With the weather in Kolkata and across the rest of the country playing ducks and drakes, it could serve to tranquilise many young techies gearing up for their Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering exams. Scheduled for 31 January, many of them are likely facing the music in coping with last-minute cramming. Cracking a Gate is no easy task because it requires proper study strategy, determination and focus. “If you think it&’s one of your regular college exams, you need to pause before plunging into the Pacific Ocean”, says Nitin Rakesh Prasad, co-founder of the Gate academy. 

Even mugging the concepts isn’t child&’s play as practical knowledge is a requisite. Positivity is very important for a smooth and splendid start and a good command over all the topics covered in the undergraduate exams, along with practicing the previous year&’s question paper will help an individual in the long run.

No topic should be categorised as unimportant and suggestions and more (self-initiated by a candidate) warrant strong discouragement. Having a superfic idea encompassing the entire syllabi will negate one&’s chances of getting through, because the questions are usually tricky to deal with and call for a strong and crystal-clear concept of every topic covered. Superficial ideas will get you nowhere though mock tests ranging from basic to the advanced level usually help afford a logical, reasonbased, step-wise approach. 

One needs to keep in mind the importance of not falling prey to the recent array of private universities. Apart from getting into IITs and NITs, the individual needs to buck the odds and apply with the PSUs, as these also accept the Gate scorecard as part of the selection process. They need to keep a follow-up and records of private universities, because of the chances of being duped. There is also the clarity of one&’s goal in terms of rank, which matters. For example, “If your goal is to join any of the top courses in the IITs, you need to get a rank of less than 1,000, which means you cannot afford to leave out any section during preparation. On the other hand, if just qualifying is the goal, one can afford to leave out some sections and focus on the important ones and still get enough marks to qualify,” says Prasad. 

Sincerity and diligence has no alternatives and the more mock tests attempted the better. It is also strongly suggested that examinees not start something new at the fag end. One needs to believe in oneself. Indeed, the stress should be more on the Multiple Choice Questions or the numerical equivalent, with Prasad advising that it is preferable to start with the former as most will be framed from concepts covered in undergradation courses, which would be easier to attempt. 

Regarding the numerical questions, one needs to be thorough with the short tricks and formulae that help in acquiring answers faster. 

With such an approach, students can avoid negative marking and score more. Since one has to choose any five subjects of one&’s interest, there is the obvious importance of confidence. Selecting the five subjects calls for a weightage of 45-55 marks, going by the pattern of the previous years’ papers. Study time, irrespective of exam or a subject in any field, cannot be regulated as different people have their own ways of studying. But doing 12-15 mock tests regularly and studying around seveneight hours daily allows for a broader perspective to play the game, get less pressurised, run fewer risks of forgetting facts and formulae. Since this is an online exam, students should check out more online practice papers to acquire the desired speed as time is a big challenge.

For the last month, it is usually preferable to segregate the hard and easy topics or, at least, prepare five technical subject plus mathematics and general aptitude. Starting with a subject of your strength boosts your confidence but it&’s also important to concentrate on your notes that you’ve already made. Smart study consisting of recapitulation is deemed necessary. 

This year&’s Gate is undoubtedly tougher because of the introduction of a new format – like an online calculator for the exam that will be a bit difficult for students to use. With time being the big constraint in such an exam, it becomes all the more difficult for students to calculate on speck than online. 

Making a habit of preparing footnotes at the end of every chapter or topic helps during revision. There are topics that hold more weightage than others. When going through these, there might be a few related facts or important details that you will like to keep in mind in moments that matter most. 

The tonality and pattern of the questions can only be understood by practice. And there is no other alternative to this. One also needs to keep in mind that negative marking can reduce one&’s chances of even qualifying. So go for it only when you’re cent per cent sure. Follow a timetable so as to keep track on how much time is spent on a particular subject. Most importantly, analyse your mock score as this will help detect a problematic area, determine your strength and discuss improvement avenues with the faculty. 

At the end of it all, remember that Gate is not the end of life nor is 2016 the end of the world.