Why NLSIU is holding its own entrance test, the exam format, and what happens to CLAT scores

Hellen Wadman

© M Saraswathy NLAT explained: Why NLSIU is holding its own entrance test, the exam format, and what happens to CLAT scores On September 3, the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, decided that it would go ahead and conduct its own entrance examination for admission to undergraduate and […]



a laptop computer sitting on top of a wooden table: NLAT explained: Why NLSIU is holding its own entrance test, the exam format, and what happens to CLAT scores


© M Saraswathy
NLAT explained: Why NLSIU is holding its own entrance test, the exam format, and what happens to CLAT scores

On September 3, the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, decided that it would go ahead and conduct its own entrance examination for admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Called the National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT), 2020, this home-based online entrance exam will be held on September 12.

NLSIU took this decision after the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), 2020, was postponed to September 28 amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The exam was to be held on September 7 but has been postponed due to the regional lockdown in Bihar and West Bengal because of the pandemic.

But the sudden decision to conduct its own examination has sent students into a tizzy. They have a lot of questions about the exam, on how it will be held and what happens to CLAT scores. Moneycontrol attempts to break it all down:

What is NLAT 2020?

NLAT is the National Law Aptitude Test, which will be mandatory for any student who wishes to get admission to the undergraduate B.A., LL.B. (Honours) and postgraduate LL.M. programmes at NSLIU, Bengaluru.

Applications opened on September 3 and close at midnight on September 10. Interested candidates may submit their applications for NLAT 2020 on the admissions site. The admission fee is Rs 150.

Mock Tests for NLAT 2020 will be available from 9 am on September 9 till midnight of September 12. Candidates can attempt the mock test as many times as they want.

Results and provisional admission will be declared on the NLAT website and by email on September 15. The academic term will begin on September 18.

What was the need to conduct a separate test when CLAT already exists?

NLSIU had said in a statement that the repeated postponement of CLAT 2020 has resulted in uncertainty for students, parents, and the participating universities. It added that NLSIU is especially disadvantaged as it follows a trimester system where every academic year is made up of three terms, each of 90 days’ duration.

The university said that if it does not complete admissions by September 2020, it will result in a ‘zero year’ for students, with no admissions.

Will NLSIU accept CLAT scores?

The University has clearly stated that it will not accept CLAT 2020 scores for admission in Academic Year 2020-21.

NLSIU has said that its admissions notification website exclusively governs all admissions to the B.A., LL.B (Hons) and LL.M. Programmes of NLSIU for the year 2020-21. So, any student who wants to study at NLSIU must apply directly to the University and complete the NLAT 2020 Entrance examination.

How can one law university have its own entrance exam?

A consortium of 22 law universities follows CLAT as the common entrance examination for admission. This consortium said that NLSIU is going against their bye-laws to conduct a separate test.

Soon after NSLIU announced NLAT 2020, the consortium said in a statement on September 6 that the vice chancellor of NLSIU is being removed from the post of treasurer and secretary. This statement also said that only CLAT can be used for admission.

In response, NSLIU said there has been no violation of bye-laws and added that there is no conflict of interest.

Did NSLIU and the consortium of law universities explore any alternatives?

In its statement, NLSIU Bengaluru said that it had presented several options to the consortium. These included giving permission to the National Law Universities (NLUs) to conduct their own admission test, allowing CLAT 2020 to be held in multiple sessions, and also allowing individual NLUs to conduct their own examination for CLAT-enrolled candidates.

NLSIU also said that these options were repeatedly rejected by the Executive Committee of the Consortium of NLUs. Further, the university also said that the consortium’s decisions to postpone CLAT were not taken unanimously. Hence, NLSIU said it was left “with no option” but to conduct NLAT 2020.

How will the home-based tests be held?

The NLAT 2020 will use a combination of AI-based and human proctoring. Additionally, the test structure has been designed to minimise the possibility of candidate malpractice.

This includes candidates not being able to revisit a question that they have already viewed and moved past and the randomisation of the sequence in which questions are displayed to candidates. NLSIU has said questions for NLAT 2020 have been drafted in a manner that requires interpretative answers. This means that candidates won’t be able to find answers on the internet.

Once a student completes a question, s/he cannot review or revisit it. This, according to NLSIU, is to prevent any malpractice. There will be negative marking for unanswered questions.

The undergraduate exam (BA LLB) will be of 45 minutes’ duration, while the LLM entrance exam will be of 40 minutes’ duration. NLSIU said that compared to CLAT, which is a two-hour exam, NLAT has a shorter-format since this is helpful for a home-based testing environment.

What are the technical requirements to give NLAT 2020?

NLSIU has released detailed technical requirements to give NLAT 2020. Only desktop computers, laptop computers, and Android mobile devices (phones and tablets) can be used to take the examination.

The internet speed has to be maintained at a minimum of 512 Kbps at all times. This is because the remote proctoring software streams exam data, including audio and video, directly to the cloud as the test is taken.

What if a candidate cannot give the exam at home due to technology constraints?

NLSIU has said that students can appear for NLAT 2020 at an alternative location in case they do not have adequate facilities at home.

To this end, candidates can now take NLAT 2020 at centres across India managed by Testpan India, which is a national, centre-based testing company. Testpan will provide technical equipment and space for those students who cannot take the NLAT 2020 tests at home, on payment of Rs 350.

Will there be seats reserved for local candidates (from Karnataka)?

There will be no reservation of seats for local candidates in NLSIU for this academic year. This is after an earlier reservation requirement was quashed by a court order.

The mandate to have 25 percent reservation for local students in NLSIU has also been stayed by the Karnataka High Court. In March, the Karnataka State Assembly had passed a resolution setting 25 percent reservation in NLSIU for students who had studied for at least 10 years in Karnataka.

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