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The CLAThacker Interview Series III - Vani Sharma from NLSIU talks about how law was a natural choice for her, dealing with her nightmarish GK and Math, and finally securing AIR 1 in AILET 2014!

  1.      Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Bangalore and Gurgaon. I finished my schooling at DPS, Gurgaon. I’m about to begin my third trimester at NLS this March. I’m the kind of person you would instantly label a nerd. I was never a very outgoing person, and even today I would turn to a book rather than to another person when I’m stressed.

That said, I do have interests other than books. I am working to summon the courage to moot and possibly even debate – I liked doing the novice rounds, though I could have done better.  I’m also more than a little obsessed with France and the French language.

2.      Do you have lawyers among your family and relatives? Who or what inspired you to pursue law as a career option?

No, no one from my immediate family is a lawyer. I decided on the law because it was the most promising option for an arts student, and because it seemed like it was a reasonable way to help people. It was also a very, very small and subtle act of rebellion in a family of science and commerce students.

3.      What did your friends, teachers and other people around you react when they came to know about your decision to become a lawyer?

My dad was always extremely supportive, but my mom initially wanted me to be an engineer. She came around after a while though, and she’s pretty happy with my choice today.

My friends and teachers thought it was a natural choice for someone they perceived as argumentative and opinionated. (It is a misconception that argumentative and opinionated people make good lawyers). I had this one teacher, though, who was devastated because I wasn’t pursuing her subject in college.

4.      What were the entrance exams you took?

CLAT, AILET, Symbiosis and LSAT.

5.      When did you start preparing for CLAT & AILET?

Shortly after beginning eleventh grade.

6.      Legal Reasoningand English wereyour strengths. Please guide our readers as to how you went about preparing for it.

 

To be honest, English was not something I worked extensively for, apart from doing Norman Lewis’ Word Power Made Easy. I think my habit of reading for leisure gave me the skills I needed to do well in Reading Comprehension and Grammar.

 

For Legal Reasoning, I relied extensively on my institute’s prep material and mock tests, along with exercises from Universal and Lexis-Nexis. I’d also solved the past year papers for CLAT and AILET at least twice before writing the exam.

 

7.      Math and GK were comparatively weaker for you. Please tell us how you went about these sections. What materials did you use?

 

Math and GK were nightmares for me! I spent most of my prep time on these two subjects alone, and for a very long time there was no payoff. Practice is the key to math – that and knowing the basic concepts along with shortcuts. I relied on the workbooks provided by my institute and guidebooks by R. S. Agarwal to practice. For GK, I relied on The Hindu, PratiyogitaDarpan, and the books published by Arihant and Pearsons. I used compendiums brought out by CL and CLATGyan to revise.

 

8.      What are the books and materials you used for CLAT?

 

1) CL’s Material, including the mock tests

2) English – Norman Lewis’ Word Power Made Easy

3) G.K. – The Hindu, PratiyogitaDarpan, the yearly compendium by Manorama,The Hindu Diary of Events, the monthly compendiums by CLATGyan, the daily current affairs supplements by CL, Pearsons and Arihant, and Lexis-Nexis.

3) Logic – R.S. Agarwal

4) Math – R.S. Agarwal

5) Legal Reasoning – Universal and Lexis-Nexis.

 

9.      Did you go to any coaching centre? What is your opinion on coaching centres?

 

Yes, I was at CL Gurgaon. I think going to a coaching centre helped me focus my preparation purely because I was reminded of the intensity of the competition. In the end, all a coaching centre can do for you is give you access to material and to people who can help you with your doubts – you have to work on your own. It’s certainly possible to make it through without a coaching centre; I have a batchmate at NLS who did that. But it would require a lot of will and discipline.

10.  Tell us about the mock tests you took. From where did you source them? How often did you take a mock test? Did you subscribe to any specific mock test series?

I was enrolled with CL’s two-year program so I took mocks as per their schedule – six in the first year and around 12 in the second year, I think. I also tested myself using old mocks, past year papers and the mocks from Lexis-Nexis during my boards.

11.  In your opinion what are the top five skills required to ace these entrance tests?

A. Time management

B. Perseverance

C. Self-confidence

D. Optimism

E. A good strategy.

12.  What was your strategy regarding time management? Did you get enough time to complete the test?

 

I did enough mocks that by the time I took the actual tests, I finished both before time. I think the order in which I did the sections mattered – I did the ones I could get through faster (GK, Legal) in the beginning, the time-consuming ones (Logic, Math) in the end.

 

13.  How did you manage to cope with the stress during preparation?

 

By reading. It was wonderful to escape into another person’s life for a few hours.

 

14.  How did you balance Board Prep and CLAT?

 

It’s a matter of prioritisation, honestly. I was a Pure Arts kid; no math and no eco, so I had it easier than kids from other streams. I took my schoolwork seriously from the very beginning, so by the time I finished with my second pre-boards I was pretty thorough with my school syllabus. During Feb-March, I focused on solving mocks – boards and law entrances, and revising the subjects and concepts that eluded me. I made sure I never completely stopped working for my law entrances, except on the night before the board exam.

 

It was a depressing few months. The balancing act wasn’t always perfect – there were times when the only law prep I did in a week was the Sunday CL mock, and there were times when a night of doing current affairs forced me to finish off my school homework in class. But it worked out in the end.

 

15. How did it feel like to be AIR 1 in AILET? Where do you see yourself after 5 years          from now? How has your experience in NLSIU been so far?

 

I couldn’t believe it at first. When it finally sank in that it was my name on top of the list, I was euphoric. But eventually... it stopped mattering altogether. On the first day of college, the VC told us that an achievement is rendered meaningless once it has been attained. I think they perfectly describe my attitude towards AILET; my rank is largely irrelevant to me now.

 

Where do I see myself five years from now? I don’t know, honestly. Life is short, swift and unpredictable, and I only hope that whatever I do, I make the most of it five years later. I’m still unsure of what I want to do – a lot less sure than when I walked in here. I’m still figuring out who I am as a person, where my talents truly lie, and how I can meaningfully contribute [while hopefully making some money].

 

My experience at NLS has largely been humbling. I’ve learnt a lot – about myself and about human nature in general. It really is the kind of place that makes you grow up, and fast.

16. What is your message to our readers?

Make sure you know why you want law school.

That said, if you have truly made up your mind to become a lawyer, then I can only wish you luck.

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Comment by Prithvi Joshi on February 16, 2015 at 11:21am

It is truly inspiring . I can connect the story with myself.

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