Chandrasish Mazumdar - GATE 2018 AIR 9 Computer Science - Kolkatta, West Bengal
Chandrashis Mazumdar

I did my schooling (classes 1 to XII) from St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, Kolkata. From my childhood, I have been playing chess. During my primary as well as high school years, I used to travel extensively to play chess tournaments. My school would always encourage me to do so and there was never a problem with getting leave. All this while, up to and including the class X board examinations, my marks remained decent.

Pic: Me at a chess tournament in New Delhi, January 2011

The problem started from class XI when I realized that I was disastrous in Physics. I joined a coaching institute for IIT-JEE preparation. But for IIT-JEE, I personally feel that unless your basics are strong beforehand, you don’t really stand a chance. I lost hope well before class XI ended. I joined Jadavpur University, Dept. of Electronics and Telecommunications in August 2014 simply because I did not get Computer Science and Engineering. I always liked Programming since class 9.

It was then that I decided that I would do my higher studies in Computer Science. I researched on the Internet and found that the IITs and IISC actually allow ECE students to study CSE at the Masters level.

My first reaction


I was at a Seminar in my college when I checked my result in my friend’s mobile phone. I do not display much emotions except when playing cricket in college 😛 But I felt happy.

The credit for my success goes to my parents. Not only have they have always encouraged me about GATE, they have also accompanied me to innumerable chess tournaments since childhood. Actually, I cannot describe their influence in a couple of sentences. Also, my department in college has been extremely supportive throughout. Credit also goes to my close friends and well-wishers. I would also like to mention about my role model- Ajinkya Rahane, Vice Captain of the Indian Test Cricket Team. I have tried to model myself on him. I quite like his approach to cricket and to life in general. In the lead up to GATE, his innings in that Johannesburg test after being dropped for the first 2 matches really helped increase my confidence and enhance my mental strength.

Pic: My Role Model

Preparation


I joined VANI institute classroom program (Kolkata centre). That was my major source of preparation. I also joined GATEBOOK. The mock tests of GATEBOOK were great. I did not get time to watch many videos of GATEBOOK but the DS & ALGO ones as well as the TOC ones are great. About the VANI classroom program, most of the subjects were taught well except a couple. But it really gave me a headstart in a stream which I almost knew nothing of :).

Strategies


A. Study schedule:
B. Strong and weak subjects (How did I prepare them?)
C. Books and e-sources

I would like to combine the above 3 points into a single subject-wise preparation plan along with a rough sequence of subjects I followed during my preparation. It is important to mention here that I joined the Classroom coaching program (2 years) of Vani Institute, Kolkata centre from March 2016. Also, my answer is directed to students from any branch (not necessarily CSE or ECE) who want to attempt GATE CSE.

DIGITAL LOGIC

According to me, this is one of the easiest subjects in GATE, especially if someone is from a CS or ECE background. I prepared this subject only from Vani notes and I believe a good session in any coaching institute is enough for this if someone actually understands the concepts.

Basics, Boolean Algebra and Combinational Circuits are really easy to understand. For sequential circuits, from a GATE perspective, the only requirement is to understand the topic in a structured form.

If someone is not enrolled in a coaching institute, I would recommend her/him to watch the video lectures of NESO ACADEMY which are freely available on Youtube. They are easy to understand with some effort and that effort can definitely put in by a serious aspirant.

After studying the subject (either from coaching or from NESO ACADEMY), solving Previous Year Papers is a must. The best way to do this for GATE CSE is to buy the 30+ years previous question book of Made Easy. For the solutions, please google the keywords of a question along with the GATE year and refer ONLY to the GATE OVERFLOW solution. For those who are not familiar with GATE OVERFLOW, it is a free resource for GATE CSE aspirants having a lot of things. For starters (and for most people this will be the only thing needed), it contains the correct solution to all previous year GATE CSE questions.

Solving previous year questions (subject wise, topic wise after finishing the entire subject) is a must for all subjects so I may not include it for all subjects.

THEORY OF COMPUTATION

The best way to learn this subject for GATE is to:–

  • Watch all the free videos of Ravindrababu Ravula in youtube of this subject. This will complete more than 70% of this subject.
  • Solve all previous year questions of all sub topics except UNDECIDABILITY.
  • Watch the 3 UNDECIDABILITY videos by Arjun Suresh Sir available in the GATE OVERFLOW youtube channel.
  • Solve previous year questions on Undecidability and refer only to the GO solutions.

This subject is both very important and very scoring in GATE. If there are 10 marks from this subject, one must score at least 8 .

COMPILER DESIGN

This subject is dependent on TOC (one needs to complete TOC first before starting Compiler Design). Please follow this approach:-

  • Watch free videos (all) of Rabindrababu Ravula on Youtube.
  • Solve all previous year questions (up to Parsing)
  • For remaining topics, refer to any coaching notes and solve the previous year questions. For these parts, if you understand the concept from some notes or while actually attending class, you will be able to score 100% marks in Compiler Design. Again, this is one of the easier subjects in GATE.

