Since the year 2009, the whole concept of CLAT has become, at the cost of sounding melodramatic, a part of me. The anxiety of what might come in the paper, accompanied by the dread of not making it to the top law schools, is something almost each one of us has experienced at least once. Tagging along the way is everyone’s personal baggage that somehow raises its ugly head to torment you right when you want to get on with your preparation.
I had troubled innumerable people during my CLAT preparation, seeking to find the right sort of help from wherever I looked. And thankfully, I received the best advice. The questions I’ve asked or heard my fellow CLAT-takers pose in coaching classes or received in the mails that are sent to CLATGyan on a daily basis have transformed over the years. However, there are a few evergreen doubts, that are bound to make you palpitate at the thought of messing everything up if they remain unanswered.
Disclaimer: There would be a lot of people who don’t go by the book and still are successful. I don’t mean to sound offhandish but there are always exceptions to the rule. You could also listen to the advice they have to offer but remember, maybe, Lady Luck might not choose to smile on you.
#1 – How can I balance my board preparation with preparation for CLAT?
This one has got to be my favourite. Why, you ask? Because it was the biggest folly of my life. No kidding. I ended up keeping CLAT preparation for the fag end and it was only after my board examinations in March, when I sincerely prepared for CLAT. Don’t do this. Even December is a good enough time to begin your preparation. It is not like I’m asking you to completely devote your time to CLAT. Take out a decent two hours from the 24 hours that you’re granted daily and spend it on any section that comes in CLAT. If you think you won’t be able to take out two hours at a stretch from your day, try splitting it. And take this for granted: you will not be able to prepare as diligently for CLAT as you can now once the preparation for Boards hit you in February/March. And before that happens, you should be done with a reasonable amount of preparation.
#2 – Don’t the droppers have a greater advantage than a first-time attempter?
No, you have an equal chance. The tendency I’ve noticed in most people who take a year off is that they cannot keep thinking about CLAT all day long. There’s a saturation point each one of us reaches at a stage and a dropper is more prone to reach that than a person who has boards or a college to attend to. And, apart from that, what your competitor does must be the least of your concern. If you bother way too much on this point, you’re going to lead
#3 – Mathematics is so difficult! I’m thinking of not attempting the section. It won’t affect my overall score, right?
What?! It, of course, will! You are losing 20 solid marks just because you found Maths difficult. Like, instead of putting in these 8 months in conquering your fear for Maths, you would rather want to tell your grandkids that you couldn’t make it to a law school because you let Maths take hold of you. Remember this: You take hold of Maths, not the other way round. So, get a good book on Math (RS Agarwal’s Quantitative Ability, perhaps), and solve it until you master it. And just to assure you, Math is easier than you think. Answers will start rolling your way once you remove all fear from your mind.
#4 – What time should I allot for each section in the paper?
Well, more than being bothered about the time you allot to each section, you should worry about the order in which you attempt questions. It’s advisable to start off with General Knowledge because you’re done with 1/4th of the paper in something like 10 minutes? The rest depends on your convenience and comfort. But it would be better if you would alternate between something easy and something that requires your reasoning skills. For example, solve a reading comprehension passage and then, move on to solving number series and the like.
When I asked this question to my batchmates (here at NALSAR), they all had a different answer. This goes on to show that there is no one ideal way. Rather, you will have to try various ways in the mock tests you take and decide for yourselves which one is working better.
#5 – How do I keep a track of the time in the examination?
Please don’t invest in a watch with a timer and keep checking it every two minutes. Time will fly out of the window and so will the chance of you making it to a law school. Focus on solving the paper and check the time only when you are done with a section. If you check frequently, all that you’re going to do is waste more time and start panicking.
#6 – Do I join a crash course?
Now, this one’s a toughie but we get this a lot. A crash course is your last resort. At this stage, I don’t see a reason why you can’t start your preparation right away instead of waiting till your boards have ended, go through that period where all you want to do is partaaaaayyyy because you don’t know when you’ll see your friends again, (boohoo!) and suddenly realise, you’ve had nada preparation for what’s supposed to be the IIT-JEE of law aspirants. And then, you rush to the nearest coaching centre where you find hordes of other kids cramped in a classroom and find the atmosphere “too competitive”.
Crash courses have, by themselves, not helped any person crack CLAT. What they do is give you a decent revision of the syllabus, and I’m sure you know that there’s no point revising something that you haven’t even done once. Join one if you want, but relying on it too much isn’t a good idea.
#7 – Do I sacrifice my social life and become a recluse?
Um, yes and no. I had to become a recluse myself because I cannot work with distractions around me. So, if you’re someone like me, then please, say goodbye to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Maybe, you can keep WhatsApp. As far as your personal social interactions are concerned, try to limit yourself and don’t be a party animal. This is totally non-applicable to those who can handle a daily dose of gossip and not get too involved in deliberating negotiations between warring friends. Your friends aren’t going anywhere but surely, a drop year is coming your way if you don’t make it. But like, if your friends *really* need you, then be there and don’t be like “sorry boss, apna apna dekho!”
#8 – I find it hard to concentrate on what I’m studying. What can I do?
Pause. Stop panicking. Most of your “unable to concentrate”qualms arise from the constant anxiety that you engage with in your preparation period. Your worries vary from “how will I get done with this fat book by R.S. Aggarwal?” to “what if the paper is too difficult and I black out?” Trust me, these should be your periphery problems. Think about the right things like “oh, I really need to get done with critical reasoning bit” or “how do I further improve my scores?” Because only these kind of doubts will push you to work unlike the previous monsters that will only drag you down.
If the distractions are happening due to Facebook, WhatsApp, etc., switch your mobile off. At least, switch the internet off. The best way to avoid distractions is to find its source and kill it. If your boyfriend’s distracting you, just to be sure, we are not suggesting that you kill him.
#9 – Friends at my coaching centre seem to know so much. I feel very under-confident when I see how well they’ve been preparing.
Yes, if you’re attending classes at a coaching centre, you’re bound to come across some extremely enthusiastic souls who keep answering everything and everyone assumes that they’ve already made it to a law school. You don’t have to answer in class. You can just stay quiet, do your own thing and be the smooth criminal at the end of the day, moon-walking through the exam. If there’s one thing to take from your fellow competitors, take their enthusiasm level and convert it into something more productive.
CLAT is all about time and pressure (Yeah, Shawshank Redemption!). Those who are enthusiastic are not very consistent. Let us assure you that only those who dedicate enough time everyday and have perseverance crack the CLAT. Focus on that.
#10 – What is the shortest route possible to crack CLAT? What’s the trick that can land me in a good NLU?
Preparing for CLAT using short-cut methods is going to land you nowhere. No amount of mannats are going to help you if you’re not willing to go the extra mile. You will have to plunge yourself into understanding everything from the scratch if you want to face any type of question that is flung your way (like, in circa 2015).
When I look at all my batchmates here at NALSAR, I don’t see anyone who made here without hard work. That’s the only key there is. If anyone’s telling you otherwise, they are fooling you.
I intend to come up with another compilation of such questions soon enough. If you’d like to ask any question, that you think a lot of others might want to ask too, leave it in the comments below!
NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.