How to Ace English for CLAT | Be a Champion

By | September 15, 2020
Ace English for CLAT

Questions in section English for CLAT cover a wide range of topics. On one hand, a person who is proficient in the language and the specific rules has the opportunity to score well; and on the other hand, a person who might be better at understanding and deriving inference also has the chance to score well. The best part about this section is that it is mostly application-based and one need not spend hours memorising details. 

One can easily score through a basic revision of the Language rules and guidelines taught in school. However, in order to do so, one must be aware of the various kinds of questions that can possibly be asked and trustable sources which can be referred to seek a better understanding of these subject areas. Following are some general guidelines on how to prepare for the English section and ace its varied aspects for CLAT 2020. 

Preparation and Attempting the Paper | Ace English for CLAT

 1. How can daily reading help? 

The first question a CLAT aspirant should ask oneself is whether reading is a part of his or her daily routine. Before moving on to specific topics, one must understand that the easiest way to develop a better understanding of English is to read more and more. One might be fluent in the language but the intricacies of the language and the finer vocabulary can be uncovered only through exposure to sophisticated literature. It is very difficult to keep in mind the words we learn every day, so it is advisable to bring them to your everyday speech.

This will help you retain their meanings and apt usage. English has a lot of rules, and a lot more exceptions to these rules. Frequent reading of newspaper articles, famous speeches or autobiographies, blogs, or even generalised essays or novels can enhance one’s understanding of the language. This is particularly helpful when it comes to grammar-centric questions like spotting errors, speech and voice conversions, or identifying the suitable conjunction, article, verb form, etc.

An avid reader would automatically start being able to identify which of the options is the best fit, often because they have previously read sentences with the same structure. Reading more is also the easiest way to develop your idiomatic vocabulary. Some of the websites which can be referred to for quality articles in English have been cited in the References section of this Article.

ENGLISH TEST SERIES–  Gaining mastery on the English Section of the Paper requires a well thought out strategy for every CLAT Aspirant as it covers maximum questions in the Paper and has the potential to make/break your performance.

Get a complete understanding of what to study in this Section in a limited period of time to get an outstanding score on this section with this Test Series designed by Legal Bites Academy available to you at an unbelievable launch price of only 399 INR! Read more at Legal Bites: Click Here

2. Inference based questions 

While answering questions based on inferences from the passage, or a seemingly direct question, one must remember to read through the entire passage carefully before making a choice. Especially the questions which ask the reader to select a point that the author is likely to agree or disagree with, can be tricky as the author may state contradictory points at different occasions. Try to understand the general point of view of the author in order to avoid such mistakes. 

3. Vocabulary Building 

The benefit of questions based on reading comprehension is that one need not understand every single word that the author has written in order to answer the questions aptly. It is natural that there are some words or phrases you won’t understand, but it is important to keep calm and focus on the general tone of the passage. More often than not, the meaning of the sentence can be interpreted through an understanding of the author’s key idea and his stand on the subject.

This is particularly helpful in questions concerning synonyms, antonyms, idioms or any vocabulary-related questions. Another helpful tip for enhancing vocabulary building is that it can only be strengthened when you bring it in your habit and not consider it as a task. Every time, you read a new word anywhere, make sure that you look up its meaning and try to revise such words periodically.

4. The Use of Figurative Language in Literature 

The reader might also get perplexed by the use of figures of speech sometimes, thus it is important to not only be aware of the various kinds of figures of speech and literary tools but also spot and identify them when you see them being used in a passage. Some websites which can help achieve this have been listed in the References section of this Article.

5. Author’s Idea and Tone

For such questions, which focus on the entire passage rather than a particular sentence or paragraph, like questions about the tone or idea behind the passage; it is imperative to read the passage thoroughly, and without any biases or distractions. Otherwise, it is quite possible that despite reading the entire passage, you remain unaware of the author’s stand.

Another potential issue is that you understand the tone of the author, but you do not know how to describe it. The aspirants can grasp such questions by reading as many comprehensions as possible and identify their tone or the idea of the passage or the Author. There are several websites which you can visit to get a better grasp of the terminology involved, some of which are listed in the References.  

6. English Grammar and Language Proficiency

Moving on to the questions relating to general English proficiency, these have little to do with the idea of the passage. These are purely based on one’s language skills. Some of the questions included in this category are: rephrasing of sentences, voice alteration, speech alteration, transformation of sentences based on correlative conjunctions, filling the blanks with appropriate prepositions/ verb forms/ conjunctions/ articles, etc.

This section requires a decent understanding of several parts of language like tenses, sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, etc. One must be up to date with phrasal verbs, idioms, proverbs, etc. too. Apart from a general understanding of these, there are several exceptions and rules specific to certain words, which the candidate should be adept with. 

