Ankur Gupta

In search of my destiny…

Ankur Gupta - In search of my destiny…

Ten Basic Things to Remember for GATE Exam

Whatever I am going to write today are very basic things, but I have seen that most of the students forget one thing or other. Hence I thought writing these things here. I would suggest that make a list of all such things so that you don’t forget anything on the day of exam.

1. Don’t Forget Your Wrist Watch and Calculator :
Now a days, most of us have left the habit of wearing a wrist watch because of mobile phones. But this thing is not going to work in a competition exam like GATE. For calculator, I would just say that most of the time it’s not need, specially in GATE Computer Science but still it’s better to keep it with you.
2. Keep a Water Bottle With You:
This is one of the very important things. If you are in exam and you are thirsty, then your mind will be distracted. I would suggest that don’t take much water at a time. Just take small sips of water whenever you feel thirsty. Don’t think that you will purchase the water bottle from some shop near to your exam center. You might end up in some exam center where there is no shop near by.
3. Keep Pencil, Eraser and Sharpener
Most of you might be thinking that you have to mark the GATE OMR sheet using a ball pen, so you don’t need to keep these things. My suggestion is that fill the omr sheet using ball pen, but solve the questions only using pencil. The space given in the exam paper is not much, so you can’t afford to do a long calculation again if you make some mistake. In another case, suppose if you draw a wrong diagram using ball pen, then you will have to draw it again, but with pencil, you can correct it easily. This thing had happened with me in GATE 2010, that’s why I thought to mention it.
4. Say No to Heavy Breakfast
Don’t take heavy breakfast, otherwise you will feel sleepy in the exam. Better take light breakfast and fruits. Also keep some packets of biscuits.
5. Wear Comfortable Clothes
This is the thing most of us usually don’t care, but it’s very important. You should be able to sit comfortably in the exam otherwise your mind will be distracted. Hence say no to tight jeans for one day.
6. Keep a Clip Board With You
I hope you understood why you need this. It will be needed if the furniture in the classroom is not good. So it’s better to be on the safe side.
7. Reach the Exam Center Before Time
Reach at least one hour before time. You will find a very long queue at exam center. So for peace of mind, it’s necessary that you reach before time. I would also suggest that if you are thinking to use your own vehicle to reach the exam center, then keep some backup plan to avoid situations like bike puncture. Better come with some family member.
8. Don’t Study Anything the Day Before Exam
Since you have already spent so much time in studying, you need this one day break so that your mind can fit things in it properly. Try to take rest as much as possible which will relax your mind and you will be able to solve more difficult problems in the exam.
9. Use the Given Answer Choices to Find the Correct Answer
In few questions, you will find that it’s difficult to solve the question and get the answer. For example in case of recurrence relations, it’s difficult to find the equation from the recurrence relation given. But if you know the answer choices, you can verify which equation satisfies the recurrence relation. You can try this technique to solve some of the problems.
10. Pick Some Random Question, if You Are Not Able to Solve the Questions
Sometimes it happens that you are not able to solve many questions continuously. If you stuck at this kind of situation, you will start loosing your confidence and your speed will slow down. In that case I would suggest that pick some random question and try to start solving from that question. Sometimes it’s good to start the question paper from last, because you might find easy questions in last and difficult questions in starting.

Tip 4: Cone Method to Revise The Syllabus for GATE

करत करत अभ्यास के, जड़मति होत सुजान
रसरी आवत जात ते, सिल पर परत निसान
-Kabir Das


The syllabus of the GATE exam is very wide and it takes a lot of time to revise everything. Therefore I thought to tell you the method, used by me to revise my notes in GATE Computer Science 2012, which might help many of you. This method is very effective, specially if you have your hand written notes. I call this method as “Cone Method” and to make this method clear, I am representing it as an image. If you want to follow this method, then you will have to keep this image in your mind for next one month.

In this method, the vertical axis as given in the image, represents the days in bottom up manner, where the bottom of the cone represents the day one month before the GATE exam and the top of the cone represents the day just before the GATE exam. Now consider the horizontal cross section area of the cone as the time required to revise your complete syllabus once. Since the cross section area at the bottom is very large compared to the cross section area at the top, therefore as you reach towards the GATE exam date the time required to revise your complete syllabus will decrease gradually. Since the syllabus is very wide, you need to revise it in multiple iterations. Hence you start revising your complete syllabus and try to reduce the revision time as the date of the exam comes near. When you revise the syllabus for the first time, you might take 4-5 days to revise everything. But if you follow this approach and revise your complete syllabus multiple times, you will be able to revise it within 2-3 hours as the exam date comes near.

Now I will tell you the main benefit of doing this. I have been getting lots of messages from many of you asking me that in spite of knowing everything, you are not able to complete the exam within time, or you are making silly miskates. The reason is that while solving the questions, you spend most of your time in recalling the concepts. If these concepts are on your tips, which can happen if you follow this cone method, then you will not waste your time in recalling concepts and eventually you will be able to solve the complete exam before time.

