GATE Preparation

Hi friends!! Hope you must be having a wonderful day. After posting my Post GATE interview experiences (you can check them out here), I got responses from many students requesting me to post some preparation tips for GATE.So on popular demand, here comes my long post recounting my Pre GATE experiences.

Well, I remember my days before GATE as one of the most difficult and challenging times of my life; yet when I look back upon them I wonder how many things they have taught me which helped me consolidate my character and emerge as a stronger person.Nine hours of job followed by 2-3 hours of coaching on weekdays and wait! weekends were no relief. My Sundays were the worst; lasting from 6 am to 9 pm of studying :O ( 15 hours in a row!!). I am amused  how I survived those times.The one thing which kept me going was my firm resolve to prove myself to the world and the ambition to see myself in a top IIT.

I will not define my preparation to be an ideal one. I didn’t study all the available material nor solve most of the practice problems and questions ( some of my coaching material was left untouched); but what I did study and solve was sufficient for my preparation.I am a person who believes in studying on my own without any coaching or tuition.But, things were different this time.Since I had to prepare with job, I decided to join a coaching institute which can keep the spirit of competition alive in me and provide me the required motivation needed for clearing any competitive exam. Also there will be some part of me feeling guilty if I paid a heavy price as coaching institute’s fees and still didn’t study seriously ( just a psychological trick 😉 ) For all those people who fall in the category of job+GATE, I want to say that preparing with job is difficult but not impossible.Try to prioritize your work.Keep some e-books on your office desktop and study them as well as some online resources ( provided links below) whenever you get time.Avoid distractions (I mentioned a few in my Introduction post).Remember if you work hard now, you can enjoy later.There will be many people to discourage you saying that GATE is useless, there is no use of MTech, why bother to leave a current job which is paying well, go abroad for MS, blah blah blah. It’s your ability to discard the noise and improve the quality of positive thoughts entering your mind. As it is truly said half of the battle is mentally won.Always be mentally strong and believe in yourself and what you are aspiring.

Ok, enough of pravachan from my side :P.Let’s be back on track. So, after deciding to join a coaching institute, I began a hunt for the same. Living in Hyderabad, I had lot of options to chose from ; but one of them was a clear winner based both on its past records and its location near to my office and flat.Yes, you guessed it right! I joined evening batch of ACE Academy located at Abids. The classes started from 16th or 17th July which was quite early based on my standards of preparation which I have been following throughout my life ( later I was proved wrong when I saw batches starting from March ).What happened later for the few months till GATE is as I have already mentioned above ( office+classes).After returning from coaching, I somehow had my dinner and dropped straight to my bed. Life was indeed hard but I was happy thinking that each passing day is bringing me close to my goal.I have been a topper throughout my school and college, but I can tell without a pinch of doubt that the hardest I worked and studied in my life was this particular period.

I will provide a subject wise description of my preparation below:( only EC – other strams having some common subjects can also see)

1. Engineering Mathematics: This was the first subject to be started at the coaching institute. I would say that this is one of the easiest and scoring subjects of GATE. It is easy to grasp and questions asked from maths are pretty straightforward. A word of caution: Do not ignore this and leave it till the last month for studying.The things I studied for my Engg. Maths preparation are:

  • Higher Engineering Mathematics – B.S. Grewal ( problems on Stroke’s and Gauss Divergence theorem and some portions of statistics)
  • ACE material and class notes.

Important topics: Stroke’s and Gauss Divergence theorem, probability, complex variables, linear algebra.

2. Network Theory: If you see previous years questions, you will find that this subject carries a lot of weightage. You also need its concepts in other subjects like Analog ( OPAMP based problems ) and Digital. Moral: Be sound in network theory. Practice a lot of questions and try to analyse them before solving.There can be many methods to solve one particular problem; chose the one which is convenient for your use.Before joining ACE, I had a feeling that I am good in network theory. But the classes at coaching helped in clearing my myth and solving some of my perennial doubts in this subject.My prep. included:

  • ACE classroom material and notes ( this is excellent and more than sufficient)

Important topics: Transient and steady state analysis, Thevenin’s & Norton’s Theorems, Nodal and Mesh Analysis, Phasors, Maximum Power transfer theorem.

