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Importance of Legal Reasoning in CLAT

Common Law Admission Test, commonly known as (CLAT), is one of the most important exams for admission into the premier law schools of India and the only exam to secure admission in the prestigious National Law Universities (NLUs) for 5-year integrated LLB course post Higher Secondary Class (12th). The Test consists of 5 sections, namely: English, Logical Reasoning, Mathematics, Legal Reasoning and General Knowledge. The syllabus of CLAT 2020 has changed.

Name of the section Number of questions in 2019 Number of questions in 2020
English 40 30
Logical Reasoning 40 30
Legal Reasoning (known as Legal Aptitude till 2019) 50 37-38
Mathematics 20 15
General Knowledge 50 37-38
Total Questions 200 150

The exam went from 200 marks and 200 questions to 150 marks and 150 questions. 30 questions in the English section, 30 questions in the Logical Reasoning section, 37-38 questions in the Legal Reasoning section, 37-38 questions in the General Knowledge section and 15 questions in the Mathematics section. Each question will carry 1 mark each and wrong answers will be penalised. However, the 2-hour time duration of the exam has been kept unchanged.

Earlier, CLAT had a section called “Legal Aptitude”, which is now renamed as “Legal Reasoning”. Legal Aptitude, as said by Prof. Faizan Mustafa, the ex-president of CLAT consortium, was a test of the ability of students to memorise. Whereas, Legal Reasoning intends to test the reasoning students can put forward according to their knowledge and understanding. Legal Aptitude made attempting questions very easy for the students, with Principles and Facts clearly laid out. Even a student with no in-depth preparation could attempt such questions by merely reading the facts and applying the principle given. However, Legal Reasoning provides questions only with facts and asking the relevant provisions from relevant laws. This would test the ability of students to provide the reason why they have chosen a particular answer and some pre-requisite knowledge of the law.

The objective of CLAT is not just to fill seats in the prestigious National Law Universities (NLUs), but also to test the efficacy of candidates, who can carry out Legal research and Legal publications, contribute in Legal writing and analysis.

Legal Reasoning is a more reliable way of testing whether a student can be further given legal training and be turned into an efficient Advocate than Legal Aptitude was. Questions involving Legal Maxims might not find a place in CLAT 2020 question paper. Still, Reasoning based questions, with slight modification in nature from the previous years’ papers shall undoubtedly be asked. To ease the confusion and difficulty surrounding the students intending to appear for CLAT 2020, model questions that might be asked in each section have already been uploaded by the CLAT committee on the official CLAT website.  While there is a relief for students who were having a hard time memorising the difficult legal maxims, the comparatively extensive legal knowledge and elimination of principle from Reasoning based questions would tighten the string for the other end. It would be interesting to notice the effect of this experiment on the merit list of students.

-Anmol Goswami