According to a popular quote, “The hardships that I encountered in the past will help me succeed in the future”. This holds true for Achint Chaudhary, a resident of Agra who has passed GATE 2018 examination with flying colours. Securing All India Rank of 22 in Computer Science, the boy from Agra has faced many hardships in the past few years but it did not deter him from achieving his dreams. With his success, Achint has proved that coaching is not necessary for qualifying GATE; according to him, all that you need is hard work, dedication and a proper preparation strategy. Aiming to complete his M.Tech at IISc Bangalore, Achint Chaudhary speaks to Careers360 outlining his dreams, preparation and journey towards achieving them.
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Careers360: Tell us something about yourself; Where have you done your engineering from and in which branch?
Achint Chaudhary: I am currently pursuing Computer Science Engineering at Hindustan College of Science and Technology, Mathura.
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Careers360: What was the GATE Paper you appeared in? What rank did you get in GATE 2018? What is your GATE score and how many marks did you secure out of 100 in GATE paper?
Achint Chaudhary: I appeared for Computer Science Engineering. I secured AIR 22 in my paper. My GATE 2018 score is 929 and I scored 73.67 marks out of 100.
Careers360: Is this your first attempt or did you attempt GATE earlier?
Achint Chaudhary: This is my first attempt.
Careers360: What was the reason you appeared for GATE 2018? Please elaborate.
Achint Chaudhary: I appeared for GATE 2018 because I wanted to pursue my education further i.e., M.Tech. I feel there is not much benefit in just completing B.Tech from a private college so I thought GATE was necessary. I had always aimed for M.Tech admission in IISC Bangalore and fortunately by God’s grace I am close to achieving it.
Careers360: Have you applied to any PSUs recruiting through GATE? Which ones?
Achint Chaudhary: I have applied for PSUs too and no doubt I will be attending the interviews for experience purposes. But there are fewer chances of me going for the jobs at these PSUs. I have applied for Indian Oil Corporation and BARC. I will also be applying for ONGC.
Careers360: When did you start your preparation? How did you prepare for the GATE exam? How many hours did you put in per day as per the stage of preparation?
Achint Chaudhary: My preparation for GATE started at the beginning of my second year. Unfortunately, I had a lot of distractions in between. My parents passed away separately due to cancer during the time of my preparation. My college was not very supportive and the faculty is also not very impressive. I purchased standard books and I prepared through it. During the preparation period, I gave 3 hours for solving of previous year papers and 4-5 hours for theory. However, as I mentioned the preparation was not continuous and I was more dedicated during the last three months. I stopped attending college and prepared while staying at home.
Careers360: Have you taken any coaching?
Achint Chaudhary: No, I have not taken any coaching. I prepared for the examination by myself.
Careers360: Can you share any preparation strategies with our readers? When should one start their preparation for GATE? How to schedule study time and make timetables?
Achint Chaudhary: Yes, of course. First, I would advise everyone to not lose their Mathematical background. One issue with Computer Science is that you will get disconnected with your Mathematics knowledge. It is best that the preparation should start at the beginning of the second year or third year. Consistency should be there because once you lose this opportunity it will never come back again.
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?
Achint Chaudhary: I did not attempt mock tests of GATE while preparing. I solved previous year question papers and according to me, they are much better for preparation. I solved GATE question papers of the past 25 years multiple times. Even though the chances of repetition of questions are less, the concepts are repeated. So I focused on those concepts which had a high probability of being present in the actual question paper.
Careers360: Which books did you follow for GATE preparation? Please name some very important must-read books for GATE
Achint Chaudhary: Let me tell you the core books I used for GATE preparation from second semester onwards.
Name of the Books
Data Structures and Algorithms
Cormen (3rd edition)
Sethi and Ullman
I did not use any book for aptitude. I have never practiced for aptitude in my life. I also feel there is very less time for students to prepare for the verbal section because obviously, you cannot prepare for it in just 2-3 months. I have not found any good source for verbal section and I am currently looking for it for my future endeavours.
