Cracking The Vocabulary Section

Vocabulary is a nightmare for most people as the English language seems to have an infinitely large number of words and seems to throw new ones at you every now and then. So, in this small write-up, I have attempted to give you a few tips which would help you ace the vocabulary section.

First and foremost, you should buy a decent book on English vocabulary and start going through it at the rate of about three pages a day. Yes, it might seem a bit intimidating at first, but you have to sweat it out. Underline the words that you didn’t know existed and try and use them in your day-to-day conversations in the right context. By the end of the month you should have ideally completed the book, and believe me you will start making more sense of the literary world around you, you will understand more of what the erudite journalist in “The Hindu” is trying to express and the world will seem so much better. Continue reading

A Mock a Day Keeps Fear at Bay? NOT!

Akash Deep Singh (AILET AIR 1) explains the enigma of Post-Mock Analysis

I am quite sure all of you would have heard this innumerable times from an uncountable number of people (exaggeration is not always a bad idea :P) that giving mocks is the best way to practice for CLAT. LawKey itself has been telling you the same thing. If I haven’t made it clear already, I am also a part of the same bandwagon and believe that mocks are the best practice you can get. Most of you have taken this advice seriously and are giving one mock a day. A mock a day is easy to manage and it leaves you with enough time to keep on working on your weaker subjects. But, please bear in mind you can cut down to 4-5 mocks a week, if it gets exhausting for you. Your mind needs to be fresh before you attempt any mock, otherwise it’s of no use. If you are still in class 12th and worried about not being able to practice mocks. STOP. Boards are the most important thing in your life right now and you have to pay complete attention to them. You can get back to CLAT when boards end, people at NLS and other NLUs have managed to crack CLAT while studying in 12th, you can do it too! You have been preparing for CLAT and as earlier articles on the page have already said believe in that preparation. This is true for any CLAT 2016 aspirant.

But as you have already noticed, this article isn’t (solely!) about keeping you guys motivated or exhorting you to do more mocks. It is about what to do after you have given a mock. Trust me, and more importantly my experience, when I say that analysis is more important than increasing the number of mocks you have attempted. A person who has practiced only 3-4 mocks a week but has analysed them to gauge his strength and weaknesses and has used the time available to him to work on them, has a much better chance of getting in than someone who gave 3 mocks a day but didn’t stop to analyse them.

It is after you have finished your mock when the real work starts. Mock analysis proceeds at two levels. The immediate one happens just after you have given the mock, which you should ideally do on the same day or the next day. The second approach is to be done with a homogenized set of mocks, by which I am referring to test series released by one single institute, and then analyze it in entirety. I will come back to the second approach later.

The immediate analysis entails looking at every question that you were not able to attempt or those questions you got wrong. Plan how you are going to address each one of them over the next few days. Analyse how much time you took per question. Is there a particular section that you are giving too much time to? Work on setting a time limit for each section and try to adhere to this time limit. Pay particular attention to the time taken by you on incorrect questions. Did you genuinely believe you could solve that question or were you stubborn enough to not move on? These are some of the things that you have to keep in mind while analysing your mocks.

The second approach, and I urge you to follow this at all costs, is to be done with a homogenized set of mocks. Coaching institutes who release these mocks provide you with an answer key unlike myriad other mocks that you will practice. This is an additional reason why the second approach to analyse your mocks must be followed. Also as it is online, you can observe the time taken by you in different questions. Most of the mocks in a test series are of the same level. The difficulty level sometimes goes up or down but that’s also to prepare you better. It’s CLAT, anything can happen. Take 3-4 of your past mocks and go through each of them section wise. You will notice that you are getting a certain type of question wrong again and again. Today’s the day when you will practice them till you get them right. Then move on to the questions which you were able to answer correctly. How much time did you take in them? Learn the tips and tricks to reduce this time. You are going through the paper to recognize the patterns present in your mocks and believe me, they are there. A particular type of question that you are always getting wrong, questions which you spend a lot of time on but do get it right, eventually.

