Post #3: Off the block!

Hi, welcome to the blog once again. I guess you are just at the outset of your journey towards GATE. And I am sure you are well aware of your strengths and weaknesses by now. If not, I suggest you to go through Post #2.

So, let’s move on with more intense topic likeWHAT TO STUDY. This is something that can not be discussed in a single post. Besides, I do not want this discussion to be contained within a single post only. I will discuss each and every module one by one. The discussions will contain name of reference study materials too. 

Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” − Rikki Rogers.

First of all, keep one thing in mind through out your preparation, GATE is a kind of exam which tests your basic understandings in a very smart way. It checks your ability to apply the knowledge you gathered. Cause in the end, Engineering is all about applications. Sometimes, you need to mold the solutions according to the situations. If you don’t know where and how to apply your knowledge, you simply don’t know anything about Engineering. Mindless cramming won’t take you anywhere. Whenever you are studying something, start questioning yourself. Grill yourself with questions like “What is this”, “How is this”, “Why is this”, “What if this was that” etc. This will seem like an exercise at the beginning, but more you do this, more it starts to become intrinsic to you. So, Let’s begin!

† Before you begin, browse your 10+2 Mathematics book for the Algebra and Calculus part. It won’t take more than 1 or 2 days, but will help you a lot. Not required, if you are in touch with 10+2 Maths.

Beyond doubt, Mathematics is the most important topic for CS students. Many of the CS subjects directly branch out from Maths itself and thus demand a good mathematical background. So I will begin my discussion with Maths. The following topics from Maths are in current syllabus –

  • Linear Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Numerical Methods
  • Set Theory & Abstract algebra
  • Combinatories
  • Probability Theory
  • Mathematical Logic
  • Graph Theory

Linear Algebra, Calculus and Numerical Methods are really nice and easy topics to begin with. Almost everyone has considerable amount knowledge in these parts. So, it will be easier to begin with these things before you start cracking some real hard nuts!

•Linear Algebra: [Questions are easy/moderate. May carry 1-3 marks]
Matrix and Determinant, their properties and basic operations on them.
Special types of matrices like orthogonal,idempotent,diagonal,identity,symmetric,skew-symmetric,Hermitian,skew-Hermitian etc.
Transpose,Adjoint and Inverse of Matrix, how to calculate inverse by Gauss-Jordan method or by using characteristic equation.
Eigen values and Eigen vectors, properties of eigen values (e.g. ∑
λi=Trace of Matrix, ∏λi=Det(A), If λ is an eigen value of A, then λis an eigen value of Aetc)
Characteristic equations, Cayley-Hamilton formula.
Rank of a Matrix.
Systems of linear homogeneous and non-homogeneous equations. Find number of solutions (unique,infinite or no solution) using rank.
Ref. Book : Higher Engineering Mathematics by B.S. Grewal
(Erwin Kreyszig‘s book is the best in its class, it has much more challenging problems. But Grewal is enough for GATE.)
Further Ref: Introduction to Linear Algebra by Gilbert Strang 

Calculus: [Questions are easy/moderate. May carry 2-3 marks] 
Functions, Limit(L’Hospitals rules included), Continuity, Differentiability, Mean Value Theorems (Geometrical interpretations too), Taylor series, Calculus of several variables, partial and total derivative, maxima and minima.
Integral calculus (all of 10+2), definite and improper integrals, properties, Beta, Gamma integrals.
Ref. Book : Problems in Calculus of One Variable by I.A. Maron (Simply the best one!)
For Calculus of several variables refer to B.S. Grewal.

•Numerical Methods: [Questions are easy. May carry 1-2 marks]
Bisection, Newton-Raphson, Secant method. Study their error estimation capabilities and order of convergences.
Trapezoidal and Simpson’s 1/3 rule. Their error estimation.
LU decomposition and solutions of systems of linear equations.
Ref. Book : Introductory Methods in Numerical Analysis by S.S. Sastry (Although some online reference is more than sufficient in this area. Questions are straight forward.)

If you have any further query regarding the above topics, then let me know. In the next post I will continue the discussion on other areas of Maths. Keep following!

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Post #2: Ever analyzed yourself?

Hi, welcome to my blog once again. So, as I stated earlier, the actual discussion regarding GATE begins with this post. With more than 2,00,000 people competing in your paper, practically just a few marks can make a huge difference. Thus it’s really important to secure a good score to enhance your chances.

So, the next obvious question is how will u fetch those extra marks in your favor so that you can stay ahead of your competitors?

