Analysing mocks, speed reading and stress-busters: How the CLAT 2021 toppers cracked the exam

Bar & Bench spoke to some of the top rank holders of CLAT 2021.

Following the announcement of the results of this year's edition of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT 2021), Bar & Bench caught up with the students who topped the exam.

Karthik J Lal [AIR 3]

Karthik J Lal
Karthik J Lal

Karthik, who hails from Kerala, shares insights into his preparation strategies and what he did to maintain a balance between leisure and studies.

“I started preparing for CLAT soon after my 10th boards and joined a local coaching centre.”

Speaking about maintaining a balance, he said,

“I was a Science student, so studying for CLAT was a stress buster as it involved reading newspapers and articles, which was fun. It was really relaxing and fun for me and felt like a break from my usual school studies.

Karthik decided in 10th grade that he wanted to pursue law and his seniors studying in the top National Law Universities (NLUs) motivated him to start preparing early. He also drew much of his inspiration from law drama and by reading books of Fali S Nariman and other legal doyens.

As general advice to future CLAT aspirants, Karthik said,

“Definitely keep reading newspapers regularly. I was a regular reader of The Hindu editorial and also articles on Bar & Bench. That really helped me. Also, solve as many mocks as possible and make sure to analyze them. I solved over 130 mocks in the past 1 year.”

Speaking about maintaining calm throughout the preparation and during the exam, Karthik said,

“I spent a good amount of time with my friends and family, and also kept aside downtime for watching movies and Netflix. Just before the exam as well, I spent time with my friends and that really helped me calm myself during the exam.

Shwetha Ramachandran [AIR 4]

Shwetha Ramachandran
Shwetha Ramachandran

Elated by her performance in the exam, Shwetha admitted,

“I was not at all expecting this result, I was just aiming for securing admission in the top 5 NLUs. I was very nervous after the exam because the paper was very easy and I was expecting the cut-off to be very high. The single digit rank was very unexpected."

Speaking about the OMR sheet filling incident, Shwetha said,

I was expecting to not get extra time to fill the credentials, since we had a discussion that we may or may not get the time, so I was prepared for accommodating that time within the 2 hours allotted for the exam”.

Shwetha mentioned that this was her second attempt at the exam. She said,

“On securing rank 1123 without studying, I knew that I could do much better if I devoted an entire year to CLAT coaching”.

Attributing her success to her mentor, she said,

“The personal guidance and coaching that I got from my mentor proved extremely invaluable to me.”

Sharing tips with future CLAT aspirants, Shwetha said,

Just listen to your mentors and do whatever they say, because they have been guiding students since a very long time and know exactly how to gauge your performance and guide you accordingly.”

Revealing her strategies on CLAT preparation, she said,

“I solved 60-70 mocks throughout the year and just before the exam I kept revising GK and stopped solving mocks one week before the exam. I also thoroughly analyzed the last two mocks that I attempted and revised all the mocks attempted throughout the year.”

“On the day of the exam, I gave the first 20 minutes to GK and Maths and the remaining 100 minutes for the reading passages - Critical Reasoning, Legal Reasoning and English. But if Maths comes across as tough, then I quickly switch to GK without wasting much time,” she added.

Shreyas Datar [AIR 7]

Shreyas Datar
Shreyas Datar

Shreyas spoke about the difficulty level and strategies adopted to prepare for the exam. He stated,

"I had prepared for the exam for an entire year so it was an easy exam for me".

Speaking about time management during the paper, he said,

"The Consortium had mentioned a day before that all the credentials had to be filled after 2pm itself, so I was mentally prepared. I had solved about 100-150 mocks in the last 5 months leading to the exam, so that definitely helped me a lot in managing my time."

He stressed on the importance of consistency, perseverance and patience and seeking constant guidance from mentors.

Advising future aspirants, Shreyas emphasized,

"Focus a lot on reading newspapers, op-eds and even novels. This year's paper had passages from Sherlock Holmes to passages on COVID-19 vaccinations. It is also extremely important to not contemplate what may or may not come for the exam, as the CLAT Consortium is full of surprises".

Shining light on the importance of physical and mental health, Shreyas mentioned,

"For a rigorous exam like CLAT, it is extremely important to maintain your physical and mental health. For me, I always ensured I was working out on a daily basis and kept 2-3 hours only for pursuing my hobbies."

"Conducting mock analysis is extremely important whenever solving mock exams. Even for answers that you get right, it is always advisable to go back and analyze the logic behind the answers, because your logic need not necessarily be the same as the paper setter's logic," he added.

