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CLAT 2020: Up to 40% fewer questions for less ‘mental stress’ • Patterns rejigged • VCs vow to up scholarships, faculty training

Seems like not playing musical chairs with running the CLAT is at least creating some momentum
Seems like not playing musical chairs with running the CLAT is at least creating some momentum

The next Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) will take place on 10 May 2020 with 25-40% fewer questions and revised undergraduate test patterns to reduce the “mental stress” of law school aspirants, according to the decision made by the CLAT Consortium of national law schools today.

The number of questions in the undergraduate exam would be reduced from the present 200 to between 120-150 questions, while the duration remains the same at two hours.

Prof Faizan Mustafa, Nalsar Hyderabad vice chancellor and previous NLU Consortium president, said in a statement that “asking students to answer 200 questions in 120 minutes is not right as it puts students under lot of mental stress”.

Furthermore, the question pattern has been tweaked so that “comprehension-based questions” would now be asked in the categories of quantitative techniques, English, current affairs, deductive reasoning and logical reasoning.

“The idea is to get better students to National Law Universities who have competence in reading texts and demonstrate skills in inferential reasoning,” Mustafa explained.

The notification for CLAT 2020 will be out in the last week of December 2019, with online application forms available from 1 January 2020.

The convenor for this year’s CLAT will be NLU Jabalpur, though the Consortium will presumably ensure continuity in the work to hopefully avoid the problems that used to plague the CLAT when a new NLU reinvented the wheel every year.

The Consortium was set up in 2018 after prolonged criticism and a Supreme Court petition by the late Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) founder Prof Shamnad Basheer,)

Apparently today’s meeting had a good turn-out, with all NLU VCs attending, according to their statement.

Planned scholarship, faculty training, facilities upgrade drive

In a welcome move, though the mileage will have to be measured once the talk turns to walk, the Consortium resolved to “launch a scheme of scholarship / fee concessions for the students of NLUs”.

Cash-strapped NLUs may baulk at the prospect of losing out on some fees, but as IDIA has pointed out over and over again throughout the years, NLU tuition fees remain a huge impediment to improving access to legal education.

The Consortium also said it would “undertake several faculty development programmes in various member NLUs” and “assist the member NLUs in upgrading their library, IT facilities and other infrastructure”.

Again, that is easier said than done but the permanent CLAT Consortium is at least making the right noises.

PG CLAT tweaks

The post-graduate CLAT too would see some changes, with more comprehension-based questions to be introduced, though the “descriptive portion” would remain the same as last year’s CLAT.

According to the release, the Consortium had also “authorised the Executive Council of CLAT–2020 to study the possibility of introducing cut off marks for the LLM”.

Change of guard

A new council of the Consortium was also elected at this meeting, with the body to now be headed up as president by NLIU Bhopal vice chancellor Prof V Vijayakumar, while RGNUL Patiala VC Prof Paramjit S Jaswal would be vice-president.

DNLU Jabalpur VC Prof Balraj Chauhan will be convenor for the 2020 CLAT.

NLU Odisha VC Prof Srikrishna Deva Rao was elected member of the Executive Council for the 2020 exam, and VC of NUSRL Ranchi, Prof V Kesava Rao, would be special invitee on the Executive Council for the purposes of the 2020 run.

Mustafa, as outgoing president “expressed his satisfaction on the formation and registration of Consortium of NLUs and expressed the hope that under the dynamic leadership of Prof V Vijayakumar, the Consortium will make meaningful contribution to the legal education in 2019 – 2020”, according to the press release, which added:

He thanked all the members of the Executive Council and the members of the General Council for their co-operation and support in discharging the duties of President in the first year of the formation of the Consortium of NLUs.

Number of changes were made in CLAT – 2019, i.e., the test was made off line from online and in PG paper descriptive portion was included. Further, for the first time carbonised copy of the OMR sheet was provided to the candidates.

A Grievance Redressal Committee was also constituted for CLAT – 2019 under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Sri Justice S. Rajendra Babu, Former Chief Justice of India.

Vijayakumar “assured that CLAT Consortium will now do more meaningful contribution in terms of Faculty Development of member NLUs”, according to the statement.

Photo by Nick Youngson

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