1

Topic was permutations and combinations. Some of the students said sir we already know this topic and we have studied it in 11th standard. So why waste time on it?

Sir smiled and said — I know.

Then he asked a question — “how many arrangements are possible for the word ‘bombay’”? And I think everyone must have solved this question. Then later on in the same class moving forward to a much more complex topic (identical ball in the box problem, circular permutations etc) we were so much concentrated on finding solution of these tough questions that our sir didn’t even took pen and answered all the complex questions in a tenth of a second.

He must have solved it in his mind, one may think. But how fast? Did he already knew what he was going to teach that day and so must have memorized all the answers, but then why would’ve he had said that now you make the questions using your imagination and I will answer them at the same speed. And he did that again. Then, at last when he answered how he was so fast in calculating those answers he said

I don’t know.

I know how to calculate the arrangements of the word Bombay and so I applied the same logic in every complex topic. He said he never crammed any formula (we used to cram formulas for these complex problems).

Not only for this subject, he did the same thing with every subject. Few years later, today when I was reading a quote by Mark Twain on the internet that — if you tell the truth, you don’t need to remember anything took me back to those days. It is we who make the problem complex ourself (in life too) and then feel bad for not able to solve. I can say this with my whole confidence that whatever subject he taught us I never tried to cram anything. I only uncovered what was covered at first, the whole truth. I religiously followed my teacher. I worked hard for a year but still after giving GATE (2020) examination (AIR 1248) only IIT Indore and IIITB were ready to send me an admission letter. This was a failure for me because I was studying to get into IIT Bombay. Clearly I rejected IIT Indore and IIITB.

Few days later when giving interviews to get a job, one of the interviewers said that you must be regretting now that you have wasted 1 year in preparation. I gently replied, Sir I have no regrets and I do agree that I failed. I accept that I am a failure. I still call myself a failure sometimes cause of failing a lot so often. But I have no regrets.

I am actually happy that I failed because after preparing so hard for that one year I realized that the destination was not the end goal rather it was the journey which we overlook often. In that 1 year I learnt how to deal with fear, anxiety, depression, family pressure, financial issues when all of them attack at the same time and on top of that you get diagnosed with MDD (major depressive disorder). If you don’t know about MDD it’s good. Physical pain is nothing when compared to the mental agony. MDD is a mental illness. On one side were these demons and on the other side was me alone. I was in tears during that time. I have no count of how much I would’ve cried during those days.

Here, one might ask — “why crying over a trivial exam?” A single piece of paper wouldn’t decide your future. Yes it’s true. But the journey which will lead you to the exam will decide what kind of person you will become. Remember the journey matters not any piece of paper ofcourse, if you continue to prepare till the end.

My frustration increased tremendously everyday to beat the topper in our coaching center (he got AIR 13 that year btw). It went on the whole year. I was determined that I will beat this guy. Me failing in GATE was the symbolic death of me against those demons which every aspirant must face in their journey. But as written in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita that those who die in war go to heaven too. I am proud that facing all those demons I accepted death instead of leaving the battleground.

So what if one may die because it’s the journey which leads to the destination is considered more important than the destination itself.

I learnt a lot in that one year of preparation for GATE. To date I am proud that I get to be taught by someone whom every part of personality I admire. Now sometimes I teach the same things to other needy students which I learnt from my teacher.

This was my story. If an average student from tier-3 college suffering with MDD can get 1248 rank in GATE then why can’t you get AIR 1. Always aim the highest. On then one end I was fighting with fear, anxiety, family issues,suicidal thoughts because of MDD and on the other end somewhere deep I knew that I will beat that AIR 13 student in this year’s exam. I always aim high. Aiming lower is a sin. Never do that. Aim so high that you aren’t even hesitant to die for your aim. It’s not like people who get AIR 1,2,3 doesn’t feel pain, stress. Even the strongest of the strong feel fear.

Karna was feeling fear too in the final battle v/s Arjuna, as said by his charioteer.

When our sir said “how many arrangements are possible of the word ‘bombay’?” he must’ve unconsciously said to every student sitting there that their target is IIT Bombay. That’s what I think.

So that one year of preparation has made me a very strong person from inside. Whenever I aim, I aim for highest. Aiming low is a sin. Don’t be a sinner.

Current situation: I am working in a startup and earns enough that the thoughts to go in FAANG doesn’t enter in my mind. I teach some students too. I am still suffering from MDD and I take medications for it. I lift weights and it’s been 3 years doing that.

My website: https://darshan.sh

2

Backstory

Hi, I am Darshit Gandhi. At my time, JEE was not compulsory after 12th Std in Gujarat, we had GUJCET exam. So I gave GUJCET and scored pretty well in that exam. I was not having any craze for IITs during that time. So I decided to pursue my B.E. in CSE from one of the topmost college of Gujarat. During my B.E. also, I had no plans of doing  M.Tech.

In my second year of B.E., one of my friend asked me to go with him in the demo class for GATE. I went with him to give him some company, but was unaware of the fact that this thing was gonna change my future.

Attempt 1 : GATE CS 2021 - The Beginning

Even though I have joined an local offline coaching in my 2nd year, but I was not at all taking it seriously. I was just attending the classes, making notes, then I come home and just forgot to revise. This was my life for 1.5 years. Initially, it was very difficult for me to understand subjects like OS, DBMS, COA, etc. as it was only my 2nd year, and we were just studying C++ in our college. But one good thing in my coaching was that once they complete the syllabus, they start to teach again the whole syllabus. So, after around 1 year, we started to study our whole syllabus again in around July 2019. And now this time, I was understanding what was taught in the class. But now also, after coming home, I was not doing anything. I was treating this like some college semester exam and this was my biggest mistake. Revision is very very very important if we are preparing for GATE exam. It is a very boring and tedious thing, but we cannot get good rank without doing enough revision (There may always be some exceptions).

Anyways, until Feb 2020, I was just attending the classes and making notes and nothing extra. Then, I realized that I am having only 1 year for my GATE exam. Now I was worried wondering that how will I complete 10-12 subjects in 1 year along with college work. So from March 2020 onwards, I started my serious GATE preparation. I started to take subjects one by one, started studying them, referred notes, google and also youtube. Initially, I was following youtube channels like Ravindrababu Ravula, Knowledge Gate, Gate Smashers, etc. and websites like Gate overflow, geeksforgeeks, etc. So I studied the subjects in this order : Discrete Maths → TOC → Compiler → DBMS → DS → Algorithms → OS → CN. I haven’t touched COA because that was the most difficult subject for me. I haven’t touched Maths, Aptitude and Digital because I was in a dilemma that I will complete this all subjects in January because these are “EASY” subjects. But I was very wrong. Also, at that time, “PUBG mobile” was at its peak in India, I used to play everyday from 2 pm to 5 pm with my friends. The thing is that I always underestimated GATE exam. Finally PUBG mobile got banned in October and I guess that was some kind of relief for me from this gaming addiction.

I tried to complete my syllabus (except the 4 subjects) till December end. Then I tried giving some tests from Made Easy test series and was scoring decent marks. Now, I did the same mistake during this time also as I did initially when I started my preparation. I was just “reading” the questions which I answered wrong, not “understanding” it. Also, I was not checking the questions that I answered right. They are equally important as the wrong ones, as we might have got the correct answer by some wrong method.

I was planning to do Maths, Aptitude, Digital and COA in January, but our 7th semester Final exams were scheduled in January due to pandemic. So now,my most of January went for this college exams, and I resumed my GATE studies from around 20th January. Now, the link has broken, and I have also decided to give GATE 2022 next year. I was very scared because my 4 subjects were left to study and I also need to do revision of previous studied subjects. So I decided to go with revision of my previous and left the remaining subjects. I gave around 8-10 full length tests and my average marks were around 54-55 out of 100 and I was getting rank around 500-1000.

13th February 2021 – I woke up at 9 am. My exam slot was in the afternoon. I did not touched any books on that day. I was laying down and closing my eyes and sometime just roaming in the house. Time came, and I went to gave the exam. Initially, I solved 2 questions correctly, so that gave me some confidence, but the 3rd question was from Paging (OS) and I took around 20 min to do that question. I was not moving forward because I know that I will definitely solve that question. I got some odd number as the answer and I was not sure whether I solved it correctly or not (I came to know much later that it was correct). So now I just solved 3 question in 30 min and now I only had 150 min left for 62 questions. My heartbeat increased like anything. I continued solving other questions, but there was a lot of pressure on me at that time. I was very angry at me when the exam got over, but I kept the smile on my face. I asked my friends who were at that exam centre, they also told that the paper was very difficult and their exam went ok. I was somehow relieved after listening that everyone found that the exam was tough, but then also deep down, I knew that I could definitely do better. After the answer key came, I got to know that I can easily score 7-8 marks more if I was able to calm myself down during the actual exam.

It will not matter how much we have studied, only thing that matters is that how are we able to handle ourself during that 3 hours of the actual exam.

My result came early than the actual mentioned date, I had zero expectation of getting a rank under 300 this time. I opened the website and found out the I got AIR 732. Was not happy and was not sad either. Getting under 1000 rank in GATE CS is a very big achievement in itself. I might have got IIT BHU, IIT Dhanbad, NIT Trichy, NIT Warangal, NIT Surathkal, etc, but my goal was only top 7 IITs. So now I have decided that I will prepare for GATE 2022.

Attempt 2 : GATE CS 2022 - The Conclusion

For GATE 2022, I only have to prepare those subjects which I left in GATE 2021, revise those previous subjects and solve more and more problems. I got placed from my Campus Placements and decided to take that job as a backup and prepared for GATE 2022, so that I don’t have to worry that what if I don’t get under 300 rank this time also. So having something in backup is a plus point. It will be very difficult to prepare along with a job, but believe me, it will help you lose some of the burden from your head.

I started with COA, but then had a 2 months break because my 8th semester of college was ongoing and I had to complete my lab assignments and project work. I started my GATE preparation again in July 2021 but not full fledged, because I had my job from 9 am to 7 pm and then studying at night with tired mind was very difficult. But then also, I made up my mind to study in whatever time I get. Moreover, this year, Valorant was at its peek. So I used to play everyday for around 2-3 hours from 8 pm to 9pm/10pm. Yeah, I know, I really need to do something regarding my gaming addiction :(

I used to start studying from 9 pm/10 pm and study till 2 am/3 am. On Saturday/Sunday, I used to study for 4-6 hours. I would suggest to study more on normal weekdays than on weekend and relax on weekends. Watch some movie/ web series during the weekend and relax your mind. I might have completed around 15-20 web series and many-many movies during this span.

Now I know that this time, I need some coaching to study the subjects like COA, maths, etc. I cannot do it by myself. So I got the Unacademy subscription in Unacademy’s scholarship test and started to prepare from it. I studied COA from Vishwadeep Gothi sir and that was the best course of COA that I have ever seen. I got each and every concept that Vishwadeep sir taught and I was very happy that now I finally started to understand COA. I studied other subjects like Maths (Engg and Discrete) , digital, etc from Unacademy. Yes, I left aptitude this time also :(

In like November end, I finished the new subjects and decided to start with revision of the old subjects. Trust me, this was the worst part. I barely could remember anything from the subjects that I studied before. I should have revised those subjects in regular intervals. Believe me, this revision process is very very boring, but we need to do it in regular intervals, otherwise it will be very difficult for us to grasp everything during actual exam. Anyways, I decided not to stop and I started studying my previous subjects notes from starting.

I started to give tests and I saw that there is no improvement in my marks from the last year. Till February, I gave around 10-15 full length tests and this year, the highest marks that I got was 54. Last year, my average marks was 54 and now, after giving 1 extra year, finishing all the subjects, highest marks that I got is 54. This was really frustrating for me. It feels like I have done nothing in this last 1 year. I decided not to worry about it now as it cannot be changed. This time, instead of just reading the wrong questions from my tests, I understood it and made sure that if this pattern comes next time then I can solve it. But still, I was not checking the questions that I got right, due to the lack of time.

5th February 2022 – I woke up at 7 am as I had to reach the exam centre by 8 am. I solved the 1st question quickly, but the the real villain came – MSQs. There were approx 15 MSQ in GATE CS 2022. 15 might seem a very small number but this made the whole difference. In 95% of cases, I was sure about the 3 out of 4 options of MSQs but not sure about the fourth option. GATE 2022 CS paper came out more difficult than GATE 2021 CS. Because of MSQ, my confidence went down drastically. I was very very scared because this was my second attempt and I don’t want to lose this one. So I left all the MSQ and started doing MCQ and NAT. But in the mind, only one thing was there, how the hell am I going to solve these many MSQs. Also, along with MSQs, one more problem came. My favourite subject was Computer Networks, and in GATE 2022 CS, very tough questions were asked from Computer Networks. These two things really had a very bad effect on me. But then, I thought to keep solving as many questions as I can. I was just literally solving the questions in a hurry and then directly went to other question, I was not even checking the questions that I solved. My mind was panicking at that moment and I thought the I might have to give GATE one more time next year.

