CLAT PREPARATION – A FEW POINTERS

With board examinations over, preparations for CLAT and other entrance exams for varied law schools would be in full swing. Do not think a lot over the missed time when you had to prepare for your boards. The time on hand is crucial and the one who makes the best of it would walk through the portals of a law school.

This is the time that would separate the victors from the whiners. Hence it is important that you stay focused, determined and meritorious. Do not set into a mode of complacency and think that you’ve attended the classes or gone through material once. Do not enter into a fool’s paradise where you believe that one casual read through the syllabus is suffice to sail you through the murky waters of an entrance exam. The key to success is revision and without it no preparation is of merit. Go through your notes and solve problems again and again till you have them on your fingertips. After all as the adage goes ‘Practice makes a Man Perfect’.

A few tips for you in this last month of preparation that would help you stay focused with your goal in sight are as under: –

• Doubts: Make all mistakes at the time of your preparation only. There is no room for it when you face the music of exams. Do not get disheartened if you are not satisfied or if you fall pray to error. After all mistakes and doubts would only help you to identify your weaker areas and knowledge of your weakness would help you streamline your preparation better. Come up with doubts. If you don’t have any, that’s great. But if you have doubts then it is vital that they are addressed at the earliest. Make a list of them. Flag it under varied headings. Check and re-read your modules. Find out whether such would quell your doubts. If the menace of doubts is still lurking, go ahead and feel free to discuss it with your faculty and friends.

• Revision: No preparation is complete without revision. Revise again and again till you perfect what all you have read. Do not be tempted to read new materials. What you have read is suffice. Just go through it again and again. It is better to read a book five times than reading five books one time. Do not think that the more you read, the more you would know. Concentrate on retaining what all you have read.

• Practice Mock tests: It is highly unobvious that questions in your exam would be directly lifted from one of the mock test papers. Then what is the purpose of solving them? You all know the answer. The more you practice, the more you get acquainted with the type of questions asked and you won’t find yourself completely at bay at the time of examination. So practice hard and practice a lot. Also try solving the entire question paper within the stipulated time. Time your preparation and if you find yourself slow, then address the reasons for such.

• Stay Positive: Do not waste your time thinking over failure or success. The job you have at your hand is to study hard. Do your duty with dedication and have faith in your capabilities. Remember ‘God only helps those who helps themselves’. Stay positive and work hard. Confidence and success would definitely come your way.

Wish you all happy preparation and best for your exams.

TEAM LST.

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How to tackle Legal Reasoning questions?

The importance of questions on legal reasoning in any law school entrance exam can never be underestimated. However good one may be at English, Mathematics or General Studies, without a mastery over the section on legal reasoning, the journey to clear the entrance exam would certainly be more arduous and tiring. The section is so important that CLAT from this year has enhanced its focus on this particular section. The number of questions would now be 50 instead of 40 a year back. That is 1/4th of the total number of questions in the entrance paper. Surely such cannot be neglected and any denial of its importance is a potential disaster.

So how should one approach the questions under this section? Do we need to mug up information like what is defined under what and what sections of ABC statute or act? Do we need to read the bare acts in detail and mug up all the information we come across? Do we start googling every concept we come across and make detailed notes on them? The answer to all these questions is in negative. These are strictly the things one shouldn’t fall prey to while preparing for this section. Remember the purpose here is not to test your legal knowledge but your legal acumen. Those who clear the exam will have five long years in law school and an awfully long career ahead to understand the nitty-gritty of law. What is required for the purpose of exam is to think analytically and think with a legal acumen inside your head.

So what is this legal acumen? Is it some book or some formula that needs to be perfected? Sadly, it is none. It is something, which is ingrained in psyche of every person, and it would be a misnomer to say that people don’t have it. It is ingrained in every person’s head. The task is to bring it out, hone it and make it perfect. We all have a sense of right and wrong, just and unjust. Here we think on precisely these matters only but not from a moral viewpoint but a legal one. Remember. Do not fall pray to arriving at answers from a moral or ethical point of view. Law only prohibits that which is prohibited by it. Think from a legal standpoint.

CLAT has specified that no prior knowledge is required for this section. This does not translate into your abstinence from tackling this section altogether and leave it for the time of examination. CLAT only wanted to say that a person wouldn’t be tested henceforth on his legal knowledge. For eg: Questions like murder is defined under which section of IPC have become obsolete now. Instead questions would be asked on a principle-fact basis. A set of facts would be provided to you along with a set of principles. Your job is to analyze these facts in the light of principles provided and nothing else. For instance: If the principle states that murder is no wrong and the facts say that A has murdered B, then as per the facts and the principle A has committed no wrong. Do not go by the assumption that murder is prohibited and hence answer should affirm the guilt of A. Questions have to be answered strictly in tandem with the principles provided.