C, Data Structures, Algorithms

This subject can determine whether you get direct admission or whether you need to give interviews. If one is strong in these 3 subjects, she/he can definitely get a brilliant rank.

  • Learn C from any online tutorial (but should be of decent standard).
  • Solve all previous year questions on C programming.
  • Some important concepts in C are Tracing output, Static and Dynamic Scoping, Recursion, Pointers, understanding Pointer Expressions, Structures, Memory allocation in C.
  • For C, solving ALL previous year questions is a MUST.

  • For DS, refer to Horwitz book and learn how each data structure behaves.
  • Refer to the book by Narasimha Karumanchi on DS and ALGO in C. Get a feel of how the codes are written, especially for trees and linked lists.
  • Learn how to trace recursive programs.
  • Learn how static variables operate etc.
  • Solve all previous year questions.
  • For final year students preparing this subject, you can also refer to GeeksforGeeks for placement purpose (not needed for GATE)

  • For Algorithms, the course by Ravindrababu Ravula is great and covers the entire GATE syllabus at a high level.
  • I definitely recommend you to take his ALGO course as you will find a lot of things at a single place, and questions are predictable here. They repeat.

OPERATING SYSTEMS

This subject is moderate in terms of difficulty level but it is quite scoring.

Galvin slides are very helpful for this subject.

  • For process scheduling, refer to Galvin slides.
  • For Process Synchronization, refer to KNOWLEDGE GATE youtube channel’s videos. After you finish all, refer to Galvin slides and finish the previous year questions. Check out the selected GO solution of each and every question from this topic. It is very important for GATE (and quite tricky).
  • For Memory Management, refer to KNOWLEDGE GATE videos and then Galvin slides. Again, previous years is a must. In recent years, questions from this topic are restricted mainly to Page Replacement Algorithms. Page faults etc are important here.
  • For deadlock, refer to any youtube video or Galvin slides will suffice. Solve the previous year questions for this also.

DATABASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Refer to KORTH slides for ER model.
  • Study Relational Algebra, Relational Calculus and Relational Algebra from Well Academy videos.
  • Study Normalization from Raghu Ramakrishnan book and KNOWLEDGE GATE videos.
  • Study Transaction Management and Concurrency from TECHTUD youtube channel playlist.
  • Study file storage from KNOWLEDGE GATE youtube channel.
  • Study B and B+ trees from anywhere (not many questions come…just understand the concept)
  • Solve ALL previous year questions.

A good coaching institute will help you get FULL marks in this subject. You can also achieve that by some structured self-preparation.

COMPUTER NETWORKS

This is a tough subject and you can refer to Ravindrababu Ravula for the Flow Control, Error Control, Access control and IP Addressing. For the remaining topics, refer to Forouzan book (you need to devote time for this subject).

Solve as many previous year questions you can(some of them are weird!) and hope for the best 😛

COMPUTER ORGANIZATION AND ARCHITECTURE

This is the toughest subject in GATE according to me. I referred to only my coaching (VANI) notes which was exceptional and the same is also available freely in the Internet. Focus on Cache Memory, Pipelining, Addressing Modes, Machine instructions. I don’t know which books will help you for this. But there are many videos on Youtube to which you can refer.

Solve as many previous year questions you can.

ENGINEERING MATHS

Follow some youtube channel and focus on the previous year questions. You can also follow the Grewal book or even class 11-12 books depending on your current level in Maths.

DISCRETE MATHS

I studied from coaching notes only. Otherwise, the book by Kenneth Rosen is easy and fun to read.

This subject is VERY important and should ideally by prepared before the Programming subjects.

Aptitude Section:
I did not prepare separately for the Aptitude section. I had done a bit during placement time on campus and that helped.

Mock Tests


I enrolled for some of the popular Test Series in the Market but gave a couple of each only. This is because the questions are not GATE level. They are way easier. I used to finish mock tests in 2 hours’ time whereas I ran out of time in actual GATE. They are useful only after preparation to check where you stand and also to reduce the number of silly mistakes.

I will recommend Virtual GATE mock tests (they are free!!)

Examination Day


Giving mock tests can give you a fair idea of your time management skills section-wise…as for me, I attempted aptitude in actual exam in 25 minutes, devoted 1 hour for the 1 mark questions and the remaining time for the 2 mark questions. The paper was lengthy. The questions were easy but you had to read it carefully. The wordings were tricky. So keeping your nerve is a must in exam. You can strengthen your nerve in various ways, for example, by following Rahane 😛

Interviews


I do not wish to appear for interviews as of now.

Future Plans


As of now, I will either be joining an institute for Masters (I want IISC or IIT-Bombay 😛 ) or else I will join Qualcomm where I got placed on campus.

Advice to fellow students


Do not overstudy. Finish the syllabus and the previous year questions. Follow my preparation plan 😛 😛

If you have noticed, I did not mention many text books. That is because I did not get the time to refer to many. In case you have time, please read standard textbooks which are mentioned in GATE CSE. Here, I am giving links to some of the resources I have mentioned above:-

*all links clickable