GATE : Preparation Strategy & Study Plan

Before you start the preparation, here are common but very important points which should be taken care of during your preparation of competitive examination including GATE. These points  will be discussed one by one and will be elaborated so that you know the role of these points in your student life. You should go through following points and keep in mind throughout your preparation.

I. Know yourself

II. Indentify what not to be done

III. What should I study and from where?

IV. Importance of time management

V. Role of short notes

VI. Revise what you studied

VII. Role of coaching Institutions

VIII. Role of a mentor


I. Know yourself

It seems to be very vague word when we talk about ‘know yourself’. It seems to be a philosophical satire. However, the fact is that there are a number of students who really don’t know about themselves. Before we go into analysis of this philosophy we need to ask few questions to our self.

a. Is there any instance when an average student qualified GATE exam with very good rank?

b. How many times you compared yourself as better or bad in studies as compared to your friend or roommate in hostel? 

c. How many times you faced difficulty in recalling a topic in examination hall?

d. How many times you did silly mistakes during examination?

e. How many times you found that your friend is very casual in studies but he studies just for one night and performs very well in the exam?

Its sure that almost everyone must have faced above situation in school or college. Remember one thing every human being is unique in himself. You cannot compare yourself with another person. Your friend may be having extra ordinary memory or IQ and you may not or vice versa. He may be able memorize the topics just by reading once and you may not. In such situation it is for sure you may not be able to qualify the examination if you put yourself in his shoes. Other way round there may be one of your friend who is not as intelligent as you but he performs better than you. Here, what you need to learn is that he must be working hard or adopting better approach towards competitive examinations than you.

Instead of comparing yourself with others it is better you know about yourself that how many times you need to read to understand a topic and memorize it. If you understand a topic by self study then do it yourself and if you understand with help of a teacher then take help of a teacher. If you understand a topic by reading it five times then do it, otherwise you will fail or will not be able to score well. Never ever compare yourself with your friends. You should judge yourself, know your potential and put enough efforts to equip yourself by studying according to your caliber. If you do it, you will not be frustrated and will be able to face any challenge. Comparison with other brings either superiority or inferiority complex and both are harmful for you. 

II. Indentify what not to be done

Never put yourself in stress. Stress will simply pull you towards depression or frustration. Stress can be due to many factors which are individual specific. The reasons of stress can be comparison with others or pressure to prove worth of you in society and so on. If you put yourself under pressure you will not be able to do anything. So, relieve yourself from any type of stress by developing some hobby and devoting some time of day for activity which you like the most.


Another important thing not to be done is that never ever treat competitive examination like university examinations. In University examination we study just 2 to 3 nights before examination and recall it on exam day and forget it forever after exams are over. You need to recall only one subject on the day of examination of that subject. But in case of competitive examination we need to recall 12 to 13 subjects just in 3 hours on the day of exam. In such situation is not possible to study all subjects in 2 to 3 nights just before examination and recall it. For competitive examination we need to be very consistent throughout year and revise the subjects as many times as possible so that we can memorize and recall all subjects in 3 hours on the day of examination. So, consistency in your preparation is a key to success in competitive examination.


Sometimes when students are prepared well they start feeling sense of insecurity and start studying too much. They start studying even those topics also which are not important for examination, due to fear that question may appear from that part of subject this year and that ends up in messing up everything resulting in diversion from targeted studies. Remember just focus on topics which are important according to analysis of previous years question papers. Its almost sure that 90% questions come from the topics from which questions have been appearing in past. So, never ever divert your focus from topics from which 90% questions have been coming in past. Therefore, be focused all the times during your preparation.


Sitting posture is also important while studying. In most of the cases when you study by laying on the bed it is almost sure that you will feel sleepy after few hours of study. So, you should avoid such postures and try to use table & chair for developing your stamina of long hours of study.


III. What Should I study and From where

If you know about yourself, know how many times you need to study to understand and memories a topic but don’t know from where and what to study then it is difficult to qualify an examination. Very first thing before starting the preparation is analysis of previous year papers so that you know what the topics from where questions are appearing frequently. After analysis you will find there are a number of topics which are there in the syllabus but there are rare occasions when questions appeared from such topics. You will also find there are few topics from which questions are appearing almost every year. So, if you do the analysis you will be able to identify the most important, important and least important topics of syllabus. Accordingly you can read those topics which are important and most important for examination. Then always try to read standard books so that you develop you concepts. You can consult faculties or friends or seniors for standard text books for reference. The reference books and analysis of  previous papers is already given here.


