Have you read Alice in the Wonderland by Lewis Carroll? Remember the scene where Alice asks the Cheshire cat about where she should go? Here’s how the conversation proceeds –
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice asked. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat. "I don’t much care where—” said Alice.“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “As long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
The reality is most students are in the same dilemma. They are not sure where they want to go or what path should they take or what approach should they follow. The result of this dilemma is nothing but mistakes, confusion and ultimately, demotivation.
CLAT is just 6 ‘months away, and you do not have time to wait or think anymore. By this time, you know “where you want to get to” and “which way you ought to go from here”. The only problem is either you have not started your journey yet, or you have started your journey but at a pace equivalent to that of a snail. Your efforts depend on where you stand amongst the two. Massive internet literature on the exam today has made it easier for everyone to organize their time well and undertake a ‘planned strategy’ for preparations. But they are also enough to leave you confused and diminish any possibility of following a productive approach. Moreover, if everyone is treading on the same overcrowded street, what are your chances of overtaking any of them?
Whatever your strategy is, and wherever you stand in your preparations, work on these 6 things and mistakes, which if you tackle successfully, you will definitely have a shot at a much better score.
1. Stop being a SLOTH!
A quick Wikipedia search would tell you “Sloths are arboreal mammals noted for slowness of movement and for spending most of their lives hanging upside down in the trees”. Whether you have started your preparation or not, just think for a moment, are you being a sloth with respect to your preparation? Yes or no, stop being in an illusion and get a Reality Check for yourself!
Take that mock test. Be it online, or from one of your offline institutes. Taking a few mocks before even starting your prep will help construct your personal plan of action. Identify your shortcomings and devise a strategy accordingly. Aimlessly beginning to start section-wise preparation without the groundwork can be fatal. The more you delay your reality check from this point onwards, the more your preparation is going to suffer.
2. Too many cooks spoils the broth
Every student asks this question “which books should I refer to?” The answer is simple. As a teacher/mentor, the students get the recommendation that he/she needed. But then another question pops up, “is using just that one book enough? Can you recommend some more?” And this is where the problem starts. CLAT does not demand extensive research on every section and having 10 different sources for every other subject is a major blunder. You might think that all you are doing is covering all your bases, putting in an extra effort, but in reality, you are making a huge mistake.
Keep this rule in mind, “one source to rule them all”. Do not fall into the trap by following your peers who are referring to multiple sources. Stick to the basics. Remember, CLAT is an aptitude test. It is an assessment of who you already are, and excessive mugging cannot dramatically change that. Follow single sources for each subject, ideally, and be completely thorough with them.
3. Remember the Tortoise and the Hare story
Taking your time in understanding the concepts is okay. Remember, the exam is the place where you have to face the competition and not the preparation. Your preparation time is your own and everyone works at different paces. For some understanding basic legal concepts is like kid’s play whereas as some might require re-reading the concepts, run after their mentors for explanations to fully understand it. The important thing would always be that you take your time and you understand it. With negative marking in place, you are better off being late than being wrong.
Also, it’s not necessary that you might be the tortoise in the story. You might be the rabbit. Some students’ ace mock tests from the very beginning, they tend to get ahead of their tutorials, and eventually bunk class since they are already “ahead in the race”. They sleep like the rabbit in the story at some point or the other. Easy to say, obviously they are at fault. Whether you have a strong grasp over something or whether you have the required aptitude for the exam, DO NOT SLEEP. If you have a faster pace, you keep at it. The only thing you need to concentrate on is to understand everything completely. And if you are tired of revisions and mocks and think you’ve got it all, remember, there’s no end to GK and sections and articles and case laws.
4. Never think “I know the law”
Have you ever heard a lawyer say, “I know the Law”? They don’t. Infact, before any court date, you’ll find them going through bare acts, precedents, making notes etc. If they know everything there is to know about the law, why would they do that? Similarly, as a law aspirant, never underestimate the legal reasoning section. Never for once think that you know enough law to tackle the legal aptitude section. You’ll get that reality check as soon as you sit for the mock. It won’t take too long for that bubble of overconfidence to be busted. It might arguably be good to have a legal inclination while attempting this section, but you need to realize that it is not meant to test your legal knowledge, but only your application of it. In fact, some of you would even agree with me when I say that prior legal knowledge may be a bad thing when you are dealing with the questions in this section. The basic rule of answering a legal reasoning question is still “Stick to the principle, make no assumption”.
This section has always proved to be the distance you need to go for that national law school of your dream. Misinterpreting this can heavily discount your scores.
5. Save nothing for the last, do nothing last minute
The biggest mistake of them all would be if you delve into last minute mugging. And this applies to all the sections and most importantly to General Knowledge. If you have not been reading your share of yearbooks, newspapers and current affairs, do not waste time heavy reading on them weeks before the exam. General Knowledge and English vocabulary can be very intimidating as the D-day approaches closer. It is best to update yourself on both these areas every day, rather than trying to master these sections individually in a small period of time. Developing English proficiency and General Knowledge (both static and current) requires long and sustained efforts and doing them continuously every day alongside other subjects. Reading a newspaper or a good magazine everyday can help with both English and GK together.
Similar is the case with Math. A strategy that I found best was to carefully spread out all my topics from different sections every-day, and do them at different times of the day to maximize understanding and productivity. Switching subjects after every little while kept me fresh and going for longer hours than usual. Figure out your own ways to add to your speed.
6. Ask and you shall receive
You aren’t preparing for IIT-JEE, AIEEE or the likes. CLAT doesn’t require you to break your Sim card into two, lock yourselves in a room and isolate yourself. Don’t panic and keep your calm. And most importantly, do not go on assuming things. If you want to know something regarding CLAT, Law Schools and everything that’s between, ask. Your mentors are here to guide you in every possible way. So, don’t shy away from asking. For you, there’s no such thing as a silly doubt.
Above all, remember you are te best judge of yourself. Analyse yourself, know where you stand and accordingly work towards it. The clock is ticking, it’s just 6 months now. Leave no room for mistakes.