The key to success in this vital section is identification of range of problems asked and a careful strategy whereby you solve a lot of such questions. This would sharpen your legal acumen and help you in thinking analytically. So work hard and stay true to your cause.

Wish you all the very best for exams.

TEAM LST.

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How to reconcile Law School Entrance Examinations preparations with Board Examination.

With Board examinations around the corner and entrance dates for CLAT and varied other law school entrance exams declared, the student often finds himself/herself in a perilous position. The anxiety mounts with each passing day and the student is confused about the ways to successfully tackle the challenge posed by these examinations.

Before we juxtapose these two examinations and suggest on possible strategies to excel at both, it is to be made clear that both of these examinations are immensely important and none is to be taken lightly. While CLAT and other law school entrance tests opens the portals to the esteemed law schools of the nation and are the first step towards a successful career, the board examinations are the benchmark against which the merit and performance of a student is evaluated. Even all law schools across India do not accept candidates who have scored less than stipulated marks in the +2 boards. This stipulated mark varies from one institute to the other and is generally in bracket of 50%-60%. Performance at board examinations is also crucial with regards to further academic options after the law school. Be it LLM applications in Universities abroad or MBA programme across national and international institutes, performance at +2 boards always merits considerable attention.

So what should be the strategy? Should one concentrate only on Boards and set aside the law school preparations for a while? What would be the right time to hit the books again for the entrance exams? Would this time be sufficient to successfully walk through the gates of a law school? Such and many other questions would be cropping in your head. Our attempt is to quell this anxiety, offer you counseling and guide you with the right preparation strategy.

The students who would be appearing for boards this year would have a little over a month after the conclusion of exams to revise or prepare for the law school entrance examinations. Frankly speaking, this time is not sufficient to cover the entire range of syllabus one is tested upon in an entrance test. There are exceptions and many of you would have heard from your seniors and brothers/sisters who have cleared one of the law school entrances that a month’s preparation is suffice. Do not readily believe all these claims and statements. The key to success is nothing but persistence, determination and dedication. The exceptions are never to be considered as the golden mantra for success.

Given the crucial nature of the board examinations and the wonders it can do in bolstering one’s confidence, never ever think of replacing your boards’ preparations by law school preparations. What requires to be done is to reconcile the both and develop a study plan through which both of these demons could be mastered. Reiterating again, boards are very important and a student should never shy from working hard for the same.

The syllabus of law school entrance examinations includes English, Logical Reasoning, Maths (upto class 10 level), General Knowledge and Legal Reasoning. Let us address each section on an individual note with regards to the preparation tactics along with the board examinations.

(1) English: As the medium of entrance examinations is English, it is necessary that all students have a good command over the basics and are able to comprehend the questions asked. For the time a student is preparing for boards’, no added attention is to be given to this particular section. Most of the students who appear for law school entrance examinations have an English medium background. This would certainly help you with this section. However it is not a cause for worry for the Hindi Medium students as sufficient practice would make you sail through this section casually. One thing that can be done along with board examination preparations is improving upon one’s vocabulary. The right strategy is to mark the unfamiliar words you come across and look for their meanings. Do not try to mug up all of them. Instead try to engrain such words in your mind by using it in sentences and by drawing suitable references. Once the boards’ are over, one can go through the materials provided for this section and evaluate one’s performance.

(2) Logical Reasoning: For students of science stream, this is not a real cause of worry. Even for students of humanities and commerce streams, there is no possible need to fret over the vast portions. What one can do is practice 5-10 problems on a daily basis and after the time boards’ are over, this section could be hit with vengeance. 5-10 problems a day over a 50 days period including the study period and actual time of board examination means that by the time the boards’ conclude one has practiced around 250-500 problems from this section. Try solving questions from different areas as diversity makes you familiar with the varied nature and scope of the problems.

(3) Maths: The preparations strategy for maths is the same as for logical reasoning. Try solving 5-10 questions on a daily note and make sure that the range of questions covers all the possible topics one is tested upon in a law school entrance exam.