This time, after I completed my paper, I just ran out of the exam centre without talking to anyone and went home. I was very scared that I didn’t even checked my answers when the actual answer key came out. I was behaving like I have not at all given the GATE exam. After thinking much, I decided to take admission in any college that I will get at my rank, and will not go for GATE 2023. I was expecting around 700-1000 rank.

Climax

It was 16th March i guess, time was 11:30 pm. I saw in one to the telegram groups that one person has typed “results are out”. My heartbeat increased and I instantly checked out the website. I was shocked and happy at the same time. Turned out that every GATE 2022 CS aspirant found the paper difficult. I entered my GATE registration number and password and as soon as I logged in, I scrolled down to see my rank. I had secured AIR 227 in GATE CS 2022. I was shocked for sometime after seeing the result and I was completely silent for a minute. I logged out and then tried logging in again, thought maybe it was some glitch. But it was real. I really secured AIR 227. I told my mom (who was sitting just next to me) that “mummy result aavi gayu and aa vakhte mane pakku IIT madi jase” (Mom, results are out and I will definitely get IIT this time). My father was sleeping in the next room, I woke him up and told “pappa result aai gayu, aakha India ma maaro 227 rank aayo che” (Dad, results are out, I got rank 227 in whole India). I was really happy and emotional. My 4 year GATE journey has finally came to an end.

Points to Remember – Ending Credits

• Never lose hope. The minute you lose hope, it is all over. Nothing can be achieved without hope and confidence. Just make your goals clear and work hard to achieve it even if you have to sacrifice something you like.
• Revision is must. Revise all the subjects at regular interval otherwise it will be very difficult to grasp all the subjects at once in the end
• Make good and crisp notes, this will help you to revise the subjects more efficiently.
• Don’t leave out any subjects. I heard some people saying that we don’t need to prepare all the subjects, we can leave 1-2 subjects. But what if some very easy question comes out of the subject that you left and a hard question comes out of the subject that you have prepared. (This happened with me, a very easy question came from COA in GATE 2021).
• Try completing your whole syllabus till November and start solving the test series from November only. Revision should be carried out in regular intervals.
• Analyze the test series properly. Don’t just read out the questions that you did wrong, try to understand that concept and in future if any question comes from that concept, make sure you solve it. Also try to check the question that you did right, whether you did it with the correct method or if there any other shortcut way to solve the same questions or not.
• Don’t ever rely on test series marks. Don;t get demotivated if you get less marks in test series. There is no relation of test series with the actual exam (Highest marks that I got in test series while preparing for GATE 2022 was 54).
• Try focussing more on theory concepts more than numericals as I think in next few years, MSQ will take over. If you study the theory concepts, you will become strong both in theory and problem solving. Trust me, it feels worse when you know 3 out of 4 options in the MSQ and not sure about the 4th option.
• Make sure you stay relax during the actual 3 hours of the exam. It will not matter if you have studied enough, but if you panicked during the exam, it can become worse.
• During the exam, try to given a fix amount of time to each question, if you are not able to solve it in that time and if you sure that you will definitely get an answer, then only proceed otherwise move to next question.
• Maths and Aptitude consists of 27 marks. Don’t think of neglecting these subjects, these are very scoring subjects.
• Time management is a key thing in GATE exam. If you don’t manage you time well, then it will create a big problem during your actual exam.
• Don’t study 14-18 hours one day and 2-3 hours on other day. Study for 4-6 hours consistently. And do other things as well to relax your mind. I use to play PC/mobile games to relax my mind.
• Don’t discuss the paper after your exam gets over, just go home and do everything that you have been planning to do since long time. There is not point of regretting as we cannot change our answers now. Open the question paper only when the actual answer key comes.

Post – credit scene

A big Thank you to my family, teachers and friends who have pushed me higher throughout this whole journey.

Hope you achieve all your dreams and make your parents and all your loved ones proud. Best of luck.

Darshit Gandhi.

3

I would like to share with you all that I am joining IIT Delhi for MS(R) AI (2022).

Well, to get into this position & to be eligible to write this particular post, or to live this reality of being an IITian, the process was not at all easy.

It all started back in 2019 when my roommate insisted me to visit IIT Kgp for their annual techfest Kshitij 2019.

I wasn’t very much interested to go because I wasn’t sure what value it would put in my life for a worth of ₹1500 for the entry pass.

But somehow I ended up there, and who knew that those 3 days of Kshitij would change my life forever!

For those 3 days I experienced what it is to live the life of an IITian. As I had to stay in the IIT hostels & had to eat at IIT canteens, in my free time I used to attend workshops in the IIT classrooms. I got an opportunity to interact with IITians of my age & of the same semester.

It all made me realize that there is a huge difference between my college life than that of an IITian. I realized that there is a huge lack of resources like infrastructure,surrounding culture etc. in my college life.

After realizing all these I was totally lost, I was kind of sad & confused about the fact that why can’t I have the same life. When I think about it now, probably this realization struck me because I had a huge love of knowledge for CS inside me.

But that was not enough to get me started with.That only happened after I had a very bad breakup and I was rejected by an investor to fund my startup only because I was not an IITian.

After all this I was in a position when I felt I needed to prove myself & somehow I chose GATE CS as the only option and started preparing for it. As I said before the process was not easy but I had that advantage of starting out really early (from 4th sem. 2019).

During my preparation days (2019-2021) I completely isolated myself from all the social media, from all friends except a few & moved into a single room apartment.

Then after 2 years of study I wrote GATE 2021, I thought I had the best preparation that I could do. I got a decent rank of AIR 1002 but that was not enough to get me into the top 7 old IITs which I actually desired for.

Well as anyone can feel, sacrificing everything for 2 years in your early 20s and still not making it upto the mark, can be really frustrating and yes, that was the same for me too.

Although I had options of getting into NITS,IIITS,new IITS & I also had a job offer(Cognizant inc.),

I chose to prepare again from scratch and make it to the top 7 old IITS.

Taking this decision was comparatively easy but the execution was not. As I was choosing to prepare fulltime without any source of income as a repeater.

During that span (2021-22) I was also facing some financial issues but my parents always supported me and helped me to keep moving forward whatever be the circumstances.

Hence, after a year I reappeared in GATE 22 and this time I got calls from 2 programs:

IIT Bombay MS CMINDS & IIT Delhi MS MINDS.

Again I prepared hard for the written test & interviews as this was my only chance to get into the top IITS. My hard work paid off & I cleared those interviews with success that led me to my admission at IIT Delhi (MS(R)-AI).

I know the story may seem a bit emotional at times, but it’s what that was inside me for the last 3 years.

The journey was lonely at times, every night I was looking forward to the next day keeping my dream in my mind and constantly improving myself. I was consistent and never gave up. These helped me towards what I’m today.

Last but not the least I’m thankful to have such supportive parents and friends who were there with me no matter what. I'm also thankful to myself for not giving up and that I kept on going day after day.

The journey was a roller-coaster, but I loved it.

Now I can say with confidence that with enough effort and dedication anything can be achieved.

4
Dreaming of achieving a good rank in GATE started when one of my senior secured rank under 100. The first time I got to know about GATE. At that time I was in my first year 2nd semester. Then I searched about GATE and collected the information. I also found that PSU also recruits through GATE. I have always had a dream of having a government job. This was my first motivation.

Actually, before preparing for GATE I never had an interest in Computer Science. From my school days, I never like computers. But from my JEE Score, hard to get into a good college. So I decided to take state government college and computer science as a branch. Many people say either take a good college or CS as a branch. Throughout my 1st and 2nd year, I am not able to found out computer science as interesting. And then thought of writing GATE and having a job at PSU.

Then before lockdown, I had information and material with me. My friend SG help me a lot in this. But in the first three months of lockdown, I didn’t do anything (In the hope college will reopen and let's prepare for college exams). But that does not happen. Generally, I can’t stay away from the study for more days. In that 3 months, I started learning HTML, CSS, and Linux. But while doing dual boot some problem happened(all data lost) and then I avoided all this.

Then on 9 June 2020, I started my preparation. I have my plans with me that I have created by watching YouTube videos. For at least 1 month it is like I am taking out my frustration of not studying onto my studies. In 1 month I have completed 3 subjects C programming, Data structure, and Engineering math. I have also bought the RBR test series for Practice. In my 3rd I manage all my course completion, Revision, and test series like a pro. My JEE coaching experience helps me a lot in it. I should not forget the subject so I kept a date every month for revision. Like 2-DS, 3-Algo, 11-TOC like that. And In the initial days, I have given 2 tests (topic) in a week. As all tests of the subject get complete, then exactly after 1 month, I would plan my subject test. I follow the same schedule till October and till October I have completed all subjects except COA. Then I started giving 3 tests a week, and by Nov I have completed my all subject. Then I started giving the only tests. And in the 3rd year's attempt, I have given nearly 15+ Full tests. I also keep a record of what I did today.

When you write what you did today, and if you have not worked it will motivate you to work hard the next day. And I have secured AIR 1518 in 2021. This is the first time I have achieved something countable. Not a great rank but I was happy about it.

Then from my attempt, I have analyzed the mistake

1. I had not solved the Previous year's question and I have followed Gate Overflow for this.

2. Some topics I have left

3. Giving only one test series become predictable so it was not helpful.

5 April 2021, I have started my preparation again, revise the subject, filled up weak links of the subject, and after ten 10 days give a test on the subject. Like this, I have completed all my topic+subject+revision of all subjects. And then started giving the full-length tests. Initially, I was giving FLT alternate days and I am not revising properly. But slowly its effect showed in the test. Then stop giving alternate tests and start giving 3 times in week tests (Sunday, Wednesday, Friday), and every 10-15days I revise the whole subject. And so on the journey continues. Revising the same thing is boring, so you need motivation for these. If you wish to gain motivation by watching Sandeep Maheshwari it helps for you for only 1-2 days, it doesn’t work here. You should be internally motivated.

My 4th-year journey was not smooth as my 3rd year. 4th Year Placement, Summer Internship all were there. I had applied for some companies, but I am not good at coding and felt like I am wasting my time, then decide to make a bold call and stop applying for drives and made myself uni intentional. Focus on only one target helps.

When I was preparing for GATE in my 4th year, some people never encourage me to do it. They ask “do you have the potential to come in the top 100 ?” and how do aspirants know he will come in the top 100 or not? So I never take these things seriously and always ignore such people. Do ignore people who are not supportive of you. Believe me, it always helps.

Some advantage for me was it was Covid-19 time and I was at home, So there was no distraction from the college side(I know you got it). No problem with food(which is with me every time cause mess food) and good environment.

I believe there is nothing like smart work. If you have done Hard Work, it will always be paid off. Not this time but definitely it will be paid off. Believe me “God has a more beautiful plan than yours”.  I was waiting for the result on 16 till 9:30 but not declared, and woke up at 12:30 and checked the result and finally, I got AIR 34 in Gate CSE-2022. And I was not able to sleep the whole night and it was a memorable night.

#Keep_Working_Hard
5

DISCLAIMER : I have scored AIR-3550 in GATE 2022. Read at your own risk.

It was 2 hour exam consisting of 120 questions. It was my last and third attempt.
It was strikingly similar to AccCccEee mock test series except it didn't have discrete maths and was much simpler in terms of calculation oriented questions. Calculator was provided on screen. BARC upgraded their exam software this time finally now it looks more polished and had less lag when switching questions frequently. Please try out the official mock software on their website once.

I attempted 63/100.

Time control is the most crucial factor as you will only get about 72 seconds per question. This looks really scary but don’t think like this if you get  55+ question right you will make it. This fact reduces our worries because now we get almost 120 seconds per question almost double liberty.

I appeared for the aforementioned test series and gave all tests 600 question total. Apart from revision and practice I discovered something else. I noticed that I am spending average 20 mins on the questions that I am not attending. I drastically reduced this in actual exam and I was able to save some serious crucial time.

HOW ?

I immediately skipped a question if a little trying was needed or it had any sort of calculation including c programming questions.

Now why calculation... even if we practiced well and know the question in and out.
The reason is  because initially some calculations look straight forward but once we start to solve them changing and converting millisecond to nanosecond and Mbps to Bytes per second lot of time is consumed and these questions are most error prone. So better if they are attended in last.

Believe me I know how it feels to let go a simple question like that but you have to say to that question “you are my friend and I am not leaving you, I will solve you in the end, please let me go”.

Only when you say this the question will leave you in peace otherwise it will distract you throughout the paper and will consume lot of time even if you solve it successfully.

Due to this one misplanning in  my practice test  by the time I reached the 100th question
I had barely any time left for revision of rechecking. Because I was fighting with every question that I saw.

ATTEMPT STRATEGY

In the first 75+ minutes I had solved 45+ question that I was fairly confident and had 45+ minutes left on the clock for the remaining questions.

Now I did not went to the unattempted questions straight because from my past experience I know that revising and even finding 2,3 silly mistakes can change your outcome.

Unlike gate we cannot re-solve question completely for 100% confirmation as time is very less. I checked the tricky points like what is actually asked TRUE/FALSE, CORRECT/ INCORRECT and all calculation questions( everyone has their own pitfalls ).

