GATE 2015 Topper Interview – Rishabh Bhadauria – AIR 130 (ME)
GATE Exam specific questions
- How was GATE paper for year 2015? How do you compare that with the papers for 2016 and 2017.?
It was comparatively easier as compared to last year paper. Out of the 3 sets, one of the set was relatively easier. Although that year, calculators were allowed, still the numericals that were present in the paper were easier and could have easily been done with virtual calculator.
Considering 2016 year, after seeing the paper and as per the feedback I received, the numerical were again brought down to very simple calculations due to virtual calculators. Although there were good number of conceptual questions. Normally the majority of the part of mechanical papers is numerical but 2016 was the year where conceptual questions were a bit more. Also the difference of toughness of paper in different sets was also more. Later on, there were cases of increase or decrease of up to 7 marks due to normalization. Also there was increase in numerical type questions without options.
For 2017 year, the sets were more even. The papers were also more centric towards numerical. Even then if I have to compare the toughness level of 2017 paper with 2015 one, I would choose 2015 as much easier one.
- How did you feel after seeing first few questions? Did you feel relaxed and calm or you were anxious during first few questions? If you felt anxious then how did you calm yourself?
I was quite calm. I had some plans of how to go about the paper. So, I initiated with the aptitude and verbal part in which I am fairly good. Some of the questions were tricky but eventually, after dedicating a little time, I was able to get around them. This calmed me down. I was very self-conscious not to waste my time in a single question. So, obviously after getting a good start and with some lead time, my confidence grew.
- How did you go about attempting the paper? How did you distribute time among various sections like did you attempt 1 mark questions or 2 marks questions first? Please give a detailed description of time management strategy you followed?
As I mentioned, I had some plans how to attempt the questions. I started with aptitude and verbal part and planned to go to mathematics next. I took a target of completing the aptitude and verbal parts in 30 mins because I knew that even the 2 marks questions in these sections wouldn’t be too lengthy. I ended up completing those in 20 minutes. This gave me the lead time so that I had the option of checking my answers later.
In technical parts, my aim was to complete the 1 mark questions first so that I can save some time for later on. I did fairly well and ended up completing these within 20 mins as well. Then I went ahead with the 2 marks questions. There were some questions in which I was stuck a bit but since I had that extra lead time, I thought of completing each and every questions and then moving ahead.
I ended up completing the paper in 2 hours 20 mins and had ample time for rechecking my answers. In the end, that was the crucial difference as I rectified 4 of my answers in which I made some silly mistakes.
- What do you think is the impact of Online Calculator on GATE Exam? How should students prepare to tackle the Online Calculator?
More often than not, the GATE paper is set in such a way that you can do the calculations fairly easily. If you need to use some mathematical functions, then you might have to use the virtual calculator. Obviously, many of the students are not used to these calculators and find it hard and time consuming.
The key here is to practice before going for the exam. Students can apply for mock tests and practice it. The official website of GATE also publishes last year papers so that students can practice. If students can just get a hold on how to generally use that calculator, that will be enough.
In exams like this, students make conscious efforts to do even simplest of calculations in calculators just to be sure. However, with coming of online calculator, it is necessary to trust your calculations. If this much is done, it won’t have that much effect.
- What do you feel about the increasing weightage of Numerical Answer Type Questions? How to improve accuracy in order to score well in Numerical Answer Type Questions?
It is a good move and the students who have actually prepared for GATE will be happy with this decision. To be honest, in an exam like GATE, a lot rides on luck due to very small number of problems. If these problems are MCQs, obviously there are students who fancy some guesses and get lucky. With numerical type problems, the guessing goes out of the equation.
I always advice people to answer the questions up to 3 or 4 decimal points precision. Although the officials take care of this by giving a range in the form of an answer but it is always best to be safe. Obviously the accuracy plays a big role in these kinds of questions which only improves by practice.
- What was the motive behind you appearing for GATE exam?
I prepared for gate so that I could enter a PSU.
GATE Preparation strategy
- When did you start preparing for GATE exam?
I started preparing for GATE at the end of 5th sem, which was roughly around May 2014. Since I targeted GATE from my 3rd sem itself, so I was preparing for math even before 5th sem since I knew it carries the maximum weightage.
- Up to what date were you able to complete the course once? What was your target as to how many questions to practice in each subject? What was the sequence in which you prepared the subjects?
I completed my syllabus 50 days before the exam. My target was to keep 2 months for revision, so I was a little late in that. But I knew that I had good level of preparations before going towards the revision.
There are subjects like Thermodynamics, Strength of materials, Fluid mechanics, Machine design and Heat & mass transfer where all the numericals are concept wise. There is no 1 or 2 type of question which is repeated for these subjects. So, I planned to solve more numericals in these subjects. For these subjects I preferred standard books and took conscious efforts to solve majority of the problems. I roughly practiced around 20 odd questions from each topic.