Also you will have tried out different strategies in these mocks and this is an opportunity to check which one suits you. Use the most beneficial one in the next mock. It might not be the perfect one for you but you have time till March end to discover your perfect strategy. After that you have more or less decided on your approach and now you are working on fine-tuning it.

In the end I would like to reiterate, practicing a mock is doing half the job. Until you analyse your mocks, you are getting no benefit out of practicing so many mocks.

All the best.

Akash Deep Singh

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Blood Relations Decoded

In this article, a student of NLSIU shares his tried and tested method to crack Blood Relations.

Blood relation questions are the easiest to crack and it is imperative to not only attempt these questions in the competitive examinations but also get them correct. You can’t afford to lose marks in these questions. The reason for this is quite simple, you can be sure of your answer unlike the critical reasoning questions which are quite subjective in nature. In critical reasoning questions, many times it may seem to you that two choices are equally relevant. Sometimes even more than 2 options may seem so! I assure you, you won’t face the same problem with blood relations.

The correct way to go about blood relation questions is to draw a family tree and use some standard signs and practice them over and over. The target is to become so proficient that as soon as you see these relations you can visualize the signs. In order to make your work easier, I will be listing down certain signs which are standard and you can use them while making the family tree. (You may choose to use different signs according to your own convenience).

Listed below are the signs that should preferably be used, remembered and further practiced to save time:

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Generally, in CLAT, blood relations problems would involve up to three generations and not more than that. The first and the foremost thing to understand is to place the 3rd generation i.e. grandparents at the top, below that comes the second generation i.e. parents, maternal aunt and uncle, paternal aunt and uncle, brother/sister in laws. Below that comes the first generation i.e. grandson/granddaughter.

To illustrate further:

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If we concentrate on these relations, then all other relations can be fit in some way or the other. Say for instance Arjun is the nephew of Kabir, and and it is given that Kabir is the only brother of Aditya, then instead of of being confused about what sign should be used to illustrate the relation between Arjun and Kabir, simply illustrate the relation between Kabir and Aditya and then represent the relation between Aditya and Arjun as has been done below:

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An important point to remember, never ever make assumptions about the gender of a person until and unless it is specifically mentioned. For example, if it is given that Karan is the grandparent of Simran, it does not mean that Karan is a male or Simran a female. It can be the other way round as well. You have to look for hints. It is recommended that you should look for pronouns if nothing has been specifically mentioned about the gender of that person. Look whether ‘he’ or ‘she’ has been used and then you can be sure about it. Also it is strongly recommended that you should indicate the gender in a bracket in the family tree itself as has been illustrated above.

Some important relations are provided below. You should remember these relations to solve blood relation problems. Assume every relation given below for a hypothetical X. For e.g. X’s mother’s (or) father’s son- X’s brother:

Mother’s (or) father’s son – Brother

Mother’s (or) Father’s Daughter – Sister

Mother’s brother – Maternal Uncle

Father’s Brother – Paternal uncle

Mother’s (or) Father’s sister – Aunt

Mother’s (or) Father’s father – Grandfather

Mother’s (or) Father’s mother – Grandmother

Son’s wife – Daughter in law

Daughter’s husband – Son in law

Husband’s (or) Wife’s father – Father in law

Husband’s (or) Wife’s mother – Mother in law

Husband’s (or) Wife’s brother – Brother in law

Husband’s (or) Wife’s sister – Sister in law

Sister’s husband – Brother in law

Brother’s (or) Sister’s son – Nephew

Brother’s (or) Sister’s daughter – Niece

Illustrated below are two questions that would further teach you how to draw an appropriate family tree:

1. Pointing to a lady, Rajan said, “She is the daughter of the woman who is the mother of the husband of my mother.” How is the lady related to Rajan?

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2. Pointing towards a person in a photograph, Anjali said “He is the only son of the father of my sister’s brother.” How is that person related to Anjali?

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Also it is strongly recommended that you use a pencil so that you can make changes to questions which involve multiple parts.

So, practice diligently and intelligently, and get ready to ace this topic in CLAT. ALL THE BEST!