Once I was done with this process I had a solid 48+ question with me( i like to think this way,keeps me motivated). And by seeing the question again I had a good idea about the difficulty level of the exam. Why only these 15-20 question will tell difficulty level because everyone else will be solving the same 45+ question that you just solved so only these are the question that will decide the merit.

Later I will tell you through an example how judging these 15-20 questions will affect your merit.

I concluded that the paper was easy this time and cutoff will surely go up so I need to push a little bit further. Now I am left with 45+ mins time and and has 15-20 question to solve.

CLASSIFICATION OF THESE 2nd ROUND QUESTION AND HOW TO CHOOSE THEM.

3-4 question were the ones in which I was able to eliminate 2 options and had no clue about the remaining options, I gave them a second look re-thought them and left them because I will only take the chance if the remaining 10+ question GO according to my plan.

Why multiple views to questions that I am confused about…. because I believe that our subconscious continually works to find solutions to them and sometime an approach/formula suddenly pops up while you are solving something else.

In the next 30+ mins I attempted calculation oriented questions and some tough question that I thought I might crack if given a little more time or by brute force or option checking.

When last 5 minutes were left I had attempted 58-59 questions. In the remaining time I once again saw those questions and took chance and attempted 3-4 of them.

That’s how I did it and I do not know if this strategy is good or will it work. All I can say that it was a dynamic strategy that I arrived upon after solving 30+ full length GATE MOCKS and 6+ BARC test series.

Overall questions were simple in nature not requiring much in-depth calculation or memorization like last year.

Last Year the cutoff plunged to 129/300 I scored 80/300 marks in that attempt.
BARC 2021 had some serious question on Computer network and COA which actually ate up all my time.

I found the paper to be easy, not even moderate. According to me a Moderate paper is
when there is a proper mix of questions and the difficult questions are time
taking but somewhat doable, but if the questions are absurdly tough then no body
does them and they do not count towards final merit.

WHAT I COULD HAVE IMPROVED

I could have done….

1. Software Engineering Questions (2-3)
2. Cyclomatic complexity (1)
3. Probability and Combinatory (1)
4. DLD counter question (1)
5. More polished first pass I really could have manually counted combinatorics question.

It was a pleasant experience. A race where every second counts too much thrill.

Make sure your display is free of any marks and is bright enough I lost a GATE question because there was a dot on screen but not in the question. I did my calculation accordingly and arrived at the wrong answer.

eg what I saw 53.2 actually it was 532…..

Ask the invigilator for the same, in BARC control software there is a REASSIGN tab they can simply assign you a new system. My display was flickering so I asked and got a new system assigned.

The invigilators were some kids in their early 20s and they were gossiping almost in my ear so I told them Politely(only voice not face) “Madam I am getting disturbed”. They were nice people so they moved away but did not stop gossiping.

I encourage participants to speak up if they are facing any discomfort or any system issues as a lot depends on this exam.

Coming back to why analysing the difficulty level makes a difference.

Last year I appeared for the NIELIT-STQC exam, based on the last years score, scoring anything less that 100/120 meant no selection somehow the topper scored 112 / 120.

Despite having good attempts I pushed my luck and attempted 110/120 without realizing that paper was actually tough this time and cutoff will come down.

Day before yesterday the results came out I scored 0.4 % less and missed the cutoff .One question was 0.8 % weightage. I lost 12 question in negative marking because I pushed too hard even attempting the ECE and EE questions, if I had analyzed that paper was tough I would have stopped at 90+ questions and would have made the cutoff.

Today a random uncle came to drop off his daughter as I had reached the Centre before everyone he striked a conversation with me and I told him how missed the cutoff by one question. He was very straightforward and said it to my face that I was incompetent and I should focus on why I lost that 1 marks. He said that these are all excuse to shy away from working hard and he truly believes that 1 rupees = 100 paisa everywhere everytime and luck has no place in this world.

I should have told him how Abhinav Bindra sir missed his 2004 GOLD MEDAL in shooting because the floor he was standing upon was made of wood tiles and every time he was shooting and adjusting the recoil of his gun, his feet were displacing the wooden tiles underneath and he could not figure out why was he was missing the target.

There is a documentary on this “Legends Live on” on youtube.

I believe that luck has a little part to play and sometimes despite best efforts things may not converge.

So beware before engaging in such conversation….

Then I met other guy from banda district who I had met last year in the same exam he scored AIR 1332 last year and this year he got AIR 532( seems like his hardwork paid off).

At the end the BARC representative came to ask for exam experience I told him how last year the electricity went off at AXIS-COLLEGE CNB and everyone lost 12+ minutes because the clock did not stop.

Before asking anything further he asked did I qualify ? as soon as I said NO he brushed off and said what I am saying is absolutely false and something like this can never happen.

Too much for one day maybe I am coming full circles I guess.

I am posting this early because later it will not be as useful.

I really thought not to post  because everyone else is a competitor and people generally post after they have succeeded but I really believe that even the toppers do not know what really worked because I have never seen anyone claiming before hand and predicting their rank everyone believes a certain tactics will surely work and they place their bets on that.

Everyone is equally nervous and has their own doubts.

I had UPPCL on 1st April, BARC on 2nd April and NIELIT-NIC on 3rd April which is tomorrow.

Why am I not studying for tomorrow…. Just has MS Dhoni said if I have studied all year long then one day will not make a difference and if I have not studied then also one day will not make any difference, so I am chilling and writing this post. Without any guilt or fear.

Memory based question.
Cyclomatic Complexity 1 ques
Paging 2-3 ques including 2 level page table
Software engineering testing
Chip Select logic Manchester encoding, baud rate bit rate
Java, OOPS concept 3-4 question
Very tricky programming question with lots of << shift operation
MUX Equation through comb circuit.
TOC Regular Language only 2 ques
Pipelining Speedup
CN security & encryption(Not in gate syllabus)
Hamiltonian and Euler circuit 1 ques
greedy job sequencing 1 ques
Bankers Algorithm 1 ques
BST creating post order given
SQL queries 2 ques
2NF but not 3NF 1 ques

K-map

Will add more question as I remember.

Happy to help. God be with you.

6
Hi, everyone I am AIR 89 2021 general category at IIT Delhi. I came back here to give you a slight outlook of the curriculum of IITD.

First things First.

If you are thinking that getting into IITs is easier than surviving into them. Then you are absolutely wrong. Gate preparation is nothing in comparison to the curriculum that IITs offer specifically, what IITD holds. Because that is what going to shape you towards a good future, so get ready for it. Be hardworking.

Please see the course structure first then select any IIT for the Masters/ etc at your COAP. Don’t be greedy with the choice that Oh, these are some top institutes then they are best. It is not the case always. Some institutes focus more on the research side( Theoretical aspect ) than application( say coding ). In the first semester maybe you don’t have a choice to choose your dream courses.

Lots of students are completely empty with the course they want to go with, they are just looking at which institute gives the best placements, some times its not about placements. You might not able to get good CGPA to sit for placements in your dream company if you are not able to score well. And to score well you should study what you like or you are good at.  Say you want to learn about AI or machine learning but there is no course here for you at a semester. Or you can’t choose anything in the First semester. This is sad, at this stage, you are mature enough to choose your stuff and should be moving forward in that direction. But the institute doesn’t offer this to you.

IITD don’t give choice in the First sem to choose your subjects in MTECH CSE. So, 25% of the course timeline is wasted. Wonderful. This is happening at the institute of eminence. Study boring subjects that don’t suit you. So look at the course outline first before getting into the institute. Try IIT M, IIT Roorkee they are very good choices and also ranked 1 and some respectively among all engineering colleges of India.

One thing I like about IITs is that they entertain your questions/ doubts very well and encourage you to ask also. By default language here will ENGLISH. So get comfortable with it as early as possible, otherwise, you will be silent spectator with the course. But like here also some Prof are good some are bad with their teaching skills. Not questioning what they know. No, doubt they have the best research papers published among the Indian subcontinent. But they lack with their teaching skills. And like in every Indian college courses rotates to different professors every sem which makes none expert on a subject but some are fixed on subjects but the rest are not. The best you can get in IIT is when you are physically present in the IITs and and interacting with like-minded students and profs around you from the globe. And sharing beautiful thoughts. I hope next sem will be offline and I will enjoy the institute better. !!

Hope you are preparing well don’t forget to solve the previous year papers twice or thrice before Gate. All the best.
7

My name is Abhishek Pratap Singh. I got AIR-297 (Score 771) in GATE 2021. This is my story.

Background

I did my B.Tech in CSE from AKGEC (a tier III college). I am 2017 batch pass out. I was placed in the bottom 5 in my engineering class. After college I delved into UPSC preparation. So for 3.5 years after graduation, I was not remotely related to any of the subjects of engineering and no work experience. I provided the above information to show the fact that I was not at all well versed with GATE subjects.

Why did I switch from studying General Studies (History, Geography, Social Science, et al) to diametrically opposite technical subjects and not try for other exams where the above subjects would have helped me? This will require another blog. Here I will focus on how I approached my GATE preparation.

I had 2 exams lined up for 4th October, 2020 and 11th October, 2020. After giving both, I knew I would not get through. For one week I pondered the future course of action. From 20th October, 2020 I started my GATE preparation.

Understanding demands of the exam

To clear an exam, first you need to know the nature of the exam. GATE selects candidates for post-graduation degree, therefore, it expects candidates to have strong foundation in undergraduate subjects.

I had also made up my mind to do it without coaching. Having realised that studying standard books and NPTEL lectures are your best friends for this journey.

The start

Anyone thinking of doing something always faces the first challenge in terms of where to start from. Luckily I got hold of GATE Toppers algorithms by Bikram Ballav Sir. That small pdf file of 21 pages was my guide. I have looked at it numerous times. It helped me in finalising my resources.

The Plan

After calculating the number of days left and the number of subjects to study, I had around 10 days for each subject.

I had also looked at relative distribution of marks to various subjects. With that data in hand, I decided to leave Compiler design and Computer Organisation. A major part of the plan was to score full in the aptitude section (I scored 14/15). 2nd pillar of my preparation was DS and Algo. 3rd pillar was TOC, CN, OS and DBMS

 Subject Resource Time TOC An Introduction to formal languages and automata - Peter Linz Closure properties and decidability from gatecse.in 20th Oct, 2020 - 10th Nov, 2020 Digital Logic Ch. 1 to Ch. 5 -> Digital Design(5th ed.) by M. Morris Mano, et al Lec. 16 - Lec 30 -> by Prof S. Srinivasan (NPTEL) Floating point numbers -> gatecse.in 11th Nov, 2020 - 27th Nov, 2020 Operating System Ch. 1,2,3 -> Operating system by Galvin Process management, Process synchronization, Memory management -> Ravula’s video I struggled in getting an intuitive understanding of virtual memory. I referred to many sources - NPTEL (IISc, IIT M videos), Udacity videos. Eventually got it wrong in GATE 2021 26th Nov, 2020 - 10th Dec, 2020 Computer Networks Ravula’s videos Questions asked are generally numerical based. I panicked with less time left so decided against referring standard sources 7th Dec, 2020 - 1st Jan, 2021 DBMS Prof P. P. Chakrabarti (NPTEL - IIT Kgp) I hit a goldmine when it came to DBMS source. The videos are old (>20 years) but sir is a wonderful teacher. These lectures were even more important as I had not studied DBMS in undergrad (mugged a day before exam and forgot 2 days later). Thanks to him I got full marks in DBMS in GATE 2021 14th Dec, 2020 - 26th Dec, 2020 Data Structures I had confidence in DS so resources were not structured. But I did refer to some lectures by Prof. P. P. Chakrabarti for DS 29th Dec, 2020 - 11th Jan, 2021 Algorithms NPTEL course by IIT-B by Prof. Abhiram Ranade and Prof. Sunder Vishwanathan CLRS Filled the gaps by google search 4th Jan, 2021 - 12th Jan, 2021 Computer Organisation Did not prepare Compiler Design Did not prepare (luckily I got 1 question from compiler design correct) Discrete Mathematics My preparation for this part was haphazard. Propositional and first order logic, Sets and functions, Counting - Discrete Mathematics by Kenneth H. Rosen Linear Algebra, Calculus - Techtud videos (Youtube) Some of my resources were not ideal due to paucity of time  Luckily those parts didn’t show up in exam for which I was less prepared Aptitude I didn’t prepare for this. I already had confidence in this part.

A typical day of preparation

Most of the time I took along two subjects at a time

Morning - new topics of Subject 1

Afternoon - Solving PYQs

Evening - new topics of Subject 2

This schedule I followed till 25th January, 2021. After that I could not study anything new as I was afraid of not being able to tackle problems of topics I already studied. So after that period I focused on revision and problem solving.

Test series

Keeping in mind the limited time, I only subscribed to GateOverflow test series.

What worked for me?

FlashCards

During the last couple of weeks, the major concern is how to collect all the preparation in one place and make a coherent picture out of it. Flashcards did the trick for me. I could revise a whole subject in 2.5 - 3 hours.