3.Control Systems: This is one of my favorite subjects. It carries almost 12-13% weightage in GATE. Practice and more practice is the key to success.Try to be fast and accurate while solving problems. Use shortcuts and tricks wherever possible.My preparation included:

  • ACE classroom material and notes ( The teacher provided some amazing shortcuts to solve problems. The variety of questions included in the question booklet are too good not only for GATE but also PSU’s,IES,etc.)
  • Control Systems Engg.- Nagrath & Gopal.( PD,PI,PID controller, lead and lag compensator)

Important topics: Time domain analysis, root locus, bode and nyquist plots, gain and phase margin.

4.Electromagnetic Theory: Well, this is a subject which most of the students of EC find the most difficult and annoying. The same was the case with me. I hated this subject since my college days. The long and complex formulas and equations just blew my mind off. It is only after coming to ACE that I appreciated the true beauty of the subject.The first set of classes laid the foundation for my rising interest in the subject.In my opinion, EMT is the most scoring subject in GATE as well as other exams like ISRO,IES,etc. Most of the questions asked from this are either direct formula based or application of basic concepts. If you are confident in this subject , rest of the subjects will be quite easy for you to prepare.Success Mantra: Revise many times and write down all the formulas as frequently as you can.Never ever take the chance of leaving EMT and writing GATE.You will be the biggest loser.My preparation included:

  • Field & Wave Electromagnetics – David K. Cheng ( all topics esp. waveguides )
  • ACE material and notes.( served mostly as revision of my concepts and formulas)

Important topics: Boundary conditions, transmission lines, maxwell’s equations,Poynting theorem,basic antenna concepts.

5.Communications: I am sure everyone of you knows the importance of this subject.It carries the maximum weightage in GATE and has a wide syllabus to cover. This subject is quite interesting and you need to be good in maths to be good in communications. My preparation of communication included:

  • Communication Systems – Simon Haykins ( Analog Communications )
  • Principles of Communication Systems – Taub & Schilling ( Digital Communications- more questions are asked from digital communication as compared to analog in the past 5-6 years)
  • ACE classroom study material ( only for practicing problems and revision )

Important topics: Random variables ( one question sure), probability of error, FM, Noise, Matched filter, superheterodyne receivers.

6.Signals and systems: I was lucky to get a very good teacher for this subject who taught in a very intriguing way and challenged us to solve problems making us competitive enough. Success Mantra: Write down all important formulas and definitions in a piece of paper. One of the advantages of this approach is that it will help you relate concepts used within the subject making your preparation smooth and easy. My prep. included:

  • ACE study material and notes (excellent material which is more than sufficient for cracking all sorts of competitive exams)

Important topics: All topics are important; questions on sampling and laplace transform are frequent.

7. Analog Electronics & Electronic Devices: These are the two most important subjects for GATE preparation and being an EC student you have to be very good in them not only for GATE but also for your future.I have clubbed them together as both are highly interrelated both content and material wise.You should complete electronic devices before starting your preparation for analog. Success mantra: Clarify your concepts and apply reasoning in every question.The more you read and solve the better you will become in these subjects. My preparation included:

  • Microelectronics Circuits – Sedra Smith ( best book for enhancing your basics; read it only if you have time as everything is explained in very much detail which is not required for GATE exam; but will be helpful for your interview prep.)
  • Electronic Devices & Circuit Theory – Robert L. Boylestad ( topics are explained in a simple and point wise manner)
  • Integrated Electronics- Milliman & Halkias ( called the Bible of Electronics – is the best if you read from the beginning. You can rely on it blindly)
  • ACE material – concepts were explained in a very unique and exam-friendly way( good for revision )

Important topics: OPAMP , BJT amplifiers, Feedback amplifiers, Diode based problems.

