Rank: 5, Batch: 2015
Place: Kolkata, West Bengal
Earlier, in my final year, I had given GATE exam but it was a halfhearted attempt. So the rank I got was not good enough to get me a admission into any IIT. I got placed in TCS in my college campus interview and decided to join it. It was during this period I decided to give GATE again, basically, for the following reasons:
- I was unhappy with myself as I thought I deserve better.
- I was finding the work there a bit boring and the salary also was not too good.
- In IT companies, compared to the product based companies, employees get less benefits.
My first reaction
I was ecstatic when I saw my result, I never expected a single digit rank (AIR – 05, marks – 80.09). So I checked the result portal more than 2-3 times to be sure. The credit goes to my family and friends who always supported me and were with me during the hard time.
At first I found my weak points and all mistakes that I did in the previous year GATE paper. For those topics, I started studying the theory part from standard books and online materials. Then I practiced the questions based on these topics first from previous years papers, then from different books and online sites (material provided by MIT, Stanford on MOOC sites like udemy, coursera) and coaching institute test series papers. I practiced until I got good hold of these topics.
Then I moved to my strong areas and studied theory for topics which I have forgotten or was a bit rusty at. Then practiced the questions related to those topics as well, until I was confident enough. I also used to revise topics in every few weeks, so that I don’t loose the grasp over them.
I think self-study is enough if you are really serious about GATE and really want to crack it. As I have myself done self-study. Having said that, I think a good coaching institute will only increase your chances of success.
Since I was working in TCS I was not able to give more than say 3-4 hours on the weekdays. But on holidays and on days when I reach home early (because of less work) I try to utilize the extra time I had in hand. On weekends, I used to study at least 5-6 hours and that could go upto 10 hours.
Strong Subjects: Data Structures, Algorithms, Discrete Math, OS, Database
Weak Subjects: Networking, compiler design, software engineering, CO and Architecture
Neither strong nor weak: Automata, Web Technologies
The best way to convert your weak areas into strong is to first know the subject matter well, for that one should study the required portions from the standard books (not the whole book as that will consume lot of time). Also one should check out online materials, on these subjects, provided by MIT, Stanford on MOOC sites like udemy, coursera etc. When you are sure that you have gained enough background knowledge, then it is time to move to practicing questions.
For the strong subjects you can directly move to the practice part if you feel no topic needs refreshment or just revise them once and then start practicing.
Books and e-sources
- TOC – Peter linz
- Data structures/Algorithm : Mark Allen Weiss (mainly for DS it has c code too), Robert Sedgewick (for proper understanding of algorithms), Cormen (for mathematical proofs and complexity analysis)
- Networking : Behrouz A. Forouzan (coursera course)
- Operating Systems : Galvin (nptel lectures)
- Compiler design : Any standard book (coursera course)
- Discrete : Kenneth Rosen
- Engineering Maths : Any 12 book like RD Sharma etc..
- CO : Carl Hamacher (Standford online sources)
- C : Let us C or Dennis Ritchie
For aptitude, I mainly used R.S. Aggarwal and also did a few problems from Arun Sharma. The online test series also helped me in preparing for the aptitude section.
I have given GATEFORUM and MADEASY online test series and I think they are very important. Since they can help you in assessing yourself giving you a meaningful insights about your weak areas. They also helps you in finding the best way to write the exam.
Also, the rank in test series paper gives you a slight sense of your all India standing. But sometimes they can give you a false sense of achievement, like doing good on a easy paper. So it is important to keep your head cool and keep preparing steadily.
I started with the aptitude section and finished it within 15 to 20 minutes. Then I went through the complete paper solving the questions that were easy and could be done fast. Then In the second sweep I did the lengthy and the tricky questions, and in the last 20-25 minutes I tried the questions which I had marked to be revised and the ones that involve lengthy calculations. I corrected two questions (3-4 marks approx.) during my revision and hence I feel it is an important part of the exam.
This was my strategy, but each individual has his own style and I recommend to not to follow my style, but rather find your own. And yes, do revise it is very important.
Since I got the direct admission in IIT-Bombay, so I have not given any interview in any IITs and PSUs. But I think the same rules of preparation with slight modification can be applied for interviews preparation also.
After completing my M-Tech I will either go for higher studies or join a company and work in the industry to find out what suites me. As of now I am keeping all my options open.
Advice to fellow students
Be disciplined and organized in your studies. Try to utilize as much time as you can and yes practice, practice and practice as much as you can. Relax and take time off studies. Since an overworked brain is of no use.
Last but not the least give your best and take what comes your way sportingly.