Hi, I am Mohona and at the very outset I would like to say that I am not a product of a National Law University (NLU). But at the same time, I am one of those twenty-five thousand students who gave the toughest paper in the history of CLAT. I do not think anyone who attempted CLAT in 2011 had dreamt of what a nightmare the paper would turn out to be for us.
I still remember the reactions of my fellow batchmates from Law School Tutorials (LST) once we got out of the exam hall. One said, “What was that? Who gives 4 lengthy comprehension passages to score 40 in English?” Another said, “Why did we have to re-read the law and apply it to two different set of facts to score 1 mark in Legal Reasoning?” NUJS Kolkata’s nasty surprise in the form of a complete change in the pattern of CLAT 2011 managed to put the dreams of many preparing for a year (or two) at risk!
Having decided to pursue law as my career at the nascent age of thirteen and having worked towards it keeping in mind that I wanted to go to a national law school, it was disheartening to come back home sure that I would not make it to the top 3 NLUs. Why? Was one year of rigorous preparation not enough? Where did I fail? What had gone wrong?
I wasn’t able to answer those questions at eighteen. But seven years down the line, through the ups and downs of law school (and then some more), I believe I have found the answers. Here’s a list of what you should do to avoid any hiccups while attempting CLAT:
- Anything Can Happen – Prepare For Exigencies!
One life lesson I have definitely learnt from the 2011 CLAT episode – prepare for the worst. One must not just say it, but truly implement it. Preparation shouldn’t be restricted to the question paper alone, it must cover ALL external factors that can cause any disturbance while attempting the paper.
Imagine, you are sitting in the exam hall with no AC in the middle of May when the sun is scorching hot. Would you be able to concentrate on the venn diagrams if you’re sweating throughout the two hours and the pen is slipping through your fingers?
Would you be able to stay awake between 3pm to 5pm? In summers this is the time when one is bound to feel drowsy after a full-meal. Naturally, you’ve to condition your brain to work at the optimum during these two hours. How would you do that? Consciously solve test papers between 3pm to 5pm at least two weeks before CLAT.
What if your question paper was jumbled or missing certain pages? Would that freak you out? You would obviously be missing out on time as compared to others. You’ve to be mentally prepared for anything can go wrong – absolutely anything.
Preparing for the worst but staying focused, calming yourself simultaneously is the first key to cracking CLAT. While researching for the current CLAT trends – I gave CLAT 7 years ago – I came across these articles which may help you prepare for CLAT: Learn to Manage Your Nerves, Be In The Right State of Mind and How To Prepare To Be Effective During CLAT Exam. You have to take into account what may seem frivolous at the moment but trust me, these would play a role in deciding how you rank in the exam!
My Legal Aptitude teacher, an alumnus of National Law School, Bangalore, gave us a reality check on the very first day. He asked, “Do you know how many students you are competing with to make it to NLS Bangalore?” Most of us were stunned. We had not bothered to find out. We were following the age old notion of: Work hard, success shall follow. Trust me, it doesn’t work with hard work alone. Not here, not in life. You have to strategize – CLAT, your internships, your career – these are driven by strategy, combined with hard work.
Come to think of it, it’s necessary to find out how many people you are competing with. The number only increases every year. In 2011, only twenty five thousand students were appearing for CLAT. In 2017 that number doubled with fifty-one thousand students taking the exam. Let’s do the math. Anyone aiming to make it to NLS Bangalore which has 55 General seats is competing with 926 students per seat! Does this scare you? Or does this piece of information push you to build an effective strategy to compete with the 926 students? You can find out more about the distribution of seats in every national law school here.
Let’s say you score the very same marks as another in CLAT. What determines who gets a higher rank? Did you know that the marks scored in the Legal Aptitude section determines your rank? Does this change the way you attempt the paper?
I had a year to prepare for CLAT hence I had chosen LST, the best in CLAT coaching back then. However, over the years, online courses for CLAT preparation have made a niche for themselves. You can now sit at home or learn on the go. While researching online, I found this course by LawSikho, an initiative of iPleaders – India’s biggest online legal education platform, the best in the business. It covers Legal Aptitude and Legal GK – the most crucial aspect of CLAT. At this point, when CLAT is hardly two months away, the course comes as a saviour.
