Filling the Preference List in the CLAT Application Form

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The applications for CLAT 2018 are now open and will be so till the 31st of March. While most of the application is fairly simple, filling the preferences of colleges seems to be relatively complicated. We’re writing this post to give you a clear understanding of how preferences work.

Screenshot of the ‘Preferences’ section from the CLAT online application page.

Why does the CLAT require your college preferences?

CLAT is an admission test for 19 National Law Universities (NLUs). There is no ‘default’ or pre-decided preference list decided by the CLAT office. You may consider NLSIU Bangalore to be the best of all NLUs, but the CLAT office treats all 19 NLUs as equals. For them, CNLU Patna is as good as NLSIU Bangalore. Hence, it comes down to the candidates applying for the CLAT to make their own preference list.


Why is the Preference List important?

Allocation of NLUs works on the basis of ‘merit-cum-preference’. This implies that once the CLAT results (and the rank list) are declared, your preference list will be used to allocate a NLU to you. Remember that the allocation of NLUs always starts with the candidate with Rank 1 and then proceeds down the rank list. To understand how this works, let’s see a few illustrations:

Illustration 1

Let’s say that the first NLU in your preference list is NLSIU – Bangalore, and your rank in CLAT is 1. (Woah – Say ‘amen’!)

Now, the CLAT office will start the allocation from the top of the rank list (which is you). They will look at your most preferred NLU – which is NLSIU. Then, they will see if NLSIU has vacancies. Of course, NLSIU will have vacancies because you are the first person being considered for allocation (as your rank is 1). Now, they will place your name in the Allocation List of NLSIU. (Congrats! – Now snap out of this dream)

Illustration 2

Let’s assume that your rank is 58. The first NLU in your preference list is NLSIU, and the second NLU is NALSAR.

As always, the allocation will start from the candidate with Rank 1. They will allocate colleges to Rank 1 to 57 and then come to you (rank 58). As per their website, NLSIU has 57 vacancies in the General Category. If all the 57 candidates above you in the rank list have NLSIU as the first preference, you will not be allocated NLSIU. Why? Because by the time they come down to allocate a NLU to you, your most preferred NLU (which is NLSIU) does not have any vacancies. When this happens, they will move to your second preference and see if that NLU has vacancies. Here, it is NALSAR and it will have vacancies. You will be allocated NALSAR. (Not bad, kid! I’m a NALSARite and I like it!)

However, it is possible that any of the 57 rankers do not have NLSIU as their first preference (which means that they placed some other NLU at the first spot). In this case, vacancies at NLSIU will not be completely filled by the time your allocation occurs. Hence, you will be allocated NLSIU.

Illustration 3

Let’s say your rank is 534, and your preference list is as follows:

1 – NLSIU, Bangalore (Intake: 57)
2 – NALSAR, Hyderabad (Intake: 65)
3 – WBNUJS, Kolkata (Intake: 80)
4 – NLIU – Bhopal (Intake: 42)
5 – NLU – Jodhpur (Intake: 77)
6 – GNLU – Gandhinagar (Intake: 115)
7 – HNLU – Raipur (Intake: 62)
8 – RMLNLU – Lucknow (Intake: 80)
and so on…

If all candidates above you in the rank list have the same preference list, you will be allocated RMLNLU. This is because HNLU will close at Rank 498. However, not everyone will have the same preference list and this is where it gets complicated. Suffice it to say that by the time they come down to your rank, you will get the highest preferred NLU possible.

Illustration 4

Let’s say you get a rank of 9. In your preference list, the first NLU is CNLU – Patna, and the second is NLSIU – Bangalore.

You will be allocated CNLU -Patna. You have a single digit rank, yes. But, like I said earlier, the CLAT office treats all NLUs equally and gives you the power to choose preferences. You did that by choose CNLU as the most preferred. They will go by your preference list and allocate CNLU – Patna because that is the highest preferred NLU possible.


How do I make my Preference List?

