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GATE 2017 Topper Interview – Akhilesh Kumar Pandey – AIR 18 (ECE)

 GATE 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.

This is the quality of GATE conducting team that they make a twist even in a basic question. They repeated the same trend this year also. Although, the questions were asked from basic concepts, a deep knowledge is always required to give the correct answer. For example, we are very well aware about p and n type doping, i.e. when arsenic is doped in silicon it is called n-type and when gallium is doped in silicon it is called p-type. But, in the question paper of GATE 2017, it was asked for a GaAs junction that in the Ga region if silicon is doped then which type of doping it will be called. Now, to answer this question, one must have a clear idea about why it is called n-type or p-type. The similar type of twist and trick were used in around 30% of the questions. Around 10% questions were from advance level topics such as optical fibre, wireless communication, FSK, etc. Remaining all other technical questions i.e. 45% questions were average and followed the same trend as asked in previous year exams. General Aptitude questions were comparatively easy this year and also there were very basic questions from English. One new type of GA question related to contour plot appeared in the exam paper this year, which was easy but tricky. Overall, the paper was less calculative this year; most of the questions were based on analysis. I will categorize the level of paper depending on the desired score (out of 100):

  • Easy to score 40-50 marks
  • Average to score 50-60 marks
  • Tough to score more than 60 marks


  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 had given various online tests in the last 2 months of my preparation, so almost everything I had planned before the exam. Before entering into the exam hall, I was telling to myself: “I have not to waste my initial time and if I find some difficult/complicated question I will skip to next one instantly and attempt the complicated questions after completely going through the entire paper”. Fortunately, I solved first 10 questions very easily and saved a lot of time that gave me the confidence to solve entire paper in a relaxed mood.


  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?

As I mentioned earlier, I had planned my strategy earlier before the exam on the basis of my performance in Mock Test. At first, I had started to solve the 1 mark questions of Subject Paper-EC and then I solved 50% questions of 2 marks subject questions then I attempted GA completely and then I completed remaining 2 Marks questions. Finally, I reattempted those questions which I had not answered and marked as review. 15 minutes were still remaining after attempting all the questions, so I reviewed the unsolved questions again, and somehow I could solve 2-3 questions that I could not solve at my first attempt. The reason behind my strategy is as follows:

  • Attempted 1 Mark questions of technical portion first, it took around 30-40 minutes:
    • Reason:- 1 mark questions are usually easy and by attempting some easy questions at first I wanted to get a confidence in myself.
  • Then, attempted 50% of 2 Marks questions of technical portion, it also took around 30 – 40 minutes.
    • As 2 mark questions are scoring but some of them are calculative/confusing so I wanted to cover at least 50% of these questions in relaxed mood.
  • Now, I was left with only 1 hour 40 minutes and I attempted GA question which took around 30 minutes.
    • As GA questions usually have different pattern always, I did not want to take a risk of doing it at last. I knew that I may do it wrong if I would have additional pressure of time saving. I did not solve the passage related question as it might be time consuming. In one of the GA question related to contour plot, I got confused and wasted around 5 minutes in the question although it could not be solved. Finally I skipped the question.
  • Finally, I attempted the remaining 2 marks question of technical part.
    • As I had 1 hour 10 minutes left, I had enough time to solve the remaining question. There was no any time pressure in my mind as I had already covered 70% of the paper in less than 2 hours. This gave me the confidence for doing the remaining questions with full dedication.
  • After covering the complete paper, I had around 30 minutes remaining and so I reattempted those questions which I could not solve at the first attempt. I succeeded in solving contour plot GA question, rank of matrices question, and some other tricky questions.


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

In GATE exam most of the questions are numerical related so GATE aspirants must be habitual to use online calculator. While preparing for GATE exam, we generally use the physical calculator but in exam we have online calculator. Operation of the online calculator and physical calculator are different. As I had given many online test series so I was comfortable to use online 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?

My habit of solving objective question is to solve the question without seeing the option and then match the result to the given options. So, I had no problem in solving the Numerical Answer Type Questions and had not planned differently for it. As per my view, there should be no separate approach to solve the NAT Questions.


