One of the prime objective of our education system is to give every student a level-playing field, notwithstanding whether the student is from an English- or Hindi-medium background. But in reality, it remains firmly loaded in favour of students from English-medium. A case in point is Prakhar Patidar, the AIR 12 in Agricultural Engineering (AG), who has done his 10+2 in Hindi medium. When he first started his GATE preparation, his not-so-fluent English meant, he had to double the effort simply to understand concepts that otherwise, in his native language, would have been a stroll in the park. He was frustrated and may be even livid at the unfair system that punishes students like him. But the good thing is he somehow found the strength not only to keep fighting on, but to start dreaming of securing the AIR 1. It is another matter that he missed the AIR 1, but it hardly diminishes what he has achieved. The son of a school teacher and home-maker, he is a glowing example of how the indomitable spirit can turn adversity into an opportunity.
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In an exclusive interview with Careers360, Prakhar spoke on what inspired him to appear in GATE 2018, his preparation strategies and shared how is he no one-dimensional wonder!
If you didn’t know, Prakhar has represented his school at the national-level volleyball competition. Read on to learn more about him.
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Here are excerpts of the interview:
Careers360: Tell us something about yourself; Where have you done your engineering from and in which branch?
Prakhar Patidar: I am from Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh. I am currently in the 8th semester of my B.Tech (Agriculture Engineering) degree in College of Agriculture Engineering, Jabalpur. My father is a teacher and mother is a housewife. I also have a younger brother who has has completed his 12th.
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?
Prakhar Patidar: I appeared in Agricultural Engineering paper and scored AIR 12. My GATE score is 809, with 42.33 marks out of 100.
My target this year was to score the 1st rank in GATE. But unfortunately, in a few questions, I goofed up in unit conversion; otherwise I had got the answers right. In another case, I wrongly interpreted a question and lost out on valuable marks.
Careers360: Is this your first attempt or did you attempt GATE earlier?
Prakhar Patidar: Yes, this was my first attempt.
Careers360: What was the reason you appeared for GATE 2018? Pls elaborate.
Prakhar Patidar: A senior of mine scored 3rd rank in GATE. And from that I got inspiration to appear in GATE. Also, when I was in the first year of my B.Tech degree, I had this desire to take admission in an IIT, and GATE presented me this opportunity.
Careers360: Have you applied to any PSUs recruiting through GATE? Which ones?
Prakhar Patidar: PSUs don’t generally hire Agricultural engineering graduates. So, I wouldn’t be able to apply.
Instead what I have in mind is to get into IIT Bombay and study and pursue M.Tech in Industrial Engineering and Operational Research. It is amongst the most sought-after disciplines. Since my ranking is not inside the top 3, I have to appear in an interview; the top three are generally eligible for direct admission.
Careers360: Have you taken any coaching? If yes- From where? How did it help?
Prakhar Patidar: No, I didn’t take any coaching and relied completely on self-study.
Careers360: How did you prepare for the exam?
Prakhar Patidar: I started my preparation in around March-April, or almost an year in advance. I studied for a minimum of 10 hours every day. Preparation time included around 1-2 hours of group study with 4-5 friends, where we could discuss our problems and preparation strategies.
In the days leading up to the examination, especially in the last week or so, I wasn’t studying as hard as I did earlier. There is no particular reason why I did not feel like studying longer hours, may be I was getting fatigued of reading the same stuff over and over again. But it didn’t harm my chances, as by then I had did the hard work and the basics covered.
And on the last night before the exam, I couldn’t sleep. The gravity of the situation finally got to me, and I had butterflies in the stomach.
Careers360: Did you take mock tests and solve previous years’ question papers as part of your preparation?
Prakhar Patidar: No, I didn’t practice any mock tests. But I did solve a lot of previous years’ question papers. Also, unlike, say for Instrumentation Engineering (IN), there is no test series that is available for agricultural engineering paper. Sample papers are also not easily available.
Careers360: What was the toughest aspect in your GATE preparation?
Prakhar Patidar: Coming from a non-English background, the initial phase is a bit difficult, especially the first few months. You feel like giving up, because to understand a concept, you have to put in double the effort. However, I refused to give in and kept trying. After that tough initial phase things became much easier.
Careers360: Name some important Topics that you feel are a must read for any student attempting GATE exam?
Prakhar Patidar: I found farm machinery and farm power to be the most scoring. Also, soil and water conservation engineering is considered to be very score-able.
Careers360: What did you do for leisure? Any specific activities that helped you unwind?
Prakhar Patidar: To get refreshed, I would play a game of volleyball every now and then. Happy to inform you that I have represented my college volleyball team at the national level.
Careers360: Did you have any strategy on how to attempt questions? Kindly share your exam experience with us.
Prakhar Patidar: My plan was to answer at least twenty questions of 2 marks each, and another twenty 1-mark questions. But it didn’t go according to plan.
What I did was I attempted any question that I thought I could solve; questions that I didn’t understand or thought would require some time, I left for later. The point was not to waste time trying to solve difficult questions.
Careers360: What did you feel was a tough thing for you in the GATE exam?
Prakhar Patidar: The numericals questions were the difficult part of the question paper, especially those related to probability. I didn’t study the topic in depth, and only some parts of it.
Careers360: Any advice for the future aspirants?
Prakhar Patidar: If you are doing self-study and from a non-English medium background, it might take some time to get into a comfortable zone. So, it is important that the candidate keeps his patience. My experience is Hindi-medium students don’t have a solid-enough base when it comes to English.
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