GATE 2015 Topper Interview- Ravi Shankar Mishra who secured AIR 1 in Computer Science Engineering in GATE 2015 is a Mechanical Engineer of the 2014 batch from IIT Kanpur. Driven by a passion for computers, he opted to appear for GATE 2015 in CSE to secure admission in M.Tech at one of the reputed Indian colleges. With a determined and dedicated approach, Ravi Shankar Mishra prepared with a single minded focus on scoring well and ended up securing AIR 1 for Computer Science Engineering in GATE 2015.
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Speaking to Careers360, Ravi Shankar Mishra elaborates in detail on his GATE 2015 Preparation techniques, the time table that he followed, books that were useful to study and more... Read on to know Ravi’s helpful tips for future GATE aspirants.
Careers360: Tell us something about yourself; where have you done your engineering from and in which branch?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: My name is Ravi Shankar Mishra. I belong to a middle class family from Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand. My father is an Ex-Airman, my mother a housewife and my elder sister is an employee of Konylabs Software Company, Hyderabad.
I have completed my B Tech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Kanpur in the year 2014.
Careers360: what was the GATE Paper you appeared in? What rank did you get in GATE 2015? What is your GATE score and how many marks did you secure out of 100 in GATE paper?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: I appeared for Computer Science and Information Technology (CS) paper and secured AIR-1 in GATE 2015. My score is 1000, normalized mark is 85.85 and actual mark is 79.00.
Careers360: What was the reason you appeared for GATE 2015? PSU or further studies? Please elaborate
Ravi Shankar Mishra: I wanted to make a career in Computer Science but my Bachelor’s degree is in Mechanical Engineering, so I appeared for GATE 2015 with an intention of doing M.Tech in CSE from a reputed Indian college.
Careers360: Have you also applied to any PSUs and which ones?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: Right now, I have no intention to join a PSU. I am passionate about pursuing my Masters in Computer Science now that I have scored well.
Careers360: When did you start your preparation? How did you prepare? How many hours did you put in per day as per the stage of preparation?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: My preparation started 150 days before the GATE exam. I planned my preparation in three major phases and followed it to a tee, I am elaborating the plan in details phase wise:
1. Phase 1 (15 days, 5 hours/day) – Understanding the GATE Syllabus, Preparation Plan, Books
This phase started when I decided to appear for the GATE 2015 examination in CSE. The first thing I did was to go through the blogs written by previous year GATE toppers. I tried to gauge a pattern in their preparation and to understand the bare minimum preparation techniques they did correctly to be successful. I found a repetitive theme in their preparation -most of them followed standard books, solved previous year GATE papers, planned their study well, did proper revision in last months and enrolled in some good online Test Series.
After this my quest for good standard books started. Some criteria I followed here are:
The book should be simple enough so that a Mechanical graduate can understand them
It must be broad enough to cover the entire GATE syllabus.
Fortunately, I did get some good books which I have listed below. Next, I planned the order in which I should study the given topics and the time I needed to devote for each topic.
2. Phase 2 (105 days, 12 hours/day) - Studying Books & Solving previous year papers:
I listed the chapters covered in GATE Syllabus and allotted time to each accordingly.
Important Topics with heavy weightage like Data Structures and Algorithm got around 14 days for preparation while lesser important topics like Digital Logic got 6 days.
My focus was to study all the relevant topics from all the books I had chosen such that no question could escape me. I also did the relevant exercises from each chapter for better practice.
My study schedule went like – study a particular topic and attempt the past 10 years question papers for that topic only.
Here I must say that I used the question bank from MadeEasy but trust me, there is no book in the market which doesn’t have some errors and therefore, the internet is your only friend. I found solutions at the GATEOverflow website to be very good.
Most important - I didn’t leave any topic untouched in the prescribed GATE syllabus. I even studied for Software Engineering, Web Technology and Verbal ability.
3. Phase 3 (30 days, 14 hours/day) - Revision & Test Series:
This is a crucial phase which I used to recall what I had learnt in the last four months and to push my score further by 5-10 marks.
But I found myself in big trouble. The reason was that I did not make any notes during my self-study. That was because of two reasons. First, I don’t know the art of making good notes and second, if I had made notes, I would have required 2 more months to study the book chapters.
Three things came to my rescue here and they not only gave me revision but also introduced me to some sub-topics that I unintentionally skipped - Made Easy study material, Ankur Gupta Notes and Standard book power point slides. I hurried through all of them.
Next was the turn of Test Series and I appeared for four full length tests by MadeEasy.
Careers360: Have you taken any coaching? If yes- From where? How did it help?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: No, I have not taken any formal coaching but I took the correspondence course of MadeEasy. The study material that they provided helped me to filter out unnecessary book chapters and it was also useful for revision in the final stage of my preparation as I hadn’t made any notes of my own during my self-study.
Careers360: GATE 2015 saw a substantial amount of numerical questions asked when compared to previous years. Were you prepared for this eventuality? How did you prepare for the numerical questions considering that they require speed in calculating the solutions?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: I feel the reason for introducing large number of numerical questions in GATE is to discourage the guessing tendency of students. One bad thing about this question type is that it requires very high accuracy. One small calculation mistake and you lose your marks as well as precious time in the exam. The good thing is that these questions come with no negative marks, so you can answer them no matter what. There was no special preparation for numerical questions. The only thing that I made sure was not to commit any silly mistake while attempting them.