Subjectwise test

We often hear that one should stop giving subject wise tests 2 months before an exam and only focus on full mock tests. I will challenge this hypothesis. In fact, the subject wise test I gave in the last week did all the trick for me. I gave most of the subject wise tests in the GO test series 2021 as well as subject wise tests by Bikram sir. I could only give 2-3 full mocks.

Subjectwise test work well in condition when they are designed well, which was the case with GO test series and Bikram sir mocks.

Why did I decide against Full mocks in the last 10 days (I gave only 1)?

For a particular subject, a full mock can only cover a limited portion. More often than not these sections are those from which the majority of questions are asked. Some niche topics get neglected. So a holistic study of the subject is not possible this way. What if for that subject the real GATE exam goes for less asked topics. One may suffer if not thoroughly prepared.

How did I spend my last week?

Everyday I would pick one subject. Use flash cards to revise it (2.5-3 hrs). Then give a subject wise test of the subject (1 hr). Analyse the test and pick out the weak areas ( 2hrs). Then work on those weak areas (rest of the day).

My mindset

In tackling competitive exams, mindset is really important. Personally If there is a lot at stake over a single paper I often give in to the pressure. So to ease the pressure, I had already prepared a list of other exams and colleges (IIIT H, ISI, CMI, etc). So that I can approach the paper with no baggage.

I got Set 2 in GATE 2021. At one point during the exam I did feel that I might mess up the exam, but eventually it went good.

I got AIR-297 (Score-771)

I will be joining IIT Guwahati for my M.Tech. CSE

8

Hello,

This is me, a GATE 2021 aspirant. I have secured an AIR 784 (score 695, GEN) this year. Unlike many other aspirants, my Bachelors was in Electronics & Communications. Only course I did in my Undergrad (and that too in summer-term) was Data Structures and therefore I had no idea of other CSE subjects before starting my GATE preparation.

The review of RBR was largely positive by the time I took his coaching. The first thing I saw was quora reviews followed by the demo videos. I was impressed by his white-board style and after watching 2-3 videos on DSA and OS, I decided to buy his coaching for full price (31k).

Now, unlike many who for some reason keep saying that if you follow his coaching you can become a topper, I aim to provide more of an unbiased review. NO ONE CAN BECOME A TOPPER BY BLINDLY FOLLOWING ANY COACHING (unless that someone is a born genius). Coaching videos are easier to follow than any standard textbook or any university lectures sure, but easier study doesn’t necessarily warrant success. If you are not conditioning your brain to think things through and rather accustomed to getting things served on a silver platter, I feel that you’ll perform well as long as the questions aren’t out of the box. This happened with me too!

RBR sir taught all the “concepts”, tips and techniques required to solve the PYQs. After watching videos, making 350 pages of notes (for each subject! – I could share them if you like, but trust me they won’t beat the standard books) I was somehow able to solve nearly all the GATE PYQs. Few questions which I wasn’t able to solve, I used to look up the solutions posted on RBR-PYQ page and if I didn’t understand it I used to shoot up an email. They used to reply the same old shit which they had in their page and I used to some-what semi-understand it myself, resolve them to get the answer and move on.

Now one might ask, what was so wrong with my preparation and solving problems? Sounds correct, doesn’t it? You watch the video lectures, make detailed notes from them, solve GATE PYQs and repeat? Like, this is the same mantra every topper who took RBR course will probably regurgitate, right?

Well, here is what I think was wrong with my preparation:

• Relied completely on RBR course. Spent a lot of time in copying each and every word he said in the videos into my note-books when better version of those concepts was already present in the standard books.
• Relied completely on PYQ solutions provided by RBR without realizing that many of the solutions arrived at the answer despite lacking concrete explanation and seldom providing incorrect approaches or wrong logic. Better version of those solutions was already there at Gate Overflow but I was unaware.
• Religiously followed every word of RBR as a gospel. I was new to CSE and therefore naive. I realized that I wasn’t building up my problem solving for GATE exam but rather applying those same hard-coded techniques taught by RBR coaching to quickly solve GATE PYQs and other questions of same pattern. I wasn’t developing problem-solving intuition, rather learning methods to solve different problems.

If anyone has heard of Machine Learning, know that over-fitting model is still a bad model! You have to get the general idea of dataset rather than trying to fit it exactly. I did the same thing. RBR taught me tricks and techniques, I learned them to solve PYQs (which he covered in his videos to some extent) and lo and behold, I started developing this false sense of over-confidence that I’d easily top real gate exam! But I was beguiled into that false sense of hope that GATE 2021 would ask necessarily the same questions.

I started realizing that some concepts I’ve read in the coaching were wrong! Especially in OS synchronization where in RBR videos, Bounded Wait was falsely related to deadlock (one has nothing to do with the other, deadlock doesn’t mean Bounded Wait will be dissatisfied).

Okay, now I guess I should state the pros and cons of RBR coaching:

Pros:

• White-Board style teaching: I feel it’s better than slide-oriented teaching.
• Digital Logic Design was taught well and whatever was taught was very clear, especially K-Map minimization.
• Computer Networks was also taught pretty well and covered to the fullest. (DLD and CN were the only subjects where I can say with surety that RBR knew what he was doing).

Cons:

• TOC wasn’t covered well. The Turing Machine (REL) and Decidability problems were solved with the worst explanation ever and lacked the mathematical vigor.
• COA wasn’t taught well, especially pipelining concept. Worst explanation of operand forwarding ever!
• OS: Synchronization part was very flawed and lacked the concept building as was required for the topic. Memory management part was fine, but nothing special.
• DBMS: Not up to mark explanations on Relational Algebra, Tuple Calculus and SQL.
• Discrete Math & Engineering Math: Not up to mark with GATE syllabus.
• Graph Theory: One of the worst covered part in the coaching.
• Worst Doubt Support Ever: I was fine with 24 hours delay but then it started taking 2 days to receive a reply? And what I used to get? 2-3 lines copy-pasted from internet! How is that even doubt clearance? When I used to get a call for doubt clearance, they often get irritated by my approach saying “I don’t know what you have studied” and the solution should be like this. No shit, I can see the solution! I still want to know why my approach is wrong, or why your approach is correct! Or rather, how did you solve this in 1-2 lines and how did you get this logic behind?
• Not up to mark Test Series: Some mistakes and bad frontend.
• Videos not updated on daily basis and out-dated content. I guess RBR recorded all videos in 2014 but didn’t work on them.

Neutral:

• DSA: It was fine except for the Graph Algorithms. No mathematical proofs and shallow explanation. Also, he used “almost a complete binary tree” for heaps, I don’t know what that even means.
• Compiler: Fine, average, nothing special.
• Aptitude: Fine…

I feel that Gate Applied coaching is better (I haven’t taken it) at least from doubt clearance perspective. I mailed them my doubts (I joined their test series only) and they did provide better explanations. But again, standard books are still better.

• DO NOT SKIP STANDARD BOOKS! If reading books isn’t your thing, then at least rely on university lectures which are any day better. No one can teach Linear Algebra better than Prof. Gilbert Strang, MIT. Stats 110 is a very good Harvard course on probability and is available free of cost. Intro to Algorithms, MIT is also a good course. NPTEL has also got plethora of video lectures.
• SOLVE RELEVANT PROBLEMS AT THE BACK OF STANDARD BOOKS AFTER READING RELEVANT MATERIALS.
• After solving text-book problems, try to solve Gate PYQs yourself and see if you develop the problem solving intuition. Buy/Download Gate Overflow books for solutions (came to know of it after giving GATE :P). DO NOT TRUST EVERY COACHING ON PYQ SOLUTIONS!
• If time permits, join any good coaching (Gate Applied recommended) but only for value addition. After reading books, you’ll know what is correct and what is not from the coaching lectures.
• Make short notes of the methods you develop yourself along with key-concepts from standard sources.
• For doubt clearance, you can use Gate-Overflow (pity I didn’t come to know of it earlier) or Overflow forums.
• Join any good test series but be wary of the mistakes. I joined 3 test series (RBR-default, MadeEasy and Gate Applied) and found Made-Easy to be the most relevant. Please avoid RBR test series at all costs!
• Solve test series questions only after you’ve done fair share of textbook problems and GATE PYQs.

As for my marks in test series:

Made Easy (gave all full tests):

Highest Marks: 79.67, Lowest Marks: 59.34, Avg. Marks: 71

RBR Test Series (gave all full tests):

Highest Marks: 91, Lowest Marks: 68, Avg. Marks: 78

Gate Applied Test Series (gave all full tests):

Highest Marks: 73, Lowest Marks: 56, Avg. Marks: 63

I am still discovering as to how I couldn’t get as much marks in real gate exam (54.55/100, Set 2 AN) as I was getting in test series.

Thank you!

9

## I am making a list of different types of numericals that can possibly come in GATE from different subjects…..

This list is not comprehensive, so please comment if you know any topics and I will append them.

# COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE

1. cache organization
1. pipelining

# OPERATING SYSTEMS

1. scheduling
1. synchronization
1. paging

1. page table

## 8. virtual memory

1. Paging memory management in OS

# NETWORKING

## 2. Tcp/ip

1. window size

4. flow control error control

## 5.TCP/Ip problems in networking

1. Congestion control ,
1. Routing algorithms in CN windows sizes,
1. Error control in networking

## 9. Errors control Flow control

1. Congestion control , Routing algorithms in CN ….

# DIGITAL LOGIC

1. k-map
1. Minimization
1. Floating point operations

# DBMS

1. Normalization
1. transaction
1. indexing
1. hashing
1. serializability
1. concurrency

## 7. B, b+ trees

1. Normalization
1. Transactions

## 10. Indexing

1. Hashing searching
1. Transaction

# TOC

1. Number of nfa/dfa from given inputs or states

## 3. No of dfa,nfa possible with given no. of states or inputs

(i need dis formula)

## 8. https://gateoverflow.in/blog/62/do-not-overstudy

10

I am Jaynik Gaglani and have obtained AIR 26 in GATE 2021. My actual marks are 69 and after normalization I have obtained 72.89

I am a final year student pursuing B.E. in Information Technology from Dwarkadas J. Sanghvi College of engineering in Mumbai. It is a good college with good placements for CS and IT branches. I did not sit for placements except for 1-2 companies because my focus was completely on GATE.

• Don’t rely on last month/week, try to finish everything on time.
• Past failures don’t matter, just keep interest in subjects and you are good to go.
• Please don’t keep any specific mindset like biasness towards certain subject. All subjects are easy if concept is understood.
• Minor hiccups like less marks in certain tests don’t matter.
• Please read questions thoroughly and don’t assume anything unless told so and also practice more problems to improve thinking skills, speed and accuracy.
• Just persist even in tough and boring times, that phase will pass.
• If you are giving topic wise tests simultaneously with the topic then give it 2 – 3 days after you finish the topic in order to increase retention capacity.
• Analyze each test properly by checking all mistakes and unsolved question.
• The comment section of GO is itself a good resource so check that too.
• When solving PYQs with multiple option correct given in MCQ, solve them as MSQ without checking the options. Also, solve each question with its true solution, that is without tricks like option elimination since it gives clarity to concepts, improves problem solving skills and lots of such questions can come as NAT where such hacks are not applicable. You can definitely use whatever solution you like in the exam.
• Don’t forget to understand basic concepts of maths too.

Preparation:

I started my GATE journey from March 2019 (Semester 4) when I joined Gateforum offline coaching. I took offline coaching because I was not disciplined and also had not done proper research that online coaching is better for GATE since for me, coaching institute was 1 – 1.5 hours away from my house which wastes a lot of time. They were on weekends for total 13 hours. I was not at all serious for GATE then as I had started thinking that the exam is 1.5 years away. I kept making notes in classes but didn’t study seriously and solved PYQ myself in the class as taught by faculty. I started studying seriously from June 1st 2020. I had most of the notes with me and started watching lectures on YouTube and gateforum online. I finished my portion around October and PYQs around mid – November as I used to study in a pipelining manner. Complete a subject from all resources, give topic wise tests, give subject wise test. Start next subject, start PYQ of previous subject. And in next subject, revise the first subject.

I was using gateforum PYQ book for solving but whenever I didn’t understand questions/solutions, I used to google them. Initially, I used GFG but some answers in there too were confusing which led me to temporarily use GO. Once I started seeing some great answers and my other doubts were also getting solved through comments, I started using it full time for solutions. Just exploring, I came across the pdfs which I decided to solve later. A mistake I did as the pdfs have very good accessibility by just clicking a question redirects to GO and also the bookmarks.

I used standard books just for theory topics in OS, CN, DBMS and also some topics like sockets for which I didn’t have any material. I didn’t prepare for aptitude much apart from profit and loss and time and work as I had prior experience with it and also got practice with the help of test series.

At the end of October, I prepared short notes from my own notes, bookmarked questions from tests and from GO comments. One advice here is that when you read short notes, you should be able to recall everything from main notes and lectures else check them again.

My preparation journey was not only studying all day though. On an average in these 5 months, I used to study around 5 – 6 hours a day. During June – July, I also used to do competitive coding and various extra courses. Completed watching The Office US from June to January, used to play games, watch movies/tv shows, went out once or twice a week. But didn’t do this between studies, I had a time dedicated for all this after lunch, so don’t get any wrong ideas. The thing is that GATE is basically an aptitude test so just the core concepts matter. Once you know the concept and have problem solving skills, you can counter any problem.

