently an offline exam.
  3. One can skip reading the entire passage and save time if it can be comprehended well with focus on keywords. Suppose there is a passage on Sabarimala judgment and the aspirant is aware of that judgment. Reading the whole passage word by word would be a waste of time and should be avoided. One should highlight the keywords in the passage quickly and then move on to answering the questions.
  4. It is advisable to skim through the questions first and then the passage. This helps in reducing re-reading of passages. But one should see what strategy worked best during mock practise.

Different strategies for a working professional from a law student/fresh graduate

A working professional will have to first figure out how busy he/she is in a day and what time of the day can be carved out for devoting time for a quality preparation. It is stated that a person on an average spends two hours on social media platforms. Those two hours can be better employed for preparation without any distraction if the person makes a mindful choice. Once the time of the day is figured out, three to four hours of consistent preparation can be really helpful in securing a good rank.

The start point of preparation should be those subjects which usually have good weightage in the exam and in which you are comparatively weaker. This is because the strong subjects can be revised later quickly but the weak subjects need to be read slowly and made notes with more revision.

For a final year law student or law graduate, it is relatively easier to find time solely for preparation. But most times, the students think it can be covered at the last minute like the semester end examinations of University. It is the wrong notion and might be hazardous for securing a good rank. The more one practices and devotes time in making notes, flow charts and revising, the chance increases manifold to crack the exam with flying colors.


An aspirant should aim to achieve the first rank in the exam to ace it. Only with that motivation, no time will be wasted. A daily routine will have to be set and it should be diligently followed with a few variations here and there. Achievable goals need to be set for one’s own satisfaction. Reading whole day and night can take a toll on your concentration level. Thus, the preparation time should be combined with other fun or non-study activities which can help one reduce anxiety and exam pressure. All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy. Consistent efforts with perseverance and patience are most essential in cracking the CLAT PG exam.


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