Like success stories, stories of failures are equally important. Well, this is one of the stories that is somewhat between success and failure (quite amusing, isn't it?)
TLDR; There are hardly any tips for GATE examination or preparation in this post. I'm just sharing my GATE journey.
I'm Akash Mishra. I appeared for GATE-2018 CSE and got 604 marks and 1644 rank (I was expecting a rank around 2000). I'm not an academically bright student; I hardly manage to score around 60% in my college examinations (apparently, in GATE too).
I'm a good programmer though. I've many good projects at my disposal and I'm proficient with multiple programming languages. I decided to give GATE as I wanted to pursue masters from a top tier institute. I have worked on some good machine learning projects and want to advance my career in this field (specifically in research).
I decided to give GATE examination in July 2017, in the final year of my UG. Like everyone, I was really motivated and started studying. I'm used to skipping semesters in my college (I have 0% attendance in my college since 2nd semester). Since I didn't attend any classes and was not a textbook lover (I am now), I knew that I have to work really hard to clear my concepts.
Initially, I studied really hard. I wanted to get into IISc for their M.Tech. by Research programme and I knew that it won't be easy. I kept my motivation up but couldn't maintain it (barely 1 and a half month). I wasn't used to studying so much and I started to slack off more and more as the time passed. I had subscribed to 2 test series (ME and Testbook) but I hardly gave any tests. I remember that until October I had only given 4-5 tests combined in Programming and TOC. I just used to turn the pages of textbooks and watch few online lectures to learn concepts. I used to do this around 3-4 hours per day (and I didn't used to study every day).
My First Mistake - I LOST CONSISTENCY.
To all the future aspirants: Guys! Be consistent and don't lose your motivation for studying. There's no need to put too many hours, but put sufficient hours every day and be consistent. Don't slack off for even a single day.
This continued until the middle January (the time I realized I really screwed up). I had completed only 5 subjects by this time. I had completely left CSO, Digital, Computer Networks, a huge chunk of Mathematics and DBMS.
It was January 16 when I was lectured by a good friend of mine. He told me that I completely messed up and wasted my whole 6 months. He then advised me to give my best shot in the remaining days. He told me to give 1 full test daily and practice as many questions as I can.
* During my preparation, he used to tell me to practice a lot of questions. I just didn't listen. My bad. *
I started to follow a strict routine for the next 17-18 days. I seriously started studying around 7 hours per day (extra 3 hours for the full tests). I was scared and maybe that was the only motivation for me at that time. I never studied this seriously before. I used to practice around 100 - 130 questions every day and kept my consistency for the remaining days.
Since my preparation wasn't satisfactory I was expecting a rank around 2000, but surprisingly I managed to secure AIR 1644. I failed, but I succeeded. This was quite pleasant for me. I studied hard in the last days and I'm confident that I've learned something really good through my journey. Right now I'm thinking to appear for IIIT-H as it seems a good option to me.
So, that's all! This was my journey so far.
Be consistent and practice a lot.