8 easy steps to prepare for any competitive exam with objective questions and negative marking (think: CLAT)


This works great for anyone, but for people who are trying to prepare in one or two months for an exam like CLAT, this is the easiet and surest way to crack the exam.

Remember that this method is not a magic pill, but I have not come across a better and quicker method to drastically improve. It takes hard work, and lots of people who are allergic to systematic, strategic hard work will never implement this. This is a method of winners, the best people already implement some loose or less systematic version of this. The beauty of this method is that it is so easy and simple that everyone can follow it, but very few actually do so. If you are not ready to work hard, if you have the discipline needed to be successful, don’t read this article any more – it is not of any use to you anyway. However, if you have a burning desire to succeed, if you have no choice but to crack this exam and make it happen, and you realize that there is very less time – read this and implement this immediately. This method will shave off months from the required preparation time. One month is enough to implement this if you can work for a few hours every day. You can do it over a year if you have the luxury, but faster you do it, better the results.

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It all starts from the past years papers. You must first get sufficiently large number of pa st years papers, which can thereafter be analyzed by you to understand what exactly is being assessed in the exam.

Step 1

Get as many past years papers as you can get. For CLAT – since CLAT has been happening only since 2008, there are only 3 or 4 past years papers which are easily available. This is not enough sample size for a good analysis. Hence, get old NLSIU, NALSAR, NUJS, NLUD and NLUO papers. In total, you should get at least 30 to 40 papers in order to do what I am going to tell you to do next.

For some exams, like the All India Bar Exam, you have only a few papers (4 at the time of writing) to analyze. No problem, make the best of what you have. Try to see if there are any similar exams. Very often, judicial services exam’s objective component is very similar to AIBE – so get those papers if you want. Find mock tests sold by preparation services – they would be useful for this purpose too.

Step 2

When you have gathered enough past years papers, it is time to start the analysis. For this, you have to start solving the papers one by one. However, just solving is not enough –  right after you are done solving, comes the analysis part.


Step 3

You check which questions you were able to answer correctly. For this, you can use some answer keys available in the market. Sometimes these answer keys may have wrong answer, so be careful – check with others. One easy way to find our if you are right is to post a question in an online forum and inviting people to answer. The answer is not enough, ask them how to solve, the reasoning behind the answer as well. You can do this on the CLAThacker Facebook group – it is quite active for this purpose. You can even ask someone for answer keys, they float around on the internet – but just make sure that they are not wrong.

Step 4

Now you simply see which questions you got right, and which ones you got wrong. However, this alone is not enough, even within the questions you got right, you must see which ones took too much time to solve.

How do you know if it is taking too much time to solve? You have 200 questions usually in CLAT to be solved in 120 minutes. This means you have no more than 30 secods to solve most English questions, less than a minute to solve Maths questions, less than 10 seconds to solve GK questions, about a minute to solve both legal reasoning and logical reasoning questions. Verbal reasoning questions can be and should be solved very fast. You must not lose too much time on things like comprehension passages.

I know this sounds ridiculous, but this is what you need to achieve over time, and people can do it. You need to learn how – otherwise you’ll not manage to crack CLAT.

While preparing, and initially as you are analyzing the paper, take more time than this – it is fine. Take 3 or 4 hours instead of 2 hrs to finish a paper – no problem. However, record the time you are spending on different type of questions. And if you are taking too much time to solve certain type of questions, note that. It is a problem, and only way you can start handling these problems is by being aware of them.

Step 5

Now you create  three lists. Headings of the three lists will be: solved correctly and quickly (List 1), solved correctly but not quickly enough (List 2) and could not solve correctly (List 3)

Step 6

Identify each question type, and give it a name. For example, in a comprehension passage, it can be  something like this:

Comprehension – factual question

Comprehension – what was the theme of the paragragh

Comprehension – analytical question

Comprehension – appropriate title

You can even write a question or two as an example of the question type. Make sure the name is descriptive enough so that you can easily understand what the name stands for later on.

Step 7

After you have done this with lots of papers (at least 10), you will probably end up with a very long list of types of questions that you can solve quickly and correctly, question types taking too much time to solve, and questions that you are not solving correctly consistently. This is a very very useful list. Preserve this list.

What do these lists signify?

List 3 has the questions that you need to start working on immediately. Take one type at a time and improve your ability to solve that time. Go to teachers, or friends who are good at these subjects to learn how to solve these correctly and qucikly. Clear up you basics by reading a textbook. Identify why you are making wahtever mistakes you are making. Find out shortcuts and better techniques to solve these types of questions.

By the time you are going to write CLAT, if you are still not able to figure out how to solve these types qucikly, you will still benefit from this exercise, as you leave those questions in the paper, and the time you therefore save will be used to solve other questions which would come under List 1 or List 2.

List 2 has questions that also need your attention. You can not afford to spend too much time on a question – as that takes away time from you and you could not attempt the questions that you probably find easier, thus reducing overall marks. If solving a 5 marks comprehension passage is taking 10 minutes, it is better to leave those 5 questions and use that time to solve 10 logical reasoning questions that you know you can solve at 1 minute each.

While preparing, for these type of questions you need to find out how they can be solved faster. You can also increase your speed at solving just by trying to solve them faster. If you take 20 minutes to solve 10 questions, and you need to solve them in 10 minutes, conciously try to make yourself superfast and try to solve them in just 5 minutes. No problem if you get a few answers wrong – keep the speed high and keep practicing. If you do this many times, your brain will learn to solve these types of questions at a high speed. You can solve the same question paper again and again, each time trying to be faster than the last time, but going through the entire mental process of solving the question. Ask you teachers how you can solve certain types of questions faster.

List 1 has the types of questions you can solve easily. This is important to know especially in an exam with negative marking. These are the questions you must attempt during the exam. More types of questions under this list (apart from what is already there – more will be added through practice over time – question types will move on to here from the other lists as you work more on your preparation), higher are the chances that you will crack the exam and do very well.


Remember, this is an extremely smart way of preparing, and it works like magic!


Step 8

Just A few days before CLAT, you should do this exercise again. 7 days before CLAT would be a good idea. Practice at least 10-15 past years papers (estimated time needed for 15 papers and analysis 50 hours) and create this list again. Give your exam according to these lists. List 1 questions are high priority, you must solve them. Avoid questions which still remain in list 3 altogether.  If after solving list 1 questions you still have time, go on to solve list 2 questions. This also ensures that you would not lose marks on negative marks as well.

This was first published in which is now defunct.



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