8. Digital Electronics: This is one of the most interesting and popular subjects among the students and truly so because it offers a logic based approach to problems and we don’t have to memorize any complex formulas or equations in this ( as opposed to many EC subjects). A word of caution: Don’t be overconfident.Questions asked in GATE may seem quite simple but will be tricky most of the times.My prep included:

  • Digital systems Principles and applications – Ronald J Tocci
  • Digital Design – Morris Mano
  • Microprocessor Architecture Programming and applications with the 8085 – Ramesh Gaonkar ( for microprocessor )
  • Digital Computer Electronics – Malvino ( microprocessor explained in a very short but effective way)
  • ACE practice material

Important topics: Flip-flops, counters, logic families,microprocessor ( one question compulsory)

10. English and Aptitude: Most of us completely ignore this section. But, I tell you this can prove a deciding factor where either you or your competitor can score over and bring a better rank. I referred no material for this section. The practice questions and mock tests were sufficient.

Some Preparation Tips:

  • Practice at least 10 years of previous GATE question papers. This is very important as it not only helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses but also proves critical for your time management skills.
  • 45 days before the exam, solve a mock GATE paper every alternate day ( and it strictly means 3 hours).The environment should be the same as you will face during the actual GATE exam. Club this with revision of all subjects. Remember the last one month is very crucial for your preparation.
  • Prepare subject-wise short notes for quick reference.This will prove very handy during revisions as well as interviews.
  • If possible, enroll for a test series(preferably online as the final exam will be online). This will help you maintain the pace of your preparation and the AIR will give you an idea on where you stand. However, I will advise you not to take this rank too seriously and get disheartened or relaxed.This is only a prep. exam and not the final GATE exam which is your prime focus.
  • Be confident of your preparation and solve questions with a patient head.I will advise you to attempt your GATE paper in three rounds.1st : easy questions which you can solve at one go; 2nd: average questions which require some thinking but can be solved; 3rd: difficult questions which require more time and thinking.This approach will gradually build your confidence in solving questions and bring out the best in you.
  • Don’t take too much stress and worst, don’t get influenced by other’s preparation.Each individual has different levels of understanding and approach. So, never compare yourself with others. Plan your studies carefully keeping adequate time for practice and revision.

This was all I could tell you regarding my GATE preparation.I knew my prayers were not unheard when I saw my result ( to know more about my result read here ) which was just above my expectation :).I would like to thank my parents without support and understanding, it would have never been possible. I am lucky to have such amazing parents who are always ready to help and motivate me.The next token of thanks goes to my friends who always heard my constant whining and how I have studied so less till now ( this is part of my nature 😉 and still made me remember my strengths and how I can rectify my mistakes.I would also like to thank the some wonderful teachers and friends at ACE who helped clear my concepts and booked seats for me in the classroom (respectively );). Last but not the least, I would like to thank God and of course me( who did it finally 🙂 )

Other online resources:

Hope you enjoyed reading this whole series of posts on my Pre and Post GATE experiences and they proved helpful. I will highly appreciate your feedback on the same and will be glad to clear your doubts. All the best for GATE!! 🙂 🙂

Introduction

After a month of anxious moments and few sleepless nights, the GATE results are finally declared. The people who get a good rank(below 200) feel accomplished; the ones with not so good ranks (200-500) are satisfied but not sure if they could make it to the Top five IIT’s in their desired specializations or not. The people with ranks greater than 500 start thinking about new IIT’s/NIT’s/BITS. All this leads to lots of confusion among the minds of the students; Which IIT’s to apply? Which specialization to apply? Which specialization is good in which IIT? Most of the students feel almost helpless and in their attempt to gain some answers start browsing net looking for Institute rankings, previous year cut-off scores, etc .To add to the anxiety of students comes other things like BARC, ISRO, IES and many more.

