Common Law Admission Test

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Common Law Admission
Acronym CLAT
Type Computer Based Standardised Test
Developer / administrator CLAT Committee
Knowledge / skills tested Legal aptitude, Logical reasoning, English, General knowledge, Elementary mathematics
Purpose Entrance to National Law Universities
Duration 2 Hours
Score / grade range -50 to 200
Score / grade validity 1 year
Offered once a year
Restrictions on attempts none
Languages English
Annual number of test takers Increase 45,000 (in 2015)
Prerequisites / eligibility criteria Senior Secondary Exam (12th)
Fee 4000 INR
Scores / grades used by National Law Universities, Private Law Colleges, PSU's

Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is a centralised test for admission to 17 prominent National Law Universities in India. The test is taken after the Higher Secondary Examination or the 12th grade for admission to integrated undergraduation programmes in Law and after Graduation in Law for Master of Laws(LL.M) programmes conducted by these law universities. This test was conducted for the first time on 11 May 2008. The two-hour admission test consists of objective type covering questions on Elementary Mathematics or Numerical Ability, English with Comprehension, General knowledge and Current affairs, Legal Aptitude and Legal Awareness and Logical reasoning. The CLAT scores are used by other private law colleges across the country and Public Sector Undertakings for admissions and recruitment respectively.

CLAT is conducted on second sunday of the month of May. CLAT 2016 was conducted by Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL), Patiala on May 8, 2016. In 2015, CLAT exam was conducted by Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University (RMLNLU) on May 10, 2015.

CLAT 2017 is set to be conducted by CNLU, Patna on May 14, 2017. From 2017 onwards, there is also an upper age limit of 20 years in CLAT for candidates applying to LLB programs.


Before the introduction of CLAT, the autonomous law schools in India conducted their own separate entrance tests, requiring the candidates to prepare and appear separately for each of these tests. The schedule of the administration of these tests sometimes conflicted with the other or with other major entrance tests such as the Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination and the All India Pre Medical Test. This caused students to miss tests and experience much stress.[1]

There are seventeen National Law Universities in India, the first of which is the National Law School of India University, which admitted its first batch of students in 1987. Out of the seventeen, the National Law University, Delhi conducts its own separate entrance test known as All India Law Entrance Test.[2] With the emergence of other law schools, which also sought to conduct their admission tests at around the same time, students faced a hard time preparing for them. From time to time this issue to conduct a common entrance exam to reduce the burden of the students to give multiple test was raised, but given the autonomous status of each law school, there was no nodal agency to co-ordinate an action to this regard.[3]

The matter drew national attention when a Public Interest Litigation was filed by Varun Bhagat against the Union of India and various National Law Universities in the Supreme Court of India in 2006. The Chief Justice of India directed the Union of India to consult with the National Law Universities to formulate a common test. The move was strongly supported by the Bar Council of India.[4][5]

Given the lack of a central nodal authority to bring forth a consensus on the issue, the Ministry of Human Resources Development, (Government of India) and the University Grants Commission of India organized a meeting of the Vice-Chancellors of seven National Law Universities along with the Chairman of the Bar Council of India. After a few such meetings, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Vice Chancellors of the seven National Law Universities on 23 November 2007 to conduct a common admission test. The Common Law Admission Test was to be conducted each year by each of the law colleges and the responsibility of conducting the exam was to be rotated and given on the basis of seniority in establishment. Nonetheless, the matter has not been resolved completely as there are other national law universities which were not taking part in CLAT. However, finally in 2015, a fresh MoU was signed by the sixteen National Law Universities, except for National Law University, Delhi for the CLAT 2015 being conducted by Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow whereby all the National Law Universities are now part of the centralized admission process without any one being left out.[6]


Only Indian nationals and NRIs can appear in the test. The foreign nationals desirous of taking admission to any course in any of the participating Law Universities may directly contact the concerned University having seats for foreign nationals.[7]

The eligibility requirements are as follows:

Under-Graduate Courses[edit]

Senior Secondary School/Intermediate (10+2) or its equivalent certificate from a recognised Board with not less than 45% marks in aggregate (40% in case of SC and ST candidates). Students whose results are awaited can also appear in the test.[8]

Post-Graduate Courses[edit]