Archita Sharma [AIR 16] 

Archita Sharma
Archita Sharma

Archita from Dehradun secured AIR 16 in her first attempt. She decided to prepare for CLAT a year in advance and enrolled for a year-long online coaching. She said,

"Luckily with the pandemic, everything was online, so I was able to sit at home and attend my college as well as devote time to attending online classes for CLAT, and with boards getting cancelled, I focused only on CLAT for the last two months."

Speaking about strategies adopted a few weeks before the exam, she shared,

"I was giving one mock everyday for the last 15-20 days before the exam and made sure to analyze and revise the mock exams. Overall, I would have given over 100 mock exams round the year."

On subject-specific preparation, she mentioned,

"For Critical Reasoning, I read newspapers, especially the Hindu editorial, very thoroughly, and I got my basics cleared from my mentors and Critical Reasoning books. Since this is an exam that is so heavily reliant on speed reading, I made sure to time my speed every time I was reading something."

"For GK, I made my own notes from newspapers and kept revising them. I also referred to the notes from my coaching and kept reading the standard GK books like Pratiyogita Darpan for the last 6 months," she added.

Speaking about breaking the monotony while preparing for CLAT, Archita shared,

“I used to spend time with my family members and read something for leisure or watched movies. All of these really helped me calm down."

On general tips and advice, Archita mentioned,

“Try not to study or do anything on the day of the exam and even a day prior if possible, that really helps one calm down which will really help you in this type of an exam. It is important to stay focused on the exam and think of the consequences later on."

Devanshi Shukla [AIR 27]

Devanshi Shukla
Devanshi Shukla

Devanshi from Raipur secured AIR 665 in her first crack at CLAT, with bare minimum preparation. Her mother played an instrumental role in making her believe that she was capable of getting admission to a better college, and gave her the space to take a year off to prepare for the exam. And it seems that the decision paid off, with Devanshi securing AIR 27 in this year's exam.

“I have always been into reading and the CLAT paper is entirely reading comprehension based. I had also managed to give 20-30 mocks within two months before my first attempt,” she said.

Speaking about the strategies she adopted, she said,

“My CLAT mentor told me that it is not the skill set which is a barrier, but the test taking strategy which needs to be worked on. During my first attempt, I rushed through the entire paper, which affected my accuracy. I later realized the importance of solving many and diverse mocks so I could easily gauge the difficulty level of the exam and accordingly endeavour to solve maximum questions with maximum accuracy. This was a significant attitude change that I made while giving my second attempt.”

She further added,

“Reading the newspaper helps one develop critical analysis of everything and everything is ultimately interrelated, so it helps in the overall preparation for the exam. I also solved a lot of reading comprehension passages with timers throughout my year long preparation for CLAT.”

Speaking about maintaining a balance during CLAT preparation, Devanshi said,

“I formed a peer group of five aspirants and we used to revise GK everyday over Google Meet, discuss our mocks and other things. I also paid a lot of attention to my physical fitness and would regularly keep aside two hours for walks, cycling or visit the gym in my society.”

Regarding the exam, she added,

“CLAT is as much an exam that tests your preparation as it is one that tests your attitude and confidence. While preparing for an exam like this, it is important to not leave out anything. This exam prepares one for law school and the journey ahead in the real sense, because reading and understanding are the core skills required in the profession. One should take these exams to improve their skill sets to be better prepared for law school.”

Utkarsh Panda [AIR 53]

Utkarsh Panda
Utkarsh Panda

Utkarsh first attempted CLAT after his 11th grade and cleared it securing AIR 72 with bare minimum preparation.

Speaking about his strategies, Utkarsh said,

“With the current pattern of CLAT, it is best to prepare by solving as many mocks as possible. I gave about 10-15 mocks before my first attempt and about 50-60 mocks before the second attempt, and analyzed even the questions I got correct to know if there was a better way of reaching the answer."

“For GK, I kept reading the newspaper and decreased my mock test frequency to avoid burnout. I revised GK and read static GK, which really worked in my favour because we got a lot of static GK questions this year,” he added.

On managing studying for boards along with preparing for CLAT, Utkarsh said,

“Being a science student, my studies and CLAT prep complemented each other. Future CLAT aspirants should focus on not leaving either their Board or CLAT prep completely, because that changes the momentum and it becomes tough to pick it up again. As a stress buster between the two, I started learning the guitar during the lockdown, often took walks and participated in a few debates and quizzes.”

As a general advice to future CLAT aspirants, he stated,

“Keep developing your reading habit. Also read passages that you aren’t really interested in, and every time you read an article, try to find out the arguments and try to counter them in your head because the implicit learnings you get with this approach will help you attempt mocks better.”

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