1. What prompted you to choose law?
CBSE introduced the subject ‘Legal Studies’ for plus two students, three years back. I took it up and I really enjoyed studying it, and alongside that, I loved Civics throughout Senior school. So that prompted me to choose law.
2. When did you start preparing for the exam? Take us through how you prepared for each subject in CLAT.
I was enrolled for the two-year course at CLATapult. Throughout class XI, I made it a point to attend each and every class, I did nothing other than that in XIth. I begun preparing for CLAT in October, with the previous year CLAT papers to analyze where I stand and understand the pattern of questions, along with the varying levels of difficulty. I just did Maths, Vocabulary and GK till December, and read The Hindu regularly.
For English, I mainly practiced para-jumbles and the questions where you had to find out the grammatical errors in sentences. They were my weak points. I did ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by ‘Norman Lewis’ (it’s a really good book and it actually changed my approach to understanding the meaning of words, CLAT or no-CLAT, you should definitely do the book). Apart from that, I maintained a notebook for vocabulary words that I came across while reading the paper and other material.
For Maths, I solved the CLATapult modules and Quantitative Aptitude by RS Agarwal. Sectional tests of Maths are really helpful to measure your speed.
For Legal Reasoning, I think once you’re clear on the basics of solving legal reasoning questions, you’re half way there. You really don’t need to learn stuff to solve these questions. All that you will need is right in front of you, staring at you.
Doing the past years’ NLS and NALSAR papers is a MUST. Since there aren’t legitimate answer keys available for the same, it would be wise to do them as early as you can and have all your doubts cleared in class. Legal reasoning became my strength in CLAT majorly because of Shresth Sir’s explanations to these questions. He was really good at it. Siddharth Sir put in a lot of effort into answering our queries on the CLATapult Students Forum on Facebook, and the group’s history will stand testimony to that.
For Legal GK, there are very specific topics that one needs to cover – Constitution, Amendments, Latin phrases and certain basic concepts of Law. These topics are covered in class, and doing the sheets provided by the teachers suffices.
For logic, it’s just practice. Nothing else. I used RS agarwal’s Verbal and Non-verbal Reasoning, which is more than enough!
And lastly, GK – I think like a majority of CLAT- takers, I dreaded it the most.
I used a Static Gk module provided by Kamil sir, and read the articles posted on the CLATapult Forum. Apart from that, a very good trick to prepare for GK, is just developing curiosity. When you read the newspaper you’re likely to come across a lot of stuff that you have no clue about. Just google it. And read. Don’t read it with a purpose of memorizing it (it backfires if you do it that way). Just read it because you want to know about it. This really helps. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t remember something you read a month back, it’s quite normal. Just read it up again.
For current affairs, I used Competition in Focus, GkToday and the briefs provided by Kamil sir. GK is vast, and will probably take up the most time in CLAT prep, but that’s just the way it is!
Caution: Do not underestimate reading the newspaper, especially if you’re not an avid reader. Apart from current affairs, it will help you build your reading speed (and that’s VERY important), and help you with vocabulary as well.
3. You did not drop a year for CLAT 2017. How did you go about juggling between your Class XII preparation and CLAT?
I think January 2nd to May 14th was the craziest period of my life. My pre-boards begun on the 2nd January and CLAT was on 14th of May.
My room was a sheer mess. There were books everywhere – on the study table, the bed, the cupboards. My parents refused to enter my room because they found it depressing. But nevertheless, I had a strategy in mind. I decided to study really well for my pre-boards, so that once they were over I could focus on CLAT, and a single revision before boards would suffice. I wanted to secure a good percentage in my boards, alongside getting a seat at WBNUJS.
4. Coming to your incredible CLAT score – what was your initial reaction to it?
My initial reaction wasn’t that of happiness to be honest. I was actually afraid, because when we first saw our scores, we didn’t know what others across the country had scored. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it or not. But once the ranks came out, I breathed a sigh of relief.
5. How did CLATapult contribute to this?
It’s the teachers, definitely! We were guided by people who had done it, and aced it. How much better can it get?
In fact, classes were rarely boring. During breaks and so, we used to get insider stories of college and in a way, that actually motivated me to work harder, because it diminished the idea of law school being ‘boring’.
Anjanesh Sir’s 5-question-test weekly, was a great way to measure our prep. (The toppers of these tests were rewarded with chocolates of their choice!)
Amrita ma’am answered all our queries with detailed explanations and Mustafa Sir’s classes were always a handful.
I think all in one, the teaching faculty at CLATapult is what makes it stand apart from others. Anzar sir personally makes it a point to interact with the students and monitor their progress over the months.
6. Which skills and abilities do you consider important to do well in CLAT?
It’s the attitude towards the prep. You need to be serious about it, need to be diligent (and majorly cut down on your social life post-Jan, if you’re appearing for Boards too) but also, you need to not overdo it.
This is going to be cliched, (it’s cliched because it’s true) but after the prep is over, all you need is to be composed. Work very hard, but don’t make CLAT the bane of your existence. Don’t attach too much importance to it in your head, because it only makes one nervous. Think of it as just another mock test.
About 10 days before CLAT, reduce your study hours (yes, I said reduce), and engage in stuff that makes you feel relaxed and acts as a stress buster. The night before CLAT, just close your books, and go watch a movie. It’s okay to do light GK in the morning on CLAT-day, but don’t overdo it. What you need is a fresh mind, and calm temperament to ace the paper.
7. Your strengths and weaknesses – how did you deal with them?
Maths, GK and Vocabulary were my weaknesses, and that’s why I started working on them from October itself.
From the sheets that we solved in class, I knew that legal and logic were my strengths so i started working on it post- January.
8. What do you think might have been the ‘special ingredients’ in your strategy that put your score so high up the scale?
I think the special ingredient was that I actually enjoyed what I was doing. While I did look like a zombie throughout the 5 months of preparation, and a very big part of me just wanted everything to end for good, I realized my days weren’t so bad after all. Preparing was fun, but it’s the competitions and stress that can get to you. I made it a point to do something other than CLAT prep for an hour a day at least, and that helped my ease my stress.
9. Mock tests – useful or over-hyped? Which ones did you take and how did you go about them?
On the usefulness scale, I would rate it an 11/10. That’s how useful they are.
A senior from school studying at NUJS actually told me ‘that they were the best things that were ever created’.
I took about 70 mock tests in all, including the past years’ papers. I took sectional tests as well which are extremely helpful. The idea is that mock tests give you a feel of what solving 200 questions in 120 minutes is like.They give you practice and also let you measure your progress. Also, if you don’t analyze the mock, you might as well not bother taking it, cause it’s no point that way.
10. Any words of advice for the aspirants?
My father’s friend, an IIT Kharagpur alumnus, told me something that I won’t forget. He said that in all competitive examinations, there are two purposes of the exam:
1. To test how well you can practice/learn what you have to, and
2. to see how calm and composed you can be in stressful situations.
CLAT isn’t tough per se, it’s the time constraint that messes one up. Being nervous or overthinking it even during the paper causes the most heavy loss, that is of time.
I included bits of advice here and there in my answers above. So keep all that in mind, and believe in yourself. Enjoy what you’re doing, and don’t worry about it too much.