Namita Kalra has the distinction of being one of the few girls who have topped GATE this year. An all India rank of 1 in one of the most popular GATE papers is no easy cake walk but this Roorkee girl gave it her best shot with exceptional results. Her mantra is to keep calm in face of all odds and draw on her inner strength and self-confidence. An alumnus of NIT Uttarakhand, who worked with the Trident group for some time before leaving it to take her shot at the GATE exam again, Namita now can finally pursue her dream of studying further. In a chat with Careers360, she talks about her preparation journey and how she never took the pressure of expectations. Read on to know all about her successful GATE journey.
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Careers360: Tell us something about yourself; Where have you done your engineering from and in which branch?
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Namita Kalra: I have done my B.Tech from NIT Uttarakhand and then I joined Trident group. I passed out in 2014. I basically belong to Roorkee.
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?
Namita Kalra: I appeared In Computer Science. I secured AIR 1. My GATE 2018 score is 1000 and I obtained 83.3 marks out of 100.
Careers360: Is this your first attempt or did you attempt GATE earlier?
Namita Kalra: In 2014 I had attempted the exam and at that point of point of time I got a rank of around 1000. However, I had a job and didn’t take up anything further.
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Careers360: What was the reason you appeared for GATE 2018? Please elaborate.
Namita Kalra: In my final year I was already placed. But I always wanted to pursue M.Tech. Since I got placed, I just took it up. It took me three years to gather my courage to leave the company in 2017 and take up preparation for GATE.
Careers360: Have you applied to any PSUs recruiting through GATE? Which ones?
Namita Kalra: I have applied to IOCL and BARC but I am not sure if i will be joining them as my main reason for GATE this time is going for higher studies. So I mostly may join M.Tech.
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?
Namita Kalra: I started preparing in May 2017. I did not have any strategy all this time. Yes, my goal was to get a get a rank under 100 to get admission in a good IIT. AIR 1 was never a dream. So, it is like a dream come true. When I started, I was aware that I could do much better than my previous attempt but it is better not take any pressure.
I did not have a fixed schedule but I studied for six hours approximately per day. I used to study what was taught in the classroom and made sure that I completed my assignments on time.
Careers360: Have you taken any coaching? If yes, from where? How did it help?
Namita Kalra: Yes. I enrolled in Made Easy in 2017. The reason I took coaching is that I had a gap of three and half years after my graduation and I wanted to be properly prepared for the exam. After all I did leave my job for it.
Taking coaching did help. It kept a kind of check on my schedule which I couldn’t have managed if I had opted for self-study. Coaching helps to keep track of your performance in terms of the syllabus as well as get a grip on how much you have covered and how much you need to do. There is a precise schedule given by coaching centres. If you follow that and work accordingly, you should score well.
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?
Namita Kalra: Preparation should encompass a period of six to seven months to be really effective. My suggestions would be - keep your basics clear. Keep your fundamentals strong. Solving very difficult questions is not required IN gate. Your mind should interpret the questions correctly to answer it correctly.
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?
Namita Kalra: Mock Tests are very important. I started giving the online tests series in mid-October. With these tests you can maintain a good schedule. You see, these tests are designed according to levels so you have basic tests, then advanced level tests and then full length tests. So, you should be in a position to attempt the full length ones by December. This allows you enough practice to take the three hours test which means you can tackle the actual GATE exam well.
Previous years question papers are important as they will give you an idea of which topics are important. Let me tell you questions do come from such topics. However, one should not solely rely on this else you will be only half-prepared.
Careers360: Which books did you follow for GATE preparation? Please name some very important must read books for GATE
Namita Kalra: The list is given below so future aspirants can check them out.
Important books for GATE
Name of the Book
Name of Author
TOC- Theory of Computation
For other subjects, the classroom notes from the coaching centre are enough.
Careers360: Which are the topics one should focus more on? Kindly give us some details.
Namita Kalra: Some areas that I feel one can focus on are
OS- CPU scheduling
Architecture - pipelining, cash management
DBMS- SQL (Structured query language)
TOC- Theory of Computation- (Decidability and regular expressions )
The above topics have questions asked every year.
Careers360: What was the toughest aspect in your GATE preparation?
Namita Kalra: I had left my job for this and I was afraid that I may not get through.
Careers360: What did you do for leisure? Any specific activities that helped you unwind?
Namita Kalra: I used to party with my friends. I have friends in Delhi so I used with party and celebrate events like birthdays. I made sure that in a week I got at least one day where I did not study anything heavy where I took the opportunity to refresh myself. I was open with my friends and my mother and used to vent my feelings if I did not perform well in my mocks. It is better not to bottle up frustrations as they tend to lead to stress.
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.
Namita Kalra: There are two sections -Technical and Non-technical. At the first glimpse, you get an idea of which questions are tough. In such a case, switching the sections is advisable. The key to it is not to get disappointed if you are not able to answer certain questions. The questions generally are lengthy so my strategy was - in the first go I would answer questions that I was sure of and in the second go I would answer those that were left. However, on the actual day, there wasn’t much time to have a correct strategy in place.
Careers360: What did you feel was a tough thing for you in the GATE exam?
Namita Kalra: The virtual calculator was a bit challenging. I would advise that everyone should thoroughly practice from the virtual calculator.
Careers360: Any advice for the future aspirants?
Namita Kalra: Don't rely on someone's strategy. Draw your own strategy; experiment in the initial days. It is a long process. Always share whatever little knowledge that you have. Keep calm and success will be yours
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Following points will help you to qualify GATE :-
1.You are advised to refer the GATE previous year question papers to have an idea about the difficulty level of exam, pattern of exam and questions, topics which are covered frequently or which topic has more weightage over the others.
2. You should have a clear understanding of the GATE syllabus and exam pattern.GATE syllabus comprises the subjects and topics which are taught at graduate level programs in engineering.
3. You must select the best study material for GATE 2021 preparation to come up with the best result. You should refer to the books which are easy to understand.
4. You must study regularly so that you can cover all the syllabus within time. Regularity in study will help you to score great marks.
5. What you have studied during the whole day you must revise that before going to sleep.
6. You must Practice Mock test daily to check your preparation level and to get a reality check of your Preparation.
For more information follow the following link given below
Hope this will help you!.
GATE is usually conducted in the month of February once in a year.The official notification will be released in the month of July/August and registrations will begin in the month of September first week tentatively.And results will be announced in the third week of March tentatively.
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