(4) General Knowledge: The pattern of GK asked is law school entrance examinations is largely current affairs based. It is pertinent that you read a national daily on a regular note and do not miss such. The news missed on a given day could prove to be crucial at the time of entrance examinations. So how much time should be dedicated to reading a newspaper? It should not be more than 45 minutes. Make a note that you underline the unfamiliar words and supplement this with your English preparation strategy. If on a given date one misses on the issue, you can always log in your ‘mylst’ account and scroll down the daily newsfeed. It is important that crucial information is noted down for revision on a later date. Also be consistent and regular with the weekly GK and Legal Quiz. They are framed keeping the current affairs of the past week in mind and one can assess one’s preparation level by attempting the same. After the boards are over, you can tackle this section in a much detailed manner.

(5) Legal Reasoning: For all the students who have diligently attended the classes or gone through the study materials, you can have some respite at the time of boards’. You can revise all your portions once the boards’ are over. What you can do in meantime is to keep revisiting the concepts daily for a 15-30 minutes timeframe. You can also try attempting again the work exercises, home exercises or mock tests conducted. Students who are newcomers and not introduced till date to this section can try reading the basics of topics and cover them in detail once the board examinations are over.

Many of you would be still thinking how you could manage time for all this with your board examinations. Though the exercise seems tough it is neither tedious nor time consuming. Instead it is a persistent and steady approach to successfully crack the law school entrance examination. At maximum the daily input you need to give for your law school entrance preparations is an hour on a daily basis excluding the reading of newspaper. If you can manage your time well, you can finish both in an hour and a half. Practically thinking, this is not unmanageable and can be easily reconciled with your board preparations. Always remember the adage “Slow and steady wins the race.”

TEAM LST

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Life at a Law School

Debating

You might have won laurels for your impeccable oratory and keen knack on framing questions that could stump anyone in the Q & A sessions in School debates. Well!!! The story at law schools is slightly different and definitely more engaging and engrossing. The debates are in Parliamentary style (What one calls Parliamentary Debating). For all of you who have some idea about it or have participated in it, you would get further chances to be a master. The teams are made of two people and at a time a couple of teams face each other, arguing over most topical to most trivial issues. (Obviously one side is ‘for’ the motion and the other ‘against’). The topics are given barely 5 minutes in advance and call for a keen insight into the subject. You may be given an abstract topic like ‘All roads lead to Rome’ or ‘Pigs can’t fly’ and then it is all upon your creative imagination and arguing skills. For instance: You can view the topic ‘All roads lead to Rome’ in context with the global multi-religious and multi-ethnic conditions. The topics are quite ‘out of the box’ and not marked with any monotonous or obsolete streak. You all are going to love it. (Even those who do not participate can have some stomach cramps from incessant laughter that accompanies the weirder interpretation of the already weird topics). At times you get serious topics too but as the event is of a co-curricular nature and aims at having a ‘gala’ time, it is ensured that the fun is not missed in serious and tedious discussions. So keep your oratory skills in check. (You are going to need them both as a debater and lawyer. After all, the trick to success in legal profession is arguing).

Intra-college and Inter-college Fests.

Coming to one of the most important celebration of freedom and mirth at law schools, the fests provide students a chance to get off the books and projects; forget about submissions and due dates; and tread on a rollercoaster ride of fun and frolic. Whatever is the competing event (from debates to elocutions to tug of war to face painting to ‘kachra kala’), it is ensured that all tastes are catered and no opportunity of exploring and rejoicing is missed. The days of the fest are halcyon and the carelessness that hangs over the campus life is overwhelming. You can take your guitar and entertain doting friends before performing on stage or plan of the strategy to be adopted in your next kabbadi game. In intra-college fests, all the five batches compete and the environment is one of intense competition and sheer desire to outwit the others. The ecstasy of winning is unparalleled.
In Inter-College fests like Strawberry Fields (NLSIU), Summons (NALSAR), Invictus (NUJS) and a plethora of others, students from across the country come to your campus. Not only law schools but IITs, IIMs and local colleges also participate in the fest. The host institution does not participate as it is busy with it duties as the ‘perfect’ host. And since past few years, these inter-college fests end with a wonderful concert of noted artists and bands like Jal, Indian Ocean, Lucky Ali, Strings, Euphoria and the like. The excitement is feverish and there is no doubt that it is one of the most memorable experiences at a law school.

Moot Courts

This is for those who are interested in gaining an experience of arguing before a panel of judges. Moot Courts are demo courts where each team, largely comprising of three people, with two speakers and a researcher, argue their case in a court-room setting before a panel of judges who are senior students; ex-mooters or professors or jurists of repute. The first taste of this addictive fruit comes in the first year when introductory moot sessions are conducted for the fresher’s. There are many national and international moot courts held across Universities both nationally and internationally and a selection into moot court team of the college is the first step to gain access to these prestigious competitions. They not only test one’s speaking, argumentative and research capabilities but also entail rich experience and widening of one’s horizons. It shapes your academic interests and attitude, the two most vital components that are stepping stones to success in a legal profession.

