Abhijit Chaudhari, Director, GATEFORUM tells you what to expect in the entrance exam this year and how you can prepare for it.
The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering is a prestigious all India examination administered and conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) headed by one institute every year in rotation.
This year the GATE 2015 is being conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.
Admission to postgraduate programmes with government scholarships and assistantships in engineering colleges/Institutes/Universities is open to those who qualify through this test.
A stipend of Rs 8,000 is given to all GATE qualifiers by MHRD, GOI.
Apart from admissions to M.Tech, ME, MS courses, the GATE is also the qualifying test for many public sector units like the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) etc.
So if you want a high paying job with the security of a PSU, GATE is the only option for you.
What is new in the GATE 2015?
- The GATE score is valid for three years
- All the registration process is made online
- The test will be conducted online for all the streams.
- No scientific calculators will be allowed for the exam instead a virtual scientific calculator will be made live for the students
- The test will have numerical answer questions apart from multiple choice questions.
- The application fee has been increased to 1500 for general and OBC category students while it is 750 for female and SC/ST students. Last year, the application fee was waived off for female applicants.
In GATE'14 the tests did not have linked and common data questions.
We expect the same to continue for GATE'15 as well.
The GATE online application system commenced September 1 and the last date for submission for the online application is October 1, 2014.
The exam is scheduled to be conducted on January 31, February 1 , 7 , 8 and 14, 2015
What do these changes mean for students?
With the exam going online, a lot of practice would be needed to familiarise with a computer based test.
A peculiar problem that can arise in GATE, where some questions might need workings to be done on a complicated figure or diagram (in case of a paper-based test the same can be done on the question paper itself), is that of replicating the diagram. Students might need to practice on that.
With the test having numerical answer questions, wherein one has to enter an answer, instead of choosing between four options, guesswork is eliminated and hence one cannot bet on luck or a solution based on elimination of wrong options.
As the student is not permitted to carry a scientific calculator to the exam centre the student will have to get used to virtual scientific calculators not having enough practice may consume more time at the examination centre.
How to approach the exam
There are two kinds of GATE aspirants -- those who have decided in the first year itself that GATE is the goal and those who wake up to the exam's potential in their pre-final or final year.
The first step in the preparation for GATE is the concept strengthening and in this the former set has a distinct advantage -- diligently following the lessons in their engineering course greatly increases their grasp of the fundamentals and concepts and this also helps them ace their university exams.
And it is sufficient for them to practice a variety of questions as GATE is just an extension of their engineering syllabus.
The latter group is faced with a far greater challenge -- to cover up for the lost ground and that too, without the aid of a teacher.
To overcome this difficulty, one could opt for a good classroom coaching module, so that concepts can be strengthened in a shorter span.
Also, your goal in terms of the rank to be achieved also plays a big role in shaping the preparation.
For example, if your goal is to join any of the top courses in the IITs, you need to get a rank of less than 1000, which means that you cannot afford to leave out any section during preparation.
Expert tips to help you crack the GATE 2015
1. Sign up for a mock test series: It will help you adapt to the online pattern and assess your preparation.
Based on the test, you can analyse you can focus on areas that you are weak in and can prepare those areas.
It will also give you exhaustive practice on different types of questions.
2. Focus on high-return topics: Engineering Mathematics and General Ability constitute 30 per cent of the total marks and are relatively easier to score in.
You could look at some online lectures to prepare in these topics.
3. Don’t panic: Don't panic about the competition and the exam keep calm this will help you focus on your preparation.
4. Make your own exam strategy: Based on your experiments in the mock test series, you can fine tune your own exam strategy.
Some people like to start solving a paper from the first question, while some people like to glance through the entire paper and start answering questions from their areas of strength.
5. Accuracy is the key: The penalty for a wrong answer in multiple choice questions is a severe 33 per cent.
You must answer the questions carefully to maximise your marks.
Don't take the 'eliminating the wrong answer options' approach too often as many questions in GATE'14 is of the numerical type -- where you will have to enter a value instead of choosing from four options.
6. Pack your own stationery: Carry your stationery, scientific calculator and admit card along with one valid photo identification proof.
7. Plan in advance: Reach the examination centre 30 minutes ahead of the exam. It helps you to stay cool and calm during exam.
8. Relax: One day before the GATE, stop thinking about it. Watch a movie or anything that relaxes you. Appear for the exam with a fresh mind.
9. Remember that GATE is not the end of the world: Put your best foot forward and do not worry excessively about the results.
On the other hand, if just qualifying is the goal, one can afford to leave out some sections and focus on the important ones and still get enough marks to qualify.
Engineering Mathematics and General Ability constitute 30 per cent of the marks and hence both critical and high scoring sections.
Also, for example, electronic devices in ECE contribute to not more than 2 to 4 per cent of the marks but takes up substantial preparation time.
Hence students are advised to check out the pattern trends in GATE over the last few years and identify critical and non critical sections and proceed accordingly.
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