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Reason Your Way Through CLAT

Dealing with the Logical Reasoning section

One thing I’ve often heard from people, who ask me for help with CLAT preparation, is that people with a science background have it easy when it comes to Logical Reasoning and Maths as they have ‘that bent of mind’ (but are woefully silent on what exactly they mean by that). I always try to dispel this misconception by giving them my example. I had humanities in school and I have always struggled with Maths, however, I have always been good at Logical Reasoning. So trust me when I say that you can make Logical Reasoning your strength no matter where you come from.

The Logical Reasoning section is fairly easy and can help you increase your score and boost your confidence. Since it accounts for one-fifth of the paper, it is advisable to devote around 25-30 minutes out of the two hours to this section. You should try and aim for thirty marks or more here which is not that difficult a target to achieve. According to me, there are three things any NLU-hopeful should keep in mind while attempting this section: speed, accuracy and the importance of reading the questions carefully.

Most of the questions in this section are in groups, based on the same problem, and therefore once you’ve solved the initial question in the group, it should not take you a lot of time to answer the consequent ones. Also to increase your speed without compromising on accuracy and efficiency, you can use certain techniques or quick tricks. One illustration of this could be EJOTY (5-10-15-20-25) which makes solving question based on alphabet series and coding-decoding easier and faster. You can either learn these tricks from some book, or study material, or create some on your own. Just make sure they are easy to remember and also to apply.

There is a huge variety of questions that can come in this section ranging from blood relations, coding-decoding, and syllogisms to critical reasoning. All of these require a lot of practice and clarity on the most efficient way of going about them. You only need to spend an hour or two each day on this section; practicing 6-7 questions of each type everyday should be more than sufficient to ensure that you perform well in this section. Daily practice will go a long way in helping you build your speed and increasing your accuracy.

One really important thing I noticed while looking at mock tests and CLAT papers was that the wording of the question is very important. Often people are in a hurry and do not read the questions carefully and thus lose out on precious marks. While answering questions based on syllogisms, it’s necessary to look at the options carefully and answer accordingly. This applies to other types of questions in this section as well.

All of this is, of course, my personal opinion, and there might be some people who disagree with me on the ‘ideal’ strategy for attempting the section, so feel free to make your own strategy. However, I cannot help but emphasise again on the need to build upon your speed and accuracy which is only possible through regular practice and a thorough understanding of the types of questions and their requirements. Apart from all this, all I can do is tell you that Logical Reasoning is quite scoring so don’t worry and just prepare well!

Aditi Gupta

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Dealing With Stress

There are various things you could stress about. Stress of failing a competitive examination, failing it twice in a row, stress about what dad will say, what mom will say, what the neighbourhood aunty will think, or even stress about matching up to ‘That Overly-Talented Guy’ in class, I know there’s one in every batch. If you are indeed stressing on about any or all of these things, you are doing nothing but wasting your time. Time that could have better been utilised in (not to sound too much like your mom) studying for the next mock, getting better than the next guy, or fun stuff, like that one match on FIFA, or that cricket match, or another chapter of that engrossing book (which I hope is not Chetan Bhagat) or anything really. The primary loss you have due to stress is the time you could’ve utilised in doing something else, which is why the first thing you do is counter stress. Continue reading

Mock Tests: Know How (Part 2)

I often advice 2016 aspirants on how to go about CLAT prep and life surrounding the prep because your life actually does start revolving around your prep. Your relationships, your eating and sleeping habits, what you do and when do you do it; all of it affects your prep and then your final performance. Kids (as they are called here at NLS, end up here and you will be called the same) ask me anything they feel is important to them at that moment of time. But, there is this one common grievance; it’s there with most of them, most of the times. And what is that? Those 200 mark mock tests that they feel are the biggest concern of their life.
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Mock Tests: Know How (Part 1)

When was the last time you felt like taking a mock test? Sometimes you just don’t feel like giving any. You tend to ask existential questions, why is life doing this to me? In which hellish moment did I pick law? And even if I did, why do these people want me to take a test? I am not prepared at all. I haven’t read January Current Affairs or haven’t practiced blood relations. I am so dead. I won’t make it to a good law school now. Trust me, it’s completely natural.

