(This is a copy of the actual post dated June 13, 2013 on http://manasthakur.blogspot.in)
In this post, I would describe my experience with GATE 2013, the colleges I applied to, the decision I made, and also advice to other aspirants.
I have always been inclined towards teaching and learning, so getting a good rank in GATE was my first priority during my final year B.E. I believe that for GATE formal coaching is not necessary (I didn’t take it), but having a formal attitude (opposed to the casual one) is a must.
I secured AIR 780 in CS discipline of GATE-2013. I had less idea of what I could get with this rank, but the Post Gate Guidance group at Facebook helped a lot. Actually, I realised that I was more interested in research courses a little later, so I didn’t apply for MS and PhD at many places. I applied to a number of institutes, and got calls for the following:
1. IIT Madras MS and PhD
2. IIT Jodhpur MTech (ICT)
3. IIT Patna MTech (Mathematics and Computing)
4. IIT Roorkee MTech (CSE)
5. IISc Research Programme (MSc Engg/PhD)
6. IIT Mandi MS
7. IIT Indore PhD
8. IIIT Allahabad MTech
The first call I got was from IIT Madras MS, and I became very sad because I had my university exam on the same day as the written and interview. Till this time I had realised that I actually want to go for research, and was surprised to see a new mail in my inbox after a couple of days, which was for IIT Madras PhD. This time, the dates didn’t clash, but the written and interviews were scheduled between May 6th-8th (at Chennai), and my university exam was on 9th. In this regard the IITM professors were very helpful and they agreed to put my interview on May 7th, if I get shortlisted after written test.
IIT Madras Campus is very beautiful (you can feel being inside a calm forest with deer and black bucks all around). They also provided accommodation for outsiders, which was a big source of relief.
The written test comprised of two parts: the first was a 30 minute test comprising of short answer questions (with 1/4th negative marking), in which we had to answer 10 out of 15 questions. The paper was of moderate difficulty and had questions from Digital, C and Data Structures, Computer Organisation and Architecture, and Engineering Mathematics. The second part was the difficult one. It had 5 subjective questions (all compulsory) and was for 60 minutes. The questions were from TOC, OS, CAO, DS, and tested how far you can think of within the topic, as some of them had two bits: the next depending on what you answered in the previous. I answered 4 out of 5 questions, and could feel a sigh of relief when my name was shortlisted for interviews (48 were shortlisted after written; 37 who were already PG and 11 who were undergraduate like me).
The interview panel had 12-13 professors, whom I regard as the best academicians in the country. First I was asked about my undergraduate education, institute etc. Then I was asked to choose two subjects out of a list of 8-10; I chose Data Structures and Compilers (also these were close to my research interests). Then only two professors asked me questions – each for a subject. The questions tested how deep one can go inside the said subjects. The professors put constraints after I answered a question in one way. e.g., if I told a way to reverse a stack using queue, then a constraint was put that no queue can be used; if I used recursion, then I was asked to solve without recursion. Overall, I enjoyed the interview as it felt too good to think over the issues in my favorite subjects and do board work in front of such an eminent panel.
The result came after a week (total 15 people were selected), and it saved my fees of applying to CCMT, IIITs and a lot many places. I would advise the following things to other GATE aspirants:
1. Have a positive attitude and read from standard textbooks.
2. If you want to be in industry after your PG (but in better companies and/or job profiles), then apart from IITs, you should put your options open to various IIITs, top NITs, BITS, and the like.
3. If you want to go ahead in research and/or teaching, or wish to study abroad, then you should try to get research courses only in the IITs.
I wish all the best to my friends and readers of this blog; and thank everyone who helped me and I wish to be in touch with, and blessed by them, always.