Last Months:

I kept giving full tests every alternate day except for days when we had the semester exams. Before 8th Jan, I kept switching times from 9.30 to 12.30 and 3.00 to 6.00. After 8th when I found that I am in set 2, I gave all tests at that time. I even gave at least 5-6 tests with mask. I also started using GO PDFs for the first time from December 1st when I was doing PYQs for the third time. I marked some conceptual questions with specific comments in book for seeing in the last 7 days, completed PYQs of all subjects except aptitude till 9th February. I only had last 4 days to finish marked questions which weren’t many. Though for some topics in CN, OS and COA I checked most of the questions again.

I also kept revising from my main notes (used short notes later from around mid – January). On days when I didn’t give full tests, I gave MadeEasy topic-wise/subject-wise tests just for revision, solving more questions and also increasing accuracy. I analysed the test series after giving each test to know my mistakes, new methods to solve problems and any new formulae/concepts. In the last 5 days, I checked all the marked questions, questions from my weak topics, gave GO Test 5 and kept revising from my short notes.

This was a sprint period and I used to study averagely 7 - 8 hours a day including test series analysis. I had stopped going out of home from around January 15th so as to not catch the virus. Also, in these two months, I just used YouTube as an entertainment tool and watched one movie: “The Pursuit of Happyness” (it’s a really good movie to watch when you feel down). At the time of study though, I used to study with full concentration and without distraction.

Test Series:

Totally I gave 35 full tests just to make a habit of sitting for 3.5 hours and also to practice more questions and also improving my accuracy. Also, I used to give them from 3 to 6 after it was confirmed again for keeping my mind active at that time.

Ravindrababu Ravula Test Series: Used just 2021 series, the questions are basic and on easier side. Used its release date as my schedule for studying and gave tests 2 – 3 days after completing the topic. Though, I couldn’t follow it after August when CN came due to a bit of burnout and start of college. I left some multi subject tests at the end. Started full test on 29th November. Gave 14 full tests.

Highest Marks: 87.33, Lowest Marks: 63, Avg. Marks: 76

Gateforum Test Series: Used for extra practice questions. Didn’t give all tests, only for weak topics. Full tests were good but other tests were basic. Gave 6 full tests.

Highest Marks: 78.33, Lowest Marks: 63.33, Avg. Marks: 72

MadeEasy Test Series: Bought it in December, gave most topic wise and subject wise tests just to solve more questions as they were really good though sometimes out of scope according to me. Full tests were also good, gave 13 full tests.

Highest Marks: 74.33, Lowest Marks: 62, Avg. Marks: 69

I also took GATE 2020 paper unseen at the end and obtained around 74 marks giving a really good confidence boost at the end.

At the end, on 10th Feb, I gave GO Full Test 5 for that shuffled paper feel and obtained only 51 marks which shocked me but regained my confidence with the help of my mentor, Gitin Kakkar sir who was my TOC and Algorithms teacher at Gateforum and helped me throughout my journey with some really great advice and also doubt solving. Also, read comments of Arjun sir as my handle name was mentioned in the list of 50+ marks. And my parents motivated me too to not worry and finish it off on Saturday (Day of exam).

Exam Day:

On the day of exam, I woke up at 9.30 having a good amount of sleep. I was surprisingly very calm as I knew I had done whatever I could on my part and there is nothing much significant I can do now. Though had some sudden anxiety, overall, I was fine. Just took some deep breaths and kept calm. Left for centre around 12.30 with my parents in a car and reached there at 1.45. Went to exam hall and closed my eyes till the instructions came. When the paper started, I did the first aptitude question just to not leave the first question of the paper. Then attempted CS section calmy just like giving test series. The trick to solving was keep going on and mark for review whatever I could definitely solve later. After solving everything, I just had 5 minutes to check the mark for review answers and a mistake I did was not marking even ones without any negative marking while parsing them. I lost marks in optimization question where I forgot to count addition in for loop and one where I gave answer as Syntax Error. Also did mistake in Boolean Function question where answer was 6 and I got 10 (due to missing out some value as I didn’t have much time) and not reading the math question on finding standard deviation which was pretty basic. I attempted 60 questions including random guesses in total.

The questions are always new but it doesn’t matter as concept is important and if you know the concept then any question is easy. This paper was not very difficult just the questions were a bit lengthy. The main thing is to read the question fully without missing any word so that you don’t have to read it again and since last few years some questions are coming such that they have one word which completely changes the answer.

Final Result:

In CS Section, I got 17 one-mark questions correct and 8 wrong. I had attempted all of them. And 19 two-mark questions correct and 6 wrong out of 25 questions attempted.

I got full marks in General Aptitude, Algorithms, Programming and DS, Databases and 10/11 in TOC which boosted my performance as these were my strong subjects from start.

Final marks were 69, though less, but due to difficulty of paper, I could get a really good rank out of it with a score of 918/1000.

Finally, I would like to thank my family, friends, all the teachers and GateOverflow for helping me achieve this rank.

Jaynik Gaglani

PS:

My experience on video: https://youtu.be/2EEAtZWmzC0

11

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.

Final result

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

12

GATE-18 : In 2018 my father told me to appear for GATE exam as it is helpful in many Govt. jobs so I appeared. I got 14 marks(didn’t qualify).

GATE-19 preparation: In June 2018 I completed my UG(CSE) from 3-tier university. I was placed in a SBC(service based company) and most probably they would give joining letter in Nov so I thought of preparing for GATE as I had lot of free time. I started preparing from youtube videos but within a month I got joining letter from my company and I joined. With job I completed 3-4 subjects and appeared for GATE-19. I got 29.33 marks(didn’t qualify).

GATE-20 preparation : This time I was serious about GATE. Continued my preparation from April with youtube videos(Biggest blunder which I did but realized very late). I didn’t study from books or NPTEL lectures because it was too boring for me. In November I took 3 months leave so that I could focus only on GATE. I went back to my home for preparation. When I started revision then I realized that it is tough for me to recall the concepts as I didn’t do any revision once I completed the subjects. Somehow I managed it and appeared for GATE-20. I was able to solve aptitude and most of the 1 marks question. But the real terror started with 2 marks questions and I panicked. When paper ended I knew I screwed it but I learned few important lessons:

1. Follow standard books or NPTEL lectures not some random youtube videos.
2. Revision is must and you must practice a lot.
3. If you are doing self study then try to have a group of friends who are seriously preparing for GATE because it is very easy to get distracted and get demotivated.

I got 46 marks(rank : 2732) in GATE-20.

GATE-21 preparation: I went back to my company and resigned after 2 months. This time I didn’t want to take any risk so I thought of joining ME coaching so that I will not get distracted from my goal and I can push myself. But due to COVID there was no offline coaching. Since I already resigned from my job and there was no offline coaching I had only one option that is self-study. This time I tried to clear my doubts by referring standard books and practiced a lot. But my biggest enemy was distraction and it used to take 2-3 days to get back to my study routine. My planning was to complete the syllabus by Oct but it went till mid Dec. By 10 Jan(2021) I completed my subject wise tests. Then I started giving Full length tests(ME,ACE,RBR). But in none of them I could get the feel of GATE exam. So I solved all the GATE PYQs from 2011-2020 as Test series from GO. I noted all the mistakes and tough questions separately and whenever I revised a subject I used to go through it. This helped me to avoid silly mistakes and my marks improved. I was ready with technical subjects but didn’t practice aptitude as time was less(and procrastination).On my exam day I had only one goal “solve all the solvable questions without any silly mistakes” .

Mine was set 1.

180 min left: exam starts, started with aptitude section (couldn’t solve two 2 marks question)

160 min left: starts technical section

20 min left: 1st round of technical section was done, now tried to solve unsolved  questions in technical section(preferred 2 marks questions first)

5 min left: went to aptitude to solve those two questions

2 min left: couldn’t solve it and now I realized I should have practiced aptitude also.

1 min left: went to technical section and did guesswork in unsolved NAT and MSQ.

I got 65.33 marks(Normalized marks:63.76),  Rank:179 Gate Score: 807

13

Hello , my name is Bodhisattwa Dasgupta . This year I got 66.29 Marks and AIR 123 in GATE (CS) – 2021 , and this was my first attempt in GATE. It’s not the best rank , but decent enough to fetch me a good IIT hopefully ( hence the title...)

# My Background:

I’m currently a final-year student , pursuing my B.Tech in CS at Future Institute of Technology , Kolkata. It’s a Local Private College here in Kolkata which was established just in 2015. I never was a good student at anything throughout my school days and most of my college life. I remember in 11th  class Mid-Year exam I failed every subject other than English and CS , the amount of judgement I got from my classmates and teachers were tremendous.

For those who are wondering , I attempted JEE Mains 2 Times, 1st time I got ~1 Lac Rank and in my 2nd attempt also I got ~70k Rank. So nothing to write home about. All throughout my academics I absolutely despised subjects like Physics , Chemistry ..etc , the ONLY thing that made sense to me and I enjoyed was CS ( in school-life it was basic coding and DS stuff.. ) and bits and pieces of Maths.

So naturally I choose CSE over other branches in better colleges and this was the BEST decision of my life.

# My GATE Story:

I first heard about GATE from my friends in 2nd Sem and then after a few days of research I decided to prepare seriously for the same. The idea of studying CS from Top IITs intrigued me a lot and not just that , an All-India based exam based fully on CS got me very excited.

I never had any Coaching till this point in my life , but since I decided to prepare seriously I enrolled @ ACE Coaching back in Jan 2019.

But unfortunately for the entire year ( from 2019 to Dec 2019 ) I only attended the classes and didn’t put much effort myself , as a result in Late Dec 2019 , I found myself at a very bad position , I had all my class-notes but couldn’t recall any concepts. (MISTAKE #1)

So from Jan 2020 , I decided that I’ll put consistent effort from now on , and try to get a sub-500 Rank. I made a time-table and started preparing accordingly. For each subject I used to give ~2 weeks , and in that 2 weeks first I used to learn the concept , then look at examples and then finally solve the PYQs in parallel. Using this approach I more or less got over with my syllabus by July 2020.

In the month of July I wrote my First Full-Length Test and I got ~62 Marks in that. (  The test was an easy one.  ) , But here I noted that I scored very less in aptitude section , but I ignored it. And I continued to ignore Aptitude for the remainder of my preparation ( MISTAKE #2 ) , why this is a mistake you’ll see later on.

From Aug onwards I decided to do revision and I did so by solving all the PYQs again, this time From GO-PDF. ( Previously did from ME Book ) , and this blew my mind. For each and every problem , extremely detailed solutions were available at GO along with necessary references . And this not only helped me to Learn more BUT ALSO helped in developing a habit of reading standard papers/articles/wikis/books. Which I feel is going to be very useful later down the line for M.Tech.

From Sept onwards I started writing tests more often and regularly. After writing the tests I used to rectify my mistakes.

## My marks in Test-Series are:( Avg / High /  Low )

• Made-Easy = (74 / 87 / 47)
• ACE = (82 / 91 / 68)
• Applied-GATE = (78 / 89 / 65)

Looking at my performance I assumed that I’d surely get a sub-100 Rank ( MISTAKE #3 ) . This mindset would prove detrimental in my preparation.

Things were going pretty good until in Mid-Jan we tested +ve for COVID , while it didn’t affect much but after that point there was a noticeable dip in my test performance. Still I was fairly confident with my preparation.

# During the GATE Exam:

I got allotted Set-2 which was a bit lengthy and quite different from previous years. First Question was the Little-Endian One , I never solved such questions before but I knew the concept clearly so was able to get it Correct . Same thing happened for the next 5-6 Questions. I was able to solve correctly but took lots of time and my fear-level was increasing as the Question types were pretty uncommon.

After going through the first 25 Questions , I had only attempted 13 Questions and left 12 totally. Now Panic started and every negative thoughts came to mind .. “Will I even cross the 50 Marks threshold?” , “Only 2hrs left , this year gone to waste….” ...such thoughts. (MISTAKE #4) . Since I already had made some assumptions about my performance earlier (see Mistake-3), this was exponentially more difficult.

Because of this Panic-mode , I made mistakes which I could’ve easily avoided otherwise.

Lastly , since I didn't do much prep for aptitude , this really showed in my exam. As I only got 9/15 in Aptitude . Even IF I had 13/15 in aptitude , then probably I would’ve been in Top 60. This is my Biggest Regret YET.

And In retrospect ,It’s quite Ironical that if I didn’t make assumptions about my performance before the exam , then I wouldn’t have panicked as hard and would’ve been able to meet my expectations.

# Conclusion and Advice for future Aspirants:

• Does Test Series Marks and Actual Marks have any correlation? Yes and No .Don’t make assumptions based on test-series marks . If you are not getting good marks , don’t be under confident , analyze and move on. If you are getting good marks , don’t be overconfident , analyze and move on.  But certainly if you are performing well in Tests , that’s great and indicative of good preparation.
• Revision should be done consistently , otherwise not possible to retain all the concepts clearly. Even if for 10min , just go through your own notes and that is good enough.
• NEVER Ignore aptitude , because it can make or break your exam. I ignored and paid the price . So take necessary steps and don’t make the same mistake that I did.
• How many Hours should I prepare?  Doesn’t matter.  But consistency should be maintained even if its 1hr a day.
• Learn to manage pressure . I didn’t handle pressure during the exam well and suffered the consequences.

