This blog is the 4th article in a series of GATE preparation tips blog articles for Civil Engineering Students. The blog author, Rohit Sachdeva has secured AIR 93 in GATE 2017 and is currently studying at IISc Bangalore. You can read the rest of the articles under the CE section for GATE blogs at http://gate.vidyalankar.org/category/civil-engineering/.
In this article, we will talk in detail about how you should implement your plan to ensure a successful attempt at GATE. This comprehensive guide will be very useful for anyone who is thinking of starting GATE preparation.
Always remember one thing: no-one other than you can make a better plan for you.
Everyone has different style of studying, has different constraints and different approach towards problem solving. That said, the following tips will provide a general robust framework under which you should plan your own steps. And remember, success has no shortcut!
I will assume you have read Blog articles 1 to 3 and then proceed towards reading further.
- Study Material: You should purchase class notes of some good coaching institute and study from it. You can use standard textbooks also for clearing doubts and/or solving numerical questions.
- Previous year question papers: In the very beginning phase, go through the last 5 year question papers quickly (you may invest 4-5 days on this!) and assess how much you remember from the college curriculum & what you have completely forgotten
- Time Table: By now you will have an idea about the trend of GATE questions & weightage of different subjects. You would also have understood the areas you are strong / weak in. Based on these factors prepare a rough timeline of subjects that you will cover.
- Identify the big & small subjects according to time (& effort) they will take to complete. Also flag subjects which have vast scope but have less weightage – you need to study those smartly!
- You may want to start with your favorite subject. This will give you the required push to start the preparation.
- Do not tend to leave your weak subjects for the end; you will feel like not studying it at all by then. Try to cover those somewhere in middle when you have good momentum.
- As a general guideline, I advise students to study big & small subjects alternately. This will help in making the preparation “not boring” and you will be able to cover maximum syllabus most efficiently (of course this is a personal choice).
For Civil Engineering, Soil/Geotech, Environment, SOM/Structures, Transportation and Fluid Mechanics are big subjects. RCC is very vast but has relatively less weightage – I will discuss in detail how to cover each subject in separate blog artciles.
- Round-1: Stick to the basics; understand concepts; don’t try to remember too many formulae. Most importantly, stick to the time table & do not lose momentum. Assuming you have 1 year for preparation, target finishing round-1 in 6 months.
- Revision-1: Once round-1 is complete, start your revision round. By now, you would have an idea which subjects need more preparation, so plan accordingly. This is the time you should start focusing on remembering formulae as well; make short notes & a formula book. This is also the time you can start giving subject-mock tests. Target finishing revision-1 in 3-4 months.
- Revision-2: Most students tend to skip this step & straight away start with full-mock tests. No doubt test series are important, but it is equally important to revise thoroughly. So now you should start revising your short notes on a daily basis & keep revisiting your formula book. Finish your subject mocks & start full-mock tests.
- TEST SERIES/MOCKS
- Ok trust me; this is the most important thing for GATE. You can be as flexible as you want in points 3 & 4 above, but please take this very seriously!!!
- Subject-mocks will assess how your preparation is going. You can always take a pause and revisit concepts in which you are lacking confidence. Best time to attempt subject-mocks is during your revision rounds-1 & 2.
- Full-mocks will test you through time, patience, knowledge & pressure. Give mocks seriously without any cheating. Sit for 3 hours straight with full concentration like you are really attempting GATE exam. It will test you through all subjects in random order.
- An even more important aspect is: Analyzing Mocks. After 3 hours of paper, sit for 2 more hours & note down each and every topic where you went wrong/didn’t solve – then revise thoroughly & note it down. Also analyze answers which you did right, maybe you will find some alternate shortcut/trick.
- Don’t be in a rush to give too many mocks – be serious about analyzing them instead!
- After finishing revision-2 you can start giving full-mocks; you may give around 1 month for this.
- With each attempt your concepts will strengthen & confidence will grow; never become disheartened by comparing ranks. Your target should be to increase your knowledge pool of different variety of questions.
- There are a lot of new topics that you will cover only through mocks no matter how much you study before it, so note them down for future quick revision.
Cautionary advice: I hope students don’t get into this situation, but in case you are not left with enough time to attempt all full mock tests, I will advise to start & submit your exam & then at least go through all the questions once. See solutions to problems that seem new / unfamiliar to you. This last minute strategy may come handy sometimes. But please make sure you don’t make this an intentional habit of skipping mock-tests.
I hope this comprehensive blog will clear most of the doubts students have regarding preparation strategy & giving test series. More things will become clear when we will introduce subject-wise blogs for Civil Engineering.
Wishing you all the success!