Cambridge Law Test (CLT)

This admissions test is taken for some Cambridge courses.
Last updated: 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Description

The Cambridge Law Test (CLT) forms a key part of the admissions process to study Law at the University of Cambridge.

How to Prepare

Here are some general resources related to the Cambridge Law Test (CLT). Use this page as a hub to branch off and use other resources!

The CLT is a Cambridge-specific test, so you will have to sit it alongside the LNAT if you plan to apply for Law at other universities in the UK. Remember, your performance on the CLT is used alongside other aspects of your application to assess your suitability for the Law course, so it isn’t the be-all and end-all of your application. Nevertheless, with sufficient practice and understanding of the test structure you can become more confident in your abilities when sitting the CLT.

The Basics: Overview

The CLT is a one hour long essay-based exam taken on the day of your interview. For most applicants this exam will be administered at the college you are applying to, whereas overseas applicants who are offered an overseas interview will be able to sit the CLT at an interview centre closer to home. Applicants will be given three essay questions to choose from and are expected to write an essay on their chosen question within the one hour time limit. Remember, the test is not designed to test you on your legal knowledge per se, but rather how you apply your existing knowledge and critical thinking skills to provide a cogent response to a potentially unfamiliar legal situation. The CLT is similar to Section 2 of the LNAT, but is often focused more precisely on law than general current affairs.

The Basics: Types of Questions

One characteristic of the CLT is the three types of questions that tend to be used in the test: essay questions, problem questions, and comprehension questions.

Essay Question: The essay question type is the one you will probably be most familiar with. This question asks you to consider a statement and discuss it, providing arguments for and against. Your response to this question should be balanced; one of the key skills which lawyers must possess is the ability to recognize and respond to varying perspectives on an issue.

Problem Question: The problem question will provide you with a legal statement and a scenario; it is up to you to analyze the scenario and explain how to apply the relevant law. This question type requires you to be logical and persuasive; both key skills which lawyers must possess.

Comprehension Question: In the comprehension question, you will be given a passage of text or a section from a judgement; it is up to you to analyze the passage and use information from it to answer follow-up questions. This question type requires you to demonstrate your understanding of the original passage and show that you are capable of forming logical arguments.

The Basics: Sample Questions

Below are three examples of the aforementioned question types taken from one of the CLT sample papers on the University of Cambridge website. These sample questions are great to use when preparing for the CLT!

Essay Question: Do we owe greater moral duties to our family and friends than we owe to all other people in the world? Why, or why not?

Problem Question: The law of intellectual property protects people’s rights in such things as inventions, trademarks and ideas. Do you think the following should be protected as intellectual property and, if so, what do you think might be the consequences of such protection: (a) a perfume; (b) your name; (c) information that a famous model has had cosmetic surgery?

Comprehension Question: In some legal systems, judges are allowed to refuse to enforce laws which they consider to be contrary to fundamental principles such as human rights: (a) Do you think that judges should have such power? and (b) If you were asked to draft rules setting out the circumstances in which judges should be allowed to refuse to enforce laws, what considerations would you wish to take into account?

The Basics: Marking Criteria

When preparing for an exam of any sort, taking note of the marking criteria is essential. The CLT marking criteria are as follows:

- identification of and engagement with the issues raised by the question;
- critical analysis and evaluation of ideas;
- clarity of written expression;
- whether the candidate has explained his or her reasoning in a clear and logical way;
- whether the candidate has produced a coherent, well-structured and balanced argument.

These criteria are relevant to all three question types, so make sure to keep them in mind when preparing for the CLT and when sitting the exam. The CLT is marked out of 10 using the same scale that is used when assessing the performance of applicants in their interviews. This 10-point scale is as follows:

10 - Exception applicant, must take
9 - Very strong, definitely worth an offer
8 - Strong, worth an offer
7 - Probably worth and offer
6 - Possibly worth an offer
5 - Doubtful of an offer
4 - Weak
1-3 - Probably unacceptable

One resource which you may find useful to better understand the marking criteria is this article 🔗 about a Christ’s College fellow explaining what he looks for when grading the CLT.

Preparation

Because the CLT doesn’t test your legal knowledge, it’s not possible to revise for it like you would for other exams -- there isn’t a defined syllabus for what you have to know. Instead, writing practice essays under timed conditions is a good way to develop your writing skills and become more comfortable in writing an essay under time pressure.

Additionally, some students recommend doing some introductory law reading to get a feel for legal reasoning. Some introductory books which might be helpful are “What About Law?: Studying Law at University” by Catherine Barnard, Graham Virgo, and Janet O'Sullivan and “Learning the Law” by Glanville Williams. These books may help you gain some general knowledge on the main branches of law (e.g. criminal law, tort law, family law), which may be of use when answering the essay questions.

Some students also recommend exploring current affairs prior to sitting the CLT by reading essays and articles online. Not only will this broaden your scope of knowledge, but also gives you the chance to reflect on the legal implications of what you’ve read and practice applying legal reasoning to unfamiliar scenarios.

Below are some additional resources which discuss how best to prepare for the CLT:

This video 🔗 by a current Cambridge Law student gives some general advice on how to best prepare for the CLT.
This article 🔗 by UniAdmissions has some general advice for preparing and writing the CLT.

Specimen Papers

The sample CLT papers 🔗 provided by the University of Cambridge on their website are a useful resource when preparing for the CLT. Available resources for the CLT are fairly limited, but since the CLT is relatively similar to Section 2 of the LNAT you can refer to LNAT resources as well. Some LNAT resources include:

This article 🔗 on the official LNAT website on how to prepare for the LNAT.
This article 🔗 on the Lawyer Portal website with tips on how to perform well in the Section 2 essay.
This video 🔗 by a Law student at Oxford about Section 2 of the LNAT.

Time Management

One of the most challenging aspects of the CLT is the one-hour time limit. Admission tutors will be looking for logical and complete essays, so it’s important that you hone your time-management skills as you prepare for the exam. One possible time plan to follow when writing your essay is suggested below. You don’t have to follow this exact time allocation, but ensuring that you have sufficient time to plan your essay and check through your answer at the end is highly recommended.

First 5 minutes: Choose your question
Next 5-10 minutes: Plan out your essay
Next 40 minutes: Write your essay
Last 5 minutes: Write you conclusion
Time remaining: Check through your answer for grammar/spelling errors

Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks from current Cambridge Law students on acing the CLT. Remember, these are just personal opinions, so take them with a pinch of salt!

Try to be clear and concise when writing your essay - always sketch a plan first and adopt an easy to follow structure.

When writing your essays, always begin by outlining the steps you intend to take to answer the question at the beginning, and summarize your main points at the end of each subsection of your response.

Make sure to adopt a neutral tone when writing the essay - it’s fine to state which side of the argument you fall on, but this should be based on a reasoned line of argument.

It is much better to have a shorter essay which is clear than a longer essay which waffles.

Be aware of the time when writing your essay, because you do not have a lot of it. Always take 5-10 min at the beginning to plan your essay instead of starting to write and coming up with your arguments and points as you go. Law is all about logic and structure, and Cambridge wants to see that you are able to write clearly and persuasively. The clearer your points are and the easier it is for the reader to follow a “clear red line” through your essay, the better.

When planning your essay, highlight the key words in the essay question and identify what the question is trying to ask you. This will help you focus on the questions and construct a logical plan.

If you do some introductory legal reading, try to focus on the branches of law you find most interesting, such as tort law or criminal law, and prepare these more in depth. Some detailed legal knowledge may be of use when you write your essays, despite the CLT not directly assessing your legal knowledge.