GATE 2018 Topper Interview Prashant Varshney (AIR 1 - CH) - “Self-Motivation is the key to reach your goal”
Surbhi Mehtani, 29 Mar 2018, #GATE
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“Self-Motivation is the key to reach your goal”, says Prashant Varshney whose desire to work for a leading PSU pushed him to work diligently such that he topped the exam. His all India rank of 1 in Chemical Engineering is the result of dedication, self-belief and motivation. A chemical engineer from HBTU who is working for Reliance Industries Ltd, Prashant wishes to reach to other GATE aspirants especially from the weaker section to help guide them in their preparation. Here he speaks to Careers360 describing his motivation and reason for writing GATE, preparation methodologies, strategies etc.

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

Prashant Varshney: My name is Prashant Varshney. I belong to Chandausi (Uttar Pradesh). . I have completed my B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from HBTU, Kanpur in 2016. I studied in Saraswati Shishu Siksha Mandir, Chandausi (UP Board) till class 8 and then in R.R.K. Sr. Sec. School, Chandausi (CBSE). I got recruited through campus placements by Reliance Industries Ltd. (a Petchem Complex) under Production Department which is where I currently work as Process Engineer Manager.

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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?

Prashant Varshney: I have appeared in GATE 2018 Exam in Chemical Engineering. My GATE score in 2018 is 944 out of 1000. I scored 81.33 out of 100 marks and secured 1st rank.

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

Prashant Varshney: I have appeared for GATE in 2016 where I got 383 Rank. So, this is my second attempt.


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

Prashant Varshney: I joined RIL in 2016 just after graduation. I was allocated a department by them where I feel I don’t fit well. If I cracked GATE, I could pursue my higher education or work in reputed PSUs.


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

Prashant Varshney: Yes, I have applied in IOCL, HPCL and 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?

Prashant Varshney: I started my preparation 3 months before GATE. I was working as a process engineer and had to do shift duties. There cannot be a fixed schedule with shift duties. After 10 hours of work at the office, I would come back to study at least 3-4 hours daily. I used to utilise my night hours too. The last thirty days before the exam are very important for any aspirant. Unfortunately I got sick during that period but was determined not to lag behind. I took good treatment and studied about 10-12 hours a day in the last 20 days. I feel that when you study is dependent on you. I prefer silence so I would study during the time of the day when it would be silent.


Careers360: Have you taken any coaching? If yes- From where? How did it help?

Prashant Varshney: I have not attended any coaching classes. I joined Test Series from Engineers India Institute, Delhi. For doubts, I used to drop messages to a faculty there. This Test Series contained a good balance of questions from all subjects.  It really helped me a lot.


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?

Prashant Varshney: I would advise to get your concepts clear first before starting to answer GATE questions. Try to figure out your weak areas as well as any silly mistakes you are making and then correct them. Practice at least 10 questions from each subject daily and try to find where you are going wrong or making mistakes. Don’t leave questions that you don’t know or are making mistakes even if you need help to understand them. Recollect topics/new concepts if you find any while answering questions and discuss with friends & seniors. Write Mock Tests with proper time management. Don’t be nervous if two or more questions go wrong in the test series; in such a case pick easy question to gain the momentum back and continue. Success in every competition stems from constant practice and hard work.

If you want a good rank, you must be prepared to put in at least 6-7 hours daily. Don’t study continuously for more than 3 hours.  Always use GATE Calculator that is given online for all calculations. This will help you get used to its working. Make short notes of each subject and keep revising them.


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?

Prashant Varshney: GATE Mock Tests are really very important to get good marks as well as to identify your weak zones and mistake areas. Time-management can also be improved. Different papers have different levels of difficulty hence different approaches are required to solve keeping time management in perspective.

The EII Delhi, Test Series which I used had quality questions and least errors along with a good balance of all subjects.

Previous year Question papers are equally helpful. You get a rough idea about type of questions and concepts asked frequently. However, to crack GATE successfully, one should not restrict oneself to previous year papers only. I would suggest enrolling for at least one or two test series and following its scheduled exams.


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

Prashant Varshney: I used to follow standard Books for GATE preparation. Some I have listed below.

Must read books for GATE





Mass Transfer Operations

1. Treybal

 2. Geankoplis


Chemical. Reaction. Engineering

Octave Levenspiel


Heat Transfer

1. B.K. Dutta

2. Yungus A Cengel


Process Systems Analysis and Control

Chemical Process Control 

1. LeBlanc Coughanowr

2. George Stephanopoulos


Fluid Mechanics

1. Bruce Roy Munson

2. RK Bansal


Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics

JM Smith


Mechanical Operations

1. GK Roy

2. NPTEL videos


Chemical Technology

1. Dryden



Process Economics and Design

1. TimmerHaus

2. Coulsan & Richardson

I also referred to NPTEL lectures for some of the Topics.


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

Prashant Varshney: GATE Exam contains Aptitude questions for 15 marks and Technical questions for 85 marks. For aptitude, I practiced from last year questions for all 23 GATE disciplines. I also referred to R.S. Aggarwal for aptitude to help me to boost my speed.

For technical questions, one should have very clear concept in core subjects like MTO, HTO, CRE, PDC, FM etc.

Mathematics is a scoring subject. Many students don’t practice mathematics questions. Calculus, Probability, Matrix, Complex number and Laplace are important topics.

For scoring good marks, one cannot leave any topic as each topic and each mark is important to achieve a good rank.


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

Prashant Varshney: After coming back from shift duty, it was a tough task to gather positive energy and start my preparation.


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

Prashant Varshney: I have many good friends. We hang around, party and play cricket during our free time. Even while preparing, I have been enjoying spending time with them and my office colleagues. Though, I am active on facebook, twitter and whatsapp , during GATE preparation, I restricted myself to one hour a day on social media.


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.

Prashant Varshney: Everyone has his own style of solving paper according to his grasp and ease with topics and time management. My exam stragegy was

  • Answer all 1 mark Technical questions in first 40 minutes 

  • Then, answer the 15 questions (2 marks) Technical questions in the next 45 minutes

  • Next jump to Aptitude Section and answer the questions in the next 20 minutes. 

  • Lastly solve the 15 questions (2 marks) Technical questions in next 45 minutes.

The above strategy considers a margin of 5 minutes per section to adjust accordingly. Last step would be to check the remaining questions in the left over time if any.


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

Prashant Varshney: Talking about this year’s exam, it was a bit calculative and it took a bit more time to solve 2 marks NAT questions on account of maintaining accuracy. The rest of the questions were easy.


Careers360: Any advice for the future aspirants?

Prashant Varshney: Keep yourself motivated, there will be times when you will feel demotivated. Keep revising each subject with short notes regularly that not only will enhance your accuracy but also your confidence. As for me, I intend to help out any student or GATE aspirant who wishes to succeed irrespective of where I shall be or what I shall do.

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