For most seventeen-eighteen year old CLAT takers Legal Aptitude is what law is. Legal Aptitude is the section that decides whether you have the required legal acumen to make it to a law school. On the top of it these 50 marks act as a tie-breaker to decide your rank in case you score the same marks as another.
Legal Aptitude consists of 25% of your CLAT marks and this 25% can be scored full proof if you have prepared for it. While everyone may tell you that practicing is the solution to all problems, that’s not entirely true. Practicing does train you mentally, and helps immensely towards gaining speed while attempting the paper, however the technique to ace the Legal Aptitude section is different.
In my previous articles – How to Prepare For CLAT 2018 and 3 Things That Can Disrupt Your CLAT Performance And How To Stay Safe, I have extensively spoken about how to deal with such factors which can affect your performance. However, there are certain mistakes which can hamper your CLAT score and therefore CLAT rank.
So today, I’m going to tell you about the mistakes that CLAT takers make while attempting Legal Aptitude questions. Why will I be talking about mistakes? Because mistakes are your greatest teachers. There are two things that we all learn the most from – our experiences and our mistakes. No better portal than CLATGyan to reach out to you.
Here is what you are NOT supposed to do while attempting Legal Aptitude:
- Treating Legal Reasoning As Legal GK
Legal Aptitude consists of two subsections – Legal Reasoning and Legal GK. A lot of students make the mistake of applying their own knowledge and assumptions to the set of principles and facts. This is the very first mistake. You need to learn to keep your assumptions aside. The principle is never wrong. Never.
Let’s say the principle reads as: Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such an act to cause death, commits the offence of murder.
The facts are similar to the famous K.M. Nanavati Case (if you’ve watched the movie Rustom, you might relate). Let’s say you already know that the jury had held 8:1 in favour of Nanavati stating that it was done under grave and sudden provocation (an exception to murder). The defence had argued that it was culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
When you have to apply this principle to a set of answers that say:
- A committed murder of B
- A did not commit murder of B as it amounted to grave and sudden provocation
It is very much possible that you may assume that the answer is (2). This may be because you applied not only the legal principle given to you but your own knowledge of the case while solving the question. This is a very common mistake made by CLAT takers. Application of your own knowledge to a legal reasoning question is not advisable.
While answering these questions you must understand that the questions have been prepared in order to assess your legal reasoning skills. Your own legal knowledge is not assessed. They do not expect you to know the law and apply it, they want to test your aptitude for it. So what’s the best way to deal with this problem? Attempt the questions mechanically. Apply the principle that’s in front of you to the set of facts. Ignore everything that you might know about the law.
If you would like to solve more such legal reasoning questions, CLATHacker has some very interesting questions on culpable homicide and murder. In addition, you can always take up this online course by LawSikho (co-created by the founder of CLATHacker) and solve such questions at ease. The very first module teaches you how much law you should learn to crack CLAT and how to prepare for legal aptitude when you have very less time!
Click here to know more.
2. Thinking That The Answer Is Determined By The Facts
While researching for this article, I googled for the advice already available on the internet. One of the top hits that popped up was this quora article. An aspiring CLAT student had asked about what he could do to ensure that he solved the Legal Reasoning questions speedily. The answers to this question were quite shocking. While everyone depicted their own experience as a method, that does not hold good for all.
One such answer on Quora was that you must directly jump to reading the facts without reading the principle and then read the principle (if at all required) to answer the question. Why? To save time. This is very silly. Please do not ever do that. Your answer is never derived from the facts. The principles determine your answer.
Let me give you a very simple tip. In law school, if you ever decide to moot, one of the very first concepts of mooting is IRAC. I for Issue, R for Rule, A for Application and C for Conclusion – mooters follow this as their bible. The issue is basically a legal question. The rule is the statement pertinent in deciding the issue stated. The application means applying the rules to the specific facts at hand. The rules help making the correct legal analysis to the set of facts presented. The conclusion is the direct answer to the issue after applying the rules to the facts. This is how moot problems are solved, memos are made.
How does this help you? Think of the principle as your rule (R) and the facts as what you need to apply (A) the rule to. Now simply apply the rule to the facts and you should have the answer. Please do not read the facts directly no matter how short on time you may be. You are bound to make mistakes and possibly score lesser if you blindly read the facts and apply your own knowledge to the facts while answering.
