GATE is one exam where your result is not entirely proportional to the "no. of hours you put in". Some of you might be in final years and giving GATE with hardly any preparation. But based on previous year stats I can say that a good percentage of top 200 will be people like you especially if you are from a "non spoon-fed" college. Anyway for this blog post I'm only considering those who have prepared well and now wondering "what to do".
I have been quite vocal against test series. This is mainly due to the really bad or at least useless questions in many of them. But if you have less experience in solving technical questions you should definitely give at least 5 full length tests -- even same previous year papers are fine if you have not seen a good number of those solutions. The main points to note here are
- Solving all questions you know in 3 hours
- Determining how to optimize time -- if some questions are really time consuming you should skip it if this can save you time for other easier ones.
- Avoiding careless mistakes -- in actual GATE you might lose some marks like this but your aim must be to restrict it to less than 5.
- After an exam think how you could have got 10 marks extra -- which all topics lost you marks, how to avoid careless mistakes etc.
Now, other than the tests I would recommend you to spend more time thinking and less time on standard resources (strict no to non-standard ones :P). For each subject, each topic and each sub-topic think what all are the important points -- not down if required. Think what type of questions can come from those. You can use GATE syllabus for help here and I assume you have gone through most previous year papers. You should spend less time on books now -- because you cannot carry books to exam hall.
Once you do the above for most/all the topics you will surely get confidence to do well in GATE. So far I have been telling to score 90+, 80+, 70+ etc. but in actual GATE your only focus must be to get every question "you know" as correct. Do not count the marks and get tensed. Instead if you find an unknown questions be happy that you saved time and this can be used for other questions. Remember that in GATE there will be many new questions and some of them will be rather easy if you read them properly.
Luck is a good guy - but it cannot save you a lot. Just with luck one cannot get a better batting average than Sachin Tendulkar. Similarly, just with luck one cannot beat a well prepared person in GATE. So far in the last 4 years I have hardly seen any good guy/girl miss out on a top rank. Some of them who got a high 3 figure rank due to bad luck/tension then went on to do well in Interviews and got to good IITs. So, there is nothing to get tensed for you. If you have prepared well and in the right way, you will definitely do well in GATE. Just focusing on these small points can make sure that you do not miss out on vital marks. Good luck!!!