This is, perhaps, the most important of all questions you have. While choosing your Preference List is entirely your own work to do, here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Spend some time and do your research. See what you want out of a law school and a law degree. If you want to stay closer to home (and you are from New Delhi), you may choose NLU Jodhpur over NLSIU. And if you want a good campus placement in a corporate law firm, NLSIU or NALSAR should be at the top.
  • Do not trust the Law School rankings by magazines like IndiaToday or Outlook. The credibility of these rankings has never been high. For example, look at these IndiaToday rankings. They don’t have NALSAR in the list, and Amity is at 4! Res Ipsa Loquitur!
  • Whenever you read something on the internet or talk to someone about preferences, be sceptical of the source. A chest-thumping student of RGNUL Patiala may convince you that his/her college can put even Harvard to shame. Spoiler: it’s not true. And a NALSAR-hating chap may argue that there’s NO WAY for NALSAR to be better than NUSRL – Ranchi. Spoiler: way.
  • Make sure to put in all 19 NLUs in the Preference List. If you leave out any, you will not be allocated that NLU. And even if you are absolutely sure that you do not want to go to an NLU, we suggest that you add it at the bottom instead of leaving it out altogether.
  • Every NLU has its own features. As a NALSARite, I believe that NALSAR is the best NLU in the country due to its corporate placements or campus life, but I must admit (with a big boulder on my heart), that NLSIU is pretty good with their student quality, academics, and most of all, the strength of their alumni. (To my siblings from NLS, this is purely in arguendo, and not an admissible confession 😛 )
  • Do not take the Preference List lightly. You may have a reckless attitude which says: “Let me first get a good rank and then worry about all this. Let me not be so over-ambitious to start making a choice between NLSIU and NALSAR. Now only if I make pulao in khayal means how?” Well, this is not the right thing to do. You cannot change the preferences after the CLAT results arrive. Hence, do what it takes to meticulously make the list. Trust me, when you end up getting a good rank, you will not be able to forgive yourself for screwing up the Preference List and getting an unwanted NLU allocated to you.

And last, better to get your doubts clarified now than to regret later. We hope to have given you a fair amount of clarity. But if you have questions, post them in the comments section below and we’ll reply.

Wishing that the first illustration becomes your reality! All the very best!

104 COMMENTS

  1. First of all thank you! 🙂
    It was really helpful.
    I would like to ask whether placing GNLU above NLU Jodhpur is a big mistake or is it affordable?
    Ps- I haven’t submitted my form yet but I want to do my preference list this way.

    • When you’re eligible for state quota, you essentially have two chances of getting that NLU allocated. One through General category, and if you don’t get it, then through State category. If you don’t get through either, then next NLU in the preference list will be considered.

      All in all, being eligible for State quota should not effect your preference list.

  2. Thank you for the help. I am doubt between HNLU and NLUO. Some are saying NLUO is doing better than HNLU and some other way round. Can you help me which one should i place above the other. Please upload weekly Compendiums

    • It’s tough to say which college will turn out to be what by the time you actually graduate. As of now, I’d suggest HNLU over NLU Orissa. But if you want to prefer NLU Orissa, it’s a risk which may or may not turn out to be profitable.

  3. Thank you soo much for this ..it was actually very helpfull..but m confused either to go for GNLU first or for HNLU please help

  4. Thank you! I am from odisha. Is the state quota available this year? And if I get due to my ranks in a better nlu will I have to study in odisha coz of state quota?

    • From what we know, state quota at NLU Orissa will start from CLAT 2019.

      And if you get a better rank, you will be allocated an NLU commensurate with your rank. You will not be forced a lower preferred NLU simply because you’re eligible for its state quota.

    • My opinion: NLU O > RGNUL > CNLU/NUSRL.
      Do note that this order can easily be argued to be wrong. Do your own research and see what you like in each of these NLUs and make your own order.

  5. First of all, thanks a lot. My query is that I want to pursue corporate law. So which college gives the best placements in terms of that apart from the first 3 NLUs?

  6. Hi I want to ask preference in terms of scholarship
    That which nlu provides highest scholarship and also placement + faculty + amenities+ crowd
    For me placement and scholarship is of utmost imp so in which order I should place nlu and also tell nlu which give highest scholarship

    • Refer to the CLAT brochure for the fee structure of each of the NLUs. Scholarship details can be found on the websites of respective NLUs. If you do not get a scholarship, you can opt for an Education Loan. Your allocated college may help you out with the loan at the time of admission.

  7. Thanks so much for these inputs.

    Would like to know the following.

    Say my rank is 155.I am Candidate A.
    Another candidate is rank 175 and I’d candidate B.

    Candidate A gives say GNLU 5th priority.
    Candidate B gives say GNLU 1st priority.

    Candidate A does not get his first preferences but if he can get GNLU.In this case who will get GNLU first .Candidate A or candidate B.

    Thanks in anticipation of yr response.If I am not clear in putting querry pls ask.

