Ankush Unni is a first year student of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.
My overall journey with CLAT was not all glory. I prepared for CLAT 2017 with the aim of getting into the top 5 National Law Schools. However, luck did not favour me. My first attempt at CLAT resulted in a rank of 804 and I did not get any of the Universities I wanted. I got into a lower NLU and my parents encouraged me to join. After joining, I realized that I did not want to give up on my dream of studying in a top NLU, so I made the decision to take my second attempt of CLAT in 2018.
I started pondering about the reasons behind my first attempt’s result. I realized that it was because I focused too much on my boards that I ended up pushing my CLAT preparation to the last month (please do not do this in your first attempt). Since I had a whole year to myself after joining law school, I had a lot of time to prepare. But, having time itself was not enough. I had to manage it well.
Towards the end of my preparation, I was slowly getting demotivated. As soon as you feel that way, I urge you to take a visit your dream NLU (if possible) and interact with the students there. I went to NLSIU, Bengaluru last year and saw the student culture there and I got even more motivated. This trip gave me the final push that I needed before my second attempt.
If you’re somebody who is writing CLAT after joining another college and wondering how I prepared for CLAT while I was in college, this article might help you. However, I would like to state that this was my method of approaching CLAT and it might not be the best approach for you, since there is no “one-best-way” of approaching the exam.
GK: Most of my GK prep took place during my class hours in college. I used to sit in the back and open GKToday on my phone and note down whatever headlines I saw. I read the article when I did not understand the headline, but most of the time I used to note the headline as such. This used to happen daily over the course of a couple of hours. After that I used to read whatever I had written before that. I used to read my GK notes throughout the year and eventually, it got ingrained in my mind.
I also used multiple sources while preparing for GK. I used to read CLATGyan’s Daily Briefs and CL’s Manthan to get as much information as I could.
Legal Reasoning and Aptitude: Most of my Legal preparation happened during my first semester (July-December). I studied what I needed to for the reasoning section. My Legal GK section was mostly covered in my second semester. For legal, I used Sriram Law Academy’s Student Handbook on Legal Aptitude (Volumes I and II).
Math: My preparation for Math was mostly practicing questions from R.S. Aggarwal’s Quantitative Aptitude and from mocks.
English: For vocabulary, I read Norman Lewis’ Word Power Made Easy and understood his method of breaking down the word into its roots and finding the meaning behind the word. I adopted this method throughout my CLAT prep, including mocks. I also made sure that I practiced paragraph arrangement questions, because those were the kind that always cost me marks.
Logical Reasoning: There is no shortcut to this. In order to excel in this section, practice is the key. I spent my first semester learning the methods to solve problems and spent all of my second semester practising and making sure that I’m able to finish this section in a short period of time. For practice, I mostly relied on mocks and R.S. Aggarwal’s book on Critical Reasoning.
Mocks: Mocks are essentially the most important part of your preparation. They simulate the actual exam and make you realize the amount of time you spend in each section. For me, the ideal breakdown was:
General Knowledge – 8 minutes
Legal Reasoning – 35 minutes
Logical Reasoning – 30 minutes
English – 25 minutes
Math – 25 minutes
Again, this breakdown was made to cater to my needs based on my strengths and weaknesses per section. I suggest you to make your own breakdown after analyzing mocks.
While analyzing my mocks, I used to note down the GK and Legal GK questions which I got incorrect or those that I guessed correctly. I used to revise those questions so that I could answer them when they came for the actual CLAT.
It is worth noting that there will always be one chunk of questions (around 4-5 questions) that would be designed to trap you (just ask those that took CLAT 2018). These questions would be unusually hard and would take a lot of time to solve! It is important for you to identify such questions during your attempt and skip it so that you spend the time elsewhere.
Another point I’d like to state is that the difference between my first and second attempts is that I was too afraid in my first attempt. Unless I was absolutely certain about an answer, I wouldn’t answer the question. Thus, I attempted only about 140 questions and my scores were low. However, in my mocks I tried to attempt more. I remembered that you need 4 wrong answers in order to neutralize 1 right one. I tried to make educated guesses in order to try and score more marks.
IMPORTANT: This does not mean that you resort to blind guessing in order to attempt more questions (remember, CLAT has negative marking). If you have a hunch that the answer you’re about to guess is the right one (maybe because you’ve seen it somewhere in some material), go for it. But PLEASE DO NOT MAKE BLIND GUESSES.
In conclusion, I would like to say that if you ever feel demotivated or lazy, think about where you are (it can be in a university, in school, or even at home during a drop year). Think about where you want to be (your dream NLU) and think about what you have to do to get there. If you keep having this thought, I guarantee you will stay motivated throughout your preparation. All the best.
Please leave a comment below in case you have further queries; Ankush will reply to them. In case you are desperately in need of a Personalised Action Plan, please read this.
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