GATE 2018 Topper Interview Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu AIR 32 (MT) - “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs”
Bachan Thakur, 19 Mar 2018, #GATE
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“Education comes from within; you get it by struggle and effort and thought,” said Nepoleon Hill. Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu has been living this axiom, grappling to derive learning from within. March 16 turned out to be a historic day for this lad who comes from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, as he grabbed AIR 32 in Metallurgical Engineering (MT) Paper of GATE 2018. Many of us enjoy the luxuries of life, yet keep begrudging for not having enough of it. In contrast,  sans any resource, Suryanarayana’s breakthrough comes with painstaking efforts, dedication to meet the aim and self-learning. The AR Rahman fan had his share of challenges in taking GATE, but the victor would never loose heart. The fact that his parents could not get educated, made him determined to turn the fortune of the family through education only. Sharing his success mantra with Careers360, Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu narrates his journey.

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Excerpts from the Interview:

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

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: My name is Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu and I hail from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. I come from a below average family. My father is a watchman and both my parents are illiterate. I have been pursuing B.Tech in Metallurgical Engineering from NIT Raipur.

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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?

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: I have taken Metallurgical Engineering Paper in GATE 2018. My All India Rank is 32, while my GATE score is 728 out of 1000. I have secured 67.33 marks out of 100.

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Careers360: Is this your first attempt or did you attempt GATE earlier? What was the reason you appeared for GATE 2018? Please elaborate.

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: Yes, this was my first attempt. I have taken GATE 2018 because I wanted to pursue M.Tech from IISC Bangalore or IIT Bombay.


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

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: Yes, I have applied at a few PSUs. IOCL, RINL, SAIL and BARC to name a few.


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?

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: I started my preparation in the 3rd year of my graduation, around a year back. Initially, I had no clarity on how to prepare, however, I somehow started to gather some information related to GATE through different books, question papers, objective books and NPTEL videos. To understand the basics, I would watch a lot of video lectures. Being an average student, I took more time to understand the concepts. I would initially spend 3-4 hours daily to understand the concepts. Eventually, during the last 45 days (crucial period), I had put in 10-12 hours to practice previous questions. Patience and belief in yourself in the last 30 days are very important.


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

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: No, I have not taken any coaching. In my view, coaching is not important for Metallurgy students. Self learning gives ultimate results.


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?

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: I didn’t take any mock for GATE 2018, however, solved GATE question papers from 2003 to 2017. After practising each question paper, I would assess myself. This assessment helped me in focussing and working on the weak areas.


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

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: In my understanding, the best source for GATE Metallurgical Engineering is NPTEL Videos. Especially Dr. B.S. Murthy’s lectures. Try to watch all NPTEL lectures and make notes. This helps a great deal during revision. We can revise all topics by watching the videos again at 1.5x speed and note down the points we may have missed at first. With the help of these videos, we learn in 3 ways (watching, hearing, writing). Thereafter one can follow standard books of respective subjects.


Careers360: Which are the topics one should focus more on? Can you also share some of the important books for Metallurgical Engineering Paper?

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: Some of the important topics from Metallurgical Engineering are:

  • Thermodynamics

  • Material Science

  • Physical Metallurgy

  • Manufacturing Science

Some important books for Metallurgical Engineering aspirants are Concept check point & solved examples by William Callister and Physical Metallurgy by Vijendra Singh.


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

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: Maintaining composure without losing self confidence while solving previous years question papers was the biggest challenge for me.

Time management is again a huge challenge. If we can maintain it effectively. Due to bad time management, I could not solve 3-4 two-mark questions. 

Overconfidence is another area which you can ruin you. I lost 4 marks due to overconfidence.


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

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: I am a music lover and would spend my leisure time with A.R.Rahman’s melodies.


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.

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: There is no need to solve each and every question. There are 30 1-mark questions and 35 2-mark questions (Both Technical+Aptitude section). One can secure 60 marks by attempting 20 one-mark questions and 20 two-mark questions. I feel 40 accurately answering 40 questions out of 65 questions is enough to get 60 marks. We must make sure that at least we secure that first and then it’s upto us if we are confident and want to answer more questions.


Careers360: Any advice for the future aspirants?

Suryanarayana Sabbavarapu: Don’t tell people your dreams, show them.

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