Conclusion

With this we come to end of varied activities that form a part of campus life at law school. Participate in all of them freely. It all adds up somewhere and makes you grow and learn as a person. Life at law school is no different from life in general. It has its share of ups and downs, hours of pouring over books to periods of lethargy and benign air, spending afternoon session in seminars to evenings of cricket or football. But one thing is for sure. It is a rollercoaster ride and once you are on it make it last its worth.

Hope that all of you are kicked to get into a law school and enjoy the five long years of halcyon bliss and tremendous academic and personal growth. Wish you best with your preparations. Work hard, study smart and success would be yours.

TEAM LST

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LIFE AT LAW SCHOOL

All of you guys are really preparing hard for CLAT and often daydream about getting into one of the premier Law Schools of the country. Logical reasoning, Legal Aptitude, English Vocabulary exercises and the exhaustive current affairs portion are weighing hard upon you. At such juncture, one seeks to wonder what life at Law School is going to be all about. Do you have to toil your way through the five years or is there any scope for fun, being laid back and reveling in the success of clearing CLAT. Is it all about books (hefty thick ones), infinitely long judgments (tediously boring), a plethora of exercises and looming discomfort of exams and projects around the corner?

 

Well!! Frankly, you’ve to study and study hard at Law School to be above the rest and get into a field/job that you desire. But this is not the only side of the story. You also get to have fun, engage in co-curricular activities, play any sport under the sun and showcase your musical or literary talents.

 

So how is life at Law school? Does one get good food? Does one get time enough to catch up on one’s hobbies and interests? Does one get time to read anything beyond law? Do they play cricket or football or basketball? What are the hostel timings? Is attendance strict? Do they have intra-college and inter-college fests? All these and many more questions would be surging in your heads.

 

So let us begin with what life at law school is all about. (Don’t worry. There would be no talks or lectures on how much you’ve to study to ace the exams and how much effort you put in to be showered with gold medals, and what perseverance and sincerity you need to bag the coveted Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. We can discuss all that in some other post.) Let us answer the trivial yet most important components first. (The ingredients that make one happy and as a law student would say is a part and parcel of his Right of Life under Article 21. J)

 

FOOD

 

It is the primary concern. Believe me. Gorge as much as you could on the ‘Ghar ka Khana’. I know that it is bland right now and not as exotic as dining in a fancy place or gorging on road side shops. But once you get into Law School, you are going to miss it like crazy. I am not saying that the quality of food is horrendous or unpalatable. The only argument I have is that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. That applies to the homemade food too. The food you get at Law School is not bad at all. A menu is made in advance for all meals in a week and the Student Body Council has a lot of say in determining what is palatable and what is not (It is the first stage when you could be a Judge and give directions to improve the quality of the stuff, provided you don’t like it already). So do not worry much about food. It’s going to be just fine.

 

SPORTS

 

All Law Schools believe in a holistic development of students and their intention is not in the slightest to make you bookworms and Owls who would burn the night lamp over books. A lot of scope is provided as far as your sporting talents are concerned. Be it cricket, football, lawn tennis, badminton, basketball, table tennis or ice skating (ok I exaggerated about ice skating), you have all the facilities available. There are fields; there are college teams and batch teams and Ah!! What fun it is as first years to defeat the reigning champions (5th years, 4th years etc. etc.). You can even play rugby, provided you get enough crowds to participate. And for all you gym aficionados, law schools have gym facilities too. So work hard in the gym (After all a physically fit young bright lawyer is sure to ace all legal challengesJ).

 

To be Continued….

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CLAT and LST Mock Tests

Team LST

Here are a few things about LST mock tests:

1. LST mock tests are not math: My mathematics used to go like this- I’ve got a rank of 100 out of 2000 students. If there are 6000 serious students taking CLAT my rank will be around 300 and I’d thus get such and such law college.

It does NOT work like this. Never. Read on.

2. It is a marathon: Mock tests are a polite reminder to every CLAT aspirant that this test is a marathon. You’ll have to keep running for long, amidst a lot and through a lot of competitors.

Three things:

1. Keeping pace with the top peers is an ideal strategy.

2. Lag too far behind, and you’ll drop out of the race 10 times out of 9.

3. That you’ll sprint towards the end is overestimating yourself.

CLAT is a marathon

3. It is not a mock-ery: Shrugging off mock tests results will mean that you’ve gone into the psychological mode of ‘denial’.

