This article is written by Aishwarya Birla, Batch of 2020, NALSAR.
All right, so we are at the point where the preparation is sound enough or is as good as it is going to get. Although in truth, no one can say exactly when you know enough to stop studying. It is imperative to use time effectively and to our best advantage while attempting the paper.
Let us, regrettably, do the math. 200 questions, 120 minutes for CLAT. That is 0.6 minutes a question. That is 36 seconds. This seems rather impossible and I certainly couldn’t adhere to it. Several institutes prescribe 40 minutes for Legal Aptitude, 15 minutes for GK, 25 minutes for English, 25 minutes for Logical Reasoning and 15 minutes for Math. But this is not the only path to follow.
There is no ideal amount of time that is to be allotted to any particular section. So, unfortunately, there is no magic formula that is hidden in the folds of this article. It is incredibly personalised and thus the appropriate amount of time can only be decided by the test taker. However, there are certain things that are to be kept in mind and are common to all.
So, keep the following parameters in mind when allotting time to each section.
If a particular section is a strength, then perhaps allot it lesser time than is prescribed by the CLAT gurus. Use the ‘leftover’ time for another section that you are perhaps weak in. For instance, while around 25 minutes were prescribed for English, I would finish in 20 or lesser and then allot the remaining time to Math, which was definitely a weakness of mine. Thus balance strength and score-ability to achieve an optimum time allotment.
- Types of questions
GK is objective in the true sense and one either knows the answer or doesn’t. Hence allotting too much time to this section isn’t the smartest decision. Personally, I would aim to finish GK in 10-15 minutes and no more.
Similarly, if the English section has four reading comprehension passages, or the Legal Aptitude section is full of reasoning or the Logical Reasoning section is full of critical reasoning, you will have to adjust the time limits for these sections accordingly.
Hopefully, you won’t encounter a situation where all the sections are increasingly lengthy. In that scenario, judge the time limits based on your strengths and weaknesses as well as the number of questions in each section.
- Number of questions
A section such as Legal Aptitude deserves more time due to the sheer reason that it contains 50 questions and is a sizeable chunk of the question paper. It is also the tie breaking section and with adequate practice, can be aced. The reason this doesn’t hold valid for GK is obvious and has been explained above.
- Do not get emotionally attached.
Falling in love with any question or section, whether it be due to its docile nature or because it is playing ‘hard to get’, is never a good strategy. If any question seems particularly, outlandishly difficult, or seems to have no solution in sight after a reasonable amount of time is spent trying to solve it, it is best to move on and to look for greener pastures. While this in no way means to skip the entire paper because it seems tough, it does entail cleverly choosing what will yield positive results in a given time frame.
- Figure out the sequencing.
Ensure you have a clear strategy in place in terms of which section to solve first or which type of question to solve first. There are several methods for giving the test. The first is going from question 1 to 200 in sequential order and attempting the easy ones and marking the rest for review. This ensures a close to zero risk of negative marking. Then go back and do the medium difficulty questions and then, if time permits, the toughest questions. The second method is where the Easy, Medium, Tough is followed, but section wise instead. And the third and often default method is simply attempting the paper in the order that it is printed or some shuffling of sections, but questions within the section are not rearranged. Once you are comfortable with a pattern of solving it will help you gain speed and accuracy, which are the keys to success. This sequencing will be instrumental in helping you to figure out your own personal time limits. Experiment in practice tests and mocks to find what you are comfortable with.
- Be accurate.
90% accuracy should be the goal, possibly higher. Think about it this way, if a third of your attempts are wrong, a third of your time, 40 minutes, is essentially not contributing to your total. In this time space, you could have gone through other questions that could have added to your total. Thus, time management will add to your score and cut down on negative marking.
- Do not be a daredevil.
Do not try to take risks unnecessarily. CLAT is not a game of chance, especially with the demon Negative Marking rearing its head. The only place where taking a risk is somewhat understandable is of you have narrowed down the answer to one of two options and are somewhat convinced of your knowledge. Also, in this exercise of contemplation, the clock is ticking away, and even seconds could cost you an NLU.
Conversely, for papers that do not have negative marking, ensure all the questions are answered, maybe Lady Luck will be on your side that fateful day.
So, what we have learnt so far is that time management while attempting the sections of the question paper is highly subjective and personalised. It varies not only from person to person but also from paper to paper. It is imperative that one stay flexible, but not lose sight of the goal (attempt and go through the whole paper) and to not get carried away by either the allure or the seemingly atrocious difficulty level of any section. Sometimes relations get toxic and it is best not to dwell on any particular question and to move on. Also, there is no section wise cut off. While this doesn’t mean that you should neglect sections you are weak at or dislike, it does mean you should capitalize where you can.
Please do keep in mind that every person is different and some other plan may work better. But at this stage, since you have the time and can improve further, feel free to experiment.
It is all a mind game, crack the code.