Rank: 1, Batch: 2016
I attempted GATE 2015 (with a month’s preparation) while I was working with an MNC and bagged rank 450. For GATE 2016, I started preparing seriously in September 2015. While working I realized that this is the right time to explore every option available other than the corporate as I don’t have to support my family financially. So, I decided to explore research too. Moreover, I feel the student in me is underfed.
My first reaction
When my sister told me my result, I asked her to check it again and verify if it’s 10 or 11. She confirmed Rank 1! My family was celebrating and I was still trying to believe it. It took me several days to absorb the result.
For a good rank, I give credits to hard work, perseverance and practice. And for rank 1, I believe blessings helped. I owe my success to my FAMILY, TEACHERS, and FRIENDS. These people encouraged my idea of leaving a fat salary for GATE and kept me going.
I referred my class notes which were prepared from standard books during B.Tech. As I had a little time, I skipped going through the books all over again. Instead, I used my notes, NPTEL lectures, and some random free online lectures. I didn’t take any formal coaching but joined a couple of online test series of leading institutes : MADE EASY and ACE.
If you have slightest of the slightest doubt on your concepts, please join a coaching institute. Or if you believe you can perform better after joining it, please go ahead and enroll yourself in a classroom coaching program. In the exam, your hard work and self-study will help you the most.
A. Study schedule
I was very regular in studies. I never studied more than 10hrs and there wasn’t a single day when I didn’t study at all. Moreover, I slept 8hrs/day. I am more comfortable studying late night than early morning. I used to study till 2am and sometimes even 4am and woke up accordingly, sometimes 10am and sometimes 12pm. I finished syllabus by the first week of November 2015. After that, I practiced a lot. I took around 100 tests to check my understanding of concepts. I prepared myself for worst situations my mind could think of.
B. Strong and Weak subjects (How did I prepared them?)
STRONG: I tried to achieve 100% accuracy in these subjects. Through tests, I tried to analyze the result and identify my weaknesses and then worked on them. I made sure not to repeat the same mistakes again.
- Programming and Data Structure
- Operating System
- Theory of Computation ( was weak earlier)
- Digital System Design
WEAK: I made notes of difficult topics and went through them again and again. I tried to achieve 80% accuracy in these subjects. If you cannot earn positive marks in these subjects at least do not lose marks because of them. So I tried to minimize the marks I was losing on them.
- Computer Architecture
- Computer Networks
Books and e-sources
Books I referred:
- Discrete Maths – B.tech notes prepared from Tremblay Manohar
- Engineering Maths – JEE preparation helped. I referred my sister’s notes on Linear Algebra and Probability. She was a classroom student at ACE. Calculus from my GATE 2015 preparation.
- Programming C – Dennis Ritchie
- Data Structure – B.Tech notes prepared from Tanenbaum. I update these notes regularly. So, I can’t provide a single source.
- Algorithms – B.Tech notes from CLRS, Horowitz & Sahni.
- Operating System – Galvin
- Theory of Computation – B.tech notes (don’t remember the book), NPTEL lectures by Prof. Kamala Krithivasan & Online lectures by Shai Simonson
- Compilers – Dragon book + FREE online lectures on parsers by Ravindrababu Ravula
- Digital System Design – Morris Mano
- Computer Architecture – Morris Mano
- DBMS – Korth
- Computer Networks – B.Tech notes prepared from Tanenbaum & Forouzan. Wi-Fi from Jochen Schiller.
I referred ‘Handbook of CS’ published by MadeEasy for quick revision during final days of my preparation.
eSources which were very helpful:
- NPTEL lectures
- GeeksForGeeks / GeeksQuiz
- GateOverflow / GATECSE
- RavindraBabu Ravula’s FREE lectures.
Maths and Aptitude in GATE are quite easy and scoring. I relied on previous year Gate question and online test series for aptitude.
Absolutely! I joined online test series provided by Made Easy and ACE institutes. I took over 100 tests. Salient features of the test series:
- check understanding of concepts
- identify weaknesses
- provide a GATE like interface so you feel at home during the exam.
- learn time management
- keep a track of your progress
- feel the competition by comparing with the fellow Gate aspirants.
I recommend GATE aspirants to practice previous year questions as many times as they can.
I started with General Aptitude and spent 20 minutes in the section. After that, I moved to technical section’s 2 mark questions and spent 90 minutes on them. Finally, I attempted 1 mark questions and invested 50 minutes there. This is how I finished my first round through the questions in 2 hours and 40 minutes. In the remaining 20 minutes, I went through my answers again looking for silly mistakes. This helped me save 3.33 marks. I have solved those questions correctly and marked incorrectly. During these 20 minutes, I erased my 2 correct answers also as I was not sure about them. And this is how I didn’t earn those 3 marks. My total would have been 91.67! But everything is well if it ends well.
Though I started preparing for interviews after GATE exam, I have not received any interview call as of now. I have received the direct admission offers from IISc and IITB. To prepare for an interview, study the subject in depth. While preparing for GATE, focus on breadth.
I intend to join a M.Tech program and explore opportunities in research.
Advice to fellow students
To crack GATE you need:
- to believe in yourself. No matter what others think of you, trust yourself. I have gone through all this. And if I can do it in just 5 months, certainly you can do it.
- to aim rank 1. Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
- to be kind and positive.
- keep your concepts clear and practice and practice and practice.
And if I helped you in any way, please feed a stray animal at least once in your lifetime.