My background: BE in E&TC with 2 years of experience with Tata Elxsi where I worked on computer vision algorithms for ADAS domain. Left the job three months before GATE-19.
PGEE entrance :
The registration for the exam begins usually in 1st week of March. The exam for the year 2019 was held on 29th of April. The syllabus for the exam is mentioned on IIIT-H’s website and is updated every year. Though they do not give comprehensive syllabus, we are expected to cover the topics based on GATE syllabus.
Exam pattern : The pattern seems to vary, but not every year. This years' pattern was different than the last year in the sense that there were no multiple-answer questions this year.
Aptitude section: 90 min, 45 questions (2 marks each)
Technical section: 90 min, 30(2 marks each) + 30(1 mark each)
My preparation for PGEE :
For covering technical section I went back to my notes for revision that I had prepared during my Gate preparation. For practice, I didn’t have any test series' active account as they are revoked after the Gate exam. So I took to solving previous Gate questions and some free available sample questions. For this I referred GO book and geeksforgeeks as they have topic-wise previous year questions as well as some practice questions according to Gate syllabus. Covering previous year Gate questions is a must as some of them are asked as it is in the exam which will not only save your time in exam but also help you in scoring well.
Aptitude section : This section is of 90 minutes. Hence fair bit of emphasis is put on aptitude. Also, the technical section is evaluated only if one clears aptitude section. I referred indiabix.com for covering aptitude topics as I only wanted to brush-up and get some practice. If somebody wants to study(meaning how you approach a certain type of problem) for aptitude, this might not be the right website as they do not provide the 'theory' behind topics and the formulae given are anyway of no use as you need not remember them. Hence refer this site only if you want to get some practice for aptitude, otherwise go with some standard book which covers 'theory’ (meaning how you approach a certain type of problem) and for practice.
Note: Along with accuracy, speed is very important in the aptitude section.
The result of PGEE was declared within two weeks of the exam.
Preparation : To start with, I referred previous year interview experiences available on PGEE Facebook group. This helped me to understand the pattern of interview and the abilities/topics they put emphasis on.
I did my preparation with three broad areas in my mind :
General questions : This included questions related to my profile. For ex. Why did I leave my job, why am I turning to CSE after doing BE in E&TC, why did I only opt for M.Tech and not MS. (and vice-versa, accordingly). The questions to prepare for, would be entirely based on individuals' profile.
CS subjects : It is advised to prepare at-least three subjects thoroughly. In the interview, you will be usually asked about the topic which you are comfortable with. I prepared for DS-Algorithm, OS and COA. It is advised to have Data structure-Algorithm as one of the three topics as they are anyway asked about.
Project work: This included preparing the projects I did while working with Elxsi and during my bachelors degree. I prepared for this based on organization of my resume. Since we are asked to submit resume during the registration itself, there is possibility that you might want to make some changes to your resume from the one available with them. Hence take copies of updated resume with you and if required ask them to consider this latest resume. I had to make some changes in mine, though they were not major so did not ask them outright to consider the one I was carrying. And anyway it did not affect the type of questions I was asked.
Doubts, for candidates appearing for interview :
I was called for interview on 13th June, which was 4th and final day of the interview process. All the candidates were distributed among 4 interview panels, with each panel interviewing 28-29 candidates. This was the case on all 4 days.
We were to report at 8 am to Himalaya Building and were asked to sit in bodh-105 where the interview process was explained to us. The professor briefing us about the process cleared many doubts which I would like to mention here as they occur to almost all the candidates going for the interview.
The interview dates are not given based on merit but are randomly assigned. So the one's called on later dates need not think that they are down in merit list or the one's called earlier are higher in the list.
During interview, the panel do not refer to your Gate score as parameter for selection though they might inquire about it (you have option to mention it in the application form during registration).
There will be no waiting-list at-least for the 2019-20 batch. The number of candidates to be selected are not fixed though they do have an upper cap on it.
If you did not mention MS as an option in your application form but would like to be considered for it, you can tell this to the panel during the interview.
The duration of interview has no resemblance to selection or rejection of a candidate.
If you have time constraint on your return journey on the interview day and are allotted a slot later in the day, you can ask them to be interviewed before others. Though the reason must be genuine.
Finally, the interview :
I was in the list of panel-3 who were conducting interviews in Kohli Auditorium. There were three professors in the panel(supposed to be four, but one of them left while I was waiting outside for my turn). Hereon I will refer to the professors as P1, P2, P3.
I entered the room and wished them for the morning.
P1 (asked for the folder of docs that I was carrying) : (Surprised), So you were working in Elxsi. Why did you leave such a job?
(This was more of an exclamation than a question).
Me- Gave my reasons.
Still he persisted with the question and asked me to explain the job profile (based on the experience letter attached in my folder) which turned out to be a sinner as the next thing he said was "You left a kind of job profile on which we do our research here. You were working in one of the emerging fields." And I must say, this was in no way a compliment but an utter exclamation. He was, in a way, displeased with my decision of leaving such a job. P1 asked me my Gate rank and said "you could have got this rank even while working" which did not help my confidence. After some more discussion they decided to move on.
P2 asked me related to my project mentioned in the resume. Again it turned into a discussion. They did not ask me questions based on implementation ( and I had emphasized a lot more on revising the implementation during my preparation) but on general scope of the application and improvisations that could be done. P2 explicitly mentioned "to think w.r.t research". I put some good points and some very silly one's which made them laugh as well. After another 'discussion' between us, they seemed satisfied and decided to move to some CS.
P1 asked me which topic I would like to be questioned on. ( I can't remember the exact word he used, but it was something which confused me whether he meant a broader topic which I worked on during my job or CS topics, as I was still in my "job" zone, contemplating the previous questions).
With confused face, I replied him with "Data structures and algorithms?" I realized its important to stay simple and calm when asked for choices.
P1 : How will you find if two strings are anagram?
Me : Gave a solution which he was convinced with.
P1 : Given two strings, find if one is rotated version of other and if yes, then by how many places?
I gave an algorithm flow, for which he took time to find a counter example on which it won't work. Meanwhile, he asked P3 to ask me few questions.
P3 asked me to draw graph of y = 1/x and then y = 1/|x|. I drew them.
By this time, P1 gave me a string on which the the algorithm won't work. I had not taken care for repeated characters and I adjusted the algorithm accordingly. Probably, wasn't the cleanest solution, as he seemed to be expecting some more improvisation in it. (Later I checked that though the algorithm started correctly, there are faster ways to find the solution if we start comparing the characters from both the ends of strings. For str2, by 'ends' means taking 1st char from str1 and finding its 1st occurrence in str2 and then continuing with comparison from both the ends).
Anyways, there are other ways to solve this and am not sure if they were expecting other solutions or the same with some improvements.
Then they said that they were done with their questions and that I can leave. They offered me chocolate which were kept on the table in a tray. I wished good day to them and left.
It lasted for around 18-20 minutes (I checked the time before going in and after coming out 😛 , though the duration of interview has no relation to selection or rejection).
There were positives as well as negatives in my interview. I gave myself 60-70% chance probably because of the way the interview started and few laughs they had, and based on the solution to last question.
After my performance in Gate-19, this was the last chance I had, to get into one of the institutes of my choice. The result was declared on 18th, the 5th day after the interview. I logged in to the portal and saw a “Yes” in the “Interview selection” tab. Elation!!!
I would just say to "fight till the end". Even though I had messed up my Gate, I knew I was better. But that's another struggle. I would limit this post to PGEE and IIIT-H.