Mohini Parghi clinched AIR 87 in CLAT 2017 and shares her insights on the preparation. To read more such articles, click here.
It was in February 2017, at the time when my CLAT preparation was at its most rigorous, stressful and confusing stage that I was asked The Question.
I was anxious about the upcoming board exams, having focused solely on CLAT for the past couple of months. I was lost as to how I should continue with my CLAT prep— revise individual concepts, or just attempt mock tests? Complete exercises from this book or from that other, better-looking one? Should I ditch books altogether and just do online exercises? Should I bunk the coaching class and study at home? What if I miss something important? And thus, I found myself sinking further and further into this quagmire of self-doubt. I had read too many articles, taken in too much advice, believed in too many tips and ‘fundas’. Added to that was the self-inflicted pressure to score above 90% in boards. Then one day, when I was having one of my regular meltdowns, my mom asked me, “Do you even know why you are studying?”
And she was right. I was losing sight of my goal: to get into one of the best law schools in the country. There’s a difference between studying to score well and get a good rank, and studying to get somewhere you’ve been dreaming about for months. This is a distinction I believe every CLAT aspirant needs to understand from the outset.
Why are you solving similar questions again and again? Why are you reading news you don’t even care about? Why are you solving so many mocks? And why must you continue to push yourself? These are some of the questions which, once answered, will give you a fair idea of how committed you are to doing well in the exam. Trust me, you will need the dedication.
Let’s rewind my story and start from the beginning:
I started preparing for CLAT almost a year ago. I enrolled in a coaching institute and followed every word they said. I was quite happy with myself. The other students appeared to be clueless; I thought I was much smarter (egotist? narcissist?) and CLAT would be a cakewalk. Boy, was I wrong.
In October, I decided to try CLATGyan’s free mock test. It took me 3 hours to solve. My score? 107.
That was a nasty wake-up call. I realised that I had reached nowhere even after 3 months of being a regular student. And thus began my real preparation. Over the next few months, I solved all the material provided by my coaching class. I dedicated one week for each section, starting with Maths, and on to Logical Reasoning, Legal Reasoning and English— 2 hours every day. 1 hour was set aside for GK daily, when I would go through current affairs and a bit of static GK. In December, I bought more books—RS Aggarwal, Pearson, Universal— and revised all the topics for the second time. I also studied diligently for boards; I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on it as the CLAT draws closer.
Once I had covered the basics, I didn’t have the patience to go topic-by-topic again; I would get bored easily. I needed to do something more. And this is where mock tests came in. In January, I enrolled in the CLATGyan Test Series along with that of Career Launcher and Legal Edge. This was the most important part of my preparation. If you’re going through the ‘Inspiration’ section of CG like I used to, you must’ve already read past years’ toppers going on and on about mocks. They’ve probably all said the same things, and you’re probably rolling you’re eyes thinking “Fine, I get it, DO MOCK TESTS. Can we move on?!?!”
But I will say it too: if by the last couple of months you haven’t started to go crazy giving mocks and analysing your weaknesses, you can forget about getting into a top law school. And by weaknesses, I don’t just mean things like percentage, reading comprehension, puzzles, etc. Clarity of concepts will only get you so far. I’m referring to things like the tendency to attempt too many questions, losing track of time, getting emotionally attached to a question, not adhering to a clear strategy. Because on the D-day, people don’t miss out on the top 3 law schools because they couldn’t solve a Time & Work question; they do so because they take a few too many risks, waste time on the wrong questions, take too long to make decisions. The error-ridden CLAT 2017 was the perfect example of this.
So basically what I want to tell you is: practice. Practice. Practice until you feel so sick of it you could scream. Then watch a movie, go out, play your guitar, sing, dance—whatever. And practice some more. But don’t, at any point, overthink—mock score not improving! what is this? what am I doing? will I ever amount to anything? why is my time table not perfect? why don’t I have a perfectly structured plan whaggwiqfqvifkkkkkkv! Just don’t. I did that. Not cool. You’ll get mentally exhausted, when you could’ve been solving a mock or even just chilling. The best thing about exams like this is that there is no particular syllabus you have to go through— all you really need is to practice as many questions as you can of as many types as you can. You can never predict what the actual paper has in store for you—nobody can. Which is, if you think about it, quite relieving because it makes your job simpler.
So keep a cool head, and just focus. Whenever things get overwhelming, remember to ask yourself WHY you’re doing this. You will eventually start enjoying the process and seek greater challenges, like I did. And don’t get confused by all the articles on ‘How To Prepare for CLAT’—only you can know what works for you.
I’ve tried to say a lot of things through this article. I’m not sure how much of it I’ve gotten across. After all, it’s only been 10 days since my phone screen said “All India Rank: 87” and I realised I had actually made it: I was going to NALSAR. Whatever little wisdom I‘ve gained about myself and about test strategies is very, very fresh. I cannot tell you “work hard and you’ll get there”— I don’t think it’s that simple. You need a healthy combination of hard work (duh), smart work, commitment, consistency…but you know that already.
No, I want to end by telling you about a folder on my laptop named ‘CLAT’. Initially, it contained a few current affairs compendiums and past years’ papers. Around March, it had grown to accommodate several compendiums, GK and CA MCQs, a list of legal maxims, questions on legal awareness and compilations of important questions from all sections. In April, it also included admit cards; in May I added score cards to it. And now in June, I will save this article in the folder named ‘CLAT’.
It feels good.
To get to the top, you have to AIM HIGH
All the best!!
AIR 87 — CLAT 2017