You are AILET 2012 topper AND third topper CLAT 2012. Congratulations! Would it be a cliche to ask how you feel right now?
Yes, it will be. (smiles). It is the umpteenth time I have expressed that I am still dazed by the kind of result I have accomplished. I had been preparing diligently and I knew that I was going to do well. But this result was totally unexpected. It took me a lot of time to digest the fact that I have achieved this result. I am exhilarated beyond words.
When did you start preparing for CLAT 2012? Are there any particular strategies that you used to prepare for CLAT 2012 or for AILET?
I started preparing for CLAT on June 24 2012 (one day after my birthday). There were many differences in tackling CLAT and AILET examinations. CLAT and AILET required different strategies for preparation. The major difference was in the GK section. Since CLAT concentrated only on current affairs, daily newspapers, monthly GK magazines, yearbooks and a plethora of online websites took care of the preparation. Whereas, AILET consisted of static GK as well, for which I additionally had to go through books like Pearson, Objective GK websites like leadthecompetition.com, gktoday.com etc.
Next is the Legal section, where CLAT concentrates only on legal reasoning while AILET demands legal knowledge as well. While my coaching modules and 'CLAT Essentials' by Abhinav Srivastava took care of legal reasoning part, I had to go through books like Tata McGraw Hill, Lexis Nexis for legal knowledge.
Even when it came to tackling the exam, both of them required different strategies. I kept Math for the end in AILET 2012 as it was only for 10 marks and compared to other sections, the relative time taken would be considerably higher. However while attempting CLAT 2012, I took up Maths right after GK because those 20 marks can make a lot of difference. Moreover Math is the only section in law exams where an aspirant can hope to secure full marks.
What plans now? Which law university do you want to join?
I have decided to join National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore. It is known as the Harvard of the east and has unparalleled reputation. And since it has always been the first choice of all the top rankers, it is safe to assume that the quality of students in NLSIU would be better than those in other law schools.
Which one has always been your dream law college?
My dream college has always been NLSIU, Bangalore. My preferences between CLAT colleges and NLU, Delhi have been NLSIU, NALSAR and then NLUD, in that order.
When did you decide to take up law as a career?
I always wanted too take up law as a career. I was ready with my decision during class nine, although I seriously began my preparation only in class eleven.
Did you not have any other career options in mind, or were you completely focused only in the field of law?
I have always been clear on law as a profession. I have seen many of my counterparts who tried to put their feet on many boats simultaneously and ruining their chances in everything. So, I decided that putting all my concentration and energy towards one direction is a much safer and effective option. Sometimes we need to put all our eggs in one basket (smiles).
But why law?
I chose law because of several reasons. I have been very interested in politics and statecraft since my childhood. I have considerable experience in debating, public oration and essay writing, so I thought that the best avenue to invest my skills would be law. It has always been my ambition to come out with flying colours in the UPSC examination, and law, especially legal training from reputed Universities gives us a strong foundation. After liberalization of the Indian economy in 1990s there has been a significant spurt in the demand for specialized legal career. The plethora of opportunities in litigation, corporate practice and law firms looked very inviting.
How do you usually study? As in is there a particular method - like some people study aloud, study a few hours, take breaks, study continuously, study during nights, during the day, relax a day before exams, watch TV, play a sport, study sitting in one place always, pray to God, etc. Which of these things you do/don't do?
I dont study aloud, i sit silently in my room, study for an hour, take a ten minute break. I could never pull out all nighter so I was always more comfortable studying during the day. The last few days before the exam I just took mock exams and slept well. The job of praying to God was entrusted to my mom.
How many hours in a day did you put into preparation? Tell us your daily study schedule?
Well, there is no definite answer for this because it largely depended on what subject I chose and what grounds I had to cover. It varied from 10 to 14 hours (inclusive of school hours).
How many mock question papers did you solve in a day? Do mocks help in preparation?