This is part of what happens during any CLAT prep and you are no anomaly to it. Now, I will explain to you, why this fear is fake and not relevant. Being at law school, I’ll give you the reasonable man’s test. Try and think of any mock test which you happened to be satisfied with either in your preparation or your performance and did not think of getting that 1 or 2 marks more after you saw the result. Can’t think of any? Because there’s no such thing. Even the guy who has been the rank 1 at your coaching center for ages won’t be content. Trust me, even I wasn’t. There’s always this one nagging question that couldn’t be solved and if there’s a friend who did it right while you couldn’t do so, it’s even more problematic.

When this gets stuck in your mind all that it leads to is unnecessary stress. Stress isn’t good for your health or your marks. It translates into bad time management or ends up messing with one section or other which at times can cost you the whole mock test, forget the actual exam, where you are already at peak stress level. What now? Leave alone the prep you couldn’t do, you wasted the prep you did as well. So what do you do?

There’s this economics professor at NLS who told me something that stuck in my mind -“Just do it Ashim, do it.” Exactly what you guys got to do. You will never be satisfied with whatever your preparation is. So just write it and let it be. Treat yourself if you think you scored even marginally better than your last mock. Work towards rectifying your errors and not losing out on any opportunity to grow and be better. Every mock is a milestone towards making your prep finer and better. It is the stepping stone to a better law school and a better life. Never avoid them, cadet, never.

Ashim Gupta

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Getting Rid of the Math Phobia

Mathematics-the word is enough to put many people off track their preparations and lose concentration. However, this phobia of Mathematics is based only on a reluctance to actually get down to solving problems and can be easily eliminated with a bit of dedicated practice. Since a significant portion of law aspirants have had a two-year break from Mathematics after high school, this is one section which tends to get ignored owing to its relatively less weightage in CLAT. Although this section carries only 20 marks, it is arguably the most crucial part of the entire paper and can be the difference between you going to a top notch NLU or settling for a lower one. This is a section which can give you an edge over your fellow exam-takers.

By strategically approaching Mathematics with the correct temperament, one can easily maximize his/her chances of getting a decent rank in CLAT. The way to approach this section primarily depends on the individual’s grip over the subject. For a person who is comfortable with the subject, attempting it at the very outset of the examination may be a good idea. This provides one the opportunity to secure maximum marks in Maths because there is no chance of the answers being ambiguous as can be the case with the likes of English or Legal Reasoning. On the contrary, for a person who is scared of Maths and feels under-confident while solving Mathematics, the section should be kept for the latter part of the exam. This is because it can get exhausting if you are struggling with calculations and are unsure of your answer. If you are scared of Mathematics, attempting the section in the beginning would lower your morale. You don’t want this to happen in a two-hour examination.

As for the time to be allocated to Mathematics, the ideal time limit should be around 16-17 minutes. It can vary a bit from person to person. However, in no case shall it be given more than 20 minutes as that would considerably reduce the amount of time that could be given to other sections. Attempting around 18-20 questions with an accuracy of 95% should be sufficient and would be a great score if the level of the questions is quite high (as was the case in CLAT 2015).

While practicing, focus on the various ways of approaching a problem and finding the most efficient way to solve it. Rather than practicing a whole lot of similar questions, one can cut down on the number of questions but attempt the same question in more than one way to find out which way suits one the best. With practice, it is quite easy to identify the questions which would take less time in solving and would be the ones to watch out for while taking the examination.

So, just get rid of the dampening fear of Mathematics, practice diligently and intelligently, and get ready to ace this section in CLAT. ALL THE BEST!

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Legal Aptitude: All You Need To Know

Legal Aptitude section in CLAT, AILET or for that matter any law entrance exam (like SET, IP UNIVERSITY etc.) is “the” most important section of the paper for two reasons: first, because of its weightage which is almost 25% of the paper and second, as a tie-breaker in CLAT (vital especially for borderline ranks!!). Other than this, it is also important because Legal Aptitude section (hereinafter LA) is the one which is the closest to what law actually is and it gives you a brief sense of what the legal course is going to be like in the law school. So, LA can be the one section that ‘you’ can use for the deciding whether you have the acumen in you or not to be a lawyer. But trust me it’s a skill which can be developed and sharpened, so don’t get disheartened if you are not scoring well in this section but are sure of doing law, it can be managed even now.

