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The CLAThacker Interview Series IV - Shuchita Goel from NLUD talks about making a split-second decision to not join a prestigious DU college, and how that has eventually paid off!

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a first year student at National Law University, Delhi. I was born in Secunderabad but have lived for most of my life in New Delhi. I finished my schooling from Sanskriti School, New Delhi in 2013. I am a voracious reader and have now graduated from classics to books dealing with history and politics. I also love writing and regularly pursue that activity, despite the paucity of time that I face nowadays. I spent the past month and a half doing two concurrent internships at the National Commission for Women and Model Governance Foundation (an NGO which deals with issues of women empowerment as a part of good governance) and am now inclined towards that field.

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

I do not have any relatives who are practicing lawyers although some, including my father, hold a bachelor’s degree in law. Inspiration to pursue law as a career struck me very late in the day. I graduated from school in 2013 and initially wished to pursue a History (Hons.) course. After I managed to secure a seat at Hansraj College, Delhi University, I made a split second decision of dropping it for law at University School of Law and Legal Studies, IP University. It was there that I came to the realisation that the course was tailor-made for me, for it incorporated subjects of the Humanities stream as well. After a semester and a half at USLLS, I decided to start preparing for the entrances for the colleges that come under CLAT and NLU Delhi.

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

Frankly, they were ecstatic that I had finally made a decision. My parents had always wanted me to pursue law and were extremely happy that I started to prepare for the entrances seriously. The fact that some of my friends at USLLS were preparing for the CLAT and AILET entrances as well helped out a lot because I was able to focus on the task at hand and not get distracted.

4.      What were the entrance exams you took?

I took the AILET and the CLAT, in both 2013 and 2014.

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

I started my preparation for the entrances in mid-February, 2014. Prior to that, I was taking the end semester exams at USLLS. It was only in February that I seriously started to collect material that would eventually prove to be helpful in my preparation.

6.      GK was your strength. Please guide our readers as to how you went about preparing for it.

General knowledge isn’t something that you can acquire over as short a period as two months, or even a year. I have assiduously cultivated and maintained a habit of reading over the years which proved to be exceptionally helpful when it came to preparing for the law entrances. This doesn’t only extend to newspapers but also includes magazines and non-fiction novels. It’s always a good idea to supplement that reading with other sources prior to the exams so as to refresh your memory. The biggest help in this aspect was the website which puts up monthly compendiums of everything that’s been going on in the world. It helped vastly with my current affairs preparation. For the static aspect of GK, I referred to the Pearson guide.

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

Mathematics, as a subject, has always been quite nightmarish for me. I had Math in 12th grade but the math required for law entrances is vastly different. These exams tout that it’s only up to Math that has been taught till 10th grade. To some extent that is true, the concepts incorporated in the paper are indeed up to the level of 10th grade, but the level of questions that are formulated is nowhere near the same. To prepare for this section, I used the materials I had obtained from AB Tutorials (or Bhatara, as it is popularly known), the coaching centre I had enrolled myself in the previous year. I also referred to Universal’s Guide to LLB Preparation and the LexisNexis guide as well.

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

I used Universal’s Guide to LLB Preparation and the LexisNexis guide as a foundation for all the subjects, on which I could further develop my knowledge. For GK specifically, I used the Pearson guide, material sourced from ClatGyan and compilations by Arihant. For Logical Reasoning, I used the M.K. Pandey guidebook. I also used the Pearson mock test series.

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

For my first attempt at cracking the entrances, I had attended weekly classes at AB Tutorials. This year, I did not attend any institution. The problem with coaching centres is that there is no attention paid to your individual strengths and weaknesses. In a class of 30-40 aspirants, your individual needs get drowned out. Therefore this year I decided to consult a private tutor, who was himself a graduate of HNLU, Raipur. The material he provided was excellent and helped out a lot in determining where my strengths and weaknesses lay.

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 think taking mock tests is by far the most important phase of your preparation. They improve your ability to accurately mark answers within the prescribed time limit, given that you’ve practiced enough. I bought the Pearson book that contained a series of mock tests and sourced some from my friends who attended coaching classes. On an average, I took two mocks tests per week. I didn’t subscribe to any test series as such. Rather, I preferred taking tests from all sorts of sources.

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

The most important skill required to ace this test, in my opinion, is perseverance. This has definitely been shaped by experience for me. Even though I wasn’t serious about law as a career option the first time I took the tests, it was still somewhat disheartening to not get into one of the top law colleges in the country. I think it was that, coupled with an added passion for the subjects later in the year that made me work very hard for CLAT and AILET 2014. Therefore, perseverance and hard work are by far the most important skills required. This has to be coupled with the skill to accurately answer questions because that is exactly what the entrances test. That comes with practice. The skill to acquire and retain knowledge in a very short period of time also goes a long way in ensuring success. Fifthly, it’s imperative that one learns how to manage time well as it is crucial when it comes to law entrances.

12.  You took a bold decision of dropping a year and it paid off with you gaining entry into NLU Delhi. Please tell us about your experience in the year preceding AILET 2014.

In retrospect, I think my time at USLLS was not misspent as I got ample opportunity to think about what I wanted to do next and make some important decisions that eventually helped me secure a seat at NLU Delhi. In the year preceding AILET 2014, I was able to travel, make a lot of friends and experience a university that has a very engaging atmosphere.

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

I think the only way you can improve your speed in answering questions is if you practice enough. I did just that and was able to complete the AILET in time. Not so with the CLAT however as the math section took up a whole chuck of the time I had set aside for another section.

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

I took out a lot of time to just chill out. You know, watch movies, play Pokémon Ruby, and hang out with my friends, that sort of thing. I’m not the sort who can deal with studying 15 hours a day without taking a lot of breaks. And lengthy breaks that too. The only way I know how to cope with stress is to just chill out a lot. And it helps by allowing you to retain your focus for longer periods of time.

15.  Where do you see yourself after 5 years from now? How has your experience in NLU Delhi been so far?

I really haven’t planned that far ahead. I might take up the Civil Services examination. I might decide to travel and broaden my horizons. I might even go in for higher studies. But I do see myself doing something constructive after 5 years, that’s for sure.

My experience at NLU Delhi has been nothing short of spectacular. I joined Glasnost, our student-run newspaper, got elected to the Moot Court Committee, did a novice moot, tried my hand at mediation, helped in organising a negotiation competition and made a whole bunch of friends in the process.It’s been a very good experience for me so far.

16.  What is your message to our readers?

I honestly feel that luck plays an extremely important role in these exams so however much you may prepare, cracking them is not a certainty. It’s not a good thing to stress over these exams. That being said, one needs to put in some amounts of of hard work if they want to succeed. And I don’t mean studying continuously for 16 hours, shut in a room, without any breaks. Study hard, but more importantly, study smart. Work on your strengths before your weaknesses because that helps you gain confidence and sharpens your resolve. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. In the end, you’re the only one who knows where your strengths lie so use them to your advantage. Cheerio!


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