This is me, a GATE 2021 aspirant. I have secured an AIR 784 (score 695, GEN) this year. Unlike many other aspirants, my Bachelors was in Electronics & Communications. Only course I did in my Undergrad (and that too in summer-term) was Data Structures and therefore I had no idea of other CSE subjects before starting my GATE preparation.
The review of RBR was largely positive by the time I took his coaching. The first thing I saw was quora reviews followed by the demo videos. I was impressed by his white-board style and after watching 2-3 videos on DSA and OS, I decided to buy his coaching for full price (31k).
Now, unlike many who for some reason keep saying that if you follow his coaching you can become a topper, I aim to provide more of an unbiased review. NO ONE CAN BECOME A TOPPER BY BLINDLY FOLLOWING ANY COACHING (unless that someone is a born genius). Coaching videos are easier to follow than any standard textbook or any university lectures sure, but easier study doesn’t necessarily warrant success. If you are not conditioning your brain to think things through and rather accustomed to getting things served on a silver platter, I feel that you’ll perform well as long as the questions aren’t out of the box. This happened with me too!
RBR sir taught all the “concepts”, tips and techniques required to solve the PYQs. After watching videos, making 350 pages of notes (for each subject! – I could share them if you like, but trust me they won’t beat the standard books) I was somehow able to solve nearly all the GATE PYQs. Few questions which I wasn’t able to solve, I used to look up the solutions posted on RBR-PYQ page and if I didn’t understand it I used to shoot up an email. They used to reply the same old shit which they had in their page and I used to some-what semi-understand it myself, resolve them to get the answer and move on.
Now one might ask, what was so wrong with my preparation and solving problems? Sounds correct, doesn’t it? You watch the video lectures, make detailed notes from them, solve GATE PYQs and repeat? Like, this is the same mantra every topper who took RBR course will probably regurgitate, right?
Well, here is what I think was wrong with my preparation:
- Relied completely on RBR course. Spent a lot of time in copying each and every word he said in the videos into my note-books when better version of those concepts was already present in the standard books.
- Relied completely on PYQ solutions provided by RBR without realizing that many of the solutions arrived at the answer despite lacking concrete explanation and seldom providing incorrect approaches or wrong logic. Better version of those solutions was already there at Gate Overflow but I was unaware.
- Religiously followed every word of RBR as a gospel. I was new to CSE and therefore naive. I realized that I wasn’t building up my problem solving for GATE exam but rather applying those same hard-coded techniques taught by RBR coaching to quickly solve GATE PYQs and other questions of same pattern. I wasn’t developing problem-solving intuition, rather learning methods to solve different problems.
If anyone has heard of Machine Learning, know that over-fitting model is still a bad model! You have to get the general idea of dataset rather than trying to fit it exactly. I did the same thing. RBR taught me tricks and techniques, I learned them to solve PYQs (which he covered in his videos to some extent) and lo and behold, I started developing this false sense of over-confidence that I’d easily top real gate exam! But I was beguiled into that false sense of hope that GATE 2021 would ask necessarily the same questions.
I started realizing that some concepts I’ve read in the coaching were wrong! Especially in OS synchronization where in RBR videos, Bounded Wait was falsely related to deadlock (one has nothing to do with the other, deadlock doesn’t mean Bounded Wait will be dissatisfied).
Okay, now I guess I should state the pros and cons of RBR coaching:
- White-Board style teaching: I feel it’s better than slide-oriented teaching.
- Digital Logic Design was taught well and whatever was taught was very clear, especially K-Map minimization.
- Computer Networks was also taught pretty well and covered to the fullest. (DLD and CN were the only subjects where I can say with surety that RBR knew what he was doing).
- TOC wasn’t covered well. The Turing Machine (REL) and Decidability problems were solved with the worst explanation ever and lacked the mathematical vigor.
- COA wasn’t taught well, especially pipelining concept. Worst explanation of operand forwarding ever!
- OS: Synchronization part was very flawed and lacked the concept building as was required for the topic. Memory management part was fine, but nothing special.
- DBMS: Not up to mark explanations on Relational Algebra, Tuple Calculus and SQL.
- Discrete Math & Engineering Math: Not up to mark with GATE syllabus.
- Graph Theory: One of the worst covered part in the coaching.
- Worst Doubt Support Ever: I was fine with 24 hours delay but then it started taking 2 days to receive a reply? And what I used to get? 2-3 lines copy-pasted from internet! How is that even doubt clearance? When I used to get a call for doubt clearance, they often get irritated by my approach saying “I don’t know what you have studied” and the solution should be like this. No shit, I can see the solution! I still want to know why my approach is wrong, or why your approach is correct! Or rather, how did you solve this in 1-2 lines and how did you get this logic behind?
- Not up to mark Test Series: Some mistakes and bad frontend.
- Videos not updated on daily basis and out-dated content. I guess RBR recorded all videos in 2014 but didn’t work on them.
- DSA: It was fine except for the Graph Algorithms. No mathematical proofs and shallow explanation. Also, he used “almost a complete binary tree” for heaps, I don’t know what that even means.
- Compiler: Fine, average, nothing special.
- Aptitude: Fine…
I feel that Gate Applied coaching is better (I haven’t taken it) at least from doubt clearance perspective. I mailed them my doubts (I joined their test series only) and they did provide better explanations. But again, standard books are still better.
My Advice (from my mistakes):
- DO NOT SKIP STANDARD BOOKS! If reading books isn’t your thing, then at least rely on university lectures which are any day better. No one can teach Linear Algebra better than Prof. Gilbert Strang, MIT. Stats 110 is a very good Harvard course on probability and is available free of cost. Intro to Algorithms, MIT is also a good course. NPTEL has also got plethora of video lectures.
- SOLVE RELEVANT PROBLEMS AT THE BACK OF STANDARD BOOKS AFTER READING RELEVANT MATERIALS.
- After solving text-book problems, try to solve Gate PYQs yourself and see if you develop the problem solving intuition. Buy/Download Gate Overflow books for solutions (came to know of it after giving GATE :P). DO NOT TRUST EVERY COACHING ON PYQ SOLUTIONS!
- If time permits, join any good coaching (Gate Applied recommended) but only for value addition. After reading books, you’ll know what is correct and what is not from the coaching lectures.
- Make short notes of the methods you develop yourself along with key-concepts from standard sources.
- For doubt clearance, you can use Gate-Overflow (pity I didn’t come to know of it earlier) or Overflow forums.
- Join any good test series but be wary of the mistakes. I joined 3 test series (RBR-default, MadeEasy and Gate Applied) and found Made-Easy to be the most relevant. Please avoid RBR test series at all costs!
- Solve test series questions only after you’ve done fair share of textbook problems and GATE PYQs.
As for my marks in test series:
Made Easy (gave all full tests):
Highest Marks: 79.67, Lowest Marks: 59.34, Avg. Marks: 71
RBR Test Series (gave all full tests):
Highest Marks: 91, Lowest Marks: 68, Avg. Marks: 78
Gate Applied Test Series (gave all full tests):
Highest Marks: 73, Lowest Marks: 56, Avg. Marks: 63
I am still discovering as to how I couldn’t get as much marks in real gate exam (54.55/100, Set 2 AN) as I was getting in test series.