By Aman Gupta
In hindsight, law does seem a very natural career path to me. But back in 2010, it was a last chance alternative which I had accidentally stumbled upon.
After class 10th, and despite opinion of the teachers who sought to direct me towards economics, I had taken up science stream to pursue engineering and was doing absolutely terribly in both school and preparation for IIT.
Part of my choice was due to my dad being an IIT grad and also because it was the only choice I had ever considered.
But then, ill health took over and I found no enthusiasm towards studying for engineering. After nearly failing in class 11th, I decided that I would drop a year to prepare for IITs, but fate had its way and I found out about CLAT.
In Varanasi, the place that I am from, there was very limited awareness about law as a career choice, at that point of time, and it was only by accident that I found about CLAT and National Law Schools.
A cousin of mine was attempting the paper, and she suggested that I look into the same. I cursorily glanced at the past year papers and to my surprise, I found them very pleasant to solve. I decided to put all my energies towards CLAT and after procuring necessary course material, started solving problems on my own.
I had only twenty days of preparation via a crash course, and though I felt slightly underprepared, I was confident in my abilities to crack CLAT.
There was a tremendous amount of pressure on me at that point of time, as my board results had been average at best, and my NLU-D paper had also not gone very well. The only thing I had going on for me was my confidence in myself to score well.
The CLAT paper was a very remarkable one.
Anyone who has seen the 2011 paper knows that it has one of the lengthiest English section with four reading comprehensions.
So I made this very pragmatic decision of attempting the Maths section (which I knew to be my weakest) at the end.
One thing that you must remember while attempting a CLAT paper is that no matter what you are going to face, the most important aspect of actually attempting a paper is keeping your cool.
Often, students put too much weightage on the patterns in the past year question papers and the mock tests.
While it is important to undertake mock-tests to improve your speed and ability to answer questions under pressure; in the examination hall, you are on your own and cannot afford to panic at all.
That not only reduces your ability to comprehend but also leads you wasting unnecessary time which is the most precious commodity in an examination. You should be prepared enough to take decisions on the spot and play to your strengths.
Second, is to maintain good health and good mood before attempting the paper.
I suffered due to it in my NLU-D paper as I was suffering from a case of bad cold and had argued with a few friends before entering the examination hall.
The result was that my mind was too preoccupied with the argument and I took too much time in reading the paper and lost significant time. A simple suggestion would be to stop reading new material about half an hour before the paper and listen to some songs that sooth you, before you start a final revision.
I still follow this routine in my law school examinations. (My favourite is a band called Explosions in the Sky).
As fate would have it, I cleared the paper with a very good score and got into NUJS.
I do think the fact that I was pragmatic enough the day of the examination helped me get through. Sometimes all of us overthink and set too much store on what we expect.
I have also spoken to a few of my batch-mates who, like me, were CLAT aspirants back then, and made it through, and they also agree that being pragmatic and not panicking upon seeing the paper probably made the difference between them clearing or not clearing CLAT.
Lastly, my advice to whoever makes it through to law-school.
Being in a college affords you a lot of freedom, with a lot of opportunities to make new friends, go to new places and integrate new habits. While all of this is good, do not think of getting into a law-school as the end of your efforts.
All that stereotypical stuff about this being only the start is true.
Grades are going to be very important: right from applying to internships at various places to colleges for higher studies.
Again, this is something that comes from personal experience as I did not focus on studies at all in the first semester of law-school. I would miss classes and would barely submit projects on time as I was simply too lazy. I assumed that I would get my act together before the examination started.
The only problem is that hard-work is a habit and it must be practised continuously.
When my results came, it was a miracle that I had not failed any exam. Since then, I have learnt to pay importance to the classes and allotting time to various components of what is taught in the course, and my grades have steadily improved. The integrated course being 5 years long can be a blessing that way, for it allows you to learn and improve from your mistakes.