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GATE 2017 Topper Interview – Rohit Sachdeva AIR 93 (CE)

About Me

I live in New Delhi with my parents & grandparents.  I graduated from Delhi College of Engineering (now DTU) in 2012 (a gold medalist in my batch) in Civil Engineering branch.  I worked 2 years in Samsung Engineering India as a Structural Design Engineer, and am currently working in Bureau of Indian Standards as a Scientist (in Civil Engg) since last 3 years.

I appeared in Civil Engineering (CE) paper in GATE 2017.  I secured an All India Rank (AIR) of 93.  My score was 872/1000 and normalized marks 78.5/100.

 

Exam specific questions

  1. How was GATE paper this year? Give us some insights into GATE 2017 paper and compare it to past year question paper.

I attempted Set-2 (A/N session) of the paper.  As compared to previous year papers, the difficulty level was normal but the paper was lengthy.  Some 1-mark questions were tricky (but easy) and required the most basic understanding of the concepts.  I attempted 62/65 questions.

I also analysed the Set-1 (F/N session) paper afterwards and found it to be a bit difficult than Set-2.  Overall, both sets were of decent standard.

 

  1. 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 invest 10 minutes in the beginning of the exam to have a glance through the questions.  This helps in noting the questions I am very confident in & should not miss.  Since the aptitude & mathematics section looked very easy this time, I attempted them first.

When I started attempting the 1-mark technical questions, I got stuck at a few places, as the questions were tricky & tested the very basic concepts.  I didn’t panic, marked them for review, & kept solving the questions I was confident in.  Within 30 minutes, you will eventually calm down yourself & all the concepts will come back in your mind.

 

  1. 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?

GATE exam doesn’t have a real time crunch; the entire paper can be steadily solved.  Initial 10 minutes of the paper should be utilized to glance through the question paper & set in your mind a level of the paper: this helps in planning your speed.  You should always look for questions of the area you are strong in & solve them: it boosts up your confidence!

There are 30 one-mark questions, which should be completed in 45-55 minutes.  Then there are 35 two-mark questions in which around 100-120 minutes should be invested.  With this speed, the paper can be finished timely with enough time left for revisiting some questions if required.

 

  1. What was the impact of Online Calculator on GATE Exam? How did you prepare yourself to tackle the Online Calculator?

If you get used to the online calculator, you will be able to handle it easily during exam; if not then it will be tough.

Any good mock-test series will give you enough practice of the calculator.  My advice is to do calculations manually till the very last step possible & then go for the calculator.

 

  1. 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?

Numerical Answer Type (NAT) questions remove the chances of guessing or eliminating options; the question becomes like a conventional one which you have to solve completely & accurately.  They make the question paper tough & interesting.  If all your basic concepts & formulas are clear, you will be able to solve NAT questions easily.  They will also require more use of the online calculator.

It is a good idea to solve these questions patiently (as you don’t have options in front of you to verify your result) at once (so that you don’t need to solve them again).

 

Preparation Strategy

  1. What was the motive behind you appearing for GATE exam?

I have always wanted to enter the teaching profession. I have a very strong technical base and it gives me immense pleasure when I am able to pass on my skills to others; therefore I want to keep learning and be more effective.

I really feel that our current education system lacks quality teachers who can properly teach even basic concepts and other important aspects of engineering.

I want to help students in their learning, help them understand the various concepts thoroughly so that they excel in their life.  The 5 years of work experience that I have had in my field has taught me a lot, and now I want to study/do research and become a professor.

 

  1. When did you start preparing for GATE exam?

I started preparing for GATE 2017 in September 2016.  Before I started my preparation, I went through previous 4 years GATE papers just to understand the weightage of different subjects & analyse my own strengths/weaknesses.  This helped me plan my preparation & allot time to all subjects.

I had taken coaching from Made-Easy during final year of my graduation (back in 2012) and had saved my notes & other study material since then, which I utilized for my preparation this time.  That time I scored an AIR 400.  This was my only attempt after that.

 

  1. 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 course once (round-1) by mid-November and then immediately started with revision.  I did not try solving questions in round-1 and focused only on concept building.

During my revision, I practiced a lot of questions (previous year, as well as from practice material of Made-Easy) from subjects like Soil mechanics/Geotech Engg, Environmental Engg, Transportation Engg, Hydrology, Open channel flow, Irrigation Engg & Surveying.

I started my preparation with SOM & Structural analysis since these are my strongest & favourite areas (the reason I didn’t practice much questions in these subjects).  That gave my preparation a proper start.  I went on studying major subjects like Soil Mechanics/Geotech, Environmental Engg, RCC Design, Transportation Engg, Fluid mechanics and Steel Design; and chipped-in small subjects (but very important) like Hydrology, Open channel flow, Surveying & CPM-PERT in between them.

 

  1. Which subjects according to require more practice and which subjects need to be read from standard textbooks?

In general, SOM, Structural Analysis, Soil Mechanics, Transportation Engg, Fluid Mechanics, Open channel flow & Steel Design require most practice as the variety of questions is large.  They all combined carry a huge weightage in exam as well.

I did not prefer studying for GATE 2017 from textbooks; only coaching notes.  However, IS 456 for RCC design; RK Bansal for SOM; Gopal Ranjan for Soil Mechanics/Geotech; and Khanna&Justo for Highway/Traffic Engineering can be referred for good knowledge.

