My name is Himanshu Kumar, I got AIR 38 (899 score) in GATE CS 2021, This was my second attempt with full-time preparation. In GATE CS 2020 my rank was 1491.
First of all, I would like to thank my parents for giving me the freedom to do anything, especially to bear me and support me. Our parents work extremely hard to give us a better life. And also, thank all my friends, teachers, Special thank to Arjun Sir for this awesome platform, and all other seniors and aspirants on GO.
A little bit of my background ( 10+3+3)
I graduated in 2020 from ITM Aligarh which comes under AKTU U.P. It was Tier - 4 college, I got admission there without any entrance exam in the 2nd year. In those 6 years (3 years of polytechnic & 3 years of B.Tech) I always tend to study one night before the exam. Though I was getting decent CPI (thanks to YouTube).
After my 10th, I took admission in 3 yrs. Polytechnic course, and then the lateral entry in B.Tech. That's why my basics of Maths are too weak, I did not know anything about probability and linear algebra till I encountered them in a test series (Yes, it is looking funny, But it's reality).
I was never great in the study not because I couldn’t understand the concepts but because I lacked hard work and discipline.
I guess this is enough introduction for me, I’ll get to the point now…
"DREAM big. START small. START now."
Tips for Students who did Diploma + Engineering
I decided to appear for GATE somewhere around September 2018 but didn't actually start preparing for it until June 2019. In 8 months, I was able to complete 2 subjects one was Algorithms by reading CLRS and another one was Compiler Design (as this was in my 6th sem).
After my 2 months of the summer internship, I started my Gate preparation. I read different blogs on the internet and watched some interviews of toppers, then I planned to appear for GATE 2020 without any coaching.
I followed the free lectures of some coaching institutes and neither did any revision nor solved PYQ at least once. As I was in the 7th sem, so my 1 month got wasted due to exams and college work. I only gave 5-6 full mock tests before the exam and I had no strategy to attempt the GATE 2020 paper. As a result, I was not able to complete 2nd pass in those 3 hours.
I got 52.33 marks, Rank - 1491.
"Everything you need will come at the Perefct time."
This is another way to pursue MTech(Research) from IISc. Even though I had no idea about the research, I filled the form and also attempted the exam. The JEST exam was on next Sunday after GATE 2020, and in 7 days I didn't open my notes or any book. Without any preparation, I went to attempt the paper and as a result, I was not able to solve any Part B (subjective) question with confidence.
According to the result of Part A, my rank was AIR 35 and my marks were 44/75. After analyzing the previous year's cut-off, I was sure (the optimistic level at peak :p) I will get a call from IISc for an Interview. I planned to prepare for the interview but wasn't able to study/concentrate. At last, interviews were scheduled in online mode. I did not get an interview call from IISc.
The BARC's exam was scheduled for 14-18 march 20 (before lockdown). I was prepared a little bit for this. After the exam, I was very confident about it, But the Failure was not easily escaping me. My normalized marks were - 174.40, Actual marks were - 181.00, Cut-off was- 183.00.
Again FAILED (Yes, by a small margin, but at the end, Pass/Fail matters)
After failing in GATE 2020, I also filled the PGEE. My last hope was PGEE, Due to covid and lockdown, I was not sure whether the exam will be scheduled or not. I was not able to concentrate on my study. But at last, the exam was scheduled for 24th June and I was not able to clear it.
"Don't rush anything. When the time is right it'll happen."
What made me drop and prepare again?
I knew that I had the capability to do well in GATE and my marks weren’t an accurate reflection of my preparation level. So I decided to take a drop. For this reason, I did not sit for campus placements, because I did not want to have a second thought if I had a placement in my hand. I left no choice for myself other than a drop or taking some college with this rank only. That's why I didn't register myself in CCMT. But inside, I was also afraid of FAILING again.
"Some times you don't get what you want, Because you deserve better."
Finally, In May I decided to take a drop and prepare for GATE 2021 by only studying from standard books and without any coaching (Yes, after failing too many times, I decided to not enroll in any coaching again). So, firstly I analyzed my mistakes.
My mistakes in GATE 2020...
The first mistake I made was not solving PYQs.
