While during B.Tech as any normal student I also wanted to write GATE. As a natural step I thought of coaching. But due to lack of good coaching centers nearby, I didn’t join any. Instead, bought GATE forum materials. I tried to solve their questions, but couldn’t proceed more than 2 pages as they were quite tough for me. So, thinking GATE is another dream I won’t be able to reach, I left my GATE desire and decided to go for placement, which was a rather easy choice.
I had spent hours for studying during my +2. I studied in a very good school and took the best tuition classes in my city. My entrance score was good enough to get me a seat in the best engineering college of the state, but I couldn’t answer even 1 question with confidence during IIT-JEE. Now, I’m in a government engineering college without proper teachers in any semesters (teachers were either transferred every year or they went for higher studies), no lecture notes, and no competition for ranks in the class. Moreover, the time I spent studying during B.Tech is no where comparable to that I spent for during my Engineering entrance. In such a situation, I couldn’t even dream of cracking GATE. So, I never bothered to check how GATE exam is. All I knew was that GATE is for 3 hours and it contains 65 MCQs.
Still I wrote GATE just to see how it is- I have to thank BCCI for not scheduling any cricket match that day. I hadn’t seen even 1 previous year GATE question paper. My only aim was not to get disqualified (I heard from somewhere that there’s a disqualification mark for it). Exam started. I was happy as I could attempt some questions.
Results came. My rank was 330 out of more than 107,000 candidates. I couldn’t imagine how it could have happened. Were the other candidates worse than me?
What all went wrong?
Now, when I think of what all helped me during GATE, following points come to my mind:
- In B.Tech we hardly had any lectures. So, we were forced to study by ourselves. As one of our lecturer told us, the most important thing our college teaches us is to learn on our own. (She studied in that college only). And the advantage of learning by ourselves is that we can crack most questions even if it is twisted.
- I was following some printed notes and local textbooks till semester 4. My GPA wasn’t bad but I never learned anything. During S5 someone told us to buy standard textbooks which were prescribed in the syllabus. I gave it a try. My GPA remained same but I was happy because I felt like I learned something. Moreover, whatever I learned from those books still remain with me. More than anything, I realized that learning is not getting everything written in the text, but understanding a small information from reading a large portion of text. This small information is what is needed for GATE.
- Though quite lazy, I used to do all the lab assignments. I never referred any previous code in doing any assignment as I preferred to write my own code. Did this help in GATE? – Yes, I could write all the questions in C, DS & algorithm and DBMS in GATE with 100% confidence. (Unfortunately, we had OS lab only after the GATE exam). Many questions from Compilers, CO and Digital were also done in our practicals.
- I was quite poor in Engineering Mathematics. I was following a local textbook for it as I thought why I needed to learn Mathematics to become a Software Engineer. So, I couldn’t answer most of the Mathematics questions in GATE. Due to lack of preparation, questions from OS, Networks and CO weren’t easy for me. Still, I could apply my logic, substitute answers from choices and solve many of them.
- Due to lack of coaching, I didn’t know any method to solve any GATE question. So, I had to use just my limited knowledge and logic to solve them. Still, I was able to solve more than half of the questions as they were just testing the basic subject knowledge. During IIT-JEE I was trained in solving entrance questions. But, during exam, I couldn’t attempt any. The coaching had made the problem solving methods kind of hardcoded in my mind and I couldn’t even understand any question outside that. This hardcoded problem solving methods were lacking for me in GATE and that helped me in solving many questions. With 180 minutes for 65 questions, I never felt the need for any shortcut methods also.
My GATE mark was 53.66/100. Still, I could get into IISc due to OBC reservation and due to the fact that competition wasn’t that tough in 2010. But now, to safely get into IITs/IISc, a mark of more than 70/100 is needed. It’s very much possible for you. Don’t study 10-12 hours a day. Study till you can, but do it properly. Enjoy whatever you learn. You can crack anything…
Please read the questions properly. I lost at least 10 marks in GATE, as I misread or misinterpreted the question and this is a common trend.