Still at the end of the day , I’m quite satisfied with my rank and planning to join IIT-Madras or IIT-Kharagpur. My learning journey has just started and I still have a long way to go.

GATE taught me that your college / background etc NOTHING MATTERS . The only thing that matters is your own Will to Learn and Self-Belief. If you believe in your own ability and put in the necessary effort , then you can surely get it.

I know I don’t have the best rank , but if you have any questions or doubts regarding preparation , please feel free to ask. I’ll try my best to answer.

14

Hello fellow rankers, and future aspirants. Congratulations are in order for all the brilliant people whom i hope to meet soon, and also to the ones who weren’t fortunate enough to meet their own expectations this time around, but still have come out of this journey wiser and with renewed hope and determination for acing their next attempt.

I didn't plan on sharing my experience as there are already a lot of them out there which are a great read and frankly way more relatable to most people than what my experience is going to be.

Having said that, everyone is welcome in giving it a read and sharing their thoughts/comments/critiques, but do keep in mind that I'm mainly writing this for the ones who are unfortunately (or maybe fortunately :D) currently in the same position as I was in 2020.

So exactly what position was I in?

I had just graduated without any placement in hand and had no hope of finding a job without drastically lowering my standards, especially because of companies slowing or freezing their hiring due to the lockdown, and being from an average private college didn’t help in attracting a lot of good companies, or even if the company brand was good, the job profiles and pay was not something I wanted to entertain. (can’t sacrifice peace of mind for a few bucks and ‘experience’. Learned that the hard way)

But this is not the complete picture. I have always been the “laid back”, “will relax and have fun whenever I can” type of guy. I had no big aspirations and just wanted to earn a good living so that I can have fun with family and friends, and enjoy my life without having to worry about my finances. This attitude towards life I’ll admit is not the best one to have, but thankfully I have amazing parents who have always taken care of all my needs and provided much more than I deserve, so I never had any overwhelming sense of urgency to get my life sorted.

I didn’t really take my 11th and 12th seriously enough, to even get into an NIT or a good state college. I wasn’t even able to clear JEE MAINS. This will be my first “what could’ve been” regret that I will have in my life, but I’ve learnt not to dwell in the past, just learn from it and move on.

Now in my college I have had some great company, and have made lifelong friends which I cherish, but it wasn’t the most intellectually stimulating environment, or an environment which motivates you to find your passion and excel. The professors were below average and I would say most of the students (not all, as there were some good ones, although that is bound to happen when your sample size is large enough) had a “study enough for passing” mindset.

Therefore it is mostly my fault, because of the choices I made throughout the years, and not entirely the college’s, that I don’t have a job or any useful technical computer science skills. No one is there to stop you from being better and change yourself if you really want to, but I guess Newton’s first law applies physically as well as philosophically :P.

Don’t get me wrong though, I always had good marks and grades, and always worked hard enough whenever it mattered (cue last minute studying), to avoid embarrassing myself, or disappoint my parents. I was good at understanding concepts, curious about science, tech and a lot of other things by nature, but as I mentioned earlier – was also lazy and the college environment certainly didn’t help. As an extra note, I was really bad in rote learning, but I did improve it a little in college, after all the Indian education system values rote learning above all :D

Fast forward to May 2020, 1 month into the lockdown, with abysmal placement support from the college, it was a new low point of my life. Fortunately (I guess), the world was at a halt, and I therefore quite literally had all the time in the world to introspect, re-evaluate my priorities, and answer the question – what next?

Won’t go into anymore detail, as everyone has a different way of dealing with stuff and therefore will have a different way of processing things. For me, the outcome of this was a strong sense of determination and motivation to not only crack GATE, but achieve rank 1 (Aim for the stars, you’ll land on the moon, am I right?).

GATE PREPARATION –

It was already 1st week of July by the time I started planning my preparation strategy for gate 2021. The idea of gate as an option was planted in my head around the 3rd week of June by my uncle, and before that I had just heard about gate from here and there and had a brief idea what it is all about.

By 2nd week of July I had a sufficiently detailed plan of how my next few months were going to be. I won’t be sharing the details of my plan as it will differ from person to person depending on how you spend your average day and what obligations you have in the near future. Also there are a whole lot of amazing preparation strategies you can read about on quora or listen to on youtube.

Fortunately it is not rocket science, and every strategy has the following generic things to keep in mind:

1. Ask yourself how much do you already know and how good is your mathematical and critical thinking aptitude.

2. Accordingly have a rough estimate (conservative) of how much time will it take to finish a subject and practice it enough to become confident in your ability to solve questions you’ve never seen before. This estimate also includes time for revision and tests in between and just before gate.

3. See if the required time and the available time add up. If not, compromises are required to increase your available time to accommodate the required time.

4. Always strive to finish your goal atleast 30% of the time before, meaning if you planned a subject xyz for 10 days (which was a conservative or ‘max’ estimate), make sure to the best of your ability to finish it in 7 days. Trust me, these saved ‘bonus’ days will be very important towards the end.

5. Be ordered when making notes, as it is the best way to save time in the future. Make it especially easy when trying to find a past mistake, i.e. what you did wrong and what was the lesson you learnt from it. I could’ve been atleast 25% more efficient in utilizing my time during revision and mock tests if only I spent a little bit more time making better notes throughout my prep (including revision and mock). Learning from your mistakes and trying to never make them again is easily the single most important thing you need to top gate. This is an important point so bear with me a little more.

The ‘mistakes’ are not limited to a mistake you made during the test. For example: when you were understanding a concept via reading or maybe watching on youtube, chances are you missed some of the subtle details and even though you feel like you understood it correctly, you either understood it partially or incorrectly. The moment you realize this later (maybe during revision), write this ‘mistake’ down! We are very susceptible to overestimating our ability to retain what we have ‘understood’. Don’t fall for this trap, and spare a few minutes to jot your thought process down clearly and concisely as a favour to your future self :)

My mental state one month before gate –

By now I had gone through all the subjects once, revised them once, and had finished all subject-wise tests and their related pyq’s from made-easy’s 30 years pyq book once. I had full length mock tests left and also a final round of revision, because the portion is just so vast you never feel like you remember all of it (or atleast I didn’t feel that way).

Now the possibility that - “what are the chances that I’m in the top 100 or even 500 students out of ~1.2 lakh others?” - started to set in. Remember I didn’t even clear jee mains. My thoughts started running wild – “7 more months gone with nothing to show for it if I don’t ace this”, “1 more year lost after all those years of college”, etc. etc.

Still, I trusted in my plan that I made all those months ago and tried to brush aside this feeling (rather unsuccessfully :P). I started giving 1 mock every 2.5 days on average. Rest of the time, one by one I revised all the subjects by simultaneously solving the GO PYQ pdf as much as I could. In retrospect I should’ve started the GO pdf from the 1st month itself.
Even though I had ‘solved’ all the pyq’s once before (from made-easy’s 30 years pyq book), to my shock there was a lot of stuff I couldn’t figure out how to solve the 2nd time around. This was a major hit to my confidence. I still powered through it, making it a point to try and remember all my mistakes this time. Thankfully, my rank in the mocks were improving, giving me the confidence boost I desperately needed. (I’ll attach an excel sheet of my marks/ranks of all the tests I gave of both made-easy and ace test series, but please don’t use it as a benchmark, because there is a lot of variability in my performance initially, and it isn’t useful for anything except just maybe glancing it once to get a glimpse of ‘my progress’ over time, which isn’t at all indicative of what an ideal progress journey should be, because I don’t think there is one.)

Side note – I found made-easy much much better than ace, both because of the number of people that had enrolled in it and the selection of questions. Although both of them had a lot of grammatical as well as outright conceptual mistakes in the questions and answer keys. In this aspect, even though only maybe 200 people on average attempted GO’s mock tests, the level of GO is easily 5x better than any coaching institute, and one should strive for scoring above 80% consistently in all their tests. Proof is Nikhil Dhama who was consistently scoring well in all GO tests, subject-wise as well as mocks.

Now, by d-day I had a fair idea of where I stand. I had decided to not let the uncertainty affect me during the test, and was going to treat it like any other mock test I was giving. Finally, it did indeed feel like one of the mocks, only this time I didn’t get my marks instantly, and after a few days when answer keys started popping up, my anxiety went through the roof. I’m extremely grateful that it all turned out for the best in my case, but still couldn’t help but think that there is no reason except some luck that I’m in the top 100, because in any other given day it is possible that I wasn’t fortunate enough and others who were unlucky to lose out a few marks could’ve done better than me.

-----------------

As a final remark –

1. believe in yourself even when things seem impossible

2. be disciplined. because motivation may come and go, but the game is long, and you need something to keep you going even when you are low on juice. Fear is a strong, but bad motivator, I will discourage people from being driven primarily by fear.

3. “Success -> Hardwork”, which means “no hardwork -> no success”. “Hardwork -> success” is a false belief. This is an unfortunate truth. There is no certainty in this world. But this shouldn’t deter you from trying to work hard and be better in the first place.

15
I started my preparation in my 6th semester of B.Tech . I completed my B.Tech in IT from VSSUT, Burla (a state government institute in Odisha). The lockdown for Corona gave me a lot of time to prepare for GATE and I was able to look after my college curriculum side by side in online mode. I prepared using online video lectures and practiced questions from GateOverflow (Use GO Book). All the Online lectures will help you a lot to build your basic concepts, but don't think that it is enough. You have to practice a lot of questions to get a good rank in GATE. Previous year question are best for practicing questions and to test your understanding of concepts. Before taking tests from test series, I solved the previous year question once. And totally twice ( last 15 years). I was preparing with my two other friends and we used to motivate each other regularly because while preparing for GATE it is very easy to get distracted and demotivated. I completed the entire syllabus and long notes by September. Except Maths ( please don't neglect maths or keep delaying unless you are good at maths).I covered maths in November and December thinking that Its easy but ended up getting less time for practicing. So for revision I went for 3 iterations of all subjects in a round robin fashion. First iteration took more than one month to revise all subjects and further iterations took lesser. During revision schedule I was taking topic and subject tests and trying to figure out my weak areas, silly mistakes and conceptual gap. I was maintaining a  mistake copy to track these things which helped a lot in further revision iterations. I started taking full length mock tests in December. I was Also taking subject tests in between if I find that I am scoring less in that particular subject in full mocks. You can build your own strategy but PYQs are very important because many minor topics are sometimes not covered in test series. I was identifying those topics and used to revise. Initially I was scoring less in full length mocks but gradually it increased as my revision went on. I solved the topic wise PYQs while watching videos of that subject/topic. In the last month mocks are very important. Give as many as possible but after every mock test analyse your mistakes, weak section and uncovered section.

Keep talking to seniors who have a experience in GATE to stay motivated. Don't get demotivated if you are not able to solve a question, or if you are getting less marks in mocks. Just learn from your mistakes and keep upgrading. If you do a lot of mistakes in mock, it will reduce your probability of commiting mistakes in final GATE exam.

Stay focused, have faith in yourself and give your best !!

~Pranab Kumar Rout
16

There are a lot of preparation experience blogs happily shared by those who did well in GATE which you can see below. But as everyone knows, only around 500 people out of ~100,000 manage to get 60+ marks in actual GATE and for others, it is a disappointment. So, what happened to others? It would be good to hear this from those senior people (who got a below 500 rank in GATE). Those who got a rank worse than 500 in GATE 2020 or before, please share your experiences whether good or bad via the below form as that will be the best place for juniors to look up.

Form to fill GATE Experience: https://forms.gle/bTxNcCFK3fDBXEdU6

Recent Preparation Experiences: https://gateoverflow.in/blogs/preparation-experience?sort=recent

17

I had prepared slides for a webinar – guiding my college Juniors regarding GATE and placements. Adding the same here.
Hoping that it will be helpful. :)

18
If this is too long to read, here's the summary:

1. I found a good peer group to study with.
2. I used standard textbooks and standard resources for almost all subjects.
3. I realised that analysis of the mistakes I made in tests is more important than the marks that I scored.

You can find the resources I used here: https://goxul.github.io/My-GATE-prep-pt2/

You can find my test series marks here.

GATE 2019

I decided to appear for GATE somewhere around October 2017, but didn't actually start preparing for it until January 2018. I enrolled for a coaching in Bombay - Vidyalankar Classes. They used to happen on the weekends and while some of the teachers were good, some were okay and that's putting it kindly. They didn't even finish our syllabus and the only subject I learned there was Theory of Computation (which to be fair, is the same content that's freely available online by RBR.) and as time progressed, I slowly became uninterested in attending classes and kept studying on my own. With all this, I also had to manage my semester exams and a final year project which I was trying to do seriously. Oh and also, I decided not to sit for my campus placements because I thought it'd give a an impetus to do well in GATE.

