preparing for GATE
Category : GATE
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What is GATE all about? 

GATE is organized by IITs and IISc, which have pioneered advanced education at master`s level in India. The sole purpose of GATE is not only to conduct a test for admission but, which is also the major goal, to identify the suitable engineers/researchers in various areas and make them to choose their area of choice in which they can pursue their master degree. As you know by now, GATE is only organized by IITs and IISc which always try to innovate and introduce new systems to test the basic knowledge of candidates in various fields. As a part of that innovation, the previous year GATE papers were fully objective type. This year also the same pattern is being used, and mathematics added! Although this made the job relatively easier for the evaluators, the candidates now have a bound choice to cover all the topics. As you know, the setting of questions papers at IITs and IISc in itself is very interesting. The designated faculty in each of the areas who provide the syllabus of a particular stream have the burden to set the questions which is finally combined to a full length paper. Being set by the highly qualified faculty, the questions papers are not like a very traditional one. They always try to test the very basic of candidates in respective areas by bringing the element of innovation in these papers. It is not surprising that sometimes the questions are mere applications of basic concepts in their area of research. The implication of this, it seems is that cracking GATE with a very high percentile is merely having the basics cleared. No! Absolutely not! As innovations are always a part of the question paper, one needs to be able to apply the basics in a new application, too. That is why similar to JEE, GATE is altogether different from other competitive exams. Here in GATE, one needs to prepare thoroughly by understanding the basics. It`s not at all the mugging up the end results (formulae) and directly applying them; instead, you need to know the principle in the derivation of those end results because in most of the cases the questions are based on the basic principle involved in the derivation, or the case where they may ask the behavior of the system under some other conditions or simple application of that result. 
To secure a very high percentile you should always remember the fact that you are adjudged relatively not absolutely. Hence, your rank obviously depends on how you performed relative to your competitors. Many times, it happens that the candidates are sure of getting many questions correct. But one should always know that although the questions have only one correct answer, other probable choices are deliberately put there to confuse the candidates. In that sense, preparing the choices other than the correct one is also a part of the bringing the element of innovation, which really makes the life hell for a test taker to arrive at the very correct choice. 
The question that poses itself to the GATE aspirants now is, how does he prepare, what methods he should adopt that would ensure his admission in the esteemed IITs or the IISc.

How to Prepare:

How does one prepare for GATE, specifically GATE 2010 

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 competitors. 
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 GATE 

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 improvement`. 
2. Solve test papers: Solve as many test papers as possible. This actually is the best way to keep improving as you prepare for GATE. 
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 papers. 
4. Take up a TarGATE which gives you your percentile and All India Rank : This is very important to avoid the "frog in the pond" syndrome. Students tend to take it easy if they attain a high score in the tests. However, GATE is an exam in which people are selected on their relative scores. So even if you have scored 95% it does not essentially translate to a percentile of 95. You are competing with the best in India, and to get through GATE you should know where you stand to be among the `top few` selected for the interview. A test series of this sort is being provided by GATE Forum . 
5. 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.