Of the many ‘CLAT preparation period’ images that float in the retina of my mind’s eye there are some that make a blink and miss ephemeral appearance while there are others that linger on….and on…! In the latter category two take the place of honor. The first is the bated breath wait for the online mocks scores. This is not to be scoffed since I gave close to 70 mocks and many a times was in danger of asphyxiating!! The second image is of mum’s face. From being a normal motherly face with love, exasperation, pride, irritation all juxtaposed, it had turned into one that yo-yoed between (i) I think you are not pulling your weight enough but I am still going to be a ‘cool’ mom and not say anything even if it kills me (ii) I think you are not pulling your weight enough and am worried that on the result day you might jump off the terrace and not only break the tender branches of my precious plants but also your own neck( note how the precious is missing here!) and so will be a ‘cool’ mom and not say anything even if it kills me.
Well, the fact that I am here to tell the tale is testimony to the fact that I survived internal and external pressures to find salvation in the bun cheese omelet at NLS students’ go-to place for instant nirvana- Chetta. For all yea CLAT exam takers, the pearls of wisdom that I type out are what worked for me. Each one of you needs to strategize your own personalized learning regime, something that will work for you.
My biggest learning as a ‘successful’ CLAT taker is that preparation for a competitive exam must be handled with equanimity and that there is nothing like a scripted formula for success. The mantra for an aspirant is: Be prepared. So, be prepared for surprises – both pleasant and unpleasant and for uncertain times. You may find yourself facing a crisis of confidence in your ability to crack the exam or a particular mock score may leave you shaken and stirred.
In retrospect, the following things helped me:
1. Motivation: I was clear in my mind that I was giving the CLAT because I wanted to do law. This was coupled with the keenness to study at one of the best law schools in India. To keep myself motivated I would spend some time almost daily reading up about the law school I was aiming for. Each night, I would tell myself that I could do it. This faith in me went a long way in helping me.
- Confidence: Throughout those four odd months of preparation I worked on keeping my confidence at an even keel- never allowing it to either sag to abysmal levels or to let it wander into the danger zone of over-confidence.
- Love for what I was doing: Yes, it’s true. I actually enjoyed the process of preparing for the exam. Like the proverbial journey to Ithaca I kept my thoughts raised high and went through Legal Reasoning, Math, English etc with zest and excitement. What helped here was the understanding that doing well in CLAT was a means that would take me to my goal of reading law and becoming a legal eagle.
- Had performance oriented milestones: Set myself performance oriented milestones rather than achievement oriented milestones. Let me explain the difference — “I want to score more than 120 in the mock I am taking today” is an achievement oriented milestone. A goal like — “I want to work on an average 8 hours a day for next three months” is a performance oriented milestone.
- Mocks, Mocks & more Mocks: If I were asked to name the single most important factor that worked for me, the reply would always be: mocks. I paid up for almost all the mock test series available online. I had started preparing for CLAT 2016 towards the end of December 2015. I started with giving two mocks a week but by beginning of February was giving a mock daily. Traditionally the actual CLAT paper time has been from 3-5 in the afternoon. I tried to give my mocks during the same time. After the two hours of giving the mock I would spend another couple of hours analyzing it and solving each question that I had got wrong.
Another factor that worked for me was the fact that each mock was given with absolute ‘honesty’. The latter becomes important because the temptation of googling out some answers is immense- especially since you know that you are going to be ranked and this rank is visible to all. However, I nobly resisted succumbing to this temptation – and am really glad about this fact.
- Good material: I did some research on the books available for different sections of CLAT and then zeroed in on those that I felt were good. For an exam like CLAT it is extremely important to have your basics right. There are a number of good books available in the market and one just needs to find the book one will be comfortable using to make a strong foundation and clear all doubts.
- Never compromised on sleep: I ensured that I was sleeping for an average of 8 hours daily. This helped me maximize my study hours.
- Outdoor physical activity: Towards evening I would step out and spend an hour or so outdoors either walking/jogging/cycling or doing some kind of physical exercise. This fix of fresh air would really energize me.
To conclude: Have a desire, backed by hard work, to get a good rank. Study with sincerity. Keep your chin up. Stay positive. Believe in yourself.
This article is part of a series of articles written by toppers of CLAT’16 called ‘Bust CLAT’. You can read the rest of the articles in the series here, here, here, here and here. For better CLAT guidance that increases your chances of making it to NLSIU click here.