Tip 3: Increase Your speed, Reduce The Number of Errors

Today I am going to tell you how you can improve your speed and reduce the number of errors in the exam. My experience is that if you can just reduce the number of errors, you will end up with a very good rank. The key idea here is  time management, which will help you with this. You might be thinking that 3 hours time is more than enough for solving the GATE exam paper and you don’t need to worry about time. It’s true that 3 hours is more than enough for solving the GATE exam paper, but it’s true only if you do good time management. I suggest that the day before your exam think about the strategy, you are going to use in the exam, to get better result. If you want, you can also consider  the strategy used by me in GATE Computer Science 2012 exam. But I would suggest that you make your own strategy, because you know yourself better.

My strategy was to solve the GATE exam paper in the following ordered steps:

  1. Try to solve one marks technical questions as much as possible
  2. Try to solve maximum no. of aptitude questions (including one marks and two marks questions)
  3. Now solve all the 2 marks technical questions
  4. After this recheck all of the questions you have solved
  5. Try to solve those questions, you could not solve earlier
  6. Again recheck your complete exam paper
  7. Fill the bubbles

While following this order, keep time management in your mind. First of all think that you have to solve this exam within 2 hours and 30 minutes. Then subdivide this 2 hours and 30 minutes time in above 7 steps and try to complete each step within this time limit. Many times it happens that when we get stuck on a tricky question, we waste a lot of time on that question and later we find that we have no time left to complete the exam. For this I suggest that you subdivide this 2 hours and 30 minutes time in the following way:

  1. Complete the first step with first 15 minutes and don’t give a question more than 1 minute. If some question is taking more than 1 minute, then leave it for step 5
  2. Complete the second step within 10 minutes and don’t waste much time on this part. If some question is left, try it again in step 5
  3. Complete the third step within 45 minutes and don’t give a question more than 2 minutes. If some question is taking more than 2 minutes, then leave it for step 5
  4. Complete the fourth step withing 20 minutes. This is the step where you will find your silly mistakes. If you take this step seriously, you can reduce the number of errors
  5. Complete the fifth step within 25 minutes. This is the step where you will be improving your ranking
  6. Complete the sixth step withing 20 minutes. In this step, you will also have chance to find the mistakes, you could not find in step 4
  7. Now you have 15 minutes left to fill the bubbles and you are done :-)

Now you might be thinking that where to use the 30 minutes left, since you have done everything within 2 hours 30 minutes. The answer is that it’s difficult to complete each step within strict time limit. So it’s better if you have some extra time, which you can utilize based on your need. One last and very important point that I would like to make is: start practicing it from today while solving the previous year GATE question papers as suggested by me in my last blog post. Otherwise it would be difficult for you to do the time management in the exam.

Tip 2: Solve Only Previous Year GATE Question Papers

This tip is very important specially when very less time is left in your GATE exam. In this time, you should focus only on solving previous year GATE question papers instead of your GATE study material and PSU’s question papers. These question papers (ISRO, DRDO, Coaching Material etc) might have very difficult and challenging problems, but the focus of the GATE exam is on  your aptitude, rather than the depth of the subject. Therefore in my opinion, it’s better to solve last 15 year GATE question papers multiple times rather than solving questions from other material.

If you really want a good rank in GATE, then you should utilize your last month in solving last 15 year papers at least twice. You can easily do this by solving at least one paper a day. I would suggest you that after getting up in the morning, first of all solve at least one GATE question paper. While solving the paper, keep in mind that you are sitting in the exam room. You can’t refer any books, notes or solutions and you have just 3 hours time limit. After that you will be free to spent rest of the day in analyzing the question paper & your mistakes, revising notes and solving solving difficult problems etc.

I would also like to share my own experience which might help people who are working in some company. When I was preparing for my GATE Computer Science 2012 exam, in which I could achieve All India Rank 54, I used to get up between 4-5 am and then solve at least one question paper before going to office. Then in free time in office, I used to analyze the paper & my mistakes and discuss the difficult problems with my friend. Revising of the notes was used to be done by me mostly in evening. I hope it will help you in managing your preparation time with job.

P.S. If you liked this tip, then I would like to request you to like it and share it with your friends. If possible, you can also share your experience in the comment, which might help other people.

Tip 1: Keep Your Mind Calm, Forget About Good Rank

Karmanein Vadhaka Rastey Maa Faaleshu Kadachan
-Bhagavad Gita

It means that perform your duty with generosity and forget what will be the outcome of that particular duty.

First part of this tip seems to be clear because you need to keep your mind calm to get better concentration. Now you will ask, “Why should I forget about getting a good rank?”. The answer to this question is very simple. Forgetting about a good rank is one of the ways to keep your mind calm. Just assume that you are happy with whatever rank you get. If you do this, you will be able to concentrate more on your preparation than your performance. I am asking just to forget about good rank, not about good preparation. Give your best to your preparation. This way you will be able to remove some of the useless thoughts from your mind and give your best performance in the exam.Usually it happens that even if our preparation is good, we make lots of mistakes in the exam. These mistakes happen either because of anxiety or because of overconfidence. Anxiety comes when you start thinking that what will happen if by chance you don’t get a good rank. Overconfidence comes when you start feeling that you will easily get a very good rank. In my view both of these situations are harmful for an ordinary student, because you will not be able to concentrate on the exam. You will be lost in these thoughts. If you assume in advance that you are not going to get a good rank, you will feel neither anxious nor over confident. Hence you will be able to get better concentration in the exam followed by a good rank which will open the doors of IISc/IITs for you.