TopperSpeak: How to crack GATE 2014
Ashish Mittal who topped the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering last year shares his study secrets and strategies that helped him optimise his score.
Less than 30 days away, last minute preparations for GATE 2014 are afoot by every aspirant for the MTech courses at the IITs or a dream PSU job.
Since this year, the entrance exam for admission to post graduate programmes in engineering and science will be held online for all papers.
The first online GATE is scheduled between February 1 and March 2, 2014.
As part of our series to help young readers prepare for the upcoming exam, we spoke to Ashish Mittal, GATE 2013 Topper for Computer Science who shared his preparation strategies with all the GATE 2014 aspirants.
Mittal who graduated from Dharmsinh Desai University, Nadiad, Gujarat, in Computer Science with a gold medal for excellence in academics has been a consistent topper through his University days.
Having decided early on to crack GATE to the best of his abilities, Mittal proves that his dedication and determination saw him through GATE 2013 as a topper.
Currently pursuing MTech at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, the young achiever is also a sports enthusiast with an interest in meaningful recreational activities. Read on to find out more about his study plans and how he succeeded in cracking the competitive exam.
When and how did you decide that you wanted to prepare and appear for GATE?
When I was in my first year of BE, I was upset at not getting into one of the premier institutions of country.
In my second year, I came to know of some of the great projects and work done at the IITs. And at that point I decided to do an MTech from one such good IIT and started working towards that goal. So I started my preparation from the end of the second year of BE.
Why GATE? Did MBA come as an option in front of you when you were making the career decision?
I was sure of what I wanted to do. I knew I was technically good and had good programming skills, so I wanted to pursue my field of interest and expertise. I have always wanted to do something new and knew that my best shot would be in Computer Science. So MBA was never an option I desired to work on.
What was your GATE Score? What was the score you targeted when you began preparation?
In 2013, my GATE score was 943 with an All India Rank of 11. I never targeted a particular number, I just wanted to do my best (probably get an AIR 1).
In the end I was happy with my result.
What are you doing currently?
I am currently pursuing MTech in Computer Science at the IIT Bombay.
How did you start your preparation? Please share your strategy and the schedule you followed?
I started off with collecting information regarding GATE (e.g, syllabus, degree of toughness, effort required). I found out that my engineering curriculum covered 90 per cent of the stuff.
So I started by staying focused in my BE classes to learn from then on thus saving me time from learning them again on my own (This saved a lot of time, because majority of concepts were cleared in the class itself).
I also solved lot of old GATE question papers. Believe me, they are essential to get good practice. Later I enrolled for some online test series' that further helped in preparation for GATE.
There was no strict schedule as such. I knew what I had to do, what my weaknesses and strengths were, what my priorities were and I relied on them.
I would analyse my preparation after introspection every two months and would plan accordingly.
Later when the exams came close, that analysis was done weekly. The key is to solve as many questions you can with the highest possible accuracy.
What are the key factors that a GATE 2014 aspirant must take care of for GATE 2014 preparation? What are your suggestions to the aspirants?
According to me, GATE is a comparatively easy exam, because what they ask is what we've studied during the course of our Bachelor's Degree. So if anyone is thorough with all (or most) of the concepts taught, it is easy to prepare and score.
The key factor is to should have the concepts clear because that matters while solving questions.
Another important factor is time management. Good time management is required during the actual tests and that you can plan by solving enough practice papers.
It is advisable to target good marks (ideally 100), so as to keep the motivation up and try to consistently score that much.
Do you think the environment and institutions in India for higher education especially MTech/MS are comparable to global institutions?
If you analyse carefully, there is a large percentage of Indians placed in good companies at Silicon Valley. That reflects that Indians are good at it. Things are certainly improving for higher education in India.
The research at IITs has increased to larger extent as their focus has now shifted towards good research. This will impact a lot in the future. Also India is one of the emerging markets in the world economy. India has huge potential, great workforce and a capacity to evolve (that's why most global companies are investing here). So good opportunities are certainly there for sure and up for grabbing.
Which books would you suggest to the GATE 2014 aspirants for the preparation of CE branch?
I referred to the standard text books for every topic. I also used the Internet to read more in detail.
Do you think coaching is necessary to crack GATE?
I didn't feel it was necessary. But it depends on the student itself. If you feel that you need coaching, don't be afraid to take one.
PSU recruitment is a dream for many GATE aspirants. Your opinion on any other strategy that one needs to follow for PSU preparation?
I had no intention of working with PSUs because there are very few of them offering quality jobs in computer science. So I cannot help you for any such preparation.
What was your time management strategy? How can aspirants make the most of the time available?
Ideally you should look at every question at least once, because that way you don't miss on any relatively easy or moderate question.
I would advise leaving/ not answering those questions for which you don't have a clue or for which you've already spent more than enough time.
Stay away from gambling (because the probability of a wrong answer (75 per cent) is higher compared to the right answer (25 per cent) and it holds true even in exams).
While you are it, keep an eye on your watch so that you are able to take important decisions in the exam.
With less than a month left for GATE 2014, should there be a change in preparation strategy? What has to be emphasised on?
Now there are very few days left, so intensity of preparation should increase. More and more efforts are required to work on your weaknesses.
Solve as many question paper as you can. Read as much as you can. Learn as much as you can. Emphasis should be on scoring well on a consistent basis and avoid silly mistakes.
What is your message to the aspirants who will take GATE 2014?
Stay focused on what you want to achieve. Keep your goals, ambitions, dreams in your mind and avoid distractions. If you feel less motivated, think of the things you can achieve if you were studying at the IITs.
Image: The first online GATE is scheduled between February 1 and March 2, 2014
Photographs: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com