The CLAT Blog

Writing the CLAT 2018 is a skill in itself. The 5 sections are just incidental!

Warning: This is a longer than usual, and a little abstract post.

In my last post, I discussed why the CLAT could be cracked in a month’s preparation. Let’s look at what you need to do for that.

Deliberate Practice! Ever heard the term before? I’m sure you know what practice is, but deliberate practice is different. Practice could have been you solving a 100 math questions in a day. Deliberate Practice, on the other hand would mean picking 20 questions from a set of topics that you aren’t very comfortable with and solving those and after you are done, look at the ones you got wrong and analyse where you went wrong.

Deliberate Practice is a conscious effort to focus on the parts that are difficult, to practice stuff which is outside your comfort zone. Remember, no one is saying practice stuff that you have no clue about (if you have no clue about algebra, there is no point sweating over it). The practice shouldn’t be so difficult that it overwhelms you—that would be depressingly demotivating, but neither should it be so easy that you’re unconsciously languishing. While, you may think it’s the former, which will cause more damage to your morale & your preparation, it is actually the later that has caused more aspirants to destroy their chances of cracking the CLAT.

Let’s look at this again – unconsciously languishing. I’m sure you are familiar with the feeling where you are sitting with a book, trying to mug up things or solving a bunch of questions, and suddenly your mind wanders away. The problems aren’t hard enough to challenge you and you are comfortably floating away. Now, that exact moment and feeling is what we need to address – the PERFORMANCE PLATEAU – the feeling of being just O.K.

 

I know we are meandering in to some pop-psychology stuff, but try to stay with me. This is important, because I firmly believe it isn’t the lack of knowledge but the ability to learn new skills & changing their learning habits that most unsuccessful CLAT-takers lack.

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I urge you to read this very-very carefully, to the extent that I’m offering to speak with you one-on-one if you want to understand this further (fill the form below if you’d like to speak to me). Remember writing the CLAT is a skill in itself, the 5 sections are just incidental and this skill is something most of you don’t possess today. Knowing basic Math, English or some GK facts isn’t going to take you to the best law school in the country – I mean who are we kidding, that surely can’t be the criteria for the best law school, there is surely something more to it. It is this skill, and you know why, because this is the skill that differentiates average people from experts in any field (be it Olympic athletes, famous musicians or successful lawyers).

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In the next 7 weeks, if you can cultivate this skill – YOU WILL CRACK THE CLAT – and I can take a million dollar bet on that.

 

Now to the pop-psychology part: Psychologists have identified three stages that we pass through in the acquisition of new skills. We start in the “cognitive phase,” during which we’re intellectualizing the task, discovering new strategies to perform better, and making lots of mistakes. We’re consciously focusing on what we’re doing. Then we enter the “associative stage,” when we’re making fewer errors, and gradually getting better. Finally, we arrive at the “autonomous stage,” when we turn on autopilot and move the skill to the back of our proverbial mental filing cabinet and stop paying it conscious attention (think back of a time when you learnt something new, riding a bike, driving a car, a new sport, a musical instrument, a new language and the 3 steps above will get clearer to you).

And so we get to the so-called “OK Plateau” — the point at which our autopilot of expertise confines us to a sort of comfort zone, where we perform the task in question in efficient enough a way that we cease caring for improvement. After an initial stage of rapid improvement, we find ourselves in that place at once comforting in its good-enoughness (e.g. you start cramming up GK facts and suddenly from 0/50 you get to 20/50, but after which the 20 doesn’t just move up). The challenge, of course, is that we can’t get better on autopilot.

Something experts in all fields tend to do when they’re practicing is to operate outside of their comfort zone and study themselves failing. When most musicians sit down to practice, they play the parts of pieces that they’re good at. Of course they do: it’s fun to succeed. But expert musicians tend to focus on the parts that are hard, the parts they haven’t yet mastered. The way to get better at a skill is to force yourself to practice just beyond your limits.

What separates experts from the rest of us is that they tend to engage in a very directed, highly focused routine, “deliberate practice.” You need to develop these 3 strategies while you practice by doing three things: focusing on the technique, staying goal-oriented, and getting constant immediate feedback on your performance. More on it when we discuss mock tests and the role they play in your improvement.

The mere amount of practice has little to do with improvement — it is, rather, its deliberateness that drives progress. In fact, studies have shown that in areas of expertise as diverse as basketball and chess the number of years one has spent honing the respective skill correlates only weakly with the degree of mastery and level of performance.

When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. … Regular practice simply isn’t enough. To improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes.

I know this is the third day and I still haven’t given away any subject/topic related tips – I think you still have a few things to understand before you take a plunge into sections, topics and questions.

I firmly believe if you are unable to adopt the “deliberate practice approach” the next 7 weeks (or the last few months, for those who have been preparing for longer) are not going to lead you anywhere. I know this sounds harsh, but I owe you the truth.

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