Posted by: LST Team | March 3, 2009

Brothers from different Mothers- LSAT and CLAT

For people who are wondering what is this new breed of law test you’ve been reading in newspapers recently, here is a brief comparison between the old horse LSAT and our own one year old CLAT.


LSAT

Law School Admission Council (LSAC), headquartered in Newtown, Pennsylvania, USA, conducts the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) four times in a year throughout the world for more than 200 law schools in United States of America, Canada and Australia. It is required for admission to all American Bar Association (ABA)–approved law schools, most Canadian law schools, and many non–ABA–approved law schools. As per the LSAC’s official data, an average of 140,000 prospective law students take this test each year. However, for admissions to law schools in United Kingdom one has to sit for a different exam called the National Admission Test for Law (LNAT), conducted by a consortium of UK universities.


LSAT- India

The LSAT—India is a standardized test of reading and verbal reasoning skills designed by the LSAC for use by law schools in India.

The LSAT—India is a paper-and-pencil test with four sections. Two of the sections would contain logical reasoning questions; one section would be for analytical reasoning questions; and one section for reading comprehension questions. Every section is given 35 minutes each for completion having on an average 24-26 questions. There would also be a 15-minute break between sections 2 and 3. All questions are multiple-choice with no negative marking. The test will be administered on 17th May, 2009, at fourteen centers all over India.


CLAT

In India, the legal education was for the first time revamped and made more standardized after the establishment of the first national law school at Bangalore in 1987. Thereafter as many as twelve other such national law schools have come up in various parts of the country to cater to the needs of the rotting legal profession. These institutions are national in the sense that substantial number of seats in all these institutions are filled up by students from all over India. Till 2007 each law school conducted its own entrance exam which caused a lot of hardship and inconvenience to the students, along with expenditure. In order to provide relief to the prospective law students, the Vice- Chancellors of all the national law schools came together and formed a committee and finally agreed to conduct a common exam for all the national law schools. Thus came the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) in the year 2008.

Accordingly, CLAT-2008 was conducted by National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, being the senior most amongst all the national law schools. This year, as per rotation, National Academy for Legal Studies And Research ( NALSAR)University of Law, Hyderabad, will conduct the CLAT.

CLAT is conducted for admission to the 5 year undergraduate programme and also for the 2 year post graduate programme. As per last year’s CLAT statistics, total 11949 students, both UG and PG, sat for the examination. The total number of students applied for under graduate programme stood at an impressive 11225 students. This year the figures are surely expected to blow and reach near twenty thousand mark.

The CLAT consists of five subject areas namely, English including Comprehension (40 marks), General Knowledge/Current Affairs (50 marks), Elementary Mathematics (20 marks), Legal Aptitude (45 marks) and Logical Reasoning (45 marks). The test will have 200 questions of total 200 marks and is required to be completed in 2 hours. The test will be administered on 17th May, 2009 at sixteen centers all over India.


Comparison

Both, the LSAT- India and the CLAT, are meant for prospective law students willing to get into one of the top law schools of the country. However, this year, only O.P. Jindal Global University has selected LSAT—India for admissions to the three-year Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree programme beginning classes in September, 2009, at Jindal Global Law School, Sonepat, Haryana.

The LSAT , as conducted all over the world for admission to foreign universities, is meant for students who have completed their graduation and are now aspiring for a legal profession. On the other hand, CLAT is given by students who have cleared or are appearing their 10+2 board exams in India.

Another point of difference between the two tests, and a very crucial one, is the areas which are tested by the organizers. CLAT tests a student’s analytical and critical skills through logical reasoning and at the same time the knowledge skills in the field of general awareness, mathematics and law are also tested. LSAT- India, on the other hand, skills like ‘reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others’, which are considered essential for success in law schools.


Conclusion

On 29th September, 2008, the Times of India had published a news article titled “Call to make Indian Legal Education Global”. For the first time both the organizers, the US Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and the National Law Schools (NLS) of India had come together in a seminar organized by the Institute of International Education to discuss the ways in which Indian legal education can be made more globally relevant and also the possibilities of bringing some changes in the CLAT pattern. Mr. Veer Singh, vice-chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, stated, “approximately 1.5 lakh aspirants from three different countries take LSAT. They have proved their credibility in terms of fairness of content, testing candidate on logical and verbal reasoning and language comprehension. So, we want to learn

from them the things that can make CLAT more reliable.”

In other words, National Law Schools have shown their interest in bringing changes in the CLAT 2009. However, Mr. Singh made it clear that, “we will not be replicating the LSAT, since CLAT 2008 had its own peculiar problems like local, gender and caste reservations. Besides, some take it online and some don’t. So, we will consider all these factors before reaching any conclusion.”

Globally, entrance examinations are an important parameter to select the right candidate. And while CLAT is only a year old, LSAC has the experience of holding Law School Admission Test (LSAT) across US, Australia and Canada for nearly 60 years. Elaborating on the universal approach of LSAT in selecting candidates, Daniel Bernstine, president, LSAC, said :

We have to remember that the exam is not about law. It is conducted to test a student’s ability to work as a lawyer. So, we provide equal playing fields to students from different disciplines.”

Thus, ordinarily, certain basic legal skills are required of all lawyers. They must know how to:

  • analyze legal issues in light of the existing law, the direction in which the law is headed, and considering the relevant policies;

  • synthesize material in light of the fact that many issues are multifaceted and require the combination of diverse elements into a coherent whole;

  • advocate the views of groups and individuals within the context of the legal system;

  • give intelligent counsel on the law’s requirements;

  • write and speak clearly; and

  • negotiate effectively.

In addition to the fundamental skills and values listed above, there are some basic areas of knowledge that are helpful to a legal education and to the development of a competent lawyer. Some of the types of knowledge that would maximize your ability to benefit from a legal education include:

  • A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society in India.

  • A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary Indian political system.

  • Some basic mathematical skills, such as an understanding of basic elementary mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data.

  • A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.

  • An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the India, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.

Looking at the patterns of both these exams, it can be concluded that there is no single method of testing the competence of students aspiring for a legal profession. The field of law itself being so diverse, it always is an added benefit to be socially aware and keep yourself receptive to all the developments around the world. Just be reasonable and apply logic. Thats the mantra for all you prospective legal eagles. All the Best.


karn@lawentrance.com

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Responses

  1. I found this really interesting article for last minute CLAT preparation. Click on the link to read:
    http://www.getsetgrow.org/2009/05/clearing-the-clat-09/
    All the best.


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