First of all, I would like to thank my parents for giving me the freedom to do anything, especially to bear and support me. Our parents work very hard to give us a better life. And also thanks to all my friends, teachers, and aspirants here on GO, Special thanks to Arjun Sir.
My name is Nikhil Dhama, I got AIR 8 (980 score) in GATE CS 2021, This was my second attempt with full-time preparation.
Last year my rank was 1531, I guess this is enough introduction for me, I’ll get to the point now…
How did I prepare for GATE 2020?
I followed some coaching material(freely available, wasn't enrolled) blindly, I won’t name it here, Actually it was all my fault all along not following some good content, I did nothing else, not even pyqs. This turned out to be a big mistake. I realized it later after losing a year. Now After preparing again I think it’s for the best that I didn’t get a better rank last year, otherwise, I would have gone for post-graduation with half misconceptions in my mind and that would be a disaster. I didn’t even deserve 1531 rank last year, it was too good for my preparation level, preparation was way poor (soon you will know why I’m saying so).
What makes me drop and prepare again?
I enjoy learning stuff, I like solving mathematical problems with low-sound music :p, so I was sure for post-graduation. For this reason, I did not sit for campus placements, because I didn’t want to have a second thought if I had a placement in my hand. I left no choice for myself other than a drop or taking some college with this rank only...
Why didn’t I apply for some other tests like PGEE, ISI, CMI, last year instead of repeating?
No doubt there are many good colleges in India, but after giving Gate 2020, I realized my concepts are not that strong, I’m missing something, and second I could do much better. This wasn’t my best, I wanted to try again.
I decided right after the result of GATE 2020 that I will prepare again. But the first step was to analyze the mistakes I have done throughout my preparation and during those 3 hours inside the examination hall.
Mistakes I did last year...
The first mistake I made was to trust in the coaching material and their false claims, I got a bit lazy, the second big mistake was not solving pyqs.
I was overconfident last year, during that 3 hours I could not even read all question, left 8-10 questions unread. This shows a lack of practice and time management, as I invested lots of time on few particular problems, that turned out to be wrong later :( Maths is my strong suit, and I couldn’t solve a simple calculus problem there. So I had to work on all these things and improve myself.
Steps I took to counter those mistakes...
I checked who is going to conduct GATE 2021, found out it’ll be IITB most probably. I had a very bad experience with JEE Adv 2015, I knew what these people usually do. This gave me a hard feeling that what if I fail again? anyhow I got through that.. and started looking for the solution to my mistakes.. decided to read books thoroughly this time.
I researched for 10-15 days and gathered all my study material for the preparation. My first stopping point was GO, found almost everything I need. Enrolled in the test series as early as I can (gave tests from GO and applied only). and improved on each of them one by one.
What was my schedule for preparation for GATE 2021?
I started slowly around 4 to 6 hours a day, enjoyed the rest of the time, watched some movie or anything, then shifted gear in July and changed my preparation time from daytime to nights.. started studying from approx 3 PM till I could, with small breaks in between. Every day studied at-least till 4 AM, for some days I stretched it till 7 AM, depending upon how much interest I have in that topic. This was my daily schedule, with minimum full-day breaks.
I divided the weekdays into two parts, Mon-Fri study with the same schedule, Sat-Sun solve pyqs from the topics I covered earlier, usually a different topic from what I studied during that week and give a test or revise everything I studied during the week or any topic if I got stuck in pyqs. This way I was doing both preparation and revision side by side.
Took a break for 20-25 days in Oct, had to give final sem exams.. started back again.. and finished the syllabus by the end of Nov. Only a few maths topics were left... I was already confident in those topics. I started giving tests late, from the beginning of Nov, I don’t suggest you do it. I had less time and had to cover lots of stuffs.. also sharp memory helps me keep things longer in my mind. Was doing well in tests.
By the end of Dec, I was done with the full syllabus, one-time revision, and all pyqs.
Changed my schedule from Jan, admit card was out, got the morning session, so I had to adapt myself to that timing.. took me 15-20 days for it... In Jan, gave a mock test almost every single day, analyzed my mistakes during the day, and revised in the evening. Every third day of the month I solved one previous year GATE paper as a mock test (from 2011 to 2018 at sets).
Appeared in GO mocks, almost everybody here knows about those.. took a test by Ruturaj Sir 2 days before the exam.. just to have the feeling of a hard paper and be ready for the worst-case as I was already expecting a hard paper.
Gave all these tests for time management, GO subject tests were an informative and conceptual test for me.
NOTE: you need not follow this schedule at all, I like studying at night.. and wanted to read everything in a short time, that’s why this schedule.. make your schedule at your convenience, which suits you the best.
What resources did I follow?
You can find them here.
While reading books, I found out I had many misconceptions and was lacking basic details of almost all of the concepts.. that’s why I didn’t deserve any better rank than 1531 last year.
How much stress was I having during preparation?
You can imagine by reading my schedule... side by side I was going through emotional stuff which needs to be taken care of, I decided to keep all such thoughts aside and kept focusing on my preparation, sometimes I even started to feel like a failure that I couldn’t do anything and many more stuff.. but I made it through, the good thing is I enjoyed studying all these concepts that’s why I never got bored or exhausted with my schedule. I wanted to give my best.. and I was targeting 90+ marks, so it was all worth it. I would like to add that there was a time once where I couldn’t read or study anything for 8-10 days, it’s alright as long as you make a comeback, also it’s necessary to take small breaks, I used to play online cards and video games, watch movies during my breaks. Just find your comfort zone.
How did those 3 hours inside the examination hall go?
To be honest I wasn’t feeling like I’m going for the exam until I reached the center and sat on my allocated seat... Started to get some butterflies after sitting there.. plus I prepared myself to attempt the exam in a single pass without revisiting too many questions.
It’s almost 9:30 AM and the exam starts, directly went for CS section, the first question was based on the covariance of two parameters of a distribution, damn I left this topic just because it was not required for GATE, I knew one part of it.. but couldn’t take a risk of -0.66.. so just left it.
10 mins past I have seen 4 questions, only 1 attempted.. situation got a little bit tensed now. I closed the question window so that my mind won’t divert by looking at how much I have attempted.. started attempting one by one.. with 15 mins spare, I was at the end of the paper, I opened the window again, and felt a bit relaxed, only 9 questions were unattempted.. attempted 5 more in that 15 mins (4 of them turn out to be correct).. so in total, I attempted 61 questions, 52 correct 9 incorrect, 8 out of 9 are MSQ or NAT so no negative here. Only 0.66 negative marks in one question.
The first official answer key was out, one big debate on one aptitude question, the official key was against me ;-; It could cost me a lot, but finally things settled in my favour, and both answers were given right in the final key.
I got 80.33 marks in set 1 (before normalization). Now I just had to wait for the final result.
Got AIR 8 in the final result.. still feels like I’m dreaming :))
I hope this covers almost everything. If anyone has any queries, feel free to ask.
My response sheet