The biggest mistake I did was not solving enough problems and giving tests. I was so engrossed in just understanding concepts that I totally ignored problem solving, foolishly believing that I'd be able to do it on the D-Day. I had read some blogs in which the toppers said that they didn't appear for any test series and yet were able to clear the exam, and I thought I'd be like them too.

Takeaway 0: Do not overestimate yourself. Be brutally honest when you are analysing where you stand in your preparation.

The signs were there that I wasn't on the right path - I still remember the first Made Easy topic-wise test I gave in September 2018 and I scored 5.33/25. Instead of working on the mistakes that I made, I simply chalked up that performance to me being sleepy. This was just one of the countless tests that I failed to analyse during my preparation.

Takeaway 1: More than the marks of the test, the mistakes of the tests are more important. Analyse the hell out of your tests and make sure you don't commit the same mistake twice.

Eventually, I was able to finish my syllabus around last week of December 2018 (and finishing to me meant solving all the questions of GO Book at least once.). I still didn't know where I stood in terms of my preparation because I had barely given any full-length tests. I gave my first full length test in second week of January (it was Bikram Mock 1 on GateOverflow) and I was happy to see that I had scored 69/100. However, the paper was easy (my friends scored 79 and 80 respectively) in the same test. So in a way, scoring well proved detrimental to me as I thought that my prep was in the right direction and gave me a false sense of confidence. I attempted a few more tests and I remember the last test I attempted was of GATEBOOK and I had scored 44 marks in it. I just ignored and tried to focus on whatever I had learnt till now, and kept revising. I had used Anki to make flashcards for the entire syllabus instead of making proper notes and that's what I used to revise. I had zero written notes.

The D-Day

As soon as I started the paper, I realised that I had no proper strategy on how to attempt the paper. Why? Because I had hardly given any mock tests to form a strategy. Anyway, I started with the aptitude section and gave it some 15 minutes, and still wasn't able to solve all of it. Then I moved directly to the 2 mark section and started solving stuff, and post that, it's all a blur to me honestly. The only thing that I remember is I was stuck looking at simple, basic questions and thinking to myself "Surely GATE won't ask such simple questions. There _has_ to be a twist in this somwewhere.", which turned to be horribly untrue.

Takeaway 2: Go in without ANY presumptions about the paper. Don't expect the 2 mark questions to be difficult, don't expect the 1 mark questions to be easy. Just don't have any expectations - take the questions at face value and solve them. And for the love of God, don't ignore aptitude at any cost. It can make or break your exam.

As soon as I left the exam hall, I knew that I had screwed up. I thought the paper was difficult, and when I came out and checked Facebook, people were discussing how easy the paper was. And as expected, my result was bad -  I had scored 44 marks, with rank of 4434.

Anyway, I had already started preparing for other exams - namely IIIT Hyderabad and CMI. I was weak at coding and algorithms in general, and this is when I slowly started improving my coding skills. I used to solve problems from GeeksForGeeks and Leetcode and I had solved around 100-120 problems in a month. While this is a pretty small number, it allowed me get comfortable with coding and get better at time complexity analysis. I used the textbook "Algorithms by Dasgupta, Vazirani et al" as my primary resource to study algorithms. Since I was also preparing for CMI, I also used to solve subjective exercise problems, which were mostly proof related problems. So in short, I got better at Algo/DS, relative to where I stood before.

IIIT Hyderabad's exam was on 28th April and I was able to clear the written test and got called for an interview. Meanwhile, around mid-April, I lost interest in preparing for CMI, and just gave up on it. CMI's exam was on 15th May and I scored 51/100 (Objective: 27/30, Subjective: 24/60), while the cutoff was 60/100. Had I solved even one more subjective question, I probably would have made it to CMI.

Either way, with these results, I knew that I had the capability to do well in GATE and my marks weren't an accurate reflection of my preparation level. So I decided to take a drop, and move to Delhi for my preparation. I convinced my parents to let me a famous coaching institute, as I thought it'd be a great coaching institute (I couldn't have been more wrong.) and as I had decided to take a drop, I didn't even appear for IIIT Hyderabad's interview.

[A small detour - luckily a few companies were still recruiting in my college and due to that, I was able to get one job on-campus and one job off-campus. Why is this relevant? This, along with me clearing IIITH's exam, gave me the confidence that even if I screwed up GATE after a drop, I'd stll be able to find a job or at least get into IIIT Hyderabad, as I had already done it once before. ]

GATE 2020

I moved to Saket, Delhi on June 15, 2019 and joined a coaching class. I won't name it, but it should be obvious.

After attending a handful of classes in the beginning, I knew that I had wasted my 70 thousand. I only attended a few classes, which I felt I personally needed.

There were around 450 students in each batch and we had to stand in line early in the morning, just to get good seats in the class. I literally saw people running to catch seats. Since the classes where hugh, there was no scope of personal attention. On top of that, the pace was too slow (on one instance, the professor taught Fibonacci series for over two hours. I doubt even Fibonacci spent so much time on it.), some concepts were irrelevant (eg: we were taught 8085 instruction set architecture? Why? God knows.) some concepts were wrong (eg: simultaenous memory access was being taught extensively in the classes. Till date, I have not found a single textbook which mentions this concept.), the syllabus was delayed by over a month (they finished the syllabus in first week of December).

Takeaway 3: Join offline coaching classes only if a) you have a lot of money to waste or b) you are an absolute beginner and have no clue about computer science or c) you have zero self discipline and can only study in a classroom environment. Else, you're better off with online coaching or free resources, both of which are available aplenty.

That being said, the only advantage that the classes offered me was that it helped me find a peer group. The PG I lived in was filled with people who were preparing for GATE CS, and all of us had joined a nearby library. We used to go study together, take breaks together and helped each other with studies. I never studied in my room and spent most of my time in the library.

Now, given that I was taking a drop, I had the entire day to my to study. However, I never tried to study more than 10-11 hours a day, because I knew that it wasn't feasible over a 7 month period. I didn't want to start off by studying 16 hours a day and then burn out later. There's a wonderful answer by a professor of Computer Science at UIUC, who was asked this:

”Q: How can I study hard with full concentration 8-9 hours every day without getting tired or burning out?

A: You can’t.

But if you really insist on trying, here is what I would strongly recommend. Take a 15-minute break after every 30 minutes of studying, take a 30-minute break after every two hours of studying, and take a full one-hour break after four hours. During your breaks, stand up, walk around, go outside, and relax and/or exercise; do not think about work. Eat three leisurely healthy meals every day; do not work while you eat. Stop studying (and I really do mean stop) at least two hours before going to sleep every night, and get at least eight full hours of sleep every night. Take at least one day completely off studying every week. Go easy on the caffeine. Don’t forget to bathe, or do laundry, or shop, or pay your bills, or go to classes, or talk with your friends and family.

Finally, and most importantly, do not strive for perfection; instead, work for improvement. Give yourself credit for every modicum of progress, every new concept that you understand, every new skill that you master, every new tool that you can use, no matter how small.”

So as a result of that, my routine used to be something like this:

Wake up at around 8, have breakfast and reach the library by 9. From 9, study till around 1, have lunch and come back to the library by 2:30-3. Study till 5:30-6, take a break and again come back to study till 9.

[PS: It's not the hours that you put into your studies that matter but how effective those studies are. Please don't be obsessed with a number - that I need to study 8 hours, or 10 hours, or 12 hours. It. Doesn't. Matter. Always study still you are satisfied with what you have done - it could be 2 hours or 15 hours.]

I used to not study on Sundays and kept myself busy with things I liked - attending concerts, plays, sightseeing Delhi etc. That one day of the week was something I believe helped me to not burn out and anybody considering a drop should definitely have it.

Coming back to studies, as I had already done my syllabus once, this time completing my syllabus was aking to just revising it once and doing previous year questions again. I was also solving questions from foreign university assignments and textbooks.

So I kept chipping at the proverbial mountain and before I knew, it was already November. I finished giving all my topicwise and subjectwise tests by the end of November and I was doing okayish at them. [I've shared my marks from all tests in the other blog post, you can find it there.]

I gave my first full length test on 1st of December. It was a TestBook test and I scored 58.7 marks. I was disheartended, so I gave another one the same day. Again from TestBook and I scored 51.7 marks.

I was at a complete loss of words.

I had prepared well, I was putting in the hours and yet, I was scoring terrible marks.

I say terrible because the paper was easy (if I remember correctly, the topper had 88 marks.).

I went back to my room that day and confessed to my friends that maybe I couldn't do it and that probably I wasn't made for GATE. But somehow, they gave me the courage to try again harder tomorrow and hence I say,

Takeaway 4: It's really really important to have a good support network of friends and family who'll help you get through the difficult times. It would have been impossible for me without the help of my friends. They were the ones who gave me hope when things were looking bleak, as they often did. If you can't find any such people, feel free to contact me as I know how much it sucks at that time, and I'll try to help you in any way possible.

I woke up next morning, revised a bit and gave my first Made Easy test. I scored 69.34. Not bad, I guess. From there, I gave almost a test daily for the next 25 odd days and I mostly stayed in the 60s. Not once did I cross 70 in any Made Easy test and my ranks mostly used to be under in double digits.

My scores used to fluctuate a lot and at times, my frustration, stress, anxiety and everything else used to be so bad that I'd randomly break down at times, for no apparent reason at all. Heck, I didn't know why it was happening and I didn't talk about it to anybody either. I just assumed it was due to stress and ignored it, hoping that it would go away after the exam. My point being -

Takeaway 5: My last two months were awful. The stress was horrible and at times, I wished that I hadn't prepared for GATE at all and just taken up a random shitty job. This was further compounded as I was preparing for it a second time and I could see first timers score much better than me. And most likely, they'll not be easy for anybody who's reading this. It will suck, but the good part is - you will come out of it. You're not alone and EVERYONE goes through this.

Then, January 11 was the date of my first Made Easy CBT. In my mind, for some reason, I had convinced myself that this would be accurate reflection of what GATE would be like (spoiler alert: it isn't).

I went and gave my test and again, it was dogshit. I made countless silly mistakes and I was again dejected that the same would happen in GATE as well. When my results came, it was bad. I had a lot of incorrect attempts. Half of them were silly mistakes, which I was able to solve after the exam. I had given a lot of tests up to that point and yet, my exam temperament sucked. And there's no magic wand to fix it - I just realised that you have to practice more and more tests.

[On a side note - my friend scored more marks than me in Made Easy's CBT and got a worse rank than me - go figure how.]

By the point, I was kinda used to the disappointment of not doing well in tests, so I just rolled on with it.

12th January was ISRO's exam and again, I made loads of silly mistakes. The results haven't been declared yet, but there's a good chance I haven't qualified for the interview. [EDIT: I did.]

But amidst all these disappointments, I did one important thing - I noted down all the mistakes that I had made, and was very careful to not avoid the same mistakes again. It didn't matter to me if I made new mistakes, but I wanted to be 100 % sure that I wasn't repeating the same mistakes. I used to frequently revise the mistake book again and again.

CBT 2 wasn't any stellar either.

I didn't take my results any more seriously and just kept giving more and more tests. But I never forgot to analyse it. I'll repeat it again - ANALYSIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

I gave Ace Academy's CBT and it was easy - I scored 76.67 marks and a rank of 24 out of 500 odd people. But the questions were so bad, I wished I had not given it at all as I had to travel loads for it.

Then, 22nd January was Applied Course's AITS 4 and I scored an amazing 48 marks in that, out of 100. (although, the paper was quite difficult and I got a rank of 61 out of 1200 odd people.)

After that test, I bid goodbye to Delhi and returned back home. Here, my intensity reduced and I mostly stuck to revision of my notes and solving previous year questions.

I gave one final test on 2nd February, of Applied Course and scored 76.67, with an AIR of 22. I was satisfied with it, and gave no tests after that.

The D-Day - encore

I sat down at my PC 40 odd minutes before the exam and I meditated for a while. Around 20 minutes or so. My nerves were considerably lesser this time, because I had given around 30 odd full length tests. I had a fixed pattern of attempting questions too - I did the aptitude section first and then I attempted the question paper in serial order and then I'd come back in reverse order to check the question apper. You have to make your own strategy, and find out what works for you.

The paper went according to my plan and I was able to finish it with around 30 minutes remaining. Instead of solving new questions and I was able to find a mistake of 2 marks. Anyway, I had attempted around 52 questions (this was how I usually did, as I aimed for more accuracy.)

I hope this extremely long post was worth it and was useful.

In case someone wants to read the resources I used, you can find it here: https://goxul.github.io/My-GATE-prep-pt2/

19

Hello everyone!

I am Aravind and I appeared for GATE CS in 2020, and I scored 82.67 marks and got 6th rank. This was my first attempt, in my final year of BTech. I have seen many students (including some of my friends) worked really hard for GATE but still not getting a good enough rank. My experience tells me that GATE CS requires smart work, and not just hard work, and I feel that was one of my biggest strengths. In this blog, I’ll share my own experience as well as some useful strategies and tips for future aspirants as well. I have broadly divided my preparation into 3 phases for convenience. (This is a long post, if you want to read only my tips for future GATE aspirants, you may skip my preparation experience and scroll to the bottom).

