Saturday, August 29, 2009

GATE to the Heaven

After getting a very good rank in GATE'06, I've got various queries from a lot of GATE aspirants. After giving the same set of answers to all of them for the last 3 years, my brain was looking for an easier way to convey my thoughts to a wide audience. And Eureka !!! Here's the blog post, the epitome of my experiences with GATE.

When I got into an engineering college, it didn't take much time for me to realize that I'd need something in addition to a bachelor's degree. The hot favorite options at that time were MS from abroad and CAT. I opted for the third option which very few of my colleagues opted for: GATE. The major reason behind opting for this not-so-popular option was "Revenge". Yes, you read it right. It was revenge against all the IITs which denied me admission by a very small margin in JEE. I had to get into it or something better. So, I knocked on the GATE to take the revenge.

Planning well ahead of the time really helps, believe me. In the second year of my engineering studies, I had made up my mind to bang the GATE. With the availability of application forms of GATE'05 in the third year of my engg, the revenge resurrected in my mind. I hurriedly went to the bank, bought the application form, filled it up, sent it right away and went to sleep only to get up a week before the actual GATE exam. Since I had invested some money in the application procedure, I thought that it was my moral responsibility to prepare a bit for the exam. I went through the the GATE syllabus and was astonished to see that more than 80% of the GATE syllabus wasn't covered in my engg curriculum so far. That acted as a catalyst to my laziness and I gave up the thought of any preparation. But there was some ray of hope. THE most favorite topic. The weightage of this topic was around 15% and most of the syllabus in this section was covered so far. So, I revised all the formulae in the span of 3-4 days. On that much preparation, I wrote GATE'05 and got a decent 88 percentile. I wasn't bothered about this result given the amount of preparation. Now, time for some gyaan.

Gyaan Session 1: All the GATE aspirants who are still in college, decide early. Go through the syllabus and mark the topics in textbooks at the start of each semester and give special attention to these topics during your semester studies. This will save a lot of your time while revising these topics for GATE preparation. Also, do attempt the GATE in your 3rd year. This will familiarize you with the exam pattern and will give you the feel of the actual exam day to say the least.
Gyaan Session 2: My way of preparing for a mathematical subject is jotting down in brief the formulae which I am not confident of recalling till the exam day on a sheet of paper. A quick glance at this sheet a few minutes before the exam takes you totally in that subject mode.

Ok, back to my life. All this while, my life was changing a lot. At the end of the third year, placement season started. I got the offers from the very first two companies. In the final year, with a couple of jobs in hand and in the company of jigri hostel friends, I was having a rollicking time. Those were the best days of my life :) Life was interrupted when the availability of application forms of GATE'06 was announced. I did all the formalities of the application procedure and then got busy with the 7th sem exams. Life took a real turn when after the 7th sem exam got over (this was in Dec 05), due to some family reasons and a bit of revenge process running in the background of mind, I decided to stay back in the hostel for the vacation. I had almost two months of time at my hand. I prepared for 4-5 hours daily.

Gyaan Session 3: Preparing from the same textbooks that you used for your semester studies saves a lot of precious time. I didn't join any coaching class or test series. But got to hear from a few people that most of them are junk, especially the study material they provide. Frankly speaking, I didn't solve a single objective question during the preparation. But solving those does help to some extent. Try to get hold of old GATE papers.

I took GATE on the exam day. I don't remember to have a very good feeling at the end of the exam. Following the divine advice 'karm karo, fal ki chinta mat karo', I totally forgot about the GATE and enjoyed the final days of my engg life. In the midst of my confusion on which one of the two companies to join, the most dramatic day of my life dawned. 15th March, 2006. GATE results were to be declared on that day. But more than the results, I was excited about the holi celebrations which happened to be on the same day. Hostel holi is a divine experience in itself. Hardly had I got up in the morning that day and come out of my room, when I was fully drenched with colored water and the gulal all over my body to the extent of not recognizing myself. I joined the gang right away. After playing color and dancing (Ganpati dance, in particular) for a couple of hours, I went to a friend's room (Chandu's den, our adda) and casually opened the gate result site which wouldn't respond to my repetitive requests. After attempting for 10-15 mins, I gave up as Juhu beach was eagerly awaiting us. We went to Juhu beach and had the time of our lives, this being our last holi at the hostel. After returning to the hostel, all of us gathered at the adda. I tried the results site which after a number of unsuccessful attempts, did open with the following message: NOT QUALIFIED. To be very frank, I wasn't very much disappointed. I never had expectations from this result, so I was ready for anything. But my friends, jigri's as they are, were very much disappointed. I tried to cheer their mood up but they kept asking me to search for the admit card and cross-check the registration number. I saw no point in that because I distinctly remembered the number. But to keep their heart, I tried searching that piece of paper in my room, a final year engg student's hostel room. You can imagine what the probability of finding that piece of paper would be. After unearthing all the existing pieces of papers in the room, I finally got hold of the admit card. And guess what, the number I remembered was CORRECT. But the only difference was that I remembered the application no. and one was supposed to enter the registration number in the results site. I again went to our adda, where the mehfil was still lingering on. I entered the NEW number and hit the return key. The browser was fetching the info from an IIT server and a dozen pairs of eyes were eagerly awaiting that info. I was lost in some deep thought and was brought back to the reality by a loud shriek of the whole mehfil. I glanced at the computer monitor and I couldn't believe that HTML page. That Godly browser had fetched the lottery of my destiny...All India Rank 7. The GATE had opened, the revenge was taken. We submerged ourselves in the celebrations. Without much confusion, I took admission in my dream college, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. I've finished my studies at IISc and now I am working with a multinational company. A lot of today's work is pending and I'm totally lost in those sweet memories. Nostalgia at its best!

Gyaan session 4: Always remember that application no. is different from registration no. :)