I had no strategy to attempt the GATE exam.
I skipped Maths, aptitude, and COA completely.
I didn't analyze my tests. My goal was to give more and more tests only.
Steps to sort out my mistakes...
I researched for 10-15 days and gathered all my study material for the preparation. For this, I referred to GO, found almost everything I needed. Read blogs of toppers and filtered out books and video lectures.
My schedule for preparation for GATE 2021?
I started slowly around 5 to 6 hours a day, enjoyed the rest of the time, used to watch some movie or spend time with family, then boosted up my preparation in August to approx. 10-11 hrs. per day. Now, given that I was taking a drop, I had the entire day to give to my study. However, I never tried to study more than 10-11 hours a day, because I knew that it wasn’t feasible over a 6 months period for me.
So as a result of that, my routine used to be something like this-
Wake up at 6 am by my Mother, and then my day used to start after her tea.
07 am to 10 am - Learn New concepts.
11 am to 01 pm - Clear the Concepts
01 pm to 03 pm - Lunch + power nap(I never compromised with my sleep)
03 pm to 05 pm - PYQs + Practice
07 pm to 09 pm - Aptitude + Maths
10 pm to 12 am - Revision.
This schedule was continued till November and completed all syllabus.
I took a break of 5-10 mins after 45 to 50 minutes. and a long break after 3 hours. I never study continues till 3 hours except giving mock.
Resources that I followed
You can find them here.
I used 2 strategies for revision -
1) Read my full notes (As I was a noob in taking notes, so whatever I feel was important, I wrote down on my notes, so my notes were very lengthy). Reading full notes is very boring for me, as you know the concept and you have to read that thing repeatedly.
2) Solve PYQs and If I was stuck then Go to my notes and read it, and then solve all questions from PYQs, book's exercise, assignments of top universities. If I found any difficulties in solving those questions then I read the books or googled those topics, read the complete discussion on GO(worked in 90% cases, thanks to all seniors).
2nd approach is better, it helps us to find our weak areas. But after some time we should read our full notes to brush up on all the concepts.
Last 2 months
It was a very crucial time for me as I was a dropper without any alternative. I was neither an expert in CP nor had any Good project. But thanks to my family and friends for supporting me in a tough time and motivating me. I always enjoy learning new concepts and solving questions. Even though my schedule was a little bit hectic but I enjoyed it.
I changed my schedule and increased my study time (12-13 hrs.), by compromising on other activities (not sleep time). As my syllabus was complete, my main focus was on practice, revision, analyzing my weak areas, improve my speed and accuracy, solve all "*" marked questions, and give tests on alternative days.
This was the time when I felt too down and my stress level was at a peak and at that time, I wished that I hadn’t prepared for GATE at all and just taken up a random shitty job in campus placement.
Approach to attempt mock
After doing experiments, I came up with a final strategy.
Solve exam in 3 passes. Start from the Technical section, read questions, if I can solve it, within 1 minute then I will try it, otherwise mark it for review according to the difficulty level. So that after 30 minutes, I have a complete idea about the exam, whether it is hard or easy.
Then I will Solve all "mark for review" questions and then in the last pass when I am left with around 1 hour I will solve the aptitude section and revisit the answered questions to verify and increase my accuracy and then will give a try to lengthy questions.
"Consistency is harder when no one is clapping for you. You must clap for yourself during those times, you should always be your biggest fan."
As admit card was released and I got the morning slot (Thanks to IIT B).
I used to give a full mock test in the morning slot and used to analyze my mistakes in the other half of the day. I used to make a lot of silly mistakes, some of those were typing mistakes (even after lots of practice I also did a mistake in GATE 21, lost my crucial 2 marks as no one can be so perfect), ignoring "NOT" and calculation mistakes.
After 15th Jan, I experimented on my exam solving strategy, I used to give full mock or PYQ (as mock) in 2-2.4 hrs., which resulted in increasing my speed and also improved my accuracy. But the score went down as a result I slipped back to 50+ Rank from a single-digit Rank.
