When you prepare for a National level competitive examination like GATE you definitely need to be focused and planned so that you can prioritize and achieve your set goal. It is possible that until now, you may not have started studying seriously, but let me tell you with 100% confidence that the actual time for GATE preparation is now. Don’t worry! I will share some most important tips and things that you can keep in mind while planning for the next 4 months.
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Know about GATE
GATE is the acronym for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering. An engineering graduate, who is currently studying in the final year, or has completed his engineering studies, is eligible to appear for this national-level exam. The term ‘aptitude’ in the name implies you have to use your skills to solve the questions asked.
For engineering graduates, who wish to opt for higher studies (in India or abroad), or take up government jobs (in PSUs or State PSC), or intend to join a research organization (like CSIR, DRDO, BARC, etc.) GATE is the only exam that offers them the opportunity.
Know the syllabus & weightage of every subject
At the early stage of your preparation for GATE, you should not only know the syllabus in depth, but also understand it. The reason being, you will need to take a decision regarding whether you need to go through an entire subject, or study selected topics from it. And to do that, you should know the weightage of each subject.
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Select good books & study materials
With a plethora of study materials and books available for a single subject, the books and study materials you choose play an important role in your preparation. While making the selection, keep in mind that the basic criterion should be that the books and materials should help you in developing an understanding of basic concepts and practising answering questions.
This brings us to a common question that I have been asked many times by students: “Which reference books should I study for GATE?” In response, I always say, there is not one specific book.
Let me explain what I mean.
One of the subjects in Mechanical is ‘Thermodynamics’. The best reference book on that topic is Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach by Yunus A Cengel & Michael A Boles. It is about 1000 pages long, which means it will take an average student anywhere between three and four months to study the entire book! Undoubtedly, that will negatively affect preparation because you will need to complete approximately 12 subjects in total, covering all branches.
So, my suggestion would be: If you face problems after reading your notes and study materials, only then should you try a reference book; and that too for that specific topic only.
Prepare a study plan
To successfully complete the syllabus, you need to have a proper study plan, which, in turn, will depend on the time you have in hand. Start your preparation with your favorite subjects because the journey is a long one.
Do visit http://www.icegateinstitute.com for an ideal study plan. You can also watch a video by clicking on this link:
Follow the plan to complete the syllabus
Always start your preparation with two technical subjects. Ensure you study both on a daily basis. The order followed should be theory first, followed by examples (to understand the terminology related to that concept). Solving all GATE questions related to that topic from previous years’ papers will help develop a lucid understanding regarding the types of questions that are being asked in GATE.
Pursue the same order while planning your study for the rest of the syllabus.
Don’t ignore the General Aptitude section
While preparing for GATE, many students tend to not give much importance to the General Aptitude section. That is not a wise decision because it does carry sufficient weightage in the exam. Remember the important formulae (mainly quantitative aptitude); and keep practising answering questions on each formula from questions asked in GATE.
Do ensure the General Aptitude section does appear in your study plan at least once in a month.
Take mock tests regularly
GATE is an exam of reducing your errors. While eliminating errors completely in a pressure situation like GATE might not be possible, you can make sure the mistakes you commit are minimal. And for that, you need to take mock tests on a regular basis. It will not only help you tackle the exam-hall pressure better, but will also build your confidence.
Revise & practise in the last stage
Role of revision plays an important role for you to be among the top 1000 ranks. As the GATE syllabus is vast, keep revising. This means you should plan your schedule in such a way that you have 1 month allotted just for revision.
Always write down while revising. Practise questions too, if time permits. Revision will give you that extra confidence in memorizing concepts and formulae.
Practise previous years’ question papers
There is a common myth among GATE aspirants that questions are not repeated in the exam. In fact, at least 40% of the questions asked nowadays are similar to those asked in previous GATE papers, with the only change being in the numeric data. So, you should practise previous years’ question papers at least 5 to 8 times. This will help you develop clarity on the types of questions that might be asked, as well as on the weightage of the various subjects. Moreover, it will benefit you in revising subjects as per their weightage.
Since 2014, GATE is being conducted as a Computer-Based Test. So, solve the papers 2014 onwards, online. The reason being, the difficulty level varies between an offline paper and an online one.
Last-minute strategy for GATE
You should stop studying new topics 15 days prior to the exam. Instead, keep revising the short notes you have prepared during your preparation journey. Assume that whatever you have studied till then is the syllabus and that questions will come from there only.
Once inside the examination hall, you will have approximately 30 minutes to think and plan your strategy for the three crucial hours. Remember, the first 30-45 minutes will determine how you fare in the paper. If you can sail through that period, you will definitely get a good score.
So, have faith in yourself and your hard work.
Tips to follow while attempting the paper
Read every question twice. Always start answering the paper with the 1-mark questions in the Technical Section, and then move to the 2-mark questions. Not only are the 1-mark questions the easiest, but adopting this approach will also help you solve a number of questions within a short period. That, in turn, will increase your confidence level while attempting the tough questions. Next, you should finish the General Aptitude section, and follow it up with spending 30 minutes on re-checking all your answers. Don’t leave out questions of fill-in-the-blanks type, as these do not carry negative marking.
“If you can’t fly then run if you can’t run then walk if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
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All the very best!