Careers360: Which are the topics one should focus more on? Kindly give us some details
Achint Chaudhary: First of all, take out the average in the past five years and see which concepts were for more marks and according to that, set your focus. Every student follows the strategy of preparing for the stronger sections. However, I did not do this. I have three major subjects – Computer Networks, Computer Organization and Database. I had not even started on these subjects in the last two months; however, I answered all of the questions correctly while I made mistakes in those subjects for which I had prepared well such as Algorithms. Therefore, I would suggest not to keep any fixed mindset regarding what to prepare for GATE because it all depends on the question i.e., a tough question may be asked from a weak section and vice versa.
Careers360: What was the toughest aspect in your GATE preparation?
Achint Chaudhary: For most private colleges, the fact remains that the college is not very supportive of their students. During my preparation time, my college did not provide me with any support. If you look at IITs, they have good placement records and the graduated students are seen as successful. But for students from private colleges, there are only two options – they either need to have good placements or need to clear GATE examination. The faculty in our institute is not particularly interested in the students and there is attendance restriction. You cannot read your core books in class because the faculty wants you to listen to what they are saying and not refer anywhere else. There is an order issued in our college that all faculties will have to teach all subjects which is quite ridiculous since they have their own specialization fields.
I also could not take private coaching since the best institutes are in Delhi and I belong to Agra. My college does not allow me to take leave for coaching. There are a lot of restrictions from the college and this affects the studies. I have always been of constant help to my juniors. For example, Python is a very helpful active language used for competitions and all. There is no good resource in our institute to learn Python so I learnt it by myself during the summer break after my 2nd year. In my department, I have taken five workshops and have taught my batch, juniors and 3rd years of other branches too. My college is now offering to support me after I have cleared GATE and I do not need it now. So I have requested them to give guidance and support to my juniors. There is also a hierarchy system which makes it very hard for the students to approach the authorities. In order to reach the director, the students will have to go through many levels of authorities which is very tiring and intimidating as well.
Careers360: Name some important topics that you feel are a must read for any student attempting GATE exam?
Achint Chaudhary: I think those topics which carry more marks and have more variation should be given importance. Operating system is an average topic and usually is worth 8 marks but this year it was for 3-4 marks. Questions on Computer organization is sometimes worth 3-4 marks or 15 marks. I would advise students to study those subjects which are usually for higher marks.
Careers360: What did you do for leisure? Any specific activities that helped you unwind?
Achint Chaudhary: I did not have much free time. I am in my final year and I have joined singing and dance classes too. I do listen to music for 5 minutes after 3-4 hours of studying to refresh myself.
Careers360: How should you schedule answering the GATE exam – which section to attempt first and which next? Did you have any strategy? Kindly share your exam experience with us.
Achint Chaudhary: A lot of students make strategies thinking about the sections they should solve first according to their preparation levels. The questions in GATE are not subject wise so students usually lose their time while going through it. I have always had one principle while attempting exams – first come first serve. This saves your time. My other mantra is that there is nothing like a weak or strong subject so for me, all are the same.
As you know GATE is an objective exam, but recently there have been numerical questions in the paper. These questions have precise answers and no options so they have to be worked on.
Another bad experience was that the invigilators at my centre were busy chatting with each other in the hall which was distracting to all of us.
Careers360: What did you feel was a tough thing for you in the GATE exam?
Achint Chaudhary: One issue that I had during GATE was that the paper was a bit lengthy. It took me exactly 3 hours to complete the exam. I did panic a little at first but I calmed myself down.
Careers360: Any advice for the future aspirants?
Achint Chaudhary: I would like to tell all the students to start off the preparation as soon as possible. Do not delay and think that you will be able to study for GATE after completing your 3rd year by joining coaching classes. Secondly, many students plan to finish their theory first and then practice using the GATE previous year papers. I would advise the students to attempt topic wise question papers simultaneously with the theory preparation. GATE is not about what to study. It is about what not to study - there are a lot of things which you do not have to study. If you do not find a concept in the previous year questions then do not study it. There are a lot benefits in solving previous year question papers.
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