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Get your concepts right

With less than two months left for the Gate exam, most students are worried about the new format of the test. But experts advise students not to be unduly bothered about the changes. In fact, students should embrace the new format because of the shift in focus of Gate score from total aggregate towards students’ ability level. That is, the Gate score will now be a percentile one just like the Common Admission Test score.

This year, there will be an online computer-based test on 15 subject papers, up from four last year. But Prudhvi Reddy, Gate director, Time4education, Hyderabad, a coaching institute for Gate aspirants, feels this should not be a problem as most engineering students are comfortable working online by virtue of appearing for the All India Engineering Entrance Exam.

Also, according to him, since the cut-offs are expected to be higher this year due to rise in the number of applicants, students should do well to set higher benchmarks than last year while practising for the exam. To tackle the new format better, they should also practise fill-in-the-blanks questions apart from multiple choice questions, he feels.

One way of maximising score is to identify the subjects where the weightage of questions is more.

“Solving questions from these areas would boost marks in the examination. Questions from core engineering subjects have around 70 per cent weightage but general aptitude and engineering maths with 15 marks each play a vital role in maximising the score. In fact, a good performance in general aptitude and maths can ensure minimum qualifying marks in the Gate exam,” Reddy adds.

But first and foremost, get your concepts right. “It is important to get the basics right as Gate is an exam that tests one’s understanding of concepts thoroughly. And as in any competitive exam, having enough practice in simulated test conditions is a must,” says Abhijit Chaudhuri of Gateforum.

Agrees Rajdip Nayek, who stood second in Gate 2012, “If one is able to understand the concepts of each topic, cracking any ‘tough’ question can be a cakewalk. Following a strict schedule, solving previous years’ question papers and understanding what the paper setters want from students will help you sail through the test.” He suggests a few books to score well in the exam — Engineering Mathematics by Erwin Kreszig, Geotechnical Engineering by B.C. Punmia, Soil Mechanics by VNS Murthy, Mechanics of Materials by E.P. Popov and Transportation by Khanna & Justo.

Coaching institutes believe attempting mock tests a few days prior to the exam can give students the necessary confidence and help them assess their relative positions as compared to their peers. “Solving last ten years’ papers would help students understand the Gate pattern better. There is always a preference for particular topics depending on the stream. Ideally, students should devote 50 per cent of their time to revision and the remaining on practising questions,” says Ketan Gohil, chief technology officer, Gate Academy, Calcutta, another institute which prepares students for the exam.

But Shibir Basak, an MTech student of IIT Kanpur, who ranked 158 in last year’s Gate, says students should think twice before attempting multiple choice questions as any wrong answer would result in negative marks. “The focus should be on accuracy. One should try to maximise as many marks as possible to score well in the exam,” he says.

So, just get your basics right, focus on core subject areas and before you know it, you will have cracked Gate.

What’s New in GATE 2013

From a completely offline mode, Gate is slowly shifting online. In 2011, 4 papers were held online while in 2012, 6

papers were conducted in the online mode and this year, 15 papers will be conducted online. But most of the papers, (including computer science & engineering, and mechanical engineering) are yet to be put online

The GATE score calculation has seen interesting change with the shift in focus towards students’ ability level than the total aggregate. The old formula uses average and standard deviation of marks scored by all students. But in the new formula to be used from this year, the average and standard deviation terms do not refer to the entire population, but to specific ability levels (qualification marks and top 0.1% of students)

There will be greater integration with the online application interface from this year. Applicants can pretty much do every thing from the interface, including submitting application, fee payment, status checking, taking printouts of admit cards, result checking, posting queries and other issues. Also, in addition to sending a recent photograph of yours with signed application, soft copies of photograph and signature must be uploaded during online application

Some books you can read

• Power Electronics by Ned Mohan

• Power Systems by Stevenson

• Control Systems by B.B. Kuo

• Machines by M.G. Say

• Microprocessors by Ramesh Gaonkar

• Engineering Mathematics by Erwin Kreszig

• Geotechnical Engineering by B.C. Punmia

• Soil Mechanics by V.N.S. Murthy

• Mechanics of Materials by E.P. Popov

• Transportation by Khanna & Justo