Aah CLAT, the bane of my existence for the past 2 years! Take it from someone who has given it twice – it’s not easy. But it’s also not as mind-bogglingly difficult as your coaching class and “Sharmaji’s frequently railed-at son” would like you to believe. Smart work, good advice (Courtesy: CLATGyan and my generous mentor, Kevin) and oodles of patience will take you a long way.
Firstly, welcome to this seemingly endless process of tackling the “but beta, why law?” question from basically every relative and neighbour you will meet. No, that nosy aunty will not stop pestering you after you declare that feminist jurisprudence and academia are your two true passions. Also, good luck with shutting down your friends after they brush you off for being a Harvey Specter-wannabe. By that line of reasoning, watching The Americans makes me want to be a KGB deep undercover spy. Not such a bad proposition, to be honest.
By living with CLAT for the last 2 years, I can offer you my two cents from the experience. It’s as easy as you want it to be. My first attempt, for example, was less than satisfactory. Doing well in school gave me this false sense of complacency that competitive exams would also be a piece of cake. Boy, was I wrong and how! I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, not because I tanked but because I had been a smug idiot.
Rule #1: Never underestimate your competition. Everyone wants to get into the same place as you and they’re working day-in and day-out with that objective. The worst thing you can do to yourself is go down without a fight.
Rule #2: Refer to the books your coaching institute gives you. Have a solid base before you delve into giving mocks and assessing your performance. Most importantly, don’t be scared of Math! I can recall having endless conversations with the people in my institute cribbing about how I can never seem to cross 10/20. Instead, utilize that time on actually getting your concepts clear and being able to solve the sums faster.
Rule #3: Work hard. But having said that, work smart. Don’t spend hours after hours poring over your notes and books, and not have time to take mocks. TAKE THEM! And take many of them from various sources. One, so that you know where you stand with respect to others and, two, you know the places where you’re consistently faltering. I cannot emphasize enough on how important they are in getting closer to that law school whose webpage you obsessively visit and daydream about.
Rule #4: Let’s be honest, CLAT is no JEE or NEET and you’re not studying complicated mathematics or science. Do not completely give up on your social life and/or hobbies. I made it a point to participate in at least some debates and book club meetings in my college, and kept learning a foreign language on the weekends. Too much of one thing is bad for your mental health and it’s the surest way to drive yourself insane. ‘CLAT aspirant’ should NOT be your sole identity.
Rule #5: Personally, I have never bought the “I studied only in April” funda that quite a few toppers over the years have routinely brandished. Of course, there are always a few geniuses who get through life without doing any hard work but the rest of us should beware. Realistically assess your situation, intelligence and capacity to handle last minute pressure. Most likely the chances are you cannot crack the exam in just 4 weeks. Save yourself the pain, and distribute your workload over the year. That way you don’t have to cram everything at once, and that last month can be utilized for revising and taking mocks. In the image, Leslie Knope exaggerates when she says it.
Whether it’s because the campus of your dream college is really pretty, or you want to immerse yourself in a stimulating academic environment with like-minded people, or you think the internet speed at the college is great, find that inspiration and channel it in your preparation. Remember your competition, but don’t let it debilitate you. In the words of my mother, take ten deep breaths and carry on.