Anusha Durga
Before the marathon begins, the ‘runner’ puts in months, even years, of effort
before he actually runs the race. As the saying goes – get your fundamentals
right. GATE is an exam that tests you on your fundamentals. The questions are
generally derivations of the fundamentals.
Preparation for GATE is an ongoing
process, and is supposed to happen in stages. First get your fundamentals right,
and then test yourself on those fundamentals. When you have done this, you
should pit yourself with the competition, which means a mock test which would
give you a percentile to let you know where you stand amongst
How do you choose which coaching material to go
with. This is something that is quite subjective. A coaching material cannot be
assessed until you have gone through it. So, you could go by the word of your
seniors as to what coaching material they followed to prepare for GATE.

Here are some parameters on which you can decide
whether you should go for a particular coaching institute, use a particular
coaching material, or tests:

1. Uniqueness in their study material: Study
material provided by the coaching institutes is of little assistance if they are
compact copy-paste or rewrite of materials taken from other books. If the
reading of such material doesn’t increase interest and enjoyment then they are
not worth it. There are plenty of standard books on each subject by good
authors, which can make your study enjoyable during preparation.

2. Collection of quality books in their library:
During the process of theory conceptualization and building application
capabilities, you need good books, which can really put your brain on exercise.
Check out their library!

3. Flexibility in the Coaching Model: What
happens when your pace of learning is much faster or slower than the average? Is
there any mechanism by which the model can identify exactly where you need help
and provide the same? Is it possible in that coaching model to minimize the
wastage of your time?

4. Quality of questions discussed: Number of
questions discussed is not that important. By discussing and solving 10-15
conceptual questions on each topic you can build a good application capability.
On the other hand solving many tricky non-conceptual questions will simply waste
your time.

5. Tests and evaluation model: How is the
progress of your preparation tested and analyzed? To what extent the feedback
helps in identifying the areas for further work? Here I must say that this is
the most crucial part of the preparation. This is the area where most of the
students fail due to lack of proper test materials which can help them to build
in themselves a real-test-like environment and temperament. Once you are able to
choose the correct assistance for your GATE journey, it will be an enjoying and
thrilling experience.

Here are some things apart from working on your
engineering concepts, that you should do for a complete preparation for

1. Solve previous years’ GATE papers: Solving
previous years’ papers gives you a fair idea of what the actual paper would be
like. It also brushes up your basics and exposes your ‘areas of

2. Solve test papers: Solve as many test papers
as possible. This actually is the best way to keep improving as you prepare for

3. Analyze : Analyzing your test results is a
very important part of taking the test. If you do not analyze, the test does not
add value. You should minutely analyze and define as to where you could have
scored more; analyze your accuracy rates in various topics and maintain a topic
wise datasheet which lists your performance topic wise for different test

4. Simulate actual test environment : This
is very important. The actual test happens in a classroom, and is timed. When
you take up the test, switch off your cell phone, have a timer which times your
tests, and avoid taking any breaks. Also, if possible, take up a mock test
series which enables you to take the test in a classroom environment.
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