How Best to Tackle the Offline Format of CLAT 2019


The year 2015 ushered in a new era for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) that had always found itself in the middle of controversy as for the first time, the competitive examination was held in the online mode. This announcement struck as an attempt to get with the times, where even the tiniest transaction is impossible without the involvement of some level of a computerised mechanism. Unfortunately, the plunge into this unchartered territory was resplendent with colossal errors and was just another dent in the aspirants’ peace of mind.

Over the past four editions, there have been several complaints regarding the technical glitches that crop up, thereby raising severe questions against the credibility of the examination. In the most recently held edition, CLAT aspirants were left distraught in the middle of attempting the exam as their screens went blank and sadly, no amount of extra time was granted to compensate for the time lost.

Luckily, the CLAT Consortium has made the decision of resorting to the good ol’ offline mode of examination for CLAT 2019. However, in the future, there could be the possibility of reverting to the online mode in the case of increase in the number of applicants. For now, all’s good in CLATland and for aspirants panicking at the sight of an OMR sheet, rest assured, there do exist fossils in law schools (such as I), who spent most of their pre-CLAT days, marking the bubbles of these very sheets.

Personally, I would prefer the offline mode for an examination any day because I am not a sucker for reading online, especially if it requires me to comprehend or reason out to find a solution and my passage to law school depended on it. An offline test is simpler, less cumbersome and does not tire you out as quickly as an online test would. You might disagree with my old school ideology but you’ve got to deal with it because on 12th May 2019, your fate will be signed, sealed and delivered based on what you fill out in these OMR sheets. And fortunately, you’ve got this article to bank on, wherein I will summarise on what to expect and how best to incentivise this change in the format.

Marking the OMR Sheet

I cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to practice and hone the art of marking on an OMR sheet that requires you to fill the correct answer option bubble. It is sort of unclear as of now whether you’re supposed to use a pencil or a pen while marking the answer and I sincerely hope that the instructions (that will precede the question paper) clear out the ambiguity surrounding this issue. It is necessary for you to practice on an actual OMR sheet while attempting mocks because colouring the bubble requires a minimum amount of focus, but one that is clear-cut. Apart from the obvious, practice would also make you realise how important it is for you to mark the answer well because untidy or haphazard marking could cost you significantly.

Sequencing of the Questions

While attempting the paper, most aspirants do not begin with the first and foremost questions because all the articles on time management have mentioned how shuffling between sections can help you gain time. This eventuality makes it extremely important for you to keep an eye out for the numbering of the questions. One cannot afford to falter and mess up the sequencing. For example, you are attempting the General Knowledge section and the questions for the same begin from Question No. 91 and go on till Question No. 140. If you aren’t able to attempt the last two questions in this section, you need to bear in mind that the next section (say, Mathematics) begins from Question No. 141. This might sound extremely general to you but there have been scores of aspirants who have tremendously ruined their chances by such blunders. And remember, you will not be given a fresh OMR sheet under any circumstances.

Offline Reading of Questions

We live in a world where e-books have become the norm and picking up the newspaper has become such a hassle that most CLAT aspirants rely on online sources for current affairs. This might be convenient but it has also made people give up the habit of reading print from paper. To tackle this problem and avoid any mental blocks that might crop up while attempting this year’s CLAT, it would be highly advisable to resort to reading the editorial sections of a good English daily and timing yourself while you do so. Apart from helping you sort your comprehension skills that would play a major role in the English section, it will also immensely contribute to what most coaching centres and CLAT mentors encourage you to inculcate – speed reading. To crack any competitive examination, what matters most is your ability to be one step ahead of your competition in aspects that are often downplayed and the ability to read and comprehend a highly technical (and boring!) passage without zoning out is the key to cracking CLAT.

Your Surroundings and Time

The environment during CLAT 2019 is sure to resemble your basic school tests, wherein you would have a view of everyone attempting the test. You are bound to be tempted to pay attention to your competition and it is up to you whether you want to make gauging them a priority or give your all to the question paper right in front of you. I will not deny that the atmosphere might get daunting but you need to build a shield between yourself and the rest of the world. However, do not make this shield so opaque that you have no sense of time and keep an eye out for the leftover time. Preferably wear a watch.

With 80 days left for the D-Day, it is high time you pull up your boots and immerse yourself in working your way through preparation, without fretting and panicking about the technicalities surrounding CLAT. Yes, you must be well-prepared to tackle any hurdle that comes your way. No, you cannot ponder over hypothetical panicky situations and let it get the best of you. Come what may, however you decide to spend the coming weeks will definitely impact your chances at making your way to the top law schools of the nation.


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