This was my third attempt and I got AIR-$175$. Gate preparation can be described as $30:70$ ratio, $30$% is learning concepts from videos/classes/books. $70$% is about practice.
So for $30$% have a look at videos, books before joining anything/ paying your money.
Gate Overflow is very helpful for the $70$% part of preparation. Previous year questions(more than 3000 questions) are very important and solving them required me around $4$ months, because if I couldn’t solve a question means I didn’t knew the concept well so I had to learn them properly and not just see the solution and happily move on to next question.
You get answers to all the previous year questions with enough discussion and even after that if you are not satisfied you can ask doubts in comment section of each question and get it clarified by experts.
Previous year paper as mock exam.
In my third attempt I evaluated using my plan, and estimated that $5$ months will be enough to prepare full time (without a job) so I left job on 31st August and started my full fledged preparation.
In first week of September I gave previous year as mock and saw the average was around $54$. I marked out all my weak areas started preparing them, few from YouTube videos, few from Standard Text Book, solved GO Book, gave subject test and moved to next subject. So I kept doing that for all subjects and eventually my concepts got stronger. Meanwhile I used to appear for few subject wise/ topic wise test on Gate Overflow and this was my schedule for four months(Sept-Oct-Nov-Dec).
In December just to test my preparation I appeared for TIFR as it has new questions and standard ones I scored $77$ and knew my preparation was going in the right direction. Thanks to Go we could evaluate it by just submitting the URL of our response sheet(were available within $10$ days of exam) and also knew the current rank also. As official TIFR results were out after Gate exam cut off was 75.
In December I also started focusing on aptitude, I used to give $20$ minutes to aptitude everyday and I used to solve a aptitude paper from previous year(8 sessions every year, so for last $5$ year I had $5*8=40$ papers in $40$ days) and continued working on my weak areas.
In January I focused on previous year again and started giving them again daily from $9:30-12:30$, completing the paper in $2.5$ hours leaving $30$ minutes for revision. Initially I couldn’t find any mistake(silly mistake) but after practicing I did and helped me in saving few marks in actual gate exam. I also appeared for two Center Based Test of Made Easy and ACE and scored 55 and 60, I was not concerned with marks but knew my attempt strategy was okay and I am scoring well in previous year not because I am memorizing but I am solving.
After Gate exam, response sheet were available within 4 days of exam and Gate Overflow’s Praggy app start working from mid night and we could see our marks and current rank. Other institute’s answer key had $3-4$ wrong answer keys provided, and were changed as soon as the Gate key were out. But all the key provided by Gate Overflow were right.
Further Gate Overflow has guidance for post exam also for admission and counseling and college predictor is also very accurate. If I did not knew about Gate Overflow I could not have managed to get 70+ in Gate.
My other blogs:
Figuring out attempt strategy