My name is Abhishek Pratap Singh. I got AIR-297 (Score 771) in GATE 2021. This is my story.

 

Background

I did my B.Tech in CSE from AKGEC (a tier III college). I am 2017 batch pass out. I was placed in the bottom 5 in my engineering class. After college I delved into UPSC preparation. So for 3.5 years after graduation, I was not remotely related to any of the subjects of engineering and no work experience. I provided the above information to show the fact that I was not at all well versed with GATE subjects. 

Why did I switch from studying General Studies (History, Geography, Social Science, et al) to diametrically opposite technical subjects and not try for other exams where the above subjects would have helped me? This will require another blog. Here I will focus on how I approached my GATE preparation. 

 

I had 2 exams lined up for 4th October, 2020 and 11th October, 2020. After giving both, I knew I would not get through. For one week I pondered the future course of action. From 20th October, 2020 I started my GATE preparation.

 

Understanding demands of the exam

To clear an exam, first you need to know the nature of the exam. GATE selects candidates for post-graduation degree, therefore, it expects candidates to have strong foundation in undergraduate subjects.

I had also made up my mind to do it without coaching. Having realised that studying standard books and NPTEL lectures are your best friends for this journey.

 

The start

Anyone thinking of doing something always faces the first challenge in terms of where to start from. Luckily I got hold of GATE Toppers algorithms by Bikram Ballav Sir. That small pdf file of 21 pages was my guide. I have looked at it numerous times. It helped me in finalising my resources. 

 

The Plan

After calculating the number of days left and the number of subjects to study, I had around 10 days for each subject. 

I had also looked at relative distribution of marks to various subjects. With that data in hand, I decided to leave Compiler design and Computer Organisation. A major part of the plan was to score full in the aptitude section (I scored 14/15). 2nd pillar of my preparation was DS and Algo. 3rd pillar was TOC, CN, OS and DBMS

Subject Resource  Time
TOC

An Introduction to formal languages and automata - Peter Linz

Closure properties and decidability from gatecse.in

20th Oct, 2020 - 10th Nov, 2020
Digital Logic

Ch. 1 to Ch. 5 -> Digital Design(5th ed.) by M. Morris Mano, et al

Lec. 16 - Lec 30 -> by Prof S. Srinivasan (NPTEL)

Floating point numbers -> gatecse.in

11th Nov, 2020 - 27th Nov, 2020
Operating System

Ch. 1,2,3 -> Operating system by Galvin

Process management, Process synchronization, Memory management -> Ravula’s video

I struggled in getting an intuitive understanding of virtual memory. I referred to many sources - NPTEL (IISc, IIT M videos), Udacity videos. Eventually got it wrong in GATE 2021

26th Nov, 2020 - 10th Dec, 2020
Computer Networks

Ravula’s videos

Questions asked are generally numerical based. I panicked with less time left so decided against referring standard sources

7th Dec, 2020 - 1st Jan, 2021
DBMS

Prof P. P. Chakrabarti (NPTEL - IIT Kgp)

I hit a goldmine when it came to DBMS source. The videos are old (>20 years) but sir is a wonderful teacher. These lectures were even more important as I had not studied DBMS in undergrad (mugged a day before exam and forgot 2 days later). Thanks to him I got full marks in DBMS in GATE 2021

14th Dec, 2020 - 26th Dec, 2020
Data Structures I had confidence in DS so resources were not structured. But I did refer to some lectures by Prof. P. P. Chakrabarti for DS 29th Dec, 2020 - 11th Jan, 2021
Algorithms

NPTEL course by IIT-B by Prof. Abhiram Ranade and Prof. Sunder Vishwanathan

CLRS

Filled the gaps by google search

4th Jan, 2021 - 12th Jan, 2021
Computer Organisation Did not prepare  
Compiler Design Did not prepare (luckily I got 1 question from compiler design correct)  
Discrete Mathematics

My preparation for this part was haphazard.

Propositional and first order logic, Sets and functions, Counting - Discrete Mathematics by Kenneth H. Rosen

Linear Algebra, Calculus - Techtud videos (Youtube)

Some of my resources were not ideal due to paucity of time

 Luckily those parts didn’t show up in exam for which I was less prepared

 
Aptitude I didn’t prepare for this. I already had confidence in this part.   