Preparation Strategy for GATE Exam


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

I was working in a private company but I was not satisfied with nature of my job. So, I was preparing for GATE exam to get a stage by which I could find some relevant job in which I have interest. I had cracked GATE exam earlier also, but I could not score good enough to get enter into IIT or get a PSU job. In September 2016, when the BSNL JTO notification was released, I left the job and decided to focus completely on preparation. So, my main motive of appearing in GATE exam was PSU Job this time.


 When did you start preparing for GATE exam?

As I mentioned in previous question, I was the repeater for GATE 2017 and I had good knowledge of subjects, only the thing I had to do was practicing problems. For GATE 2017, I had started my preparation from September 2017 and I focused mainly on problem solving, specifically previous year papers.


  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?

Before starting the preparation, I had categorized the subjects into two parts:

  • 1st part: I included those subjects in which my concepts were good and there was no requirement of learning theory for the subjects. This includes Network Analysis, Digital Electronics, Signals & Systems, Control Systems
  • 2nd part: I included those subjects in which my concepts were not good and I had to study the theory of those subjects with reference standard books. This includes Electronic Devices, Analog Electronics, Electromagnetics, Communication systems

Now, I selected two subjects to start my preparation: one (Network Analysis) from 1st part and the other (Electronic Devices) from 2nd part. I had planned my daily routine accordingly.

For 1st Part subject, I fixed the morning time as I thought if I start the day with an interesting subject I could keep studying for a long duration, otherwise I would start feeling boring. For 1st part subject, I solved previous year problems of GATE and Engineering Services Exam as well without reading the theory. Only I referred the standard books when I had doubt in any problem. This way, I completed Network analysis in just 10 days, next I completed control systems in just 10 days, then signals & systems in 15 days and digital electronics in 15 days, i.e. in one and half months I had completed all the four subjects of first part. After completing these subjects, I started to solve the previous year paper for 2nd time, but this time I solved only the important questions that I had marked earlier.

For 2nd part subjects, I fixed evening time. Again, I focused on previous year GATE questions: at first I just read out the questions which were asked in previous year related to a topic then read the relevant theory completely from the standard book and then made a note for that concept on my own, then I solved some basic questions related to the concept from the text book examples itself, and finally I solved topic related previous year questions; again if I had a doubt I referred standard text book and make a note if I found a new concept. This way, I completed electronic devices in around 20 days, then I started analog electronics and completed it in 25 days, then EMT in around 25 days, and finally communication took 30 days. Once I had completed a subject, I revised it daily by solving at least 10-15 questions (previous year GATE questions) daily from different topics of that subject.

In addition to the 2 subjects (of 2 parts), I used to solve 20-30 Engineering Mathematics problem daily from a previous year GATE solved paper that includes all mathematics problems of all streams viz. EC, EE, IN, CS, CE, ME.

Overall, in a day, I used to solve around 200 questions excluding the online test that I had started to give from October 2017. Although, I had not fixed any target for that.


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

Answer to this question can’t be universal for all the candidates. Although, the subjects, in which, only calculation based questions are being asked require practicing problems; and those subjects, in which, analysis based questions are being asked require solving problems along with reading the standard text books. I can categorize these 2 types of subjects as:

  • Calculation Oriented Subjects: Network analysis, Analog Electronics, Electromagnetics (excluding Antenna & EM waves), Control systems (excluding Nyquist plot and contollers), signals & systems, Digital electronics, Engineering Mathematics
  • Analysis oriented questions: Electronic Devices, communication systems, Microprocessor, Antenna & EM waves, Nyquist plot and controllers. These subjects/topics require reading standard text books.


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

For practicing problems the best source of question is:

Previous year GATE solved paper (topicwise categorized)

Previous year ESE solved paper (topicwise categorized)

For learning the concepts, only standard text books are recommended. The lists are as follows:

  • Network Analysis: Sadiku
  • Electronic Devices: Milliman Halkias
  • Analog Electronics: Sedra & Smith
  • Digital Electronics: Morris Mano
  • Signals & Systems: Openheim
  • Control System: Nise
  • Electromagnetics: Sadiku
  • Communication System: Haykins & B. P. Lathi


  1. 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 revising all the subjects by repeatedly solving previous year GATE problems until I appeared in the GATE exam. I had completely solved the previous year GATE papers approximately 3-4 times. In the last month, I used to solve only important questions of previous year GATE paper that I had marked earlier.


