How to prepare efficiently for Civil Engineering in GATE 2017

In the first part of our series of ‘Prep Strategy’ articles, PaGaLGuY chats with the GATE faculty of Vidyalankar Institute, Mumbai about tips and strategies to crack the Civil Engineering paper of GATE 2017. Excerpts

What is the best strategy to tackle difficult topics? For example, how much time should one take to finish them? 

The best way to tackle a difficult topic is to practice its ‘frequently asked questions’ in previous GATE/IES exams. If studying at the last moment, then it is advisable not waste extra time on topics which he/she is unable to understand.

Outline a 12-week study plan in terms of weekly targets, checklists, etc

Considering there is not much time left now, the last two weeks should be kept for revision.  Students must aim to complete their syllabus by January 15, 2017. Broadly, civil engineering can be classified in to 13 topics (including Mathematics and General Aptitude). Accordingly, one topic must be completed in four days, which includes topic-wise tests as well. The most helpful tip is to make short notes of each topic in five pages for the last two weeks’ revision. About the checklist, on a daily basis, a student should check that whatever he/she is studying is important from the exam’s point of view (considering previous year papers). 

Some tips which will help students with their basics

Theory should be read in conjunction with the MCQ’s (Multiple Choice Questions) to enable a student to develop the understanding of the topic. Objective problems reinforce the basics.

Can you recommend some good books or study material? 

At this stage, books should not be referred to for detailed study of each topic. Instead, a handbook of civil engineering will be helpful for students. 

If a student had to skip a topic or two, which would you recommend?

I would rather say do not completely skip a topic or subject. Students can prioritise as per the marks distribution and time consumption in a topic. However, here’s sequence which gives a good way to fetch marks.

Mathematics – on top most priority, 15 marks with very minimal time

General Aptitude (GA) – again good marks with less time

Transportation – with 12 hours of preparation, 3 to 4 marks

Hydrology –with 12 hours of preparation, 2 marks

Irrigation – With 8 hours of preparation, 1 to 2 marks

Strength of Materials (SOM) –with 30 hours of preparation, 5 marks

Structural Analysis (SA) –with 45 hours of preparation, 5 marks

Fluid Mechanics (FM) – with 40 hours of preparation, 8 to 9 marks

Geotechnical Engineering – with 80 hours of preparation, 13 marks

Survey – with 20 hours of preparation, 4 marks

Electrical Engineering (EE) – with 40 hours of preparation, 7 marks

RCC with 30 Hours of preparation, 4 Marks 

Steel – with 15 hours of preparation, 2 marks

NOTE: These are approximate marks distribution. Generally, students follow the reverse order because of emotional attachment with core numerical subjects. But these subjects consume time, though they yield the marks.

Which topics should a student focus on?

As mentioned previously, the most important topics are Maths and GA. With almost 60 hours of preparation, students can score 25 out of 30 marks in these two subjects, which is equivalent to clearing cut-off for any branch in GATE.

What is an ideal revision plan and ‘last minute strategy’ for GATE 2017?

For last minute studies, students should revise his/her short notes. All the subjects must be complied in not more than 100 pages. This is required because there are more than 5,000 formulas to remember. Almost 75% of GATE problems are based on these formulas only. Last 15 days must be kept only for revision (considering one day for one topic). 

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