The applications for CLAT 2019 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.
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:
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)
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.
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.
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!