Well, I also faced the same situation as everyone does .Since my score was good, I felt that my job is done and didn’t do much research before applying to different courses. But I was wrong!! GATE result is only 50% of the story; the other 50% and the more important stuff is applying carefully and preparing well for the interviews. For those of you who got a rank below 500 and are confident that you will easily get an IIT; believe me it’s not a cakewalk for you. You need to prepare well for the interviews and deliver your best. Unfortunately, most of us realise it much later. I received no guidance from anywhere (neither my friends nor internet) and so I made a few mistakes( fortunately they didn’t cost me much 😉 ) I want to share my experiences and my mistakes with you so that all of you can make a wise and informed decision.

So let me start by giving details about my GATE exam:

AIR: 189

Score: 859/1000

Marks: 69.32/100(normalized)

Paper: EC (Electronics & Communication Engg)

Year: 2014

Category: General

 

Preparation:

I prepared for GATE along with my job and believe me it was quite difficult period for me. After working 9 hours a day at office you don’t feel like studying at all when you come home. All you want to do is to lie down,may be surf net,watch a series;but the last thing you want to do is to open a book and study Electromagnetic Theory :P.On weekends, you feel like you have lots of time and sleep initially, go out with your friends for dinner or movie later, read a novel and boom you wake up to realize that today is Monday. This cycle keeps on repeating. Your salary at the end of the month does wonders to add to your lack of motivation to study.

To avoid these distractions and to keep me focussed on my aim, I decided to join the evening classes at ACE Academy, Hyderabad. So after working hard at office I went to attend two hours of coaching. I wouldn’t say that coaching is essential for GATE but for me it provided the necessary environment to analyse my competition, to know my weaknesses and work harder to remove them. I devoted the last month in practising previous year’s question papers and paid emphasis on accuracy rather than speed. I will not go into the details of my preparation (that will be the subject of another post in the future I guess).In the coming sections I will be sharing my detailed Post GATE experiences with you.

Applications:

Institutes applied Program Mode of Entry
IISc Bangalore ME/MTech, Research Program ME: Directly based on GATE scoreMTech(CEDT):Written Test/Interview
IIT Bombay MTech TA ,RA TA: Directly based on GATE scoreRA: Written Test/Interview
IIT Delhi MTech Interview
IIT Kanpur MTech Interview
IIT Madras MTech Directly based on GATE score
IIT Kharagpur MTech Directly based on GATE score
BARC OCES/DGFS Interview

 

Do’s & Dont’s:

  • Prepare a ready to refer notebook containing all the important concepts and formulas written briefly for all subjects. Most of us feel lazy enough to do so but believe me this practise will prove to be very useful for revision both before GATE and before Interviews.
  • Do not completely abandon your books and notes after giving GATE ( as I did).You will not only lose your grip over concepts but it will also affect your confidence and speed while answering questions in the interview.
  • Keep a note of all the important dates of applications, interviews, etc. I will advise you to prepare a chart containing a list of all the Institutes, courses, last dates, etc. for your reference. If possible do an advanced booking of trains/buses/flights for reaching your interview venue.
  • While applying to the courses and choosing your preferences make sure to go by your interests and not what others say is the best branch. Remember you have to study this for two years and it will decide your future. So, keep all this in mind before choosing the preferences. If you are still not so sure, rank them based on the feedback of your seniors who are studying there.
  • If you don’t feel like studying for interviews from your notes and books (which I did) try browsing interview questions on the internet. I came across a lot of wonderful sites full of tricky questions and good explanations of concepts.
  • Reach the venue one day in advance and try to familiarize yourself with the local landscape which will help you getting to your destination the next day. Try talking to students there about the facilities and whatever doubts you have in mind.
  • Lastly, do not take much stress. Enjoy yourself in the wonderful campuses of the most reputed institutions of the country and imagine being an IITan 🙂

 I found very few blogs relating their interview experiences at different IIT’s; but the few I found gave me an idea about the type of questions asked and the strategies; though I always felt something missing. So, I have decided to provide a fairly descriptive and systematic account of my interview experiences at each Institute individually along with some unknown facts and my observations (important points to remember) in the coming sections. Hope this helps you in your preparation. So, stay tuned and enjoy reading 🙂 🙂