  1. 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?

It helped me a lot, and I will highly recommend for attempting the mock tests sincerely from the very first month of starting preparation. I started to attempt mock test from October 2017 and everyday I used to attempt one subjectwise mock test. In 2nd week of December, I started to attempt full length mock tests (at least 2 tests in a week). Overall I attempted around 60 subjectwise mock tests and 10 full length mock tests.

These Mock Tests helped me a lot in deciding my strength and my weak portions. Also, by attempting full length mock test, I had developed a clear plan in my mind about how to attempt questions and which portions (1 mark or 2 marks) I have to attempt first. Most important benefit that I got by attempting mock test is that I became habituated to use on screen calculator.


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

My performance in mock test was not consistent; it was variable according to the subject. For full length mock test, my performance was quite good and I was able to get 60+ marks most of the time. The GATE performance was similar to the mock test performance, if I will compare only to the best performance by me in mock tests. But, in some mock test, I could not do well but my GATE result is quite good. So I can’t tell that the mock test performance gives the exact idea about GATE performance.


  1. Did you purchase/use any of the Kreatryx Products? If yes, how was it beneficial to you?

Yes, I had referred Kreatryx solution for previous year gate questions; the questions in which most of the published books has done wrong, Kreatryx has provided a detailed solution for that. For clearing my doubts, these solutions were very much helpful. Even after getting the response from GATE officials, I had matched the answers with the solutions provided by Kreatryx. I really thank the entire Kreatryx team for providing such content on their website.


Personal Questions


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

I have done B.Tech. from a private college affiliated to RTU. The pattern of education followed in semester exam is completely different from GATE. So, no way the college studies helped me in GATE preparation. Although, because of my interest, I had done numerical problems in Network analysis, digital electronics, and electromagnetics that helped me while preparing for GATE.


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

As we know all the aspirants start preparation with full dedication but they can’t manage well to give the same dedication level throughout the duration of preparation. The same happened with me, but I motivated myself by reading some thoughts, Bhagvath Gita, and lots of such books. While preparing I had stopped thinking whether I would pass or fail, I was just thinking about how to clear doubts and how to solve more and more problems and how to perform good in mock tests. In addition, one of my junior Sikander used to come at my home for group study. He motivated me a lot and used to give me different tasks/problems; when I could solve those tasks I used to get a motivation itself.


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

Yes, I was expecting it. Even, I had told to one of my friend just after getting out of the exam that I should secure under 50 rank at least.


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

As I had already known the total marks so I was very much sure about my result. Although after seeing the result I got a little bit excited and I congratulated myself 4-5 times as I was alone somewhere away from my home.


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

It will be amazing if I say that I did not get any support from my family but it is true. When I had left the job for GATE preparation, no one was in my favour and most of the family and society members had considered my decision as my failure. But, it is my friends who supported me a lot for my preparation. Specially three of my friends Sikander, Sandeep, and Pratik motivated me time to time and planned outings on every Sunday that was very much helpful in relaxing my mind and giving my 100% in study.


20. Who would you dedicate this GATE result to?

To my friends; specially Sikander and Sandeep.


  1. What is the success mantra that you would like to give to other GATE aspirants which has been critical for your preparation as well?
  • Do not leave the hope even if you have failed so many times.
  • Continuously solve the problems and keep revising it until you attempt the GATE exam.
  • Solving a single question for 5 times is much better than solving 5 different questions for single time. Follow this accordingly
  • Concentrate on your strength only. You may skip a few topics from some subjects if it is complicated for you.
  • Do not waste your time in reading the topics that are unrelated to GATE exam. Only read the topics that have been asked in previous year GATE paper as GATE has repeated trend of questions.
  • Motivate yourself for learning & solving more and more problems in a day. Never think/predict for the result, it will only create an additional pressure on you.
  • Stop reading books at least 1 month before the exam and focus only on those topics and problems that you have completed already.
  • Attempt one subject mock tests daily and analyze it on the same day. In last few months attempt full length mock tests and there should be at least 3-4 days gap between 2 full length tests.



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