 

A typical day of preparation

Most of the time I took along two subjects at a time

Morning - new topics of Subject 1

Afternoon - Solving PYQs

Evening - new topics of Subject 2

 

This schedule I followed till 25th January, 2021. After that I could not study anything new as I was afraid of not being able to tackle problems of topics I already studied. So after that period I focused on revision and problem solving.

 

Test series

Keeping in mind the limited time, I only subscribed to GateOverflow test series.

 

What worked for me?

FlashCards

During the last couple of weeks, the major concern is how to collect all the preparation in one place and make a coherent picture out of it. Flashcards did the trick for me. I could revise a whole subject in 2.5 - 3 hours.

 

Subjectwise test

We often hear that one should stop giving subject wise tests 2 months before an exam and only focus on full mock tests. I will challenge this hypothesis. In fact, the subject wise test I gave in the last week did all the trick for me. I gave most of the subject wise tests in the GO test series 2021 as well as subject wise tests by Bikram sir. I could only give 2-3 full mocks.

Subjectwise test work well in condition when they are designed well, which was the case with GO test series and Bikram sir mocks. 

 

Why did I decide against Full mocks in the last 10 days (I gave only 1)?

For a particular subject, a full mock can only cover a limited portion. More often than not these sections are those from which the majority of questions are asked. Some niche topics get neglected. So a holistic study of the subject is not possible this way. What if for that subject the real GATE exam goes for less asked topics. One may suffer if not thoroughly prepared.

 

How did I spend my last week?

Everyday I would pick one subject. Use flash cards to revise it (2.5-3 hrs). Then give a subject wise test of the subject (1 hr). Analyse the test and pick out the weak areas ( 2hrs). Then work on those weak areas (rest of the day).

 

My mindset

In tackling competitive exams, mindset is really important. Personally If there is a lot at stake over a single paper I often give in to the pressure. So to ease the pressure, I had already prepared a list of other exams and colleges (IIIT H, ISI, CMI, etc). So that I can approach the paper with no baggage.

 

I got Set 2 in GATE 2021. At one point during the exam I did feel that I might mess up the exam, but eventually it went good. 

I got AIR-297 (Score-771)

I had only 62% in undergrad so MS was ruled out.

I will be joining IIT Guwahati for my M.Tech. CSE

posted in Preparation Experience Jul 25
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16 Comments

16 Comments

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1
Hats off bhai!... AIR 297 in such less time, It's really inspiring! ..Congrats 👍
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Congrats @ and Thanks for posting this. Can you please attach  a sample flashcard of one entire subject so it will be a good reference for us.

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minimum percentage requirement in undergraduate  for applying in MS ???
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Some have and some don't

eg- IIT M has 75% requirement for MS

- IIT K has 60% in undergrad

So, options do get small
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1

@

Can you please attach  a sample flashcard of one entire subject so it will be a good reference for us.

edited Jul 26 by
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@ Does IIT Hyderabad accept 60% in Btech?

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1
I am working on digitising the flashcards. It will take some time. Rest assured I will provide a link
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@

Ok bro

Thanks !!!

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Can we apply for MS with 6.58 cgpa?
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1

I had made a comment with link to my flashcards. I can't see the comment now. Is someone running gateoverflow like his personal fiefdom

Sample flashcard of Digital design

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7
how come your profile is showing 277 days visits . if you only started in october from scratch .

plz be honest here.
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i think he made a account and was looking for guidance but started serious preparation in october, like me i made account few months back, but have not started a serious preparation yet,
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maybe he was thinking of GATE and eventually became serious only in October
edited Aug 19 by
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@  Does IIT Hyderabad accept 60% in Undergrad?

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@ugly_attempt Yes IIT H allows >= 60%

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@Utkarsh_upadhyay2021   

 

All NITs require 60% or 6.5 CGPA(which is aggregate of all semesters)..

 

Most IITs also requires the same Bt IITs like IITB(60%in the final year or 60% aggregate of all semesters),

IITM requires just qualifying degree, IITK requires 5.5 CGPA, IISc requires just second class degree ...