LA basically comprises Legal Reasoning and Legal Knowledge. The number of question in this section in CLAT is 50 within which the distribution for the sub-sections varies from year to year. But the trend (past year papers) has been in favor of reasoning based questions of late. But nonetheless, it is wise to prepare for legal knowledge as well just in case! And also because other law entrance exams do give a lot of importance to legal knowledge.

Legal Knowledge is basically that part where direct law based questions are asked, essentially it’s the GK of Law (another reason to prepare for it, it may help you in the GK section a lot!). So what you need to know in Legal Knowledge is legal maxims (also helpful in English section), good knowledge of Constitution (specially preamble, fundamental rights, duties and directive principles etc.), some landmark cases both current as well as old (like Kesavananda Bharathi), certain Acts (particularly the ones which have been in news in recent times), important amendments, some high profile judges and their contribution to the legal field (for example, Justice P.N. Bhagwati for PIL etc.), basic knowledge of hierarchy of Indian Judiciary, jurisdictions of courts etc. Don’t panic if you haven’t done anything or most of what is mentioned above because to be honest it can be covered in merely 8-10 hours at any given day (yes that’s possible)!! Even if takes more than that, it is still fine because by learning these facts you are preparing for both the GK as well as the Legal section (50% of the paper), so in any case it justifies the time and effort spent on it. Also, at the same time don’t try to go overboard and delve deep into a particular topic because the aim here is to solve maximum questions and not all! So, it’s important to select the information and channelize it in the right direction but within the time constraints (CLAT is less than 4 months away).

Now coming to Legal Reasoning, it has questions where you are given a set of facts and a legal principle. You will have to apply the principle to the facts and decide upon the outcome of the situation. This part is actually fun and is one which shows immediate results with a little effort! The best way to go for these questions is imagine yourself to be a judge (I know it’s fascinating!!) who is given a rule of law to apply (with no use of your own knowledge or beliefs) to come out with a decision. These legal principles (even if they are wrong, rely only on what’s written) will be primarily from areas like torts, contracts, criminal law and constitution, so the idea is to know these principles (best source is again past year papers because most of the principles are repeated every year) beforehand and practice them multiple times (Try solving at least 50 questions everyday within a time limit which is less than an hour). The aim here is to become so proficient with these principles that as soon as you look at the principle you know what it is (but still read it once to be sure). Reading these principles again and again and breaking them into parts will improve both your speed as well as accuracy in the paper. Also, in addition to taking regular mock tests and analyzing them, taking sectional tests can be really helpful in strengthening your grip over the section and mapping a strategy. Then it’s equally important to revise those questions regularly, both the ones you got correct and obviously the wrong ones too! Because this will prevent you from repeating the same mistakes and will increase your score substantially.

And here is the last tip for solving this section (Caution: use it only when you are confused between two similar options); always look for the option which is closest to the principle in reasoning as well as wordings. It works!!

Now finally, the last part is time management so, a good strategy (according to me, you can have your own) would be to allocate somewhere between 25-40 minutes for the entire section with; 15-20 seconds for direct questions and 40 – 60 seconds for reasoning questions with aiming for an accuracy of 90% and above to be able to make it to tier-1 law school (but the score as well as the time to a great extent varies with the level of difficulty of the paper too).

I think that’s all that is required for acing this section. Don’t worry it is an exciting section to deal with and with some amount of practice (of the sincere variety) you’ll be able to handle it well. Just keep an eye on the end result that you want to achieve and work smart because remember law is more of due diligence than intelligence.

Shreya Yadav

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Tackling Assumption Questions

“Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make, if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble.”

This quote is in itself true to a large extent, but, when it comes to the critical reasoning section of the CLAT and other law entrance examinations, you should consider it to be the Gospel truth. You are most likely to find Assumption Questions in the form of a short paragraph followed by four assumptions, with you having to choose the assumption which is essential to make in order to reach the conclusion arrived at in the passage. They appear occasionally in the CLAT and are a regular in the AILET.

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