As part of the GATE 2014 Preparation Series, Careers360 brings you an interaction with professors who have been guiding forces to their students, students who have secured good ranks in GATE 2013 and other such people who can give some insights into the preparation methodology to be followed, tips and tricks for better preparation for GATE 2014. Needless to say, the onus still lies with the student who has to slog and work to make the grade in spite of all the guidance.
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In this article, Careers360 talks to Prof. Vikas Slariya who leads the team at Engg Solutions, a leading coaching institute based in Chandigarh. GATE 2013 saw one of Prof. Slariya’s students Arshdeep Singh secure the top rank in Production and Industrial Engineering.
Careers360: You have authored a book on GATE and also conduct classes for GATE aspirants. Tell us something about yourself.
Prof Slariya: Graduating as a Mechanical Engineer, I completed my masters from Punjab Engineering College and was a Research Fellow at IIT- Delhi. I worked for some time with Larsen & Toubro before giving it up to follow my passion for studies and teaching. I am a member with the Institute of Engineers (India).
On the book- I saw the dearth of a good book which could explain Mechanical Engineering in a simple concise way along with examples and ample practice papers.
The result was the book “Mechanical Engineering for GATE” published by Tata McGraw-Hill Education now running into its 3rd Edition.
Careers360: M.Tech or a job? What according to you are the factors that should be considered to decide if a student should opt for M.Tech. or go for a job?
Prof Slariya: Most of the student population in India considers a good job as the end to any qualification and that holds true for at least a majority. Sadly most of the engineers who do not find placement end up pursuing the PG courses through GATE or any other State exam.
Careers360: So that means that if they get jobs, they will not pursue M.Tech?
Prof Slariya: Yes. The unfortunate part is that if a candidate completes M.Tech , he/she is in line with the B.Tech students for a job. How much more bad can it be for a PG qualified person to fight for a job with a lesser qualified person? Hence most of the students opt for M.Tech simply because they don’t have a job in hand.
Careers360: GATE 2014 will be online. What differences will it to make to the students? What are the changes a student should implement in preparation strategies?
Prof Slariya: None. It is a matter of mind set. What they were doing using pen and pencil, they will now do with the mouse and a computer. Actually what one should understand is that at this juncture, students have a good understanding of the systems, their careers and other aspects of their lives.
The preparation strategies do not change simply because the exam syllabus is the same, the amount of hard work needed is the same. All that has changed is the exam mode.
Careers360: Is there a different strategy to follow in case of candidates who are interested in careers in leading PSUs?
Prof Slariya: No. If one prepares for GATE, it is enough as the PSU exams if any lack the detail and depth of the GATE exam. Speed matters in these exams and not the subject quality. What people should know is that GATE is to test the students whether they are capable of studying further in their chosen fields for which they require in depth knowledge and a thorough grasp of the basics.
The PSU exams on the other hand just test the basics. The PSU exams are conducted to sift through the large number of applicants for a limited number of positions.
GATE now is being used by around 17 PSUs for recruitment much to the chagrin of the IITs who are not happy to see their prestigious exam being turned into a recruiting test. The hard part in such a scenario is that only qualified GATE candidates will be recruited.
Careers360: What are the other exams besides GATE that a student can appear in for PG programmes? How different is preparing for other exams in comparison with GATE?
Prof Slariya: All the State conducted exams are equally good. They are not in the same league as GATE but at the same time are extremely good.
Preparation wise, GATE is tougher than the rest of the exams so it requires extra hard work. The state level exams are also tough though not as GATE. But I would say that a student must not think that this is a State level exam so it doesn’t require much effort. No. The preparation should be equally intense if the aim is to crack the exam- be it state or GATE.
Careers360: What should be the time management strategy for a GATE 2014 aspirant? How many hours do you think a student should ideally put in everyday?
Prof Slariya: Ideally if a student prepares for a year, the results would be very good provided the preparation is intense. But it is a hypothetical situation as most students start 5 to 6 months prior to the exam.
This I feel is adequate if a student is dedicated and studies hard with the aim of reaching the goal. 5 to 6 hours of intense study per day should be sufficient for a good student.
Careers360: Please share strategies that a student should follow for GATE preparation?
Prof Slariya: We, at our institute believe that students will do well only if they are clear with their basic concepts. Hence the first three months, we get to clear the concepts of the students in their respective subjects.
It is a sad state of affairs that many colleges have inadequate quality faculty. Many students do not have the basic engineering knowledge. So we try and get those clear. Once this is done, we start off with the practice papers.
Ideally, the more the number of practice papers a candidate solves the more chances of cracking GATE. I would say if a candidate can solve the past 10 year’s papers, it would be good.
Careers360: Strategies differ with time. What do you think should be the strategy/priority of a student in the following situations?
Prof Slariya: When you have time of 6 months prior to the exam, you should check your knowledge of the concepts and be clear. Then practice papers must be worked on to get equipped better.
Starting for 1 month prior to the exam, 10 days prior to the exam and a day prior to the exam, emphasis should be on no stress and plenty of practice. Equally important would be to brush up the important and difficult topics to leave no stone unturned.
Careers360: What are the benefits of coaching? When should a student opt for coaching?
Prof Slariya: I would say good guidance comes from coaching. Many students who come down do not have any idea and also possess little subject knowledge. It is our prerogative to get them on par. So yes, a good coach definitely matters and that I feel is necessary considering the large number of average engineering colleges that have come up in recent years.
Careers360: Please state the importance of mock tests. What should be the frequency of taking mock tests? How to improvise after each mock test?
Prof Slariya: Mock Tests play an important role. Mock Tests are necessary to gauge where a candidate stands in terms of subject knowledge. The other reasons are time management skills of the students are honed, familiarity with the test pattern comes and such.
Careers360: How do students choose the institute to study in?
Prof Slariya: This is tricky but then even I don’t know how to exactly pinpoint the factors for choosing the institute. It depends upon the rank, the course, the facilities and many other such factors. Candidates must keep in mind that it is better for them to go with the course that is an extension of their discipline in graduation.
Other than that, I feel the students appearing for GATE are extremely aware of the choices they need to make. So they do not really need so much of advice about these things.
Careers360: Any other message you would like to share with the GATE 2014 aspirants?
Prof Slariya: Get your basics right that’s it. Nothing more. GATE is all about the subject so get thorough in it.
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