Dealing With The Math-Phobia: Pallavi Panigrahi (Rank 2 – CLAT 2012)


Do numbers scare you? Do you have nightmares about freakishly difficult sums? The kind where you have numbers chasing after you while you stand rooted to your spot in terror waiting for them to gobble you up? Is that the case? Do you take a look at the math section of the current mock test you are doing and draw a complete blank? If it so happens that you belong to the class of people who are phobic about math, the miserly 20 marks that CLAT accords to Mathematics might seem to be insurmountable.

So what do you do in such situations? Leave out the entire section? Mark answers randomly? (If you do follow this particular strategy or whatever you call it, please reconsider. This might have worked in the previous years, but with the introduction of negative marking, it’s probably the worst way to approach it!). Or do you sit down in the company of a number of math books everyday trying to figure out the best way of solving that one elusive question you can’t solve no matter how hard you try? What should you do when your phobia about math threatens to undermine your entire preparation?

Pause. Get rid of the big fat books for a minute and think. Look at the past years CLAT papers. Are the math questions given there actually that difficult? Do they actually constitute the stuff that nightmares are made of? No. The kind of math that is needed for CLAT is not rocket science. They do not test your knowledge of difficult formulae or elaborate steps. What they do test is your skill at solving simple sums in the shortest possible time period. Believe it or not, the kind of math that CLAT tests is basic school level math (Yes. Some of it was covered in 7th standard. I checked. *grin*).

Here you might ask me about the numerous questions you couldn’t solve in the last mock you appeared for in your coaching centre. The questions given there were certainly not 7th standard questions, you counter. Well, the time tested method for any preparation is to practice the most difficult questions possible so that the actual questions in the exam seem easy and this is what the coaching institutes try to simulate. However, by now you know that the actual questions are not going to be that difficult. So, relax.

Now, after you have gathered your wits and stemmed the rising panic, the next step is to form a plan of action. So some of you list out the various books that you are going to solve before the D-day. Best course of action, is it? No. Clutter your table and all you will do is confuse yourself. Instead, figure out the broad heads from which you can possibly get questions. For instance, Simple and Compound Interest, Percentage, Profit Loss and Discount, Speed Distance and Time and the like. This is the important part. Once you are done with this, all you need to do is to practice a few sums from these sections every day while timing yourself. The more you practice, the lesser time it will take. Yes, it is as easy as it sounds. As a previous article brilliantly put it, you gotta love the numbers. The more comfortable you are with numbers, the lesser time you will take to solve the questions. For those who share my special distaste for numbers (:P ), try incorporating math in your everyday life. Check the bill amount every time you shop or eat out. It will give you your much needed addition practice. Or try the Car Number Game. (See this) Basically, anything to complete your daily quota of number crunching.

And here, I will insert a word of caution. Do not spend inordinate amount of time practicing math because it fuels your phobia. Do it if you feel it is necessary. While regular practice is absolutely imperative, panicking about it and doing 50 sums a day isn’t. So study hard. But more importantly, study smart!

Pallavi Panigrahi,
Batch of 2017 – NLSIU.


  1. First of all thank you so much for writing such insightful articles. Can you suggest me a good source for doing quick maths? The problem I face is that I am not able to complete the paper just because of this particular section. I plan to complete it in 2-3 minutes. Considering that CLAT is near, your fast response is solicited.

  2. Thank youuuuuuuu…………………….i mean its really gr8.and i actually feel sooooooooooo light after reading your article……:)…………i am not referring to any other maths book rather than lst….will it be enough?……..and please do tell some brush up tips that one needs to do before the exams………………please reply fast………..n thanx once again…………

  3. It’s going to be ending of mine day, but before finish I am reading this wonderful paragraph to improve my knowledge.

  4. hi!
    i have been working very hard for CLAT since last 6 months, since it is my ultimate dream to get into adorable NLSIU . but still i do not find much improvement. i often get humiliated with my performance. In coaching class i get more than 90% answers accurate on legal aptitude but i attempted the two free mocks provided on the site , my marks have been horrible in the section. Also I face much problem in G.K. and VOCABULARY section. so what can be done to improve these sections of mine? – Ankit sharma( Clat 2014 aspirant)

    • Hi Ankit!
      Since you are a CLAT 2014 aspirant, you have a long way to go. There is still a year left and accuracy comes from practice. G.K. does need intensive preparation and you can start off by reading newspapers and stuff like pratiyogita darpan and CSR. Vocabulary is something that can be cultivated by general reading and word power guides.

      You have a lot of time. Work, but chill!

  5. hi….i am in class 10th presently and am soon going to pass it… 11th the right time to join coaching for CLAT….i am really confused….if yes, please suggest me some coacing classes.

  6. I have seen ur picture in the lst brochure…i wish i can someday achieve something like you. thanks for the information it will surely help “poor in maths” student which is me. Well please answer is CL LST a good coaching for CLAT and your experience in it . Regards. 🙂

  7. Hi !
    I am preparing for but i have difficulty with math$Reasoning
    And should i do for concentration of mind.
    So please …………. guide me

  8. hey,

    I found this website very helpful.
    I don’t attend LST. So how can I get those modules?
    Everybody here has been talking about it…. so this makes me a bit nervous.

  9. Heyy, first off all hats off to you! I mean, managing a second rank is quite a task. 🙂 And now, to the real problem.. My math capability would come to around a 0! I am bad at it. I love the other sections of the CLATs, but those 20 math marks give me nightmares. (Too cliched?) So please give me a few (extra) tips to get over this. And also a few books which can help. And oh, I am preparing for the 2015 CLATs! (Too early?) Anyway.. Buh bye 🙂 🙂 🙂

  10. hello,so i’m a science student and i’m giving clat this year well maths is not a problem but i’m finding it with gk moreover i do not go for classes .so can u help me?

  11. Hi Pallavi
    Where can I get the LST modules online (Amazon…). No time to attend classes as my son is preparing for UPSC,NDA. Just material. CL material is 7K.Found some Wiley publication and Deepu Krishna (CLAT kit).More so for legal. Thanks.

  12. Hii
    Which all chapters should we focus on for maths for clat purpose
    Sometimes I feelove very tensed when I am not able to solve them

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