GATE 2018 Topper Interview Nikita Yadav (AIR 13 CS) - “Aim high with clear goals, believe to achieve”
Richa Kapoor, 21 Mar 2018, #GATE
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An interest in research at IISc Bangalore or one of the leading IITs was what spurred Nikita Yadav, to appear in GATE 2018 Computer Science and come out in flying colours. An alumnus of NIT Kurukshetra, Nikita did not take up any job offers as her main goal was to go in for higher studies. Her success in GATE 2018 has now opened the dorrs to fulfilling her dream of studying further at one of the leading institutes of the country. Her success mantras include six to eight hours of consistent hard work and proper time management which she feels are crucial factors in cracking GATE. In conversation with Careers360, Nikita talks about her GATE preparation and exam strategy, importance of mock tests, need for coaching or not and more..

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Careers360: Tell us something about yourself; Where have you done your engineering from and in which branch?

Nikita Yadav: I am from Gurgaon, Haryana. I have done my B.Tech from NIT Kurukshetra and I passed out in 2017.


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?

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Nikita Yadav: I appeared in GATE Computer Science. I secured an AIR 13. My GATE 2018 score is 953 and I scored 75.67 marks out of 100.


Careers360: Is this your first attempt or did you attempt GATE earlier?

Nikita Yadav: This is my second attempt. I had earlier appeared for GATE 2017. But I wasn't satisfied with my performance, so I decided to try once more.

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Careers360: What was the reason you appeared for GATE 2018? Please elaborate.

Nikita Yadav: When I was in my final year I wasvery confused and unable to decide whether I should pursue higher studies or take up a job. Finally I decided to go for higher studies and I aimed to do that from one of the best IITs/IISC. I am interested in research work and GATE 2018 has opened up the doors of the IITs for me.


Careers360: Have you applied to any PSUs recruiting through GATE? Which ones?

Nikita Yadav: No, I have not applied to any PSU because want to pursue my Masters.


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?

Nikita Yadav: I started preparing for GATE 2018 with great zeal from May 2017. I did not adopt any specific study plan. My first thought was “This is my last attempt and I am going to give my best”. I then proceeded to implement my thought. Starting June to October, 2017 I studied for about six hours each day. During this period, I completed my syllabus at least once and made notes simultaneously for reference. In the next few months, I increased my study hours to about eight.


Careers360: Have you taken any coaching? If yes, from where? How did it help?

Nikita Yadav: I had taken coachingfrom Made Easy.  It has helped me to study regularly and complete my syllabus on time by providing me in depth knowledge of each topic which is required for GATE. I also enrolled for the Made Easy test series and it proved to be quite beneficial.      


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?

Nikita Yadav: My suggestion to GATE aspirants is to start their preparation early. Also, it's very important to stay motivated during your preparation. Since GATE syllabus is quite vast, you require 5-6 months to complete it. Thereafter you must also save some time to revise the syllabus completely and practice GATE mock tests at the same time.

If you have enrolled for any coaching classes then maintaining a study schedule will not be difficult; just make sure you pay full attention during class and clear all your doubts as and when you get them. If you are into self-study and preparation, then discipline is the most important factor as it’s not easy maintaining the same tempo everyday all by yourself. It’s a matter of six to seven months of crucial time. I will also suggest that you write down the entire GATE syllabus and keep it visible to you while you study. This will help you to keep a check on the syllabus you have completed and keep to the planned schedule.


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?

Nikita Yadav: Mock tests are really very helpful. During my preparation, I mostly felt that I won’t remember anything but slowly with each GATE mock test, my confidence built up. The full length tests cover questions from every subject, and if you give these tests regularly then you may be able to remember all the subjects. The tests also prepare you for the actual exam while making you aware of the mistakes you may make during the exam.  Try to give these tests honestly as if this it is the actual test.

Well, I think one must also solve previous year question papers. I can't say that it will help you to crack the exam but yes, you will come to know which topics are important; from where questions have been asked frequently. It will also allow you to gauge your preparation levels and whet you need to do more.

I think solving previous year questions of any topic/subject must be started only when you feel that you have studied enough. Spend some time on each question, and try to understand the concepts.  Look for answers only when you have tried enough and still couldn’t crack it. The first few tests may be demoralising but you will get the hang of it and gain you confidence but only if your preparation is good.


Careers360: Which books did you follow for GATE preparation? Please name some very important must read books for GATE

Nikita Yadav: During GATE preparation,I mostly relied on my classroom notes. I referred to only a few books which I have listed below.


1. Formal Languages and Automata by Peter Linz

2. Discrete Mathematics by Keneth Rosen

3. Data Communication and Networking by Forouzan.


Careers360: Which are the topics one should focus more on? Kindly give us some details.

Nikita Yadav: To get a good rank in GATE, every subject and topic is important. You must not leave any. But some topics on which you must focus more because one or two questions definitely will be asked from here are :

  • C programming

  • OS: CPU scheduling, Disk scheduling, Synchronization

  • TOC: Finite state automata, regular expression and turing decidability.

  • COA: Pipelining, Memory Management

  • Computer Network: Network layer and Transport layer

  • Compiler: Parsing

  • Digital: sequential circuit, number system

  • Database: relational algebra, SQL.

Careers360: What was the toughest aspect in your GATE preparation?

Nikita Yadav: Following a strict schedule during the last few months and covering the syllabus was the toughest aspect for me.


Careers360: What did you do for leisure? Any specific activities that helped you unwind?

Nikita Yadav: I used to talk my family members and friends a lot. It helped me to relax and was a kind of stress buster for me. I also used to watch television and listen to music.


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.

Nikita Yadav: GATE exam has two sections- Aptitude and technical and the exam starts with aptitude by default. I took up the aptitude section and then I proceeded towards the technical. I think you can attempt it in any order and it depends on your strength. Just don't get demotivated if you can't solve some questions and don't waste your time on them. Also, read each and every question very carefully, you are very likely to make some silly mistake if you don't read it properly. Sadly, I made a few mistakes.  During the entire exam time, be motivated and don't lose hope.


Careers360:  What did you feel was a tough thing for you in the GATE exam?

Nikita Yadav:  The toughest thing for me was time management. I couldn't get time to go through the questions which I had left in the first go. I think there was lack of practice at my end. I had started giving mock tests in January. So I think future aspirants should start early in giving tests; they should also do it regularly.


Careers360: Any advice for the future aspirants?

Nikita Yadav:  Hard work and determination is required to excel in any exam. Second thing to succeed is to have faith in yourself, believe that you can do it. Always aim high and set clear goals say a rank within the Top 100 or something like that.  Don't take stress because it reduces your efficiency. Do your best each and every day to get a good result. Don't follow any study material or answer blindly, always try to understand the concepts. That's all.

One important piece of advice I have is - Don't ignore the aptitude section, it has a weightage of 15 marks and you can score well in it.


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