GATE 2018 Topper Interview Shivam Thakur AIR 14 (CE) - “Combination of mock tests, sample papers and revision is a must”
Bachan Thakur, 16 Mar 2018, #GATE
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What does it take to succeed in life? It’s hard work, consistency, never giving up spirit and strategic planning. If one is able to sustain the midway jolts, one eventually meets the target. One such example example of proving his mettle with hard work and consistency is Shivam Thakur, who secured an AIR 14 in GATE 2018 Civil Engineering Paper. When his first attempt didn’t bring him what he desired, he didn’t give up, rather turned more stubborn to fulfil his dream. Launching himself again with all his might in GATE preparation, he burnt the midnight’s oil to meet his target. Finally, he could savour the fruit of his efforts with the news that he’s secured a spot for himself among one of the toppers. In a candid conversation with Careers360, Shivam Thakur shares his journey of struggle in cracking GATE 2018. Read the excerpts.

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

Shivam Thakur: I have done my B.Tech in Civil Engineering from Zakir Hussain College of Engineering and Technology (AMU) Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh. My Father is a politician and Mother is a house wife. I have 2 sisters. The elder one is pursuing her M.ED and the younger one is in class 10th.

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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? 

Shivam Thakur: I appeared in GATE Civil Engineering Paper. My Rank is 14 and I managed to score 945 out of 1000. Apart from this, I could secure 86.38 marks out of 100.


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

Shivam Thakur: No, this is my second attempt. Last year too, when I was in the final year of my graduation, I had taken GATE just to test my capabilities. Last year, I got 488 Rank and was getting a seat in IITs, however, was not satisfied with that wanted to do better, so took GATE this year again.


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

Shivam Thakur: I have taken GATE 2018 to pursue my dream of working at a PSU.


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

Shivam Thakur: Yes, I have applied in IOCL, HPCL, BAARC, etc. As many of the PSUs are yet to release their applications, so I will apply in more.


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?

Shivam Thakur: Though I had prepared a little in 2016-17, however, I started preparing for GATE 2018 serious from mid July 2017 with my coaching at Made Easy from Delhi. From the beginning itself I was very consistent in my preparation. Whatever was taught in the class, I would religiously follow it. Even after my coaching classes, I would revise and practise again at home whatever would be taught at the class. Apart from coaching and self-study, I had taken test series of Made Easy and Ace Engineering Academy to polish my accuracy, as accuracy matters a lot in GATE paper. On an average, I would study 10-12 hours a day.


Careers360. Do you think that coaching is important? Can’t one do without coaching?

Shivam Thakur: In my view, coaching helps you develop competitiveness. For me personally, coaching helped in making my fundamental concepts clear. I would feel that I lack in many basic concepts which were either not taught properly during B.Tech or I didn’t understand properly.


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?

Shivam Thakur: Mock tests are quite important from preparation point of view. With mock tests, you are able to analyse your preparation and see see where do you stand in preparation when you have others around you competing. Besides mock tests, sample papers and previous years question papers are also must. I had practised last 20 years question papers, as the topics are repeated from the previous years question papers, however, with a little modification or tweaking.


Careers360: How important is making a time table and what was your preparation strategy?

Shivam Thakur: Yes, a time table is a must. In GATE preparation, revision is crucial. While preparing, one is to follow up and study what is being taught in the coaching, and the other is to simultaneously revise the topics you had completed earlier. This process must go hand in hand. You must have the 1000 or 1500 formulas on your tips.


Careers360: Which books did you follow for GATE preparation?

Shivam Thakur: I just followed the Made Easy packages and notes.


Careers360: Please name some very important must read books for GATE. Which are the topics one should focus more on? Kindly give us some details.

Shivam Thakur: For Structures, Rama Moolchand, for Soil, Gopal Ranjan and for Irrigation and Environment, Garg is good book. For CE, some of the topics which aspirants must focus on are Soil Mechanics, Strength of Material, Fluid Mechanics, Highway and Transportation.


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

Shivam Thakur: Not in the preparation, but the biggest challenge I faced was during the actual paper. The calculator given to us in the GATE paper is not capable of handling lengthy calculations. I had to break the calculations in smaller pieces and then do the calculations.


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

Shivam Thakur: During my leisure time, I used to listen to soft songs and watch Friends, which is my favourite show.


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.

Shivam Thakur: You should first attempt the questions which you are familiar attempting. One should not waste time in questions where one feels stuck. Difficult questions must be tackled later. To score good, out of 65 questions, you must at least attempt 62 questions with accuracy. My overall experience of GATE 2018 was a mix of highs and lows.


Careers360: Any advice for the future aspirants?

Shivam Thakur: Revise as much as you can, take as much mock tests as you can and practise previous years question papers as much as you can.

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