I have been getting many emails/messages about preparation advice. So, thought of adding some more points. Previous blog was more about what not to do for preparation. Here I'm going to reply to many of the FAQs I'm getting.
- I have covered all previous GATE questions, what to do next?
I'm surprised to see many people asking this. I have not done this even after more than 2 years here though I'm not a full time GATE aspirant. Anyway just to point out what you might have missed - these are the corrections which have been made for the answers here and corrections being made usually denote the questions was more confusing. Did you find these errors while preparing? If not why?
Many people are used to reading listening to a teacher and studying. Such people can even top University exams in India but wont do well in GATE. Why? Because GATE is one exam which tests the thinking ability of students and hence unless one thinks, he/she won't do well in GATE. So, for each question think why any given answer is correct, what else can be possible answer, how can that question be modified and asked again etc. That is, by solving 1 question, effectively solve 10 questions.
- Which test series to take?
I have already answered this many times. Of the popular ones my strict advice is to avoid ACE test series as they put so substandard questions which makes even low level placement tests to shame. Remember solving good questions gives +ive mark for GATE and solving bad ones give -ive marks. Also, I see that many technical questions in many test series are having grammatical errors in test series - this is indirectly going to loose you marks in Verbal Ability. So, why even take any test series? One needs to do some full length practice before GATE - for this full length previous year papers are sufficient if you have kept some unsolved. Even for subject wise preparation follow previous GATE questions followed by text book (of course standard) exercises. Then if you need ask our daddy - Google. For any subject he gives links to good resources. For example: http://www.google.co.in/?gws_rd=ssl#q=sliding+window+protocol+practice+questions
In the above query avoid giving "gate" etc. as they might take you to gate blogs usually written by gate aspirants/coaching institutes and are of poor quality. You should know the top universities in world and even the question formatting tells you how good a question maker is.
To be true, if one is bad in Aptitude he/she cannot clear GATE. But aptitude does not really mean scoring 90% above in placement tests or practicing 100s of distance/time, work/pay examples. Aptitude means ability to adjust to a new problem and solving them - Well 90% of GATE problems are like that. Only difference in Aptitude Numerical section is usually there is no concept involved or concept is known (supposed to be known) by anyone (like sum to n terms of AP). Also, verbal part tests your English grammar skills and 1-2 questions your vocabulary. Those who practice a lot of test series questions from substandard places can almost forget most of the verbal ability marks.
In any place 20% do good things, 20% do bad things and 60% follow what the boss does
So, for GATE preparation, one has to be in the good "20%". I'm sure you are not in bad "20%" as then you would not have taken time to read this. So, if you are in "60%" time to jump to "20%".
This is about self improvement. First you should have a clear mapping of GATE syllabus in your brain (remove the page frame allocated for some question and replace it with GATE syllabus). Then analyze what types of questions are expected from each - can you do them with confidence etc. For the weak ones, do special care - mostly by re-reading standard text books, standard notes, asking experts.
Well this is my area really. Still, I have to say some of the CO questions in GATE should not have been asked as the difficulty level is way above the other questions. In IITs/IISc. also this happens where both difficult and easy course have same credits. So, as a smart person, one should concentrate on easy ones. See CO is my area- that shows I'm not smart but that was my decision to take it - also shows most people in this area are crazy :) Anyway there are some simple, typical problems like finding the number of tag bits, cache access times ,simple cases of memory access time with VM (OS combined) etc. Do these questions from previous year GATE and standard books (STRICTLY AVOID COACHING material questions here unless they have copied from standard sources). Also as I told earlier those working in CO area are crazy- if they make a tough question for GATE, it is better to leave them and concentrate on others as usually reading and understanding such long question takes 5+ minutes at least, then solving takes 1+ and many times, wrong calculation gives you negative marks in end. So, unless question in this area is typical my advice is to "SKIP" it while taking GATE- because maximum 1 such question will be there. During preparation based on your time, you can solve even the hard ones- I guess I have solved/verified all questions in this area from previous GATE and 95% they are correct though many of them contradict with answers given elsewhere.
Some people or most people find TOC also tough. Actually TOC is more tough than CO and if tough questions are asked no one can really answer them in GATE. But the difference is that rarely happens or never really happen - 1-2 only in whole GATE history. Most times, they are simple to solve and won't take time also. But it is like maths- understanding concept and applying is necessary. Not like history- where you can copy paste from your RAM. One advice is - never attempt learning decidability etc. before doing set theory in Discrete Maths. Also, do see Rice's theorem portion as it works for 90% of decidability problem and if one understands it that shows he/she has aptitude level even to get AIR 1 in GATE. In short my advice is to give more importance to TOC as those who cover it can expect to get 80-100% of the questions correct in GATE. Also compare the decidability answers given on this site with else where and you can know the main reason why we started GATE Overflow.
Well, you should be good in probability and set theory. Otherwise even other subjects are at risk. Graph theory is also important - in algorithms. Then, for GATECSE most of the Maths questions can be predicted- see previous year questions and you can know the type of questions to be asked. Please do not ask me this - because my eye sight is not better than yours and I'm no expert in Maths.
GATE usually never checks the depth of knowledge - this happens in IISc/IIT Research interviews - but the correctness of the basic understanding and the aptitude of applying what you know.
If you cannot explain what you understood in simple words, it means you have not understood it
Since many people avoid this I say again:
I have told to keep test series to minimum level - but not to stop solving problem ON OWN. This is very very important.