    • Candidate A will get GNLU first. Allocation happens rank-wise starting with Rank 1. It doesn’t matter where the allocated NLU is in the preference list, and hence, Candidate B does not get any advantage over better rankers merely for putting GNLU at top.

  8. Suppose I get a rank of 930 in clat 2018.And i have filled nlsiu Bangalore as my first choice and hnlu as my 7th choice.will I be able to get hnlu through state quota

    • Depends on how much you value staying closer home. Personally, location was never a factor for me when I filled my preferences when I applied for CLAT. It was only a coincidence that I’m from Hyderabad and I got NALSAR.

  9. There is a slight mistake in my comment my question was regarding RAIPUR and not RANCHI!
    Please can u help me with the ranking of RAIPUR

    • Generally, the order is NUJS > NLIU Bhopal > NLU Jodhpur. But if you have any specific reasons, you may consider preferring NLU J over NLIU. However, keep NUJS over the other two.

      MNLU Mumbai should go below the reputed established NLUs. It’s a new NLU and we don’t know how it’ll turn out to be by the time you graduate.

  10. Thank you for the above information.
    I have my state domicile of gujarat n have started my preference with GNLU for LLM.
    My reason for doing so is that I don’t want to go outside gujarat, even for 1 year.
    So plz throw some light on academic quality of GNLU over nlus of the same rank….

    • If you’ve already decided not to leave Gujarat, there’s no point looking at NLUs outside Gujarat. Now, within the State of Gujarat, I can vouch that GNLU is the best of all law colleges in every parameter.

  11. mnlu mumbai below gujrat at 7th preference ? for a mumbai resident..?
    anything else about mumbai one should consider against raipur ?

  12. some persons tell that if u r not sure getting NLS or NALSAR OR WBNUJS , put NLUJ as 1st preference and then GNLU and then RMLNLU( since i m from lucknow )..it will help getting college.. is this true at any instance ? .. plz reply asap

  13. I am a resident of Ranchi (Jharkhand). Considering only two factors, namely hostel facilities i.e. mess and rooms etc. and easy accessibility to home, which one would you suggest to be preferable – Jodhpur or Bhopal? Thanks

    • Rajiv, I haven’t heard any complaints about the hostel rooms or mess from either NLU J or NLIU. They’re both good and liveable. (Check their respective websites for more details). For easy accessibility, Bhopal is closer to Ranchi in geographic terms. But, I don’t know much about how well these cities are actually connected.

  14. We are staying in bangalore. My daughter is preparing for CLAT 19. If just doesnt get a seat in NLSIU Bangalore and NALSAR HYDERABAD I would like to know how is TNNLS,Tiruchirappalli .Thanking you in anticipation

    • Those people are true to a large extent. There is no absolute answer to your question, but if recruitments are anything to go by, GNLU has been doing better than NLIU.

    • When you enrol for the CLATGyan Test Series, we allot you a first/second year student of NALSAR as your personal mentor. You can contact him/her to get guidance for your prep and answers to your doubts.

  15. What would you think about the Mumbai NLU since it is new and I am applying for CLAT 2018, can we expect good placements in 5 years? Placement would matter the most for me……….

    Also which one would you reckon to be better at placements? GNLU, NLU Jodhpur, or Bhopal(with respect to 5 years from now)? I honestly would not prefer to go to Bhopal or Jodhpur but would do it for the placements…….

    • Divyansh, it’s not possible to give you an accurate forecast of these colleges. NLU J > GNLU / NLIU Bhopal is a good order. Put MNLU below these.

  16. I am from New Delhi but I don’t have any problem in going anywhere to study . Can you please give me a preference list to fill in my form? From most to least preferred universities According to whatever information you have ♥️

  17. The signature required for the clat form I have signed in blue. Is there any problem? Do I have to fill another form ?

  18. How is NLU Mumbai. Is there any scope of its growth How will be the placements there. As the city is a financial capital. Any expectation of it getting placement as samr as nsliu nujs gives?

  19. My dad filled the prefernce list in an order completely different from what I had told him to do so. He kept MNLU and CNLU at the top and NLIU,NUJS at the end. I don’t want to go to those colleges, so isn’t it completely useless for me to give clat now?

    • In a similar situation here, is there any chance I can opt to take a college which is low in my preference list but available for my rank?
      For eg.: My rank is 200 and I want NLUJ but 3rd college on my preference is RMLNLU. Can I opt for NLUJ instead?

  20. Is there an option available to change the preference after 1st allotment? I made a mistake by adding 2unwanted NLU as my 5th and 6th options n my rank is 459

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