Equally important is the identification of the part of speech a word belongs to. One of the easiest categories of questions, as one who understands the various parts of speech, is generally able to categorise words accordingly. However, this can get tricky as some words act as more than one part of speech, depending on the context of usage. It is vital to learn how to identify these within the given sentence. This will also help the reader in the ‘fill in the blank’ questions.

All these aspects are tested to know if the candidate is proficient in these basic grammar rules taught in school. For most of these, as already stated, frequent reading is the most suitable and practical solution. Besides that, basic grammar books (like Wren and Martin) and websites can be referred to, some of which are listed in the References section.

  •  Spellings and One word Substitutions

There are several other topics for which one cannot rely on the context of the passage. For example, spellings and one-word substitutions are not things which you can infer from the passage. For one to know the spelling of any random word is an unlikely scenario, but once again reading and writing skills do help. Apart from that, there are rules with regard to spellings (refer to the websites listed), but these come with some exceptions. One word substitutions are tricky, but one can understand the general predictability of the rules applicable to them from the listed websites.

General Tips and Conclusion

The type of grammar questions asked is varied and may differ in every paper, so it is advisable to go through the basics of English grammar thoroughly and keep on practising it daily. If you are weak or average in this section you need to attempt previous year papers of CLAT examinations.

The level of English is likely to remain at par, even with a change in the format. Also, inculcate a habit of jotting down anything essential that you come across during your daily reading, be it unfamiliar words or key rules of grammar. And anytime you see a sentence which seems to be an exception to a grammar rule, check it on various websites on the internet or from a trusted source, because even writers do make mistakes. 

Preparation is one side of the coin, the other equally important side is concentration while attempting the questions. Thus it becomes even more crucial to keep your mind stress free. The English section is perhaps the easiest to score in, as this is something that has been taught to us throughout school. A thorough revision and the dedication to read daily will go a long way. Do refer to the Sample Quizzes provided to get a better understanding and comprehensive revision of the aforementioned topics. All the best! 

Example

The world’s oceans are faced with an unprecedented loss of species comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory, a major report suggests today. The seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted, the report says, because of the cumulative impact of a number of severe individual stresses, ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification to widespread chemical pollution and gross overfishing.

The coming together of these factors is now threatening the marine environment with a catastrophe “unprecedented in human history”, according to the report, from a panel of leading marine scientists brought together in Oxford earlier this year by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The stark suggestion made by the panel is that the potential extinction of species, from large fish at one end of the scale to tiny corals at the other, is directly comparable to the five great mass extinctions in the geological record, during each of which much of the world’s life died out. They range from the Ordovician-Silurian “event” of 450 million years ago to the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction of 65 million years ago, which is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs. The worst of them, the event at the end of the Permian period, 251 million years ago, is thought to have eliminated 70 per cent of species on land and 96 per cent of all species in the sea.

“This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, in the lifetime of our children and generations beyond that.”

Reviewing recent research, the panel of experts “found firm evidence” that the effects of climate change, coupled with other human-induced impacts such as overfishing and nutrient runoff from farming, have already caused a dramatic decline in ocean health.

Not only are there severe declines in many fish species, to the point of commercial extinction in some cases, and an “unparalleled” rate of regional extinction of some habitat types, such as mangrove and seagrass meadows, but some whole marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, may be gone within a generation.

The report says: “Increasing hypoxia [low oxygen levels] and anoxia [absence of oxygen, known as ocean dead zones], combined with the warming of the ocean and acidification, are the three factors which have been present in every mass extinction event in Earth’s history.

“There is strong scientific evidence that these three factors are combining in the ocean again, exacerbated by multiple severe stressors. The scientific panel concluded that a new extinction event was inevitable if the current trajectory of damage continues.”

Answer the following questions:

1) What is the best way to describe the author’s main idea behind the passage?

  1. Mass extinctions in the past have been responsible for wiping out more than half of all existent species then.
  2. Ocean species are threatened due to the combination of hypoxia, anoxia and acidification.
  3. The situation of extinction of ocean species is largely under control due to efforts taken by scientists.
  4. Ocean species and ecosystems are at the risk of extinction largely due to human activities.

Correct Answer – D

Explanation – The main idea behind the passage can be best summarized by option D thereby making it the correct answer. It is the idea that connects all the varying points of the passage. Options A and B have been discussed in the passage, but they are not representative of the entire passage and the idea behind it. Option C has not been discussed, and is in fact contradictory to the theme of the passage, as the situation is in fact not under control.

2) Identify the appropriate preposition to fill in the blank: “The state of marine life is not looking ___.”