In the beginning of the year, I used to solve one mock test a day. From the month of December, I increased it to two. Mock tests are extremely important when it comes to cracking CLAT. It helps us in time management, getting used to the paper pattern and most importantly prepares us for the sweet (not quite in the case of 2012) surprises the paper usually throws at us. It builds up confidence and that helps us remain relaxed and unperturbed during the exam.
What led you to achieve such a brilliant result? Who do you thank for this?
First and foremost, I would like to thank Almighty God, who has been kind to bestow me with something I craved for the past two years. Then, I need to thank my parents who always stood by my side providing me constant support, my teachers who never made me feel the absence of personalized classroom training with their cooperation and support. I also have to thank all my friends who helped me boost my preparation (voluntarily or involuntarily). The various groups I joined on Facebook and the mentors who administered them also deserve sizable credit for my achievement, because it had always been a readymade source of solving doubts. I also need to thank Mr. Raman Kumar, Principal of Vaishnavi Chetana College of Commerce where I studied my 11th and 12th for extending indescribable cooperation towards my CLAT preparation.
CLAT 2012 was surrounded by loads of controversies this year. Students claimed the paper was out of syllabus. Is it true? Did you feel the same when you were writing the paper? Did you get nervous?
Many people ranted that questions in legal section required legal knowledge and many questions in the GK part were of static GK, which was a direct contravention of the set pattern. Although the questions in GK part had some remote semblence with the current events, the legal part was blatantly in contravention of the pattern. The CLAT official website mentioned explicitly that no prior knowledge of law would be required, but many questions went against this set pattern. I did get nervous for sometime but i could thankfully handle the situation.
Did preparation for AILET help you to solve legal knowledge and static GK sections in CLAT (which had come out of the prescribed CLAT syllabus)?
Very much. I may not have secured the rank that I have secured in CLAT had I not prepared for NLU, Delhi.
What is your success mantra for being so brilliant in G.K? How did you prepare for it?
There is just one mantra when it comes to mastering GK: practice, practice and more practice. I referred to dozens of GK sources, which included regular reading of The Hindu, monthly magazines like Pratiyogita Darpan, yearbooks like Upahaar Panorama and several online sources like post.jagran.com, jagranjosh.com, bbc.co.uk, compendiums from clatgyan, leadthecompetition.com, theonlinegk.wordpress.com, the 100 GK quizzes conducted by Mr Rajneesh Singh Sir in clathacker.com etc. Some books like '1100 MCQs for CLAT' by Harsh Gagrani, CLAT essentials by Abhinav Srivastava, daily GK doses from coaching institutes also helped. For static GK I referred to previous years’ papers, gktoday.in, Pearsons and Arihant GK guide.
Legal GK was an issue with CLAT 2012 - most people said it was static which was not expected. How did you handle that section?
As I said, fortunately I had appeared for AILET as well which included static and legal GK. My preparation for AILET helped me handle CLAT's bitter joke.
Who has been your idol in life? For what reasons?
I do not have one idol in my life. I keep short term goals and strive hard to accomplish them. Throughout my preparation for CLAT 2012, my inspiration has been AIR 1 of CLAT 2011, Padmini Baruaha. Though, I could not emulate her performance, I am happy that I came close.
Name any three qualities that a law aspirant must have.
These are some of the qualities which I think a law student must possess:
a) A sharp analytical mind and reasoning ability
b) Fuent English
c) The ability to deal with different challenges without getting perturbed or excited
d) The ability to take split second effective decisions
e) The acumen to read the mind of the opponent
f) Most importantly the urge and zeal to deliver justice to the people who are deprived of it
How much do you think these law entrances like CLAT, AILET, SET etc actually help in depicting a person's aptitude for law programs?
I personally think that no exam can flawlessly predict a person's aptitude or capacity to study law. I cannot comment anything on SET since I did not appear for it, but CLAT and AILET have been setting the paper in such a pattern that they come very close to assessing a person's capacity to study law. For instance, reasoning sections help in identifying the candidate with the best analytical mind. English knowledge is pre requisite for any lawyer. Since law is extremely dynamic, it is also required to test how a candidate keeps a tab on the current affairs occurring around him. So, I think they help a lot in depicting the person's aptitude.
