This article was written for Ergo by Srishti Vallabha Kumar, a first-year at the Symbiosis Law School, Pune.
14 May 2017. T-minus 0. The day all your hard work is put to test. Acing the Common Law Admission Test, colloquially known as CLAT, is every wannabe lawyer’s dream. Some of you have nurtured this dream for many years now, some have instinctively chosen this field, some out of pressure (Hard truth, this). I was one from the first category. Various circumstances and people planted the seed of inspiration that led me to choose this career path. Political scenarios made me question the legal system. My uncle is credited with giving direction to my doubt-ridden mind.
Then started the journey towards an admission in one of the prestigious National Law Universities. It struck me rather odd, how the word law was associated only to an NLU, and more specifically to the ones in Bangalore or Hyderabad. True, they are the top 2, consistently performing well and producing talented lawyers year after year. But that does not mean that those are the only places to be. If not, one is considered and made to feel worthless. Unfortunately, I also held the same prejudice. To be honest, that is not true. Irrespective of which college you choose, what matters at the end of the day is how you use it to the best of your abilities. I have learnt that now, after seeing bright, meritorious lawyers pass out of my college.
When one decides on pursuing law, the necessary step is to attend coaching. It’s a ‘prerequisite’ of some sort. Although there are a few who don’t need that kind of help and that is completely fine if you are willing to put in that extra amount of effort that would be demanded of you. I chose to forego two years’ summer vacations to prepare myself for the exam. Enrolling into Sriram Law Academy in Chennai, away from family, was indeed helpful. But the kind of pressure that is put by such coaching centres is altogether a different ball game. It either makes or breaks a person. I myself have seen one who crumbled under the weights on his shoulders and ultimately changed his career. Some take it in their stride and emerge victorious.
There is also the question of the excessive number of entrance tests to be written. I had decided to write only CLAT and SET (entrance for Symbiosis Law School). An elder brother drove the much-needed sense into my head. Such a decision not only diminishes your chances but also creates an unwanted fear in everyone’s mind (parents, especially). Irrespective of whether you want to get into a particular college or not, make sure to write the exam just so that the experience teaches you something. Christ University was not one among my choices. But the exam acted as preparation for CLAT and the interview round helped me in the same post-SET.
When it came to the final days before the exam, I was flustered to the point that my extended preparation seemed to be futile. I was always in a rush to finish revising current affairs (truly, the most dreaded of all sections) and brushing up my basic math skills. English and logical reasoning, however, helped me maintain a balance. Always know your strengths and weaknesses and play along with them. The minute you walk out of the exam hall, you will see how well it works in your favour. Know where to study from. Don’t open your books again in an attempt to learn the whole syllabus in 5-10 days. That is as good as digging your own grave. Plan your schedule. Keep a tab on how much you have done and what has been left out. This will ease out your work and help be organised. Finding a good source for current affairs is very important, irrespective of whether you read the newspaper regularly or not. It acts as good revision material.
The day of the exam calls for an entirely different strategy. More than all the preparation that you have done for however long, your mental strength is what determines your performance in those two crucial hours. A calm and steady person who prepared for only a month will be able to outshine a flustered, panicky guy who slogged for years. Tackle the sections you are confident and well prepared in. Be it GK, legal reasoning or math. Finishing with them will give you the necessary boost of confidence and a head start. Attempting the weaker sections will down your morale thereby having a domino effect. This is the day you listen to your mum when she asks you to eat a healthy and complete breakfast. It may seem very insignificant, but it goes a very long way in helping you during the exam. The choice to discuss the answers after the exam is left to you. I decided not to do so for the fear of discovering an answer probably marked wrong. Save yourself that stress and enjoy the remainder of the vacations.
Know for a fact that no matter where you end up, you will do well. Because it all depends on how you want your career to be. This last one month is truly going to be very hard. But be patient, for the other side is waiting for you to make memories that will make all the effort worth it.
Whoever you are, reading this article at this moment, good luck to you and hopefully you end up exactly where you want to be.
(Didn’t get into an NLU, but very happy in Symbiosis Law School, Pune)