A good mock test performance (80 percentile) will mean that you’ve got a good chance of making it to the top. A less than 60 percentile score is a nice wrap on the knuckles.

Note: However, again, mathematics don’t work. The marathon has lots of people who’ll goad themselves on towards the end and lots of people who’ll tire out or slack before the finish line. (What category will you belong to?)

4. Mock tests are not CLAT: On D-month, D-week and on D-day lots of forces of nature will try to disrupt you, your schedule and your preparations. There will be some in the population who fall prey to these forces, some who’ll sail, un-assassinated.

Meditation, parents, friends, LSTian peers, prayers, beads, self help books, blogs, nice songs, nice movies, teddy bears etc. are things to hold dear then. (By then, you should also have figured out, what works for you).

Summary: Do NOT think of mocks as precise maths or take them lightly or as CLAT. Take them as a marathon.

PS: If you don’t feature among the top rankers in the first few mocks, don’t lose heart. Work hard and target a progressively increasing percentile score. An 80 percentile towards the end is a good number to target.

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For CLAT Aspirants: How and What to Read?

By Tanuj Kalia

Reading, as I have said earlier, is the single most important activity which will help any CLAT aspirant improve his English language skills especially comprehension and vocabulary.

And when you write on what you’ve read, you are forced to recollect what the author said, what her arguments were, whether you agreed and disagreed with her etc. This is the essence of critical reasoning.

Reading a lot and writing a lot are important. More important, however, is improving how you approach these two tasks. Lets look at how to read.

1. Attack the text: Whenever you read a magazine article or a newspaper piece, its important that you treat it with urgency. (You can imagine yourself to be a Spartan on a war or a Pit Bull in a dog fight; both looking to see how  the intestines of their species look like. Yuck!)

This is a Pit Bull

(Lets move to more pleasant ruminations) Read aggressively, underline a few good words and phrases and mark the important points and facts. Keep a dictionary and a notebook handy. Do this well and your GK, English and Critical Reasoning requirements will be well taken care of.

2. Read Eclectically: You might love to read Chetan Bhagat but that shouldn’t stop you to read Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s columns in the Indian Express.  (Well, the general Chetan Bhagat’s fan won’t really know who Mr. Mehta is, but you should).

If you love poetry, continue with it, but also read up a few plays. Read technology related stuff and economics and spirituality and jurisprudence.

Eclectic!

Read eclectically. That will help you be well versed with the lingo used in various fields and will arm you with a good understanding of various writing styles, sentence constructions and argument’ structures etc. This will stretch your brain muscles sufficiently enough to make them stronger.

3. Read tough texts: Judgments given by various Indian courts can be hard to read. The judges not only have great vocabulary and the knowledge to quote from various places but also the tendency to suffer from a pompous version of verbal diarrhea.

The same can be said of critical reasoning passages a CLAT aspirant might be tested upon. Reading a few tough texts can help you to slowly increase your speed and grasping levels for such tough texts.

A Pratap Bhanu Mehta article or LSAT sample passages are good examples of tough texts. While reading. don’t give up on them. Work on them like a stone cutter works on his stone: a big boulder takes the shape of a beautiful statue, stroke by stroke.

4. Read fast: The average speed of an average person is 250 words per minute. With some effort and training that can go up to 2000 wpm. 750 wpm is perfectly doable. The output of this little exercise can be prodigious.

A 5000 word CLAT paper will then be read in 7 minutes and not in 20 minutes. And 13 minutes can be, laddy, the difference between failure and success.

Evelyn Wood’s or Tony Buzan’s speed reading books should do wonders to your reading speed. These books will also help you learn the art of skimming and swimming texts and easily hunt for the required information. This too is an ace skill for any competitive exam.

(Rejoice! This is your “I have the power” He-man moment).

Ready to take on CLAT

5. Read slow: When you are preparing for CLAT, with untrained brain muscles trying hard to decipher tough texts, you can and must go slow.

Also, while reading, say, a poem as a part of the ‘eclectic reading strategy’ (corporate entities can give normal tasks, a ‘strategy’ like name), you can afford to go slow.

Don’t overdo speed reading, especially in a legal reasoning question. Why? Res Ipsa Loquitur.

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Summary: Attack, Eclectic, Tough Texts, Fast, Slow

Images from here, here and here.

Tanuj Kalia is a 4th year student at NUJS and is presently interning at LST.

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