Rank: 24, Batch: 2015
Place: Badlapur, Maharashtra
My first reaction
Pure happiness ! I had estimated my marks around 72-73 from many answer keys. While this score is great, rank can’t be estimated as it depends on collective performance. So seeing AIR 24 was really mixture of surprise and joy. Now admission at any institute was possible.
The credit for my success goes undoubtedly to my parents. They were there for me at every moment of self-doubt and helped me with every important decision.
I wanted to give a very serious and concentrated effort for GATE. I found and analysed everything I could on GATE (CSE) online, in early 2014. In that process I determined that, with enough time and proper resources I can formulate a winning strategy for GATE. And so I spent next few months collecting reference books, determining efforts required for all subjects, making a schedule and other such activities. By April-May 2014 I was done with all these activities and it was clear to me that if I keep working in company, I will not be able to give all necessary efforts. So I quit my job in July 2014 and came back home.
As to second part of question, it is not at all NECESSARY to join a coaching institute, it is merely a choice you have to make from your standpoint. I did not join any classroom coaching program as I was confident that I can study and understand all the subjects on my own. I took MadeEasy’s postal course just to ensure that I cover syllabus, and never used their notes.
So I was home in July with only GATE on mind. I understood the risk I had taken in quitting job and staying home for studies and it was the real driving force for next 6-7 months. Following are main points in my preparation strategy.
a. Study schedule
I studied for at least 8-9 hours everyday from 10th July till the previous week of exam. As I had already ensured that I will be getting enough time and resources for preparations, I decided to make most of it by studying every possible topic. In other words, my strategy was to leave nothing to chance.
I studied in following stages. In first stage, which lasted for three and half months, i.e., until middle of October, I read and understood all 11 subjects and Maths. Each of this subject contains 10 chapters on average. If you cover one chapter each day you can cover syllabus in 120 days, i.e., in roughly four months. I covered one chapter everyday on average. I would read and understand chapter from reference book in the first half of day and would later solve previous year GATE questions on that topic and other practice questions such as exercises given in reference books.
In the next stage, I started solving previous year GATE question papers. To solve one such paper means solving a perfect combination of questions about all subjects and of varying difficulty levels. Nothing else will give you better practice for GATE. Along with this I had joined few online test series, but I wasn’t able to finish it due to time constraints. While solving these questions I realized many weak points in my preparation, such as some topics on which I wasn’t perfectly clear. I also realized that I am having issues with finishing paper on time. And I worked on these points. This cycle continued. I used to solve as many questions from various resources, finding out flaws in preparation, methods, strategies and then I improved them.
As time went by, number of mistakes lessened, thinking became sophisticated, and confidence grew within me. I stopped studying one week before exam.
b. Strong and weak subjects (How did I prepared them?)
I gave equal attention to all subjects except SE and Web Technology (that was a mistake..I lost 2 marks). Algorithms, Operating Systems, DBMS, CN, TOC were my favorites, while Compiler Design was a bit difficult for me. However I ensured that I covered every subject at least twice.
Books and e-sources
I referred following books.
- M. Mano.
- M. Mano.
- I would suggest Hamacher also, although I read it only for Pipelining. But it is good for other topics also.
- Ullman, Hopcroft
- Michael Sipser is good for Undecidability
- Shai Simonson’s video lectures are GREAT resource
- Aho, Ullman.
- Stallings for I/O and File Systems.
- Davie, Peterson (Problems in exercises are very important and useful)
Linear Algebra, Calculus-
- Higher Engg Maths by Grewal
Please note that I do not claim that above list is the only reference for GATE preparation. There are many other useful books than above list, refer following link: http://gatecse.in/wiki/Best_books_for_CSE. I suggest you select your own set of books as per your requirements.
I had studied from R. S. Agarwal for campus placements some time back. I just revised it a little bit.
I had joined GATEFORUM and ACE Academy’s test series, but I was unable to complete both of them. I think mock tests are good resource for practice questions. If you think you have some other comparable resource for practicing then you can skip mock test series.
I finished aptitude section in about 15 minutes, and then solved CS part for rest of duration. There wasn’t any strategy as such, I just solved questions one by one. Perhaps this is the reason I wasn’t able to finish the paper in time. During preparation I was so focused on just to solve the questions that I didn’t put enough effort in developing a proper time management strategy. I advise students to avoid this mistake and to device a time management plan and practice it enough.
I didn’t appear for any interviews at IITs and PSUs.
I have joined IIT Bombay for M. Tech. in Computer Science. As to plans after Masters, I am still contemplating various options.
Advice to fellow students
Make a plan and stick to it no matter what. Leave nothing to chance.