  1. Good 
  2. Out 
  3. Up 
  4. Through

Correct Answer – C

Explanation – When one says that something is ‘looking up’, it means that the situation is improving. Thus, option C is the right choice here. ‘Looking good’ would have made sense in the sentence, but ‘good’ is not a preposition, thus making option A an incorrect choice. Options B and D are wrong too as ‘looking out’ an ‘looking through’ have different meanings which are contextually ill-fitting.

3) Identify the error in the sentence: “Not only are there severe declines in many fish species, to the point of commercial extinction in some cases, and an “unparalleled” rate of regional extinction of some habitat types.”

  1. Conjunction Usage Error
  2. Pronoun Usage Error
  3. Preposition Usage Error
  4. Subject Verb Agreement Error

Correct Answer – A

Explanation – The sentence makes an error in the conjunction usage. ‘Not only’ and ‘but also’ are correlative conjunctions, which must be used together to make grammatical sense. They are used in pairs to connect words, phrases, or clauses of equal grammatical value. Thus, the correct sentence would be: “Not only are there severe declines in many fish species, to the point of commercial extinction in some cases, but also an “unparalleled” rate of regional extinction of some habitat types.” Thus, option A is the correct answer. Options B, C and D are incorrect as those errors have not been made.

4) Which word in the passage means the same as ‘aggravated’?

  1. Unprecedented
  2. Unequivocal
  3. Exacerbated
  4. Degenerating

Correct Answer – C

Explanation – The word ‘exacerbated’ means ‘worsened’ or ‘aggravated’ thus making option C the right choice. Options A, B and D are not similar in meaning to ‘aggravated’ and so incorrect choices.

5) Which of the following is the verb directly associated with the word ‘cumulative’ as used in the passage?

  1. Cumulate
  2. Accumulate
  3. Compile
  4. Combine

Correct Answer – A

Explanation – The verb associated with the adjective ‘cumulative’ is ‘cumulate’. To cumulate means to be gathered together and combined, making option A is the correct choice. Although options B, C and D are also very similar in meaning to the word, they are not the verb form of cumulative and thus incorrect.

6) Which among the following is the closest antonym to ‘stark’ as used in the passage?

  1. Vigilant
  2. Ambiguous
  3. Unconstructive
  4. Predictable

Correct Answer – B

Explanation – The word ‘stark’ means something that is blunt and unambiguous. Thus, its closest antonym is Ambiguous provided for under option B. Options A, C and D are based on incorrect interpretations of the word and therefore are not its antonym.


ENGLISH TEST SERIES-  Gaining mastery on the English Section of the Paper requires a well thought out strategy for every CLAT Aspirant as it covers maximum questions in the Paper and has the potential to make/break your performance.

Get a complete understanding of what to study in this Section in a limited period of time to get an outstanding score on this section with this Test Series designed by Legal Bites Academy available to you at an unbelievable launch price of only 399 INR! Read more at Legal Bites: Click Here


References

For Reading Practice:

  1. https://wordpandit.com/reading-home/
  2. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/47429/47429-h/47429-h.htm#link2H_4_0024
  3. https://aeon.co/
  4. https://www.mkgandhi.org/bk123.htm
  5. https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-35-greatest-speeches-in-history/
  6. https://www.livemint.com/
  7. https://jamesclear.com/articles

For Literary Devices:

  1. figure of speech | Definition, Types, Examples, & Facts | Britannica
  2. https://literarydevices.net/
  3. https://literaryterms.net/

For Tone of Passage: 

  1. Tones of Passages for Reading Comprehension Questions in CAT Exam | Handa Ka Funda – Online Coaching for CAT and Banking Exams
  2. 155 Words To Describe An Author’s Tone | Writers Write

For General Grammar and Language Proficiency:

  1. https://www.learngrammar.net/english-grammar/transformation-of-sentences
  2. https://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/phrasal-verbs-list.htm
  3. https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/
  4. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/grammar/verbforms
  5. http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/grammar/parts_of_speech.html
  6. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/verb-tenses/
  7. Grammar Bytes! :: Rules for Finding and Fixing Pronoun Agreement Errors
  8. List of English Homophones
  9. https://lawctopus.com/clatalogue/active-passive-voice-introduction-conversion/
  10. http://cdac.olabs.edu.in/?sub=84&brch=26&sim=196&cnt=499

For one-word substitution: 

  1. List of Best 300 One Word Substitutions Asked in SSC, IBPS, UPSC Exam
  2. English Grammar : Build Vocabulary — List of One Word Substitution
  3. https://www.hitbullseye.com/Vocab/One-Word-Substitution.php#:~:text=It%20simply%20means%20that%20a,asked%20in%20various%20competitive%20exams.

For Spelling:

  1. https://www.fluentu.com/blog/english/how-to-improve-english-spelling/
  2. https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/category/spelling-rules/
  3. https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/spelling-and-word-lists/spelling-rules.html

  1. Solving Previous Year Papers of CLAT: How important it is
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