If you would like to save on time, there are better ways than compromising on your attempts. You can take up this online course that teaches you how to speed read through videos. As a brownie point this course only deals with Legal Reasoning and Legal GK!
3. Multiple Principles and Utter Confusion
A lot of students find it difficult to understand multiple principles and apply them to the set of facts. You need to learn how to quickly interpret the combined effect of multiple principles. What really matters in legal reasoning is correctly applying the principle. The option that you choose must have a direct application of the principle.
If you have been regularly practicing and you are familiar with the principles and understand them, you may choose to first read the options and then the principle. Once you do this, you will realise that some options do not have the application of the principle. Eliminate them. You may then choose to read the facts and apply the principle to the facts. Many a times, you may see an option that directly applies the principle. However, you will require a lot of practice to be able to ace this method of attempting questions.
You can start your attempt with online mock tests and online courses with mentors who teach you the method of elimination. It’s never too late to learn new tricks!
In a post on CLATHacker, Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, iPleaders, has beautifully written about the story of John Doe. The story revolves around confused Doe who cannot wrap his head around multiple principles and convoluted options. He chooses one answer, then changes it and the whole thing takes more time and effort. Interestingly, Ramanuj’s main advice to CLAT takers was: You are not supposed to prepare for legal reasoning! And this is true. The examiners do not expect you to know the law. That’s what they plan on teaching you at the law school.
4. Thinking Will Magically Bring You The Right Answer
It won’t. This isn’t a fairy land.
When you are attempting Legal GK, you must not waste time in thinking which option to choose. Mere thinking will not get you the right answer. You have to decide within the first 5 seconds of reading the question as to whether you would like to attempt the question or not. In case you are unsure of the answer, leave the question, move on to the next. With 0.25 negative marking for each wrong answer having been introduced in CLAT, leaving any question that you are unsure about is a wise option.
Let us take a couple of examples:
- How many judges sat on the bench of Kesavananda Bharti v. Union of India?
- Who was recently re-elected as a member of the International Court of Justice from India?
If you didn’t already know that the answer to A is 13 and B is Judge Dalveer Bhandari, then chances are that you would waste time thinking while attempting these questions at the examination hall. It is best to not answer the question and move on to the next to save on time and answer questions to which you know the answer.
You can take this online course to learn legal terminology and important maxims.
5. Examiners Know Everything
More often than not the CLAT Committee that prepares the papers do not know what questions to ask under the legal reasoning sections. Don’t be surprised. The very first CLAT exam was conducted in 2008 by NLS Bangalore. The members of the Committee preparing the question paper never had to attempt legal reasoning questions or CLAT for that matter to make it to law school. You can see the composition of the CLAT Core Committee for 2018 here.
Do not be surprised if you face legal reasoning questions that have multiple correct answers in the option. Or find questions that you were never prepared for. With the number of CLAT coaching institutes teaching students the art of cracking CLAT, the examiners wouldn’t mind throwing in a googly every now and then.
So, what should you do when you are facing a legal reasoning question with multiple correct answers? Or a principle that you’re not familiar with? What if a couple of questions are misleading?
When you have attempted multiple mock test papers and solved previous years question papers, identifying a wrong question becomes a tad bit easy. The best way to solve this would be to choose the option that directly applies the principle. Thinking like a prudent man will not help here. Logic will get you to the wrong answer.
Here is one such course that teaches you how to deal with misleading questions. They have a module that specifically deals with how to solve legal reasoning questions and helps you strategize for questions on new areas of law that you don’t know about.
With less than two months in hand you must optimise the use of time. While attempting legal reasoning questions you must keep these in mind:
- Prior knowledge is important – but the lesser law you know the better you apply your brain
- Be familiar with the different types of principles
- Learn how to handle questions with multiple principles and facts
- Learn to not waste time on misleading or wrong options
- Build the ability to read facts quickly – disintegrate relevant facts from irrelevant facts
- Always expect the unknown
If you have any questions, you can always reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I shall try to revert as early as I can. Wishing all of you the very best for CLAT 2018. May the force be with you!