Was this your first attempt?
Yes, it was.
What materials did you refer to while preparing for these law entrance examinations?
For Legal GK I used Tata McGraw Hill, Arihant publications, CLAT essentials by Abhinav Srivastava, LST/ Sriram/ CLATPossible modules, Universal guide to LLB, Lexis Nexis (to some extent) and previous years’ question papers. For Logic I used sources like Tata McGraw Hill LSAT guide, GMAT guide, CSAT book on logical reasoning by Rajneesh Singh, modules by coaching institutes, previous years’ question papers, MK Pandey and RS Agarwal to name a few. I would like to mention that logic requires a lot of practice. For Mathematics I used Objective Quantitative Aptitude by S. Chand, MB Trya book on Quicker Math, and Arun Sharma book on Quantitative Aptitude for CAT, and of course modules and class-sheets from coaching institutes. For English, I diligently went through every single page of Wren and Martin to get my fundas cleared. Then, I went through books like 'Objective English' by Pearson, 'Objective English' by S. Chand. The worksheets in my coaching institutes and an English exercise book by team Satyam were really very helpful. To improve my reading speed, I never missed out the Hindu editorial pages, four pages of Outlook and eight pages of Frontline every day, which not only helped me increase my reading skill but also my vocabulary. To strengthen my vocabulary even more, I used to go through eight pages of Oxford English dictionary and learn all the words.
What does it take to achieve such a fantastic result? How can other law aspirants replicate your success?
The answer lies in a carefully planned combination of hard work and smart work. We need to make sure we practice diligently and also ensure that our body and mind cooperates with us. It is advisable to reward ourselves with every little thing we achieve in the course of preparation in proportion to their importance. We need to know the things to study and things to be left out since preparation for a competitive exam like CLAT can never be COMPLETE.
Tell us something about yourself and your family.
I am from a small town called Davangere, nearly four hours from Bangalore, Karnataka. My dad is a civil engineer, and my mom is a house maker. I did my high school from Sri Taralabau Central School and did my PUC (Karnatakan eqvivalent of 10+2) from Sri Vaishnavi Chetana Education Trust. Both of them helped in laying a resolute foundation to my entire personality development.
What are your hobbies? How do you spend your free time?
I am a good swimmer, so I spend most of my time in the water. I also spend my leisure hours reading novels and writing essays for the school magazines.
How has the response been so far from friends, family, mentors, teachers?
The response has been overwhelming. All my friends and well wishers are happy for my result.
Any suggestions you want to give to students aspiring to do law? Academic? Non-academic?
Like all other exams, law entrance exams like AILET and CLAT entail hard and rigorous toil. But along with that, they also require smart study, since they include subjects like GK and vocabulary where your preparation can never be complete. We need to make a note of what to study and what to skip. I would suggest you all to set a time table which goes right up to the hour you write your exam and stick to it. One should also take as many live mock exams as possible.
And going by my experience of CLAT 2012, I think students should be clear with the concepts relevant to law (legal knowledge) even if the pattern explicitly says it is not required. That will prevent a student from being stumped on seeing an unexpected paper.
And the biggest enemies when it comes to a successful preparation plan are anxiety and tension. We do come at instances where we go blank, literally go to the extent of giving up but all of this is normal in the course of our preparation. We just have to make sure we dont get bogged down by those feelings, and carry on. All the best!
Do you see yourself in the black law uniform aruguing a case in the court or in formal shirt and trousers giving legal advice to some company?
I am actually more inclined towards litigation than corporate practice but my ambition does not end at becoming a lawyer. I wish to appear for UPSC exams and do well in them. I see myself as a public servant helping people.
So where do you see yourself 10 years down the line?
If things work out well, I shall be recognized as an efficient public servant who treats his work as his God. I shall be dubbed as a person who works genuinely to the fullest of his capacity to see content smiles on the faces of his countrymen.