As I mentioned, I started my preparations with mathematics and then moved ahead with other core subjects. The sequence which I followed and the corresponding days I spend for preparation :-
- Mathematics – in 15 days
- Thermodynamics – in 30 days
- RAC – in 10 days
- Engineering mechanics – in 10 days
- Strength of materials – in 25 days
- Machine design – in 15 days
- Theory of machines – in 15 days
- Heat & mass transfer – in 15 days
- Production technology and material science – in 45 days
- Fluid mechanics and machineries – in 30 days
- Operations research, Industrial engineering, Metrology and other small portions. – in 30 days
- Which subjects according to require more practice and which subjects need to be read from standard textbooks?
As I mentioned Mathematics carries a huge weightage and is very crucial. For mechanical branch, the questions are generally very simple. So, this can be prepared by any reference book along with practice of last year question papers.
For Thermodynamics, Strength of materials and Fluid mechanics, standard books are must for theory as well a numerical. For other subjects, books are required for practicing full length numerical.
10. Which study material and standard books would you recommend for GATE Aspirants in each subject?
1. Strength of material – Timo Shenko and Gere , B C Punamia (numericals)
- Fluid Mechanics and machineries – Subramanya (numericals), Bansal
- Theory of Machine – Rattan, Khurmi
- HMT – Rajput (numericals)
- Thermodynamics – P K Nag (numericals)
- Engineering Mechanics – Any suitable book
- Material Science – Callister
- Production Technology – P N Rao (theory), Ghosh Malik (theory + some numerical), Swadesh Kumar Singh (Made easy, too much detailed, suitable for numericals)
- RAC – Khurmi
- Industrial Engg – Telsang or any other suitable book
- Machine Design – Bhandari (Numericals)
These are the books which I used for preparation. If someone is comfortable with any other books, then they can choose that. But I would suggest sticking with same books for thermodynamics, Production, strength of material and Fluid mechanics.
Along with these, I prepared my own notes while preparations for theory and formulae. These are kind of notes are very helpful towards the end when someone needs to revise.
- How did you keep the subjects fresh in your memory the entire time? Did you revise the subjects regularly or you left the revision for last few months? What was your strategy for revision in the last few months?
I kept each weekend for revision of a subject which I have already covered. Even if I was lagging in my regular preparations, I would still take the time out for revision in weekends. So, every Sunday I use to revise one subject by solving previous year question papers or numericals from a standard book. Also, I prepared a formula copy which I use to peek every night before going to sleep. This helped me remember the formulae.
- How was your score in Mock Tests? Is there any correlation between mock test performance and actual GATE performance?
I was quite consistent with my scores in mocks as well, barring the occasional setbacks. But the truth is there is no correlation between mock test performance and actual performance. Students get demoralized when they are not able to score good marks in mocks but in reality there is a vast difference in the type of questions asked in mock tests and in actual exam. I advice people to give mock tests as a practice of virtual calculator, accuracy and time managements and not bother about the marks they are scoring. These 3 things are the key area to practice in any mock tests.
- What is the role of undergraduate studies or college studies in your GATE prep?
It does help when anyone is preparing for a particular subject and is familiar with the concepts. It reduced time needed to understand the concepts. But even if someone has not studied any particular subject and starting preparations for GATE, they can still easily cover the subject. Although they may have to dedicate more time.
- How did you motivate yourself for such a long journey towards GATE?
I did not have much of options. Although I was placed but I knew I did not want to go there. So, GATE was the only option for me. More than anything else, it was my confidence that took me through. I was very confident of scoring good marks.
- Did you expect such a result after giving the GATE exam?
I was confident of getting good result before starting the preparations. During preparations I was shaken a bit due to competition but I motivated myself to pass that time. After the exam, I knew that I have fairly well. I was kicking myself for making silly mistakes in 3 or 4 questions but still overall it was a good show for me.
- How did you feel the moment you saw the results?
It was muted celebration. I saw my result and did not tell anyone. At that time I was staying with 5 other people who appeared for GATE. The results of others were not that good. So, I took my time before telling them. I told about the result to my parents first and then the close friends.
- What is the role of family and friends in your success in GATE exam?
My parents and my sister always have a huge expectation from me. Although that brings pressure but also motivates me to do good.
Some of my friends are the reason why I performed so well. They were always with me supporting me and many time even teaching me.
- Who would you dedicate this GATE result to?
To my parents and my close friends. Specifically, Rakshit Shukla, one of my best friends. He contributed largely to my success.
- What is the success mantra that you would like to give to other GATE aspirants which has been critical for your preparation as well?
The major problem with majority of the aspirants is that they lose hope over time and then take back seat in preparations. This happens with most of us. This problem arises when either aspirants have started too early or too late. Even with these problems, the aspirants who continue with their preparations do fairly well. So, keeping the enthusiasm is important.
“It doesn’t take 10000 hours to be phenomenal at something. What matters is how long you keep the enthusiasm you kept at the first hour.”