5 tips from GATE 2016 topper Harshvardhan Sinha

With about 40 days left for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) 2017, candidates are getting into the last phase of preparation. PaGaLGuY spoke to GATE 2016 Instrumentation Engineering branch topper, Harshvardhan Sinha, who shared his strategies that might come in handy for this year’s aspirants. Currently, an MTech (Masters in Technology) student at the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Sinha told PaGaLGuY that enrolling for a test series should be the ‘one month before the exam’ plan for GATE 2017.

Edited excerpts of the interview:

What do you think about joining a coaching institute for GATE?

It is possible to score a good rank in GATE without any help from a coaching institute. Coaching institutes pave a way with regards to what one should study. They follow a curriculum, that forms a repetitive and set study pattern, which helps in grasping theories, topics, etc faster than self-study. For those who are doing self-study, I would suggest, before taking up a book, check it regarding the GATE syllabus. Read the reference material thoroughly, at least three to four times, by then it will settle in your mind.

Any advice for first timers?

Attempt the paper as it comes, don’t jump between questions. Finish General Aptitude (GA) first, it doesn’t take much time, spend about maximum 20 minutes on this section. The questions are easy, and I felt a little relaxed, and confident, after finishing GA. If you skip GA, then by the end you will be like ‘I am yet to finish those 10 questions’, this might make you nervous. So it is better to take questions as they come.

What was your study plan for GATE 2016?

For GATE 2016, I started preparing in July 2015, and initially I studied for about three to four hours a day. I started studying seriously from October and spent about eight to ten hours a day. My ‘one month before the exam’ strategy was simple. Get done with the revision by December end, don’t start with new topics, and take as many mocks as possible. I took two to three topic-wise mocks every day, and two to three subject mocks, and one full mock every week. I enrolled for a test series as well, where I scored 100 percentile in three out of four mock tests.

Any study tips for GATE 2017 aspirants?

Candidates should prepare their own notes, highlight and bookmark important topics, go through them at least four times. Maintaining a notebook also helps in last minute revision. I strongly recommend candidates to join a test series, it is important to get used to an exam-like atmosphere. Test series helps in tracking your performance, at the same time, we get to know the competition.

What was your exam day strategy?

I was not stressed, and I did not want to be tensed because that would have affected my performance. After taking a number of mock tests I was confident that I will be in top 100. I maintained my speed throughout the exam, and had some good 40 minutes left for revision, which helped me secure All India Rank 1 in GATE 2016. I did make some corrections while revising, I had not put a decimal in one question and I forgot to add ‘a negative sign’ in an answer. If you maintain a set speed, it is possible to save some time for revision.