Lets look it from another point of view. What makes you lose your precious marks in the exam? If you can figure out the disease, then you can figure out the cure also! Before you go ahead, take a small test consisting of 10-15 questions and analyze that. Here are some possibilities related to each question-

  1. You know the concept, and figured out the answer with confidence.
  2. You don’t know the concept exactly, but somehow managed to answer correctly.
  3. You have no clue, but the wild guess was damn correct!
  4. You know the concept, but somehow made a mistake. (Happens to me the most!)
  5. You don’t know the concept exactly, and answered wrongly.
  6. You don’t know anything, and the guess went wrong.
  7. You didn’t attempt the question at all.

Now these are the possible to-dos for each scenario –

  1. Perfect! Just keep brushing up the concepts so that you don’t forget them.
  2. Go though the concepts till you start answering with confidence.
  3. Stop playing the guessing game. You might not be lucky next time!
  4. Be cautious during your attempt. Nothing much you can do about it.
  5. Keep practicing and go though the concepts again and again.
  6. The guessing game can penalize you heavily due to the negative marking system.
  7. What barred you from answering? Did you forget? Don’t you know about the topic?

Beside these things, keep a track of the percentage of questions attempted, and your accuracy level. Also, have a closer look on your performance in each topic/section. And you can readily know your areas of strengths and weaknesses. Plot this analysis against the respective weights given for the topics in GATE. Now you can decide your order of preference to maximize your chances. Believe me or not, this is the most vital step towards your success in GATE. Select your preferences judiciously so that they help you to secure maximum amount of marks.

Practicing 2+2=5 will never make you perfect. Only a perfect practice makes you perfect. So, before you start, make sure you are preparing perfectly. Before I start discussing the study materials and important topics, its important for you to understand your strengths and weaknesses so that you can maximize your chances.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher.

You will get success if you are determined enough to achieve it. It’s important to keep yourself motivated throughout the whole preparation period. GATE is a kind of exam where the syllabus is massive. Smart management of that mammoth syllabus is thus necessary. And I saw many people making a mess of it and then losing hope of getting through. They eventually get demotivated and end up even worse. Sometimes, not even qualifying. That is why it is absolutely necessary to keep yourself motivated and stick to a good study plan till the end. Don’t get disheartened if you perform badly during your preparation. Become more dedicated, more involved with the topics. Just don’t stop trying! Keep yourself motivated!

From next post onward, I’ll start discussing about the different topics of Computer Science and their relative importance. Also we will move towards the study plan. Keep following, more to come!

GATE – the first step towards a new journey!

GATE or Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering is one of the most popular competitive examinations in the field of Engineering & Technology in India. Every year huge number of aspirants appear for the exam. In 2013, the number of candidates appeared was 9,84,855. And only 1,36,699 (13.88%) managed to qualify the exam.

After qualifying GATE, one can pursue higher studies in course programs like M.E./M.Tech or research programs like M.S./PhD in premier institutes like IISc, IITs, NITs or in engineering departments of top universities in India. After completing your masters, you can move into academics if you wish to or you can expect a high end job where you will truly get a chance to display your engineering skills. A good result in GATE can also open the doors for top PSU companies like IOCL, NTPC, BHEL, BARC etc.

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. – Gail Devers.

So, do you still wish to stick to a monotonic campus placement job which pays you about 25-30 grands per month with no chance to show off your true skills? If the answer is NO, then congratulations! You have made that ‘First Step’ towards a new beginning!

After GATE 2013, many people requested me to share the preparation tips with them. Its not possible for me to individually answer each of you. So, I decided to create a blog to share my experiences with you. You will already find many blogs where bloggers share their own experience. I would recommend you to follow those blogs too and gather as much as information and tips possible related to GATE. Then you can certainly come up with a way of your own. I will only help you doing that!

Let me clarify few things.

First of all, do not expect a professional guidance related to GATE from me. I can only share my experiences, how I prepared, what study materials I consulted, my notes and how I conceptualize GATE.

Next, I am from Computer Science background. So, I can not help you regarding technical questions from other branches. But you can look here for some general strategies that will help you in GATE.

Last of all, do not ask “which coaching institute is best” type of questions. I am not their public relation manager!

Now let me discuss how I conceptualize this blog.

  • First things first. Introspecting and finding your areas of strength and weakness.
  • The pattern of paper and important topics.
  • The study materials.
  • Study plans – the route to success!
  • General discussions related to GATE.
  • Some guidance related to Admission into various courses.

This is just the first post. I will start discussing the strategies and techniques one by one from next blog onward. I am trying to publish 2-3 posts per week based on your responses.

Keep following, more to come!