LL. B/B. L. Degree or an equivalent degree from a recognized University with not less than 55% marks in aggregate (50% in case of SC and ST candidates). The candidates who have passed the qualifying degree examination through supplementary/ compartment and repeat attempts are also eligible for appearing in the test and taking Admission provided that such candidates will have to produce the proof of having passed the qualifying examination with fifty-five/fifty percent marks, as the case may be, on the date of their admission or within the time allowed by the respective universities.[8]

Exam Pattern[edit]

This law entrance exam is of two hours duration. The CLAT question paper consists of 200 multiple choice questions. There are five sections in CLAT exam paper wherein students need to answer questions from subjects such as:

  • English including Comprehension
  • General Knowledge and current Affairs
  • Elementary Mathematics (Numerical Ability)
  • Legal Aptitude
  • Logical Reasoning

Marking Scheme: For every correct answer, aspirants are given one mark and for each wrong answer 0.25 marks are deducted from their total score.

Participating law schools[edit]

Name of the Institution Location Year of joining CLAT CLAT Cutoff (based on 2016 data)
National Law School of India University Bangalore 2008 58
Nalsar University of Law Hyderabad 2008 123
The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences Kolkata 2008 221
National Law Institute University Bhopal 2008 339
National Law University, Jodhpur Jodhpur 2008 347
Hidayatullah National Law University Raipur 2008 555
Gujarat National Law University Gandhinagar 2008 465
Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University Lucknow 2009 626
Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Patiala 2009 759
Chanakya National Law University Patna 2009 911
National University of Advanced Legal Studies Kochi 2009 918
National Law University, Orissa Cuttack 2012 1038
National University of Study and Research in Law Ranchi 2012 1037
National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam Guwahati 2012 1103
Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University Visakhapatnam 2014 1132
Tamil Nadu National Law School Tiruchirappalli 2014 1160
Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai Mumbai 2016 466
Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur Nagpur 2016 N/A

The first entrance examination through CLAT took place to admit students for the academic year 2008-09 on 11 May 2008.[9] While, in the first CLAT seven law schools participated, 3 other NLUs; Chanakya National Law University, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, (Lucknow) and Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law agreed in principle to utilise the CLAT score for admission. The second entrance examination through CLAT for admitting students for the academic year 2009-10 held on 31 May 2009. From seven last year, the list of participating law schools for this year has increased to eleven. Eleven previous NLU(s) participated in CLAT 2011, whereas National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi admitted students by utilised CLAT 2011 scores. NLU-D, NLU-O and NLSJA—ASSAM conducted their own admission test. The fifth edition of CLAT was organised by National Law University, Jodhpur on 13 May 2012. Also, National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi National Law University, Orissa, and National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam are the three NLU(s) who joined CLAT in 2012 making the total number of Universities to 14. Tamil Nadu National Law School was, however, provisionally included in CLAT as an interim order.[10] However, National Law University, Delhi conducts its own admission test.

Non-participating schools[edit]

Despite the efforts of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, not all law schools in the country could come to an agreement to be participants to CLAT. While the number of participating institutions has increased from seven to sixteen from 2008 to 2012, there are still a number of reputable law schools which choose to continue with their existing system.

Institutions utilising CLAT scores[edit]

The following institutions have been permitted to utilize CLAT scores for the purposes of admissions to their undergraduate and postgraduate courses:

  1. Jodhpur National University, Narandi, Jahnwar Road, Jodhpur
  2. Siddhartha Law College, Sahastradhara Road, Near IT Park, Dehradun
  3. SOA National Institute of Law, Faculty of Legal Studies, Siksha O Anusandhan University, Khandagiri Square, Bhubaneswar

In addition to this, CLAT has also entered into a MOU with the Indian Oil Corporation, whereby IOC would be utilising CLAT scores as one of the selection criteria for recruitment of legal professionals to IOC.[11] Recently Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and NCIL advertised to fill up legal vacancy through CLAT-2015.[12]

Method of allocation[edit]

The CLAT form provides the students with a preference list. Each student fills the preference list, according to the colleges he/she desires.On the basis of these preferences and ranks obtained, students are allocated colleges. CLAT 2011 has seen a dramatic change. The previous system of asking applicants preferences of institution at the time of filing the application form has been done away with. In an attempt to allow for more informed choice, CLAT 2011 applicants were asked to make a selection of institutions after the declaration of results.

