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The CLAThacker Interview Series XII - Tanmai Shukla from NUJS on boldly dropping a year for CLAT, his detailed preparation strategy and why you should take sleeping pills before the exam!

  • Tell us a bit about yourself.

    Well I am Tanmai Shukla from Kanpur. I was born and brought up in Kanpur. I  completed my schooling from DPS Kanpur. Currently I am a first year student in WBNUJS Kolkata. I am a sports enthusiast and also love to follow the politics that goes on in Delhi and around. I think that is all I could think of when someone asks me to tell something about myself.

  •  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 lawyers in my family. I am the first one from the family. Law as a career was something I never really thought about. I didn’t know about CLAT until my pre-board exams. I filled in the application just to see what it is, and was not really sure about writing it. But then I went to write the exam just to salvage the 3 grand I paid for the test - and that is probably the best thing I ever did. After writing CLAT I realised that this is something which matches with my interests. It was not easy to take a drop for something not known to you but I decided to take the risk and it paid off well in the end.

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

    Very few were actually privy to this decision of mine. The ones who knew something about the field appreciated the decision. But I mostly kept it to myself. Most people do not really know about CLAT and NLUs that much so when you tell them you have to draw the IIT-IIM analogy to make them understand. And since the decision to become a
    lawyer was taken after I left school so there stands no question teachers commenting on that. But now when I meet them they are really happy for I did not follow the herd and would not end up as an engineer.

  • What were the entrance exams you took?

    When I
     took the exams for the first time after 12th then CLAT was the only exam I wrote. And last year I only wrote AILET and CLAT.

  • When did you start preparing for CLAT & AILET?

    I started preparing for CLAT 2014 right after CLAT 2013.

  • Logic and GK were your strengths. How did you go about these sections? Please guide our readers.

    Okay the key to both these sections is targeted practice. Logic is one section where instead of solving one topic for two-three hours I used to solve 6 topics for 15 minutes each. What this used to do was that it gave me variety in addition to practice. I did this to all the sections. Instead of solving one topic for hours I used to pick many topics and used to solve them this way. This is what CLAT is all about. There would be questions from all the topics and solving this way helped me increase my speed and accuracy as well. For GK I would advise that one should read a newspaper regularly. And one has to keep to revising it. You don’t have to memorise it word for word but all you need to do is keep reading it again and again. This way when you see a question you will know the answer right away after looking at the options even if you haven’t memorised it. Just keep reading GK again and again. Just reading would get you great scores if you keep doing it on a constant basis.

  • English  was your weakness. Please tell our readers how you tackled your problems. How did you go about it? What materials did you use?

    Since I
     took a drop, I had the luxury which other people didn’t have – time. In that span of one year, I read newspapers on a regular basis. I read about 35 to 40 novels which I think was the best thing I did during the prep. I used to get lowest in English section in my mocks but I kept working on it and by the end of it I was probably not an expert but was much better than what I used to be. I used Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis and used RS Agarwal for synonyms, idioms etc and for comprehension I used to solve GMAT RC. The RC was difficult but was very helpful. 

  • What are the books and materials you used for CLAT & AILET?

    Well personally since I took a drop I had the advantage of solving a lot of books. Of all the books I really liked Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis and for maths and logic I used RS Agarwal. For G.K I used Lucent but only for the miscellaneous section.

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

    Yeah I took coaching from CLATpossible Kanpur. I personally feel that the coaching centres are a big help in getting through the CLAT. You can make it to good NLUs without coaching but for that you have to be quite talented. For a normal kid like me the coaching really helped. The teachers who were there helped me get over the anxiety I had for the exam because of the drop.

  • 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?

    CP had a very elaborate mocks test series. They conducted about 20 CLAT
     mocks and 5AILET mocks. Other than these I asked my friends at other coachings to give me their test papers. I had a habit of solving one test daily from 3-5. I used to solve previous years papers, previous mocks, new mocks etc during that time daily. Other tahn the material provided from my coaching I did not subscribe to anything else. But I will agree that I had very generous friends around me.

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

    In my opinion top skills that are needed to ace the tests are-

    1.       Time management- 120 minutes 200 questions are a bit unfair but that is where the ones who have managed their time well get ahead of the ones who do not.

    2.       Maintaining your calm during the exam- if you do not know the answer of one question there is no reason to panic, there are other 199 you can look to. There is no point panicking because of one question.

    3.       Practice- the more you have practiced the better your chances are to get through.

    4.       Fast reading speed- this is one thing that can not be developed over a short span of time but once acquired can be really helpful in cracking CLAT.

    I can only think of four skills that are really important for the exams. If you have these I
     don’t think anything can stop you from getting through.

  • You invested one year and it reaped fantastic rewards with you securing admission in NUJS. What would your advice to all the droppers be?

    Well taking a drop for law wasn’t a easy decision. During that one year it was really hard for me. I used to get those horrible nightmares of not getting through. I, at times, got so frustrated that I wanted to just stop and take admission in  a grad school and pursue B.Sc. but somehow I managed to get through the bad phase of life. My advice to those who took a drop is that keep moving. You can take a break once in a while but don’t forfeit the journey all together. The fruits of your hard work are really worth the wait. Keep holding on and keep working despite those rare hiccups during prep and take my word for it that you will get the best of what you deserve.

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

    Well I used to divide and allot time for each sections. My time division was 30 LA, 10 GK, 30 Logic, 30 English and 20 Maths. What this used to do for me was that it ensured that I at least attempt all my sections. Now suppose that the maths section is really difficult. Now that I have allotted 20 minutes to it means that i won’t continue solving it till i finish the section. I willmove to the next section as soon as 20 minutes are up. This ensured that I do not  miss the easy questions in subsequent sections. I practiced this same strategy in all my mocks and can proudly say that I finished my CLAT exam 15 minutes before the time.

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

    Well I used to read novels and watch TV and listen to songs. Quite conventional way but it does work.

  • Where do you see yourself after 5 years from now? How has your experience in NUJS been so far?

    Experience at NUJS has been great. Learned some really good life lessons. From mooting to hectic schedules of Viva and project submissions, the life has been a roller coaster, full of surprises. Compared to NLS and NALSAR ours is a pretty chilled out college and this gives you the luxury of doing anything you like. In 5 years from now I see myself as a good lawyer. Can’t say more than that as of now for you never know what futures holds for you.

  • What is your message to our readers?

    It is a fairly easy exam which can be cleared with a very less effort if that is put in, in a smart way. There is no need for you to stress about the exam. Stay focussed and nail the exam. And one more advice- please have a proper sleep before exam. If you cannot sleep because of anxiety take something which would induce sleep but please do sleep for when you get questions wrong because you couldn’t focus, it is the most hurtful feeling you could ever experience.

I think that is all I could think of when someone asks me to tell something about myself.

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