This article has been submitted by Suprotik Das for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
2:00 PM, everyone donning their most intellectual looks, discussing obscure questions, talking about how they’ve religiously read every copy of Pratiyogita Darpan throughout the year. This was the build up to one of the hardest and most awaited exams, the Common Law Admission Test 2012. We walk in nervously, anxious, with a question mark cast over our faces, a labyrinth of questions whirling in our heads; “what will happen in the next two and a half hours? Will I make it to NLSIU, or NALSAR or WBNUJS? Is the paper going to be tough? What if…That guy in the huge glasses is smarter than me? That pretty girl there is stupid. Ha! I can beat one person.” Amidst all this turbulence were some people, who appeared cool as a cucumber. Today, let me tell you the story of one, Bala Gopal.
Now Bala, in fact, had not killed himself preparing for CLAT, unlike the majority of people who were preparing. Bala had regularly been checking CLATGyan and other online CLAT portals and groups on Facebook for a little deeper insight into this one exam, the nefarious CLAT. Bala was bewildered, how people all over India score so well in the mock tests and how did they answered online variants with such ease. It made him shudder. He had the aforesaid residual doubts in his mind as should anyone preparing for CLAT. But Bala soon devised a strategy. He told himself that he would take the mock tests at his centre for fun as he enjoyed the experience and was keen to be exposed to a larger variety on questions. Bala used to write a mock, come home and analyse where he used to go wrong. He found it, it was an amalgamation of GK and logical reasoning.
The next phase of Bala’s action plan commenced, he worked on his GK and logic in tandem. He was a voracious reader and he started reading faster and faster to build up the practise to read and comprehend, all in a short span of time. He worked on his GK by using online GK updates and only yearbooks. Bala maintained a notebook where, whatever interesting or pertinent thing he had heard, he would meticulously write down. He would then review his notes daily, though sometimes he would even forget to do so! He had written it down, so some amount was etched in his memory. Bala didn’t do over-the-top preparation for GK, he just predicted what was important and wrote down those only. He had heard about how people all over india were preparing, as how his classmates from his coaching centre were. Bala shunned all this, he just maintained a calm mind and did what he did best. Amass GK from various sources and jot it down.
Next was his logic which needed strengthening. He was an avid reader of Sherlock Holmes and it suddenly occurred to him that he could use Holmes’ deduction method! It was, after all based on logical reasoning and drawing large conclusions of out small clues. Bala had a new found enthusiasm and light in him, he was going to apply what his idol did, he was going to think like Sherlock Holmes. Bala look out a reasoning passage, the question stem was “Which of the following is an assumption required for the above conclusion to be true?” Bala, read the passage and looked for small details about the conclusion and some clues. The passage was twisted, it was about how protein supplements render people bulky and muscled only for a transient period. The conclusion was simple – “So to become bulky, one must take protein supplements”. Bala closed his eyes, put himself in the position of the great consulting detective and thought – “So this guy wants to become bulky by taking supplements, why does he want to? A possibility is that he wants to impress a girl, yes but why… And it struck him! He wanted to pack muscle fast!” YES. Option C is a valid answer, and without any doubt, it was right. Bala applied this logic to conclusion questions as well. He understood what the passage was about, looked for small clues and loopholes from which he could draw inferences and then thought “What would Sherlock Holmes do?” And there you have it. This was something which required a lot of practise and presence of mind, much like Mr Holmes. It was all based on the same methodology (or pedagogy, whatever you like) understand the facts, look for clues and arrive at an answer.
What about Assertion-Reasons? This was where he lost the most. There MUST be a way, thought Bala. And he found it. Bala realised that the two statements first needed to be established as either true or false first, and then he needed to see how one could reach the assertion from the reason or vice-versa. Success. Conceivably, Bala realised CLAT was a paper, which tested how much one can comprehend in a span of two hours. He capitalised on this idea and devised strategies of time management.
Still with me ? If yes, good, lets get back to what happened on Sunday, the dreaded 13th of May, in other words, D-Day, CLAT.
Bala reached his testing location, put on his headphones and calmed as well as emptied his mind by listening to some good music. According to him, cramming had no use and he didn’t want to speak to anybody; what mattered was that he was happy with his prep. And he was. So Bala entered the hall, with zero expectations from the paper and everything else, closed his eyes and started with a bang. “Hmm logical reasoning seems to be good, he thought while attempting the section. He practised so much at home subconsciously, that he was able to finish each question in 30 seconds. Next, he went on to GK. “Aaah. Man is a social animal was said by Aristotle”, he had read this in an editorial in the Hindu, Rosseau built the foundations of the French Revolution. Bala had an immaculate skill of linking everything he had read or written in his past, again subconsciously. “Basic current affairs, head of the IMF, G-8 and UNCC conferences, aah it was nice.” He moved onto legal reasoning next. “Hmm principle-fact questions… But oh! What’s this? Assertion-reason!” Bala smiled to himself, he was ‘assured’ that the art of ‘reason’ was with him. He thought throughout and marked answers to the best of his abilities. “Match the following, fact and just options? Okay, I know this”, He said to himself. Bala looked at the clock. One hour remaining for Math and English. Bala smiled again. “This is going better than I thought, touchwood”. Bala didn’t expect a law college, he just knew that he had done well. And he lived happily and positively with this thought, till the 28th of May. Bala also knew that his paper was not pristine or flawless. He had made his fair share of mistakes but he did not get a single negative thought. All that mattered was that he was happy.
Im sure there are many of us who did exactly what Bala did. Wrote the CLAT well and are happy about their experience. The CLAT had very minor deviations! In GK, it was all about ‘awareness’ and not mugging up facts, rather linking them to each other. Legal reasoning rightly had reasoning questions, and it was fairly straightforward because things like Assertion-Reason and Match the following were rudimentary. Questions on prior knowledge of law you say? Well if one has been preparing for two years for CLAT, one does not simply say that he or she does not have any prior knowledge of law. So then, this comes to the quintessential question – Why all the hue and cry about CLAT? Why the threatening PILs? Why the pugnacious and belligerent abuses to Justice N N Mathur? Why the sour complaints of out of syllabus questions? Everyone should have first analysed the paper, scrutinized it thoroughly before letting the situation go out of control.
There was a difference between the 25,000 odd CLAT aspirants and this one Bala Gopal. What was the difference, you may ask. Its probably the fact that instead of expecting himself to get into a top college, Bala merely focused on his errors. Bala did not post on random online forums about how well he knows a certain section or how much he has done; he proved it in his CLAT paper. Bala focused on smart prep rather than extreme hard work; pin pointed his mistakes and linked everything together for GK. And found an offbeat, yet effective method to combat logical reasoning. He did not expect anything out of CLAT, just that he would give it his absolute best shot, walk out with a smile and no regrets. I’m sure you all know many Balas in your lives. But this is one sparkling individual who did not care about what others did or said, just focused on doing his bit; sticking to an organised action plan and staying calm during the exam and THINKING about the question rather than worrying about the result.
Oh and do you know what happened to Bala? Well thats a different story altogether and I’d like to see a plethora of possible conclusions to this unconventional story from all your sides. I’ll tell you what happened to Bala soon enough. Take care and all the best, you legal eagles.