If you are one of those students who consider coaching classes as the only guarantee to crack GATE, then you are mistaken. Over 9 lakh candidates appear for GATE every year for M.Tech admissions and PSU recruitment, however, not everyone prepares for the entrance test in the coaching institutes. There are thousands of students who do not undergo any coaching and still crack the test. Believe it, past few years trends reflect that many such candidates have made it with self-study. But how have they done it, is important to know. You may also have the same question - How to prepare for GATE without coaching? Here Careers360 brings you tips and tricks direct from the GATE toppers about what was their success mantra and strategy. Read through.
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Know GATE Syllabus
While preparing for GATE, the first and the foremost step one must take is to know the exact syllabus of GATE. You must start preparing for GATE as soon as possible. Previous years toppers suggest, ideally one must start the preparation by July and finish the syllabus by November or so. You must know what exactly you must study, which topics to focus more on and so on. Candidates can also take help to know the syllabus if we can gather last 10 years question papers.
Design Your Study Plan
Once you know what all topics need to be covered, you can devise your own plan. Go to the details of the syllabus and plan as per the months, days and hours you. From July to November, you must focus of completing the GATE syllabus. After November, practise sample papers and previous years questions papers. Keep last couple of months for revision. Make your own short notes, strengthen your fundamentals and devise plan how to memorize formulae.
GATE 2016 Topper Nilesh Agrawal (AIR 3, PE) says, “My strategy was to draw a plan and stick to it. When you start, you have frightening factors like the vast syllabus and uncertainty for PE – as this paper was introduced for the first time, and then time management and so on. But I think these are workable. Turn them to your favour by making a plan, a timetable and sticking to it. The rest will follow. The most important solution is hard work. It always pays.”
Study Standard Books
The toppers of GATE of the previous years suggest that aspirants study from the standard books. Pratibhu Prashar (AIR 13 MT)in GATE 2016 says, “Since most of the syllabus of GATE and college course is same, it was helpful. So there was no need of special or other study material.”
Motivation and Determination
Preparation for GATE starts with your aspirations and the determination you need to maintain through and through. During the preparation you may loose the tempo or the interest over a period of few months. However, to crack GATE, you need to keep yourself motivated not to give up on your target. Once your determination starts to wither, you need to bounce back quickly.
GATE 2017 Topper Revanth Dogre (AIR 70 CH) shares how he kept himself motivated during the preparation. Dogre says, “Most of the time, it was boring to study theory. Therefore, I tackled that first by following a strict time table and completing it within a month. Tackle tough or boring topics when you are fresh with your preparation.”
You may start the preparation for GATE, but it may fizzle out in some time. However, success rate is higher in those cases where the candidates followed a consistent study regime. If you study for a few days consistently but later take your preparation casually, you may end up being amongst one of those candidates who could not qualify the test. Thus, maintaining consistency throughout your preparation period is vital. You may decide fixed study hours as per your own wish and capacity, from 3-6, 6-7 or 6-10 hours a day. But once decided, it should not be compromised at any cost.
Sharing the same view on maintaining the consistency another previous year topper says, “Sticking to the routine was the most challenging part of the preparation. Adhering to the timetable and time management is another tricky part.”
Group Study Helps in Clearing Doubts
There may be areas or topics where you feel stuck or are hard to solve. Here coaching is not the only solution. You must have parallel plans for it. For clearing your doubts and understanding the topics, problems better, you must closely engage in group discussions of the like-minded people. Ishwar Singh (AIR 30 TF), GATE 2017 expresses his view, “Self-study has been my strength. As far as other topics are concerned, I sought help from my friends and seniors who guided and supported me extensively.”
Sharing the same mindset, another topper Rahul Shareen (GATE 2014 AIR 11 EE) states, “I had support in the form of exchanges with similar minded people on Facebook. I had good friends who were there with me and were also in the same mould. It was tough but not impossible. These things matter a lot.”
Solve and Analyse Previous Years GATE Papers
GATE experts and toppers are of the view that aspiring students must solve a lot of previous years question papers and sample papers. This part of the GATE preparation is a must and should not be ignored. Practising sample papers/question papers makes the candidates completely aware about the syllabus, nature and type of questions that are expected to come in the test paper. Since they don not know who will set the question paper and what will be the difficulty level of the questions, solving the previous years’ question papers help them get a grip over various elements of the question paper. Thus, it is advised that aspirants must solve as many sample papers/question papers as possible to leave a little scope for failure in the test. Solving GATE previous years’ question papers also help the aspirants learn time management. Their speed of solving the questions and calculation about them also increases.