 

10. Which study material and standard books would you recommend for GATE Aspirants in each subject?

I will not recommend studying from any textbooks for GATE preparation.  Textbooks provide good knowledge but they also provide too-much knowledge; this exam requires you to follow a more focused-approach.

The best thing to follow will be coaching class-notes.  If you are joining any coaching yourself, prepare notes and study from them.  If you are not joining any coaching, I would suggest to get class-notes of some good coaching institute xeroxed and study from them only.

However, if someone has doubts, or a lot of time for preparation (like 1 year or so) and wants to rely completely on textbooks, here is a subject-wise list of good books which will suffice for preparation:

 

Subject Textbook
SOM RK Bansal; Timoshenko & Gere
Structural Analysis Ramamurtham; LS Negi; Gupta/Pandit; CK Wang
Soil mechanics/Geotech Engg Gopal Ranjan & Rao;
RCC Design Pillai & Menon; IS 456; Verghese
Steel Design Subramanian; SK Duggal; LS Negi
CPM-PERT/Construction Tech. BC Punmia; PEURIFOY
Fluid Mechanics & Machines RK Bansal; Modi & Seth
Environmental Engg SK Garg (1&2); Peavy-Rowe
Highway/Pavement &  Traffic Khanna & Justo; Kadiyali
Railway & Airport (Rarely asked) Saxena & Arora
Surveying KR Arora; BC Punmia
Building materials ML Gambhir; BC Punmia; MS Shetty
Hydrology & Open channel Subramanya (respective volumes)
Irrigation Engg SK Garg
Engineering Maths (Vast) BS Garewal; Kreyzig; NOTES

 

     11. 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?

If you completely focus on understanding the basics during round-1 of your preparation, you will not tend to forget the concepts.  Immediately after round-1, I started with revision & started remembering formulas, and also started practicing more & more questions.  I went back to the topics in which I was unable to solve the questions & studied them properly again.  This helped in good understanding & retention of the concepts.

Since I was working full-time, I used to study 3 hours after office on weekdays & around 8 hours on weekends sincerely.

 

12. What is the role of mock tests in your success in GATE exam? How many mock tests did you attempt? When did you start attempting mock tests?

I feel that Mock Tests/Test Series is THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF GATE PREPARATION…and one should attempt it very seriously!!

Sitting 3 hours straight for a mock tests you through time/patience, knowledge & pressure of the exam.  It also tests you through all the topics in random order so your focus is also tested.

Analysing your mocks is even more important!  I used to give 1-2 more hours just to analyse the mocks & note down each and every topic where I went wrong/didn’t solve: revise that topic thoroughly & make a note of it.  Keep improving your concepts with each attempt in mock & your confidence will grow.

I started giving subject-wise mocks while I was doing my revision.  It helped me keep a check on my preparation as well (around 50 subject-mocks).  After that, I started attempting full mock tests, sincerely analysed them & kept learning (around 12 full mocks).

 

13. How was your score in Mock Tests? Is there any correlation between mock test performance and actual GATE performance?

In 3 mock tests it was below 65;

In another 2 it was above 80;

And remaining between 70 to 80.

 I only got a rank within 100 once; mostly it used to be above 200 or 300.

You can definitely get an idea of your preparation from your mocks.  But, it is very important to stay focused & not get disheartened with any of your results & by comparing your rank too much.  Keep learning more & trust your preparation.

 

Personal Questions

 

    14. What is the role of undergraduate studies or college studies in your GATE prep?

Some of the subjects which I liked in college are still my favorites!  I owe my professors a lot for developing my interest in those subjects…they laid the foundation.

If one is just normally sincere with the college studies, I am definitely sure that it will help a lot in GATE preparation.

 

    15. How did you motivate yourself for such a long journey towards GATE?

As I have already mentioned, I want to enter a teaching line so that I can impart good & updated knowledge to the coming generation.

Since I have already worked for 5 years, I thought of this year’s GATE as the only chance to pursue my further studies.  I was targeting M.tech (+PhD) in the best colleges and I have got admission in IISc Bangalore.  I will be joining there in August’17.

 

    16. Did you expect such a result after giving the GATE exam?

Yes, and No.

Until the answer key was out, everything was very uncertain & unpredictable.

After the answer key was released, seeing the ranks in past few years, I was even hoping for a rank in top 50.

But, I am very satisfied with my efforts & result.

 

     17. How did you feel the moment you saw the results?

The day result was declared, while desperately trying to open GATE 2017 website, I asked my father what rank will make you happy?  He said a “double-digit”….I said its 93!

We all were really happy!!  I knew my hard work has paid off and I am one step closer to fulfilling my dreams.

 

     18. What is the role of family and friends in your success in GATE exam?

ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.  Allowing your only child to leave a well settled & paid job, 5 years after the graduation, into a much longer journey, just to fulfill his dreams, a decision such as this doesn’t get tougher!

My parents have been as sincere at home as I have been during all my preparation.

My friends always trusted me with my decision & pushed me forward.

 

    19. Who would you dedicate this GATE result to?

My Parents.

 

    20. What is the success mantra that you would like to give to other GATE aspirants which has been critical for your preparation as well?

GATE is probably not the toughest exam, but it certainly requires a strategic & planned preparation.  It is also very crucial exam: now, not only do the M.Tech admissions require GATE score, all PSUs are also recruiting through GATE only.  Hence it becomes very important to score good in this exam, and it will open many options for your future.

 BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, TRUST YOUR PREPARATION, AND YOUR HARD WORK WILL PAY OFF!

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