- Set Yourself Apart From The Others – Take Online Courses
Possibly every other person attempting CLAT goes to either Career Launcher or IMS for coaching. They were the first in the business and hence a majority of students giving CLAT enrol with them. But then, I have a question: If everyone attempting CLAT is a product of one of these two institutes (or the likes), how does one perform better than the others? They are all taught the very same strategies and tricks. They give the same mock papers.
Does this mean the only way one can perform better than the other is if he has learnt how to implement what’s taught better? Yes, probably. What if I told you there are other ways to perform better? What if in addition to the training provided by these institutes you took up an online CLAT prep course? An online course with a mentor and faculty to personally guide you? A 15 minute strategy call with your mentor? What if someone taught you how to do speed-reading?
Will online courses help you prepare better although CLAT is just two months away? Yes. There are online communities like CLATHacker, started by the alumni of NUJS Kolkata, that help you with your doubts free of cost!
- Follow A Schedule, Analyse and Practice: On The Go
Analysing the past years question papers is a must. If you haven’t done that yet, here is a course that can help you with it. It has year wise analysis of the Legal Aptitude section of the past years question papers.
If you are aiming to crack CLAT you need to prepare and diligently follow a schedule. The best way of doing this is by practicing past years question papers and taking mock test series. When you set a schedule of two hours per day and give practice papers, not only will you pick up the speed but also be able to analyse your own weak spots. It’s always an efficient practice to go forward and fix where you are going wrong when you are attempting the next practice paper!
Now, what if you could practice solving these question papers while travelling in the metro? What if you don’t have to carry question papers with you wherever you go? What if I say there is a course that gives you access on your Android and iOS phones and makes learning that easy? Would you like to learn through prep-videos?
There are a number of online courses available, however most of them teach you through study material and mock tests. These are provided by the leading CLAT training institutes as well. If I were you, I’d rather choose learning through videos and experiences of other people who’ve already taken CLAT. Does a course like that exist where I can learn through such insights? Yes! To know more about it, you can visit this website.
- Time Management – Don’t Just Stick To Hard Work. Do Smart Work.
When you are running low on time, hard work alone won’t get you anywhere; smart work will. For instance, if I had known speed reading, I would have probably finished the four comprehension passages that NUJS surprised us with without cribbing or blindly filling in the options.
It’s simple. Let me give you an example. There are 10 past year question papers. Analysing these question papers will take you about 4 hours maximum. This means you need to dedicate 40 hours (less than 2 days) on analysing the question papers. Now, if you have to solve these 10 question papers in 2 hours, it would amount to 20 hours.
If you divide your time wisely, not only can you prepare a schedule, stick to it, but also optimise your use of time. There are a number of articles available on the internet for you to read and implement. Here are two of those articles I thought would be useful for you:
- Anubhav Pandey, a student of Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala (RGNUL), has written a step by step procedure on how to crack CLAT in his article titled: How To Crack CLAT in 30 Days. His article very specifically gives tips on how to strategize your preparation if you’re short on time. One of the main ingredients to preparing effectively for CLAT in a shorter time span is to do smart work! You can read his article to know more!
- Are you a procrastinator? Would you rather do a crash course than prepare for six months or a year? Does that make you stand any chance against those preparing for over a year? A graduate of DSNLU, Visakhapatnam (and a procrastinator himself), Aditya Srivastava, has elaborately explained how to prepare for CLAT if you’re a procrastinator here.
The reason I’ve written this 2000 word article you’re reading on CLAT prep is not because I work with iPleaders and it’s my job to market their courses, but because I didn’t have any lawyer in my family or a mentor or any online course to guide me to be able to truly prepare myself for CLAT. Had it been otherwise, the introduction paragraph would have possibly been different. I was a victim of directionless hard work combined with the pattern change by NUJS (can’t deny that)!
Reading the study material, giving mock tests, analysing question papers is something that everyone does, but what sets you apart is that extra effort you put in.
Wishing you all the luck!