Preparing for the Math section in the CLAT takes a backseat in law school entrance exams. These exams will test your reasoning skills, not your quantitative ability. You will be put into situations where your structured common sense will be tested. So, sections like legal aptitude, verbal and logical reasoning are of higher importance. Hence, not more than 8-10% of total questions belong to CLAT Math!

The CLAT Math section tests elementary numerical ability skills, and preparing for this section requires smart work, not hard work, just like GK! You should not spend more than 15 minutes in this section, since questions are generally not verbose. Time saved here can be judiciously spent on other sections like logical, legal and verbal reasoning.

The key areas that are tested in the CLAT Math section over the past few years are as follows:

  • 4-5 questions
    • Numbers/Number applications
  • 2-3 questions
    • Averages/percentages
    • Profit & Loss
    • TSD and its applications
    • Equations & expressions

The remaining questions are typically spread over Simple & Compound interest, geometry, probability, etc. CLAT 2015 threw a DI caselet into the mix for the first time, so ultimately, you must always expect the unexpected.

Most of the questions require direct application of concepts, and you can use the “elimination of options” method to reduce attempt time. Let’s try this technique for a few CLAT math questions.

Q 1 (CLAT 2014). A man can row 5 km/h in still water. If the speed of the current is 1 km/h, it takes 3 hours more upstream than downstream for the same distance. The distance is:
(A) 36 km
(B) 24 km
(C) 20 km
(D) 32 km

Approach –
STEP 1. If you know what upstream/downstream is, you can orally find out that the relative speeds of the man will become 5+1=6 kmph in downstream and 5-1=4 kmph in upstream. Since distance covered is the same either way, the likely answer should be a common multiple of 4 & 6, hence 24 or 36 km, i.e. (A) or (B). The remaining options (C) and (D) are eliminated.
STEP 2. Next, oral calculation with Option (A) gives us –
Upstream time = 36 km/4 kmph = 9 hours
Downstream time = 36 km/6 kmph = 6 hours
The difference is 3 hours and hence, the correct answer is Option (A)
All you need to solve this question is simple tables and understanding of upstream/downstream concept.

Q 2 (CLAT 2014). The difference between the simple interest and the compound interest (compounded annually) on Rs 2000 for 2 yr at 8% per annum will be:
(A) 10
(B) 20
(C) 13
(D) 25

Approach –
STEP 1. This is another concept based question. Knowing that the difference between SI & CI for 2 years on the same principal with annual compounding is PR²/10000. Here, P = 2000, R=8%
STEP 2. Quick mental calculation of 2*8*8 = 128 hints us to the answer 13 after decimals adjustment. Hence, the correct option is (C).

That was another combination of formula knowledge and quick calculation skills (Tables, to be precise).

Let’s do one more (CLAT 2012).
Q.3 A dealer buys an article for Rs 380.00. What price should he mark so that after allowing a discount of 5% he still makes a profit of 25% on the article?
(A) Rs. 500
(B) Rs. 475
(C) Rs. 95
(D) Rs. 465

Approach –
To make 25% profit on cost price (CP), the dealer should sell it at 380+25% of 380 = Rs 475. Rs. 475. Clearly, marked price (MP) can’t be the same as or less than selling price (SP), since some discount is being given. Hence, only one answer is possible, i.e. Option (A)!
With this smart elimination technique and wise use of options, it is possible to solve some questions in as little as 25-30 seconds. A few calculation oriented questions may take up to a minute. The average attempt time should thus come to 40-45 seconds per question, i.e. 12-15 minutes for 20 questions.

A few general guidelines

  1. You should know tables up to 12, if not 15, at your fingertips. Mental calculations save a LOT of time.
  2. Look at historical areas of importance as mentioned earlier. Solve past CLAT questions from these topics and practise section tests. This will boost your confidence.
  3. For relatively weak areas, at least remember few standard formulae, e.g. perimeter, areas, volumes of geometric figures. There will be a few formula based questions.
  4. This is a small section, so avoid jumping from one question to another. Try and attempt it in sequence. Solve whatever you can and move on to the next one.
  5. High percentilers generally score well in this section and every mark will matter for a top few scores to get into their dream NLU. So you don’t have the option to keep any topic as an option!

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