Careers360: Can you share any preparation strategies with our readers? How to schedule study time and make timetables?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: I kept my preparation strategy as simple as possible. It was just five steps:
(2) Study Books
(3) Solve previous year papers
(5) Give Mock Test.
I feel that the major stress comes during step-2 and that required quite a lot of planning and time on my end. I am sharing my 105 days timetable with the future GATE aspirants. I would advise them to scale it according to the time that is available to them.
The order in which I covered GATE topics was inspired by two factors- one was the weightage of the topics and other was the pre-requisite subject to be studied before the advanced subject part.
I have given the order in which I studied the topics along with average weightage (from years 2010-2015) and days devoted in the table.
GATE Syllabus Topics
Days Devoted by me
Data Structures and Algorithms
Theory of Computation
Computer Organization and Architecture
Software Engineering & Web Technologies
Careers360: How should one schedule answering the GATE exam – which section to attempt first and which next?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: Start with the easiest section as this will give you confidence and help you shed away your nervousness.
I attempted the paper in following order:
1) Numerical ability
2) One mark CS questions
3) Verbal ability
4) Two marks CS question.
I attempted the verbal ability section late as I was not very confident about it.
One crucial point to keep in mind is to never get stuck on one question for too long. If a question has a lengthy description or is taking more than 2 minutes, skip it and come back to it later.
Careers360: Name some important Topics that you feel are a must read for any student attempting GATE exam in Computer Science Engineering?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: The must read topics are the one with weightage 5 marks or above. Not so important topics that students generally skip are Compiler Design, Software Engineering, Web technology and Verbal Ability. But I would recommend that aspirants read them also if they have time. GATE 2015 paper was a little bit of surprise as these neglected topics were given considerable weightage.
Careers360: Since all the GATE exams are online now, how mandatory is it for students to practice online and how frequently?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: It is very important to appear for some online mock tests so that a student gets comfortable with the GATE exam interface and instructions that will be useful to save valuable time in the actual GATE exam. I will recommend appearing for at least 3 full length mock tests.
Careers360: What did you feel was a tough thing in the GATE exam?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: A tough thing about GATE 2015 CS paper was that many questions were asked from unconventional topics that students generally skip during their preparation. I was surprised that in session-1 paper, questions were asked from software engineering (alpha testing), compiler design (viable prefix, live variable, static single assignment), html/xml and LU decomposition.
The second thing - I found the two marks CS question to be lengthy, I never took more than 135 minutes during mock tests to complete my paper but in the actual exam it took me 160 minutes, so keep this fact in mind while you plan for the time required for attempting various sections of the GATE paper.
Careers360: How important do you feel mock tests are and why? Is it true that if one solves the previous year question papers, there is a good chance of cracking the exam successfully?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: Mock tests serve three important purposes:-
(1) Introduces you to the interface and instructions of the GATE exam, this will be crucial to save time in actual exam as you already know basic navigation and answering methods.
(2) Teaches you time management. Without proper time management, there is no way that you can put up a good performance.You must learn where to save time and where to use it.
(3) Helps you identify your weak areas and recurring mistakes. This is crucial to help you to fill the loopholes in your preparation and also to teach you how to avoid silly mistakes in the actual exam.
Please note that the rank you get in mock tests do not reflect your actual gate rank. So don’t feel disappointed or less confident about your abilities. I never got in the Top10 ranks in any of the mock tests I appeared for and I never let it undermine my confidence.
Solving previous year papers is a very important phase and a must for getting a good rank in the GATE exam. It gives three benefits:-
(1) Since, most questions come from similar topics year after year in the GATE exam, you will get acquainted with common gate questions
(2) You will feel confident that you can crack GATE.
(3) You will able to gauge whether you have completed all the sub-topics given in the GATE syllabus
I would like to point out that solving only GATE papers is not going to help. The actual study plan should comprise of - Read Topic, Solve Gate Questions,Analyze your problematic areas and then Re-Read the topic. Also read the left-over sub-topics.
Careers360: Which books did you follow for GATE preparation?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: I have listed below the book name, author name, edition and relevant chapters of the books that I followed. The edition of books are the latest ones (updated till Dec. 2014) and freely downloadable on the internet. I would recommend all the future GATE aspirants to read only the latest edition of the books.
Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications
The C Programming language
Data Structures and Algorithms
Introduction to Algorithms
Theory of Computation
An Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata
Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach
Kurose & Ross
Computer Organization and Architecture
Computer Organization and Embedded systems
Operating System Concepts
Database System Concepts
Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools
Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach
Read slides only
w3schools (html/xml tutorial)
Careers360: .Any advice for the future aspirants?
Ravi Shankar Mishra: Believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can achieve and what you can’t. Nobody thought that I could even get a rank in the Top 500 in the GATE 2015 CS paper as I was a Mechanical Engineering graduate but I backed myself.
Just think that if a guy with zero knowledge of computer science with just 5 months of dedicated study and determination could bring his knowledge up to the level of the GATE exam and go on to score the First Rank, why can’t you? All of you who will appear for GATE 2016 will have even more time than what I had. Forget about everything and just dedicate quality time over your preparation. Don’t worry about what the others think about you; you are not doing this for them. You are doing this for yourself and your family. It is your dream, go get it! Nobody is stopping you except yourself.
Careers360 thanks Ravi Shankar Mishra for sharing his valuable inputs and detailed preparation strategies for GATE 2015 with us. We wish him all the best!