We think one of the most important preparation before a battle/competition is to size up your competitor/opponent. But, before you really go there, it is important to understand your competition in the CLAT! Last year, close to 40000 students wrote the CLAT – and the number only seems to be increasing. So, how do you size up 40000 people? You don’t. Because, they are not your competition or your opponents – in fact those 40000 (or more) people shouldn’t matter to you. They have no consequence or bearing to your score. The CLAT is not a Zero-Sum Game (admissions to the NLS though is), what that means is that if you score a mark that doesn’t mean somebody else loses that mark or vice-versa. You must be thinking, if other test takers aren’t my competitors, then who is?
It’s YOU! Yes, you are your own opponent in this test. Wondering how? The CLAT isn’t a test of your knowledge, it is a test of your skill to work out 200 questions to the best of your ability in 2 hours. The catch phrase here is ‘best of your ability’. Your best ability is usually hampered by these 5 opponents:
Opponent 1 – The part of your brain that tells you that you need to be a Grammar Nazi, Math Whiz, GK geek, Logic & Legal prodigy to crack the CLAT and that you don’t know enough to crack the CLAT (I can assure you that you are 75% there already and in the next 4 weeks you only need 25% on this front).
In fact you just need to be street smart. Assuming last few years’ CLAT results, a 140-150 gets you through the top (or at least the top 3) law schools. I can assure you that 90% of you reading this will know 140-150 questions – the difference is that it isn’t those 140-150 questions that you usually will give you most attention.
Opponent 2 – Your indecisiveness. What’s that you ask? Your inability to choose which questions to attempt (or rather give complete attention to) and which ones to ignore (or take a guess on). You have to be judicious and decisive with everything, from how you use your time (watch a movie/tv show, bum around or study – mind you all are equally important), to what to study (practice legal reasoning because it seems interesting, or English because it’s easy or GK/Math because you suck at it). In fact you need to be decisive all the way to the CLAT, where you need to decide which questions to focus your attention on – unlike your board exams you don’t even have the luxury to go through all the questions before you start and to make things worse, all questions are of equal weightage – 1 mark.
Opponent 3 – Your obsession with studying blindly & focussing on the wrong things – such as how do I learn vedic math in 20 days, how do I cram 5000 GK facts in these next few weeks, how do I solve hundreds of legal reasoning questions.
Not required! In fact it might just lead to fatigue and inculcating the wrong habits. It isn’t the number of questions, but your approach to questions that is more important. It isn’t the number of hours you study but the quality of your input that matters more. It’s the feedback from each question you solve and the analysis of where you went wrong that you need to focus on. Since deliberate practice is categorically hard, it can’t be done for 12 hours a day. You need to have the following routines surrounding deliberate practice:
– Practice continuously for not more than an hour at a stretch (or 2, when you are writing a mock test).
– Practice when your mind is fresh and not for the sake of it or to earn brownie points with your parents or yourself.
– Practice the same amount every day, including on weekends (no break for the next 4 weeks).- Only have four to five hours of deliberate practice a day, with breaks in between.
– Work with no more than 40-50 questions every day on 2 to 3 subjects each day, with breaks in between. Spend more time on analysing your attempt, focusing on each question you were unsure of & the method.
Opponent 4 – Your obsession with volume & quantity. More is not better. Don’t practice with whatever material you get your hands on. Don’t run after questions/mocks/learning materials from every preparatory/coaching classes or book you know off. Don’t make the mistake of scrmpering for notes & materials so that you can practice more. I’ve noticed most materials available aren’t worth practicing with (it’s like Virat Kohli preparing for the WT20, by practicing with some gully cricketers, surely there might an odd difficult ball, but the rest would just be a waste of time for him). Compare the various resources you have, and see which seem closest to the past year papers or which of those push you out of your comfort zone (questions that are neither complete blinders nor sitters but tricky enough to make you think or with a trap to force a silly mistake).
Opponent 5 – Time. Yes, you read it right, time is not on your side, because 200 questions in 120 minutes is approximately 36 seconds per question. Sounds incredibly hard, especially if you compare your Class XII exams where you got almost 5-10 minutes a question. You have to develop the skill to crack a question in limited time (45s to 1 min for Math, English, Legal & Logical reasoning and 15-20 seconds for GK) and to leave the ones you can’t. It isn’t easy, in fact this is probably the most difficult to skill master – taking a crack at the questions you know, leaving the ones you don’t and the instinct to know the difference (it’s almost like the serenity prayer). Remember, there is no bigger error than wasting 2-3 mins or more on a question, even if you get it correct.
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