By practising and solving more and more GATE sample papers increasingly, one gets to know their weak areas. Further, they can work upon improving on their weak areas.
Strengthen your Fundamentals and Weak Topics
Ankur Tripathi (AIR 3 CE), GATE 2017 shares his experience, “My focus was on understanding the concepts first so I started with that rather than mugging up the formulae’s. GATE is a good analytical test that tests your aptitude and reasoning capabilities. So you need to be thorough with your concepts if you want to score a good rank.” Thus, don not rush. Prepare your subjects and topics thoroughly during the initial phase of your preparation as only this will help. Just preparing with any fundamental clarity of the topics leads you nowhere. You need to be strong with your foundation.
Another GATE topper, Siddhant Khopkar, AIR 8 EEfeels thatthe key to crack GATE lies in thoroughly mastering your fundamentals and solving as many quality questions as you can.
GATE 2016 topper Sayeesh TM, who secured AIR 4 in ME assures us that candidates who work on their fundamentals have higher potential of cracking the exam. He says, “Frankly, if you are good at the basics of your subject and can recall all those things, then self-study is enough. But if the subjects were not taught properly in your college or you didn't care about your studies at that time, then you better join a coaching institute.”
Prepare Short Notes and Remember the Formulae
This is a recommended strategy by many GATE toppers from the past years. Saurav Gupta who secured AIR 5 in GATE 2015 (Electronics and Communication Engineering) says, “I have a habit of making notes of every subject I study and this proved to be very helpful during revisions. The subjects that were common in GATE and my academic course however received extra impetus and attention.” Thus, all aspiring candidates must make their own notes from the standard books. Making notes help the candidates recalling and understanding things much better and in easier way.
Another topper from the previous years would put up a whiteboard in his room and noted down all the formulas, as he found this to be the best way to remember formulas. You may also list the formulas on sheets and revise them during the leisure time.
Short notes come in handy and act useful for revision during the last month of preparation.
GATE Online Test Series and Mock Tests
One of the most important aspects of GATE preparation without coaching is online test series and mock tests. Be it GATE online test series or test series by coaching institutes, candidates must opt for both. Pratibhu Prashar (AIR 13 MT)in GATE 2016 is of the view that if you can find any good test series, you must go for it. He says, “GATE Mock Tests are really very important. They will help you to get a simulation of the real exam and will release much of the pressure that you will face in the GATE exam simply because you become familiar with the exam format.”
In addition, the candidates can improve their speed and learn time management which will be highly useful in the actual exam. Mock tests are also acquainted with the online exam system of GATE. So anyone having taken mock tests and practised sample papers/question papers will have an edge over the candidates who have not taken the mock test and sample papers.
“I enrolled for online test series and went on practising till I was sure to get confident about where I stood. I focussed more for self-study and have just used the test series from leading coaching centres. The advantage of doing the test series from the different coaching centres is the varied experience and the approach of each is different so it is good to attempt them all,” says GATE 2016 topper Muthuraj Pillai (AIR 6 EC).
Get acquainted with Online Calculator and Manage Time Efficiently
If you need to perform with speed and accuracy in GATE exam, you need to get acquainted with the Online Calculator. Practice with the calculator online and practice it sufficiently so that you don not find any challenge on the day of the exam in using it. This will save you a lot of time and you will be able to perform better.
Spare Time for Revision
The last stage before the GATE exam which is quite important and a larger portion of what you have prepared so far is manifested as per how you revise what you have studied/prepared. If this exercise is not done well, then whatever you have studied so far may go for a toss when it comes to attempting in the actual examination. Thus, the revision is a must. Here your short notes can come to your rescue and save you a lot of time.
“Only during the last phase, refresh using the short notes and short cuts as time is a factor then,” says GATE 2017 topper Ankur Tripathi who secured AIR 3 in CE.
Quick Advices for the Exam Day
Though the aforesaid tips will play a major role in ensuring that you succeed in GATE exam, aspirants must also take care of the following points to crack and secure better ranks in GATE 2018.
Attempt the questions first which you are familiar with or are confident of solving.
Do not waste time on the questions you do not know. You can save a lot of time here.
Post 2.5 hours of the exam, candidates must check and start attempting the questions they had left initially.
Aptitude section can be attempted at the last as it’s generally quite easy and does not take much time.
Keep you scribble pad clean and note down neatly. Don’t scribble such that you don’t know what you wrote.
To avoid negative marking, do not attempt the question you don’t know.
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