### Phase 1 (Jan 2018 to May 2019):

Most of the core Computer Science subjects in the GATE syllabus are covered in 2nd year and 3rd year of BTech. So if you are a college student and thinking about giving GATE in future, 2nd year would be the ideal time to start your preparation (my personal opinion) so that you can study in parallel with your college.

I myself started preparing in 4th semester of BTech, and started with Algorithms and Data Structures, which was one of my strong subjects. I also enrolled in an offline coaching, so that I don’t get carried away and complete syllabus on time. During this phase, I was able to finish most of the GATE syllabus in my coaching and also since I prepared well for my semester exams, I got a good grip on all the core subjects by this time. I also prepared neat and organized handwritten-notes for all subjects in my coaching itself.

### Phase 2 (June 2019 to September 2019):

I started solving GATE Previous Year Questions (PYQs) from June, and also revised all of the subjects in parallel. After solving each PYQ, I would check the answer on GO website, and also read all the discussions and comments. This is very important, as solving a question correctly does not necessarily imply that you have fully understood the concept. This is where GO helped me the most- reliable answers for every GATE question or concept. I also spent a lot of time in solving questions from Maths, Aptitude and Verbal Ability because these 3 subjects are the most scoring subjects, and I didn’t want to lose a single mark here. Also, whenever I faced difficulty in solving any of the PYQs, I would write down that question/concept in my mistakes copy (I maintained a mistakes copy for keeping track of all the questions I found difficult / solved incorrectly). This helped me to not repeat the same mistakes, and my accuracy improved as a result.

I allotted around 1 week per subject for solving all GATE PYQs. I also attempted a full-length mock test in the beginning of June, just to check how well I have prepared so far. But I failed miserably in that test, and could score only 26/100 marks. After giving that one test, I realized that it’s not enough to just study a concept. I made lots of careless mistakes/calculation errors, and lacked practice. After that, I decided not to give any more tests for a few months and completely focused on solving PYQs, to improve both accuracy and problem solving ability.

I also participated in my campus placements during this period, so I took a break of approximately 1 month to prepare for interviews and coding rounds. In my view, taking a break for campus placements is totally justified because if you have a backup job-offer in hand, you will feel less pressure in the months of December and January, leading to better performance in GATE. We don’t know what might happen in those 3 hours, so it’s good to have a backup. I managed to bag offers from both TCS (7lpa) and Infosys (8lpa), even though I didn’t prepare that much for interviews. If you prepare well for GATE, cracking interviews of software companies also becomes easier. In fact, in my Infosys interview, I was asked a few questions on Computer Networks, and I was able to answer them only because I prepared for GATE.

### Phase 3 (Oct 2019 to Feb 2020):

Since I had already completed the PYQs and revision of all subjects, and also had backup job, I focused only on giving lots of mock tests during this phase. I started with topic-wise and subject-wise tests, and later moved on to full-length tests. I attempted multiple tests every day, and after every test I noted down all my mistakes in my mistake copy (whether it’s silly mistake or conceptual mistake). If I come across any new concept in Test Series, I first check whether it’s included in the GATE syllabus, and then studied that concept from Wikipedia or some standard resource, and included it in my mistake copy. From time to time, I also revised all my mistakes that I have noted down, so that I don’t repeat the same mistakes. For e.g., if you previously made a mistake in a Pipelining question in COA, the next time you see a similar question in another test, it should immediately click in your mind that you made a mistake here previously, and you would be more careful while attempting that question. Whether you get a single-digit rank or 2-digit rank or 3-digit rank will ultimately depend on how many silly mistakes you made in the exam hall. That’s why it’s crucial to properly analyze all your tests. Also, I always revised a subject after giving it’s test, not before giving the test. This way, it’s easier for me to analyze which concepts I’m forgetting.

I attempted more than 300 tests during this period. I know that it’s not required to give so many tests, but since I already completed my syllabus and had plenty of free time (I didn’t go to college after getting placed), I thought why not give as many tests as I can 🤣. When I finished all tests of one coaching, I would purchase yet another test series and continue giving more tests, just to keep the flow going. I also took a break of 3-weeks in December to prepare for my BTech semester exams, lab exams, etc.

After my semester exams, I had a lot of free time so I made short notes for each subject (15-20 pages per subject). I made short notes for all subjects in 3-4 days. Making short notes is very easy- Just read 10 pages of your main notes and compress it to make 1 page of short note, by including only the most important concepts and formulae. Short notes help you to revise all subjects very quickly just before the exam, and one more benefit is that while preparing the short notes, you become aware which concepts are the most important which needs to be kept at fingertips all the time.

In January, I was able to score 85-90 marks in most full-length mock tests, so I thought of giving the final touches to my GATE preparation. One last time, I solved all the PYQs of all subjects very quickly (I focused on medium/difficult problems and skipped the easy ones in which I was confident), and also kept on revising the full-length notes of all subjects in round-robin manner. Revision is the most important part of GATE preparation- after all, on the day of GATE exam, what matters is how much you remember, not how much you studied.

I also attempted the Made easy Centre Based Test (CBT): it’s a mock test which you have to give in a real, proctored exam centre. The thing is, you might be very comfortable in giving mock tests while sitting in your home, but traveling to the exam centre and being seated in the exam hall with hundreds of other candidates can make you nervous and lose concentration. After preparing for GATE for 1-2 years, after putting so much effort, getting nervous in the exam hall is the last thing you want. So it’s good to be prepared for such situations by giving CBTs (Centre Based Tests).

During the last 1 week before GATE (1st Feb to 7th Feb), I decided to relax a bit, gave only one mock test, and just revised all my notes one last time. Still, after so much efforts and precautions, I became nervous in the exam hall due to some unforeseen circumstances, and ended up doing many silly mistakes, that too in easy questions (I attempted 64/65 questions in GATE). Luckily, I somehow managed to get 82 marks in GATE (Even I couldn’t believe it till I saw my GATE response sheet with my own eyes).

### Some tips/pointers for future GATE aspirants:

1. GATE is NOT just a test of your knowledge. It’s also a test of your aptitude (ability to solve problems), speed (solving 65 questions in 3 hours), accuracy (identifying and controlling silly mistakes), observation skills (reading and interpreting all questions properly), ability to remain calm under exam pressure, and even the ability to use the virtual calculator properly. So just having good knowledge is not enough for getting a top rank, you have to work on all the above points too.
1. Give lots of mock tests and analyze them properly. You won’t know your mistakes and weak-topics till you start giving tests. Not giving tests or giving tests but not analyzing them properly, can be fatal. And maintaining a separate notebook for keeping record of your mistakes and weak-topics can be very helpful.
1. Don’t ignore Aptitude and Verbal Ability. Many students study the technical subjects for years, but completely ignore the Aptitude and Verbal section, and end up losing significant marks in the Aptitude section itself. I agree that Aptitude is very easy compared to core subjects, but still it’s good to practice them. Even solving the Aptitude and Verbal PYQs would be more than enough for GATE, do that atleast.
1. Give equal importance to all subjects. Don’t check the subject-wise marks distribution and all. If you want to top GATE, you cannot afford to leave any subject, since easy questions can come from any subject.
1. Don’t go into too much depth in any subject. It would mean less time for other subjects, and moreover GATE questions require just the basic concepts. Know what to study, and more importantly, know what NOT to study. Also, it’s good to follow standard resources but again, make sure you’re not spending too much time on one subject. And if you are following some coaching and want to clear doubts from standard resources, searching in books can be time-consuming. Alternatively, you can also use Wikipedia as a standard resource to clear doubts, it saves time (I did that for some subjects).
1. Limit your usage of social media. This is very subjective and varies from person to person, but I personally find it difficult to manage time for both social media and preparing for competitive exams at the same time (maybe it’s just me, I don’t know). Since I was determined to top GATE at any cost, I did not want to take any chances, so I deleted every social media account during the last 7-8 months of my preparation, even Facebook and WhatsApp. You may keep a separate Facebook account for GO.

I will end this blog with one of my favorite quotes:

Jaan laga do, ya jaane do!

20

Hi. My name is Tamal and I appeared for GATE CS twice in the years 2019 and 2020. I secured ranks of 1309 and 188 respectively and I am writing this blog to share my experience of the same. I primarily wanted to share this because during my preparatory phase of a year and a half I had highs and lows. Well, mostly lows than highs. And blogs that I used to read on this platform really helped me a lot. So I just wanted to do my bit for this wonderful community we’ve got going here. I also want to point out that it might be the case that my blog will only feel relatable to droppers and circuit branch students but hey, if you’re not amongst them, feel free to read it too :)

1st attempt (GATE CS 2019)

I feel like most people don’t care to hear from a 1309 ranker but I personally feel that this was the most important year of my preparation. Because during this period I had taken some major decisions career-wise that could’ve turned disastrous really fast. The first was obviously to attempt GATE in Computer Science while pursuing my Undergraduate degree in Electrical Engg. I jotted down the date in my diary (I just checked – 16 May 2018) and begun preparing through online videos. I really had no other option for preparing as I never felt comfortable with gruelling 9 hour weekend classes that offline coaching institutes had to offer. Also, the only CS stuff I knew till then was some DS and Algo because me and my friends used to code competitively for fun during our 1st year (that habit left me soon in an attempt of rescuing my GPA). The other important decision was to drop out from a prestigious internship I had secured in my 3rd year summer break and prepare for GATE. I felt like I could only step on one boat at a time and had to let that one go. I worked hard in those summer months but once my classes resumed it was really hard to focus on Electrical Machines and Compiler Design at the same time. I decided to postpone my semester exam study for the month before the exams and barely attended college (but maintained my attendance percentage).  I used to watch videos and make detailed notes. In hindsight, I probably should also have done some problems at that time but hey, hindsight’s 20/20, right? So, November came and I dragged myself to the library to read some Electrical books and that probably was my worst phase. I almost used to break down thinking ‘I won’t make through this sem’. My friends helped me a lot with notes and past year question papers though, and I made it to January fairly unscathed. After completing my video lectures and revising the entire material once, I found I had a week left for GATE. I attempted 6-7 mock tests but goodness knows it was less than adequate for a good GATE rank. And it was.

I had this gut feeling that I could do better and when a few rejections came my way, that feeling just got stronger and stronger. I also rejected a job offer at that time to prepare full time because as you probably have figured by now, I follow my gut a lot (not very ideal if you ask me). My first reality check was when I realised I had no decent NIT chances being from EE. Next, it was time for a IIIT B acceptance letter followed by a mail that I was ineligible for it (talk about kicking someone when they’re down). Following that was a IIT H RA interview that saw me waitlisted at #2 – A waitlist that never moved. I would have taken up all of those offers had I gotten them but those rejections just made me more desperate for some sort of success.

2nd attempt (GATE CS 2020)

I started preparing again from the month of September because somehow I was confident of getting a decent rank this time around and just went back to my habit of programming for a couple months prior to that. The strategy this time was to just revise my subjects and give tests. I had prepared the entire material already. So revision-test-revision was my plan. By February I had given more than 50 full tests  and a handful of small tests (about 3200 questions, considering no repetition). Even though the question paper did flummox me and I do think I could’ve done better (who doesn’t), I was fairly satisfied with what I had done in those 3 hours. I ended up with a rank of 188 and a chance to secure that IIT tag that was a dream since I was 17.

Before ending the blog I feel like touching on a few other things, I will summarise them below.

• Study Material – A lot of toppers I followed suggested reading good standard books for preparation which is ideal. However, if you’re in a time tussle, feel free to follow any standard source. I used online videos, MadeEasy material (I really liked their OS book), and used standard books only to help resolve doubts which I had along the way. GO is an excellent option for PYQ and every aspirant should go through it atleast once.
• Practice but also track – I made an Excel sheet with columns like ‘MARKS’, ‘TOPPER’S MARKS’, ‘NEGATIVE MARKS’, ‘THINGS TO IMPROVE’ etc. and kept track of all my tests. My GATE 2020 marks was (the average of my 50 tests + ~1). My GATE 2020 negative marks was 1.67 in contrast to the average 3-4 marks I was losing out in mocks. Tracking helps you improve efficiently, I feel. The Test series I took ranked by their quality - (ME>ACE)
• Short Notes – In my final year of preparation I barely read my entire note. I used to refer to them only when i felt like my grasp on a concept wasn’t strong enough. Make good personal short notes and try making a brain map of those. A key confidence boost I had before the exam was the realisation that I could answer questions on every topic that was in my short notes.
• Community Engagement – A lot of fine concept details emerge from that. I distinctly remember having a conversation on the Gate Overflow discussion platform with someone (with username tx635, or something like that) about Cache access time and using that concept in the actual GATE paper. A side note : Don’t over engage. Tread on the thin line.
• Dropping a year – This should always depend upon the candidate and their gut feeling as to whether they are absolutely sure of outperforming themselves. If not, choosing a safer option is better. There are scores of good, valid, reasonable advices as to why one should not drop, but only one as to why one should :)

If you have any further queries, feel free to comment or drop a mail at [email protected]