Please see here for general advice to GATE aspirants including those doing bachelors. In this post, I’m going to give a summary about what all resources to use and how to use them for getting a good rank in GATE which is usually a 2 digit rank. To start with some comments about question-solving:
Solving a question means you should not just mug up solution given by someone. First you have to attempt solving. If you can all is well. Else, ask yourself where you are stuck, what you do not know. Then, refer text again, attempt again. If you cannot solve then see some good solution and fix what you missed.
Remember the 30% rule for question solving. That is, if you solve 100 questions you should not refer the solution for more than 30% of them. If you do so, you are preparing wrong.
Now, let me give a description of some resources I know.
- Standard Books: This is the best resource recommended by most GATE toppers.
- Advantages: Contents are 100% correct and reliable. Usually presented in the best possible way. Many of the tough questions in GATE come from the examples/exercises given in standard books.
- Disadvantages: Some people not good in English find it tough to follow standard books. I guess those people can try improving English and try to learn more from the examples given in the text.
- What all to study?: You should know which all chapters are relevant for GATE. There is no point in reading and understanding every line of the text. You should just need to know what is important- usually what is important is those which are needed to solve example questions. Also, to understand the standard definitions given. To summarize, you should know:
- All the chapters relevant for GATE – say in Cormen, only about 20% pages are in GATE syllabus.
- All the sub-headings in chapters relevant for GATE.
- If a portion is in GATE, you should know to work out the given example in the text – for example constructing LALR parsing table construction in Dragon book though this constructing has never been asked in GATE. But if you have solved it once, you can answer many related questions which do come in GATE.
- Exercise questions – you can follow and come and go approach towards them. There is no need to solve all of them. Also, usually ‘*’ questions are not needed for GATE. I suggest to solve example questions, then previous GATE questions and some exercise questions.
- Once again, never follow local author book. I had followed one for Discrete Mathematics during B.Tech. and I could not even get 1 question correct in GATE. This is also said by most toppers. If you are strong in a subject (like being a good C programmer or good in Databases), you may avoid reading standard textbook- but never read sub-standard materials and corrupt your knowledge.
- Video Lectures: This is recommended for those doing bachelors or those seeing a subject first time. If you have a reasonable depth in a subject and can follow the text, then no need of watching video lectures. That is most of these videos are meant to make a base of the subject. The Same thing is applicable for Courses. More videos can also be found at videos.
- Test Series: When I gave my GATE I had given no test series. Even many toppers 5-6 years ago hardly gave any test series. But it is the fashion nowadays. Everyone wants to give and so you also can give them, but before giving any do these:
- Solve all previous year GATE questions.
- When a concept is repeated in a question and you know it, no need to solve again.
- GATE official keys are available only from 2011 onwards. So, while solving please do not corrupt your knowledge with some wrong explanation given somewhere. If the explanation given anywhere is not satisfying your knowledge based on standard material, then consider it wrong until proven right by someone. You can ask your queries on GATE Overflow where all previous year GATE questions are there.
- GATE IT questions are also good and recommended as they are of same quality as CSE ones.
- If you need more questions do from previous year TIFR, ISI, CMI papers which are of very good standard. Also if you have more time more standard book questions can be solved. New Gradiance is a very good site for standard questions.
- Now, in the end, you need to not only know the subject but also need to practice solving 65 questions in the best possible way for GATE. For this, you can use any test series. Previous year papers are available in GATE Overflow which can give this experience. Some test series given here are reasonable but you should not spend more time on them. This is anyway just for the finishing touch after covering subjects properly. And many of the test series have plenty of mistakes. Mistakes in answer key are fine as long as you know it, but a mistake in question is bad as it corrupts a student’s knowledge. Questions for one of the prominent test series last year was made by M.Tech. students from a private engineering college. Those who are smart enough know to avoid them.
- GATECSE: This contains all the resources from gatecsewiki and contributions by GATECSE FB group. There is a schedule for GATE CSE preparation. All the discussion archives and useful weblinks are on the respective Subject pages.
- GATE Overflow: Has more than 22k questions as of now. But do not get confused. For GATE preparation you just need to focus on previous GATE questions and if you want there is a GATE only mode in GATE Overflow which hides all other questions. You can enable it here. Currently, GATE Overflow has all the previous GATE CS/IT, TIFR, CMI, ISI, ISRO questions relevant for CSE and UGC NET questions are also getting added. The exam interface will allow you to practice any previous exam.
- Even after all topics are covered from standard resources some questions for GATE are tricky to solve. Cache-Virtual memory, TM decidability, digital logic, pipeline etc. are some examples. These are solved in GATE Overflow and are useful for GATE preparation
- One of the sad parts of GATE Overflow is aspirants asking bad questions. Most of these are taken from some coaching material which might have no standard. Again I request you all to please follow standard materials for questions and not these kinds of stuff. This year, more priority will be given to genuine doubts and queries from standard books and less for those copied from coaching material
- GATE Overflow is not providing any coaching. It is an interface for students to clear their doubts. So, one should have studied to have doubt. Do not think that spending time on GATE Overflow will get you a good rank. Like the 30% rule, do not spend more than 30% of your preparation time on GATE Overflow at least until you have covered most topics for GATE
- Most importantly do realize that questions are never ending. There are infinite Finite Automata and so there are infinite questions that can be asked on regular expressions. Please do not try to solve all of them, as this won’t take you anywhere. This is a mistake seen with those preparing from GATE materials.
- GO Classroom will be giving programming assignment across various GATE subjects to cementize your concepts. You can enroll for each subject by logging to the site and going to Site Home. Username is your GO username and password has been sent to all registered users.
If you use standard resources and learn from the top professors no one can beat you in GATE. Beleieve in you and do coding and problem solving.
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