Formal structure[edit]

The first CLAT Core Committee consisting of Vice-Chancellors of the seven participating NLUs at that time decided that the test should be conducted by rotation in the order of their establishment. Accordingly, the first Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) was conducted in the year 2008 by the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Subsequently, CLAT-2009, CLAT-2010, CLAT-2011, CLAT-2012, CLAT-2013, CLAT-2014, CLAT-2015 and CLAT-2016 have been conducted by NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, National Law Institute University, Bhopal, The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, National Law University, Jodhpur, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow and Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala respectively.

CLAT-2017 is set to be conducted by Chanakya National Law University, Patna.


The CLAT 2009, which was scheduled to be held on 17 May 2009 was rescheduled to 31 May 2009 due to leak of question papers.[13]

The CLAT 2011 candidates were disappointed with the standard of exam, as up to 12 questions in the various sections had underlined answers due to the oversight of the organisers and students also found the paper lengthy in comparison to the time limit provided (i.e. 2 hours).[14]

The 2012 CLAT organised by NLU, Jodhpur was marred by number of controversies, which includes allegation of setting questions out of syllabus and out of the pre- declared pattern.[15] The declared rank list also contained error, due to which the first list was taken down and a fresh list was put up.[16] The declared question-answer keys contained several error, which resulted in petitions being filed by the aggrieved students in different High Courts.[17][18]

CLAT 2013[edit]

CLAT 2013, conducted by HNLU, Raipur saw the introduction of provision of negative marking. For every wrong answer, a deduction of one-fourth of the right answer, i.e. -0.25, is made.

CLAT 2014[edit]

CLAT 2014 was conducted by GNLU, Gandhinagar and was heavily criticized for being poorly conducted[19] with results being withdrawn and declared again.[20] Even lawsuits had been filed for re-examination.[21] The uploaded OMRs were then allowed to be physically verified in the GNLU Campus after students demanded the same.

CLAT 2015[edit]

Withdrawal of Question paper and introduction of OMR sheet was the key feature of CLAT 2015, which was conducted by Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow. Computer Based Objective type test was introduced in CLAT 2015, while all other features remained the same.The Results were republished following confusion in answers.

CLAT 2016[edit]

The CLAT 2016 was conducted on May 8, 2016 on Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL), Patiala.

CLAT 2017[edit]

Chanakya National Law University(CNLU) Patna is conducting the common law admission test on May 14 for admissions to UG and PG programmes at 19 NLUs.[22]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Why CLAT" (PDF). 
  2. ^ "NLS History". 
  3. ^ "CLAT History (p. 5)" (PDF). 
  4. ^ "CLAT History". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 11 January 2008. 
  5. ^ "About CLAT". 
  6. ^ Shrivastava, Prachi (3 November 2014). "NLUs enter into new CLAT MoU, ensuring full participation of all 16 NLUs (except NLU Delhi)". LegallyIndia. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "Common Law Admission Test - Instructions". Common Law Admission Test Core Committee. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Common Law Admission Test". Common Law Admission Test Core Committee. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "CLAT Participating Law Schools". 
  10. ^ "CLAT to include Tamil Nadu NLS, orders Madras HC". LegallyIndia. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "Indian Oil Corporation" (PDF). 
  12. ^ "ONGC". 
  13. ^ "Law admission test postponed after paper leak". DNA. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Yesterday's CLAT aspirants in a tizzy over difficulty, strange underlines". Legally India. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Shrivastava, Prachi. "CLAT to be PILed as NLU-J shocks with 2012 paper mismatch with prescribed syllabus". Legally India. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  16. ^ Ganz, Kian. "Download new, reshuffled 2012 CLAT University Allotment; NUJS now tops NLIU in prefs again". 1 June 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  17. ^ Answers underlined in a part of CLAT paper
  18. ^ CLAT committee release flawed CLAT 2012 answer key, Students baffled
  19. ^ Ganz, Kian (6 June 2014). "CLAT results still wrong & mixed up claim students, despite GNLU's new 'reconciliated'(sic) results". Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  20. ^ Times News Network (6 June 2014). "After the botch-up, CLAT results revised". Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  21. ^ Legally India (9 June 2014). "Update: CLAT to respond to challenge by 18 June | CLAT taker files legal challenge, seeks fresh exam and halt to counselling". Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  22. ^ "CLAT 2017".