The number of incorrect questions was around 12-18 (half of them were silly mistakes). It was frustrating for me. I was a dropper and I didn't want to repeat the same mistake again in Gate 2021. I also prepared a notebook of my mistakes and you will surprise I filled a whole register with my mistakes, I used to revise my mistakes in the morning and used to promise myself that I will not do those mistakes again, It helped me a lot.
"Before something great happens everything falls apart."
As other streams paper were scheduled in the first week of Feb. IIT B surprised us by shuffling the questions, even though it was mentioned on IIT B's official website but we didn't read those instructions (I also saw those instructions after seeing the review of other streams). Those reviews increased my stress a lot. Even though, I had solved questions as they appear and skip accordingly. But the thing which relaxed me was the number of MSQ in their exam. But I had a strong feeling that the number of MSQ will be more for us.
4 days before exams
I revisited all "*" marked questions/blogs on GO and also the "incorrect attempt" section. I gave mock-5 (GO) on 9th Feb and got around 70 marks, which increased my confidence as the question was shuffled in this mock test( You will not find me in the toppers list as the answer was also shuffled after I refreshed the exam page).
At that time, I decided I will not give any mock tests. After revising my mistakes I realized I should go for one more test to improve my speed and accuracy.
And on 11th Feb I chose a mock, test by Ruturaj, one of the toughest tests on GO. Before the test, I decided I will attempt this exam in 2.5 hrs and If I would be able to get 50+ marks then I m ready for any level of the Exam. I got around 60 marks.
I sat on my system at 8:50 am and then my stress level started increasing with time. This time I had a proper approach to attempt the exam. I started with the Technical part and started reading the question and skipped accordingly In the starting I encountered 3-4 questions from the Maths section, that probability question (parameter of distribution) hit me hard, the situation got a little bit tensed now, there was only darkness in front of my eyes. I took a sip of water and then started reading questions again and thankfully I solved the next 2-3 questions in the chosen time, and the things started going in my favor.
In 30 mins, I got an idea about the exam that the paper was not too hard but it was lengthy as the number of MSQ is too much. So, I must take care of both my speed and accuracy. In those 30 mins, I solved 4-5 questions only.
I started my 2nd pass and it continued for 1.5 hours then went to the aptitude section and gave 15 minutes. Again, went to the technical section and solved 5-6 questions most of them were lengthy or MSQ. Then revisited the answered questions and checked the solution. Fortunately, I found 2-3 silly mistakes.
So finally, I attempted 60 questions. 49 were correct, in those 11 incorrect questions, 10 were MSQ or NAT. Got only 0.66 -ve mark due to the aptitude section, ticked the wrong option in hurry :(
The first official answer key released, and I lost my 2.66 marks in that debatable question. My stress level got increased, I didn't want to lose a single mark on that question, after debating and challenging, finally, we won.
I got 73.33 marks in set 1, before normalization.
Some tips for future GATE aspirants:
- Finish your syllabus thoroughly as soon as possible. (lays the foundation).
- Make sure you are strong in basics, no need to waste time on advanced topics, just adhere to the syllabus (most important).
- Never compare your marks with your friends.
- Never compare Test Series marks with Actual Exam.
- Do not ignore aptitude and Maths if possible do it as early as possible.
- Do not leave any subject. Don’t go into too much depth of any subject.
- Be regular in your studies. Study for neither 15 hrs nor 0 hrs in a day.
- Revise as much as you can – first revision after 7 days, second after 14-15 days of the first revision, then after a month, and then monthly.
- Learn, Test, Analyze & Improve.
- Sleep for 8hrs/day.
- Be prepare for everything. What I mean is don't assume that your paper will be easy or tough.
- Give lots of mock tests and analyze them properly.
- Analyze each test properly by checking all mistakes and unsolved questions.
- Make a notebook of your all mistakes and categorized mistakes as Silly, Conceptual, or typing mistakes.
- Leave substitution, elimination, etc. methods for the Final exam. Do not practice them in mock tests.
- Don’t follow any topper’s advice blindly (not even mine).
- Prepare your own notes.
- Remember “All late nights and early mornings will pay off”.
To all GATE aspirants, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE your ability to succeed. Remember to LEARN, TEST, ANALYZE & IMPROVE. All the very best!!
If anyone has any queries, feel free to ask.