Ayush Verma is a first year student of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.
14th May, 2017: As I walked out of the hall, the all-pervasive thought in my mind was that a year’s worth of patience, hopes and efforts had resulted in a two hour long ordeal of a test in which I could not fare well.
Cut to the day the results came out, it was quite a bit of a shocker to learn that I had made it to NALSAR.
My main takeaway from the experience: As much as it tests your knowledge in different sections, what CLAT will test is your mental resilience in times of enormous stress.
How do you build that? The simple trick is to be exposed to all the surprises that the test makers have in their bag. The fact that a lot of us tend to fail in discovering is that the size of the said bag is miniscule.
Now, how do you go about unpacking these contents of the bag and mastering them, you ask? One way could be lining up a ton of books and modules to finish and revise them all if time permits. However, not only does that require effort that translates into countless number of hours (which made it an impossible exercise for yours truly, who was quite the slacker for the most part of the gap year) but it is also an inefficient approach. Why? It’s because, even though you’ll expose yourself to a lot of different kind of questions the paper can throw your way, you’ll essentially suck at time management, which is what the paper boils down to for most of the test takers, at the end of the day. The reason why that happens is because you wouldn’t have the practice of working under the constraint of time, which, unfortunately is limited in the context of these exams.
At the risk of generalizing, I think most of the people you’d come across, who claim to put in 10-12 hours of effort every day, making you feel bogged down by your supposed incompetence, practice the above mentioned approach.
Having said that, let me introduce you to another approach which is much more efficient and requires comparatively minimal effort (always an incentive) – take as many mocks as you can. Now, before you fret and complain that you’ve heard this advice a gazillion times, let me break down the takeaways from the drill and offer my take on how you should do it. At the outset, let me reassure you that you’re never too late and never too underprepared to start (unless, of course, you decide to play sleeping beauty, waiting to be awakened by a magical kiss – in your case, a ticket to law school) but it’s always better to start now because the duration of your prep is inversely proportional to the amount of effort required per day: you do the math!
Coming to what you’ll be gaining from attempting a lot of mocks is that firstly, a constant reminder of what needs work in the form of a diagnostic report which is essentially the sectional scores. I wish to focus on the word “sectional” and not the score in totality because what most of us end up doing is failing to look at our strengths and weaknesses in the light of being rattled or being complacent depending upon the overall score. Follow every mock with a proper analysis. Let the sectional scores give you an idea of which areas you’re strong or weak in and accordingly divide your time in preparing for those. If you figure you’re really weak in a section or a topic, try at the very least to pull it up to an average figure. However, don’t cut on the time you’ll spend on working on your strong areas where you can pull up your speed because a good balance between speed and accuracy is what is required in any aptitude paper.
Secondly, attempting these mocks will help you formulate a strategy which serves you the best – the one which you’ll apply on the D-day. I’d say use this month just experimenting with different strategies – your order of attempting the sections, time allocation for the same and the amount of time you can save as a buffer for the end. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn how a lot of test takers don’t have a solid strategy to begin with and what follows is a royal screw up.
Thirdly, in toto, the exercise will help build mental resistance to the pressure you’ll inevitably be subjected to in the actual test. It is because by the time you’d get to it, you’d have been exposed to a lot of questions covering various topics and would have been in the practice of finishing it under time constraints which, believe it or not, immediately gives you an edge over a lot of other test takers.
And that’s pretty much there is to it, really. If you think this gave you some pep, don’t wait for the opportune moment or some prophecy before you start work and just get on to taking a mock right away instead!
Class of 2022
NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.
Please leave a comment below in case you have further queries; Ayush will reply to them. In case you are desperately in need of a Personalised Action Plan, please read this.
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