IV. Importance of time management

Time management plays very role in your effective preparation. It is part of your daily life and has very conclusive effect. Remember one thing an intelligent person can fail but a hard working will never. You should plan your study depending on the time available to you before final day of examination. Those are who are passed out and doing self study they can devote 15 hours a day. You may be thinking like it is impossible. But let think of the 24 hours schedule of the day as under,

06:00 AM
Wake up time
06:00 AM to 06 : 30 AM Make yourself fresh & have a cup of tea etc.
06:30 AM to 8:00 AM 1.5 hours of study
08:00 AM to 09:00 AM Breakfast & Bath time
09:00 AM to 01:00 PM
4 hours of study with 10 to 15 min of tea break
01:00 PM to 06 : 00 PM 4 hours of study with 30 minutes of tea or snack break
06:00 PM to 08:00 PM 2 hours of study.
08:00 PM to 09:00 PM Dinner break
09:00 PM to 12:00 PM 3 hours of study
12:00 AM to 06:00 AM Have sweet dreams

If you follow above schedule no one can stop you qualifying any of competitive examination whether it GATE, IES, IAS or any other examination within one year.


Those who are college going students they can exclude time from 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM. Then they are left with 6.5 hours of study at home. They can devote 2.5 to 3 hours in college library during college time if they are really serious about their preparation.


Those who are preparing along with their job they can exclude time from 09: AM to 06:00 PM and can devote remaining time of 6.5 hours a day at home for self preparation.


Those who have joined some coaching classes they can exclude 4 hours of their class timing and can devote 11 hours of time at home for revision and study.


It may appear very difficult to stick to above schedule but there are plenty of students who followed above schedule and did well in competitive examinations.


Lastly, you should re-plan your schedule whenever you feel that you are diverting yourself from schedule due to known or unknown reasons. 


V. Role of Short Notes and Practice

You should develop habit of reading standard text books that pays a lot not only in written examination but in interview also. You should prepare your own short notes while studying and study only relevant topics of text books which are important for examination. Remember your first and foremost aim is to qualify the examination. You should gather that much of knowledge from books which is enough for qualifying the examination. Rest knowledge can be acquired at latter stage when you are in job. Once notes of relevant topics are prepared then you should not read books again and again and just refer your notes and revise it as many time as possible so that every concept and topic is memorized. Remember concepts should be learned and developed and facts should be memorized. In all the competitive examination there are conceptual as well as fact based questions. In GATE examination it is concept which is more important and in IES, IAS & PSU examinations it is facts which are more important. So, students should develop concepts by studying from standard text books and memorize facts by making short notes and revising it again and again. Once concept is developed it won’t take time to recall but factual information like formulae etc needs to be revised a number of times to memorize it. Accordingly, students should adopt approach depending on the examination they are preparing for. Always keep on adding important and relevant facts and concepts in your short notes from text book you read so that you don’t need to refer many books again and again. 

Once you read a topic do not forget to solve the questions of that topic which appeared in previous years. It would help you to develop your confidence about your preparation. It would also help in maintaining your confidence if you solve previous year questions after reading a topic.

VI. Revise what you studied

Remember that every human being has got limited short term and long term memories. The memory fades with time and it needs to be refreshed. You should know about yourself that how many times you need to read a topic to learn and memorize it and read it that many times. As an average student one should read a topic at least four times to push it into long term memory. You will find that first time you take more time because of developing understanding of topic and making short notes but time required goes on reducing with every revision and a time comes after 3 to 4 revisions that you take just few hours to revise one complete subject. So, keep revising the topics as many times as you can, depending on the time available to you. 

VII. Role of Coaching Institutions


Now days it has become a trend to join the coaching institutions. Students are spending lot of money on tuition fee of these coaching centers. There should be multifaceted role of a coaching institution in your preparation. Firstly, coaching institution should indentify what are important topics to be covered for your effective preparation on the basis of analysis of previous years question papers. Secondly, they should provide the faculties who are able to deliver effectively and make you understand the topic which are important for your examination. Thirdly, they should provide you practice questions and tests to judge your level of preparation from time to time. They should provide you competitive environment and keep you motivated all the time so that your moral remains high during period of stress of preparation. 

But remember, if you have analysis of previous year question papers, have ability to find what to study and what to leave behind, keep yourself motivated and have excellent time management then you don’t need to join any coaching institution. In such case you can perform better than a student who joins a coaching institute. 


VIII. Role of a mentor

A mentor also plays very important role in your preparation. A mentor is one who keeps you motivated during your preparation. He guides you from time to time. He himself may be a role model for you. He may have experience of all the competitive examination you are preparing for. There are lot of people who are posting videos in different platforms on web services like you tube and one of such person can also become your mentor. 



Study Plan for 2nd year B.Tech Students:

Almost whole syllabus of GATE exam is from second and third year syllabus of most of the universities in India out which 50% is from 2nd  year and remaining from 3rd year of B.Tech. So, the students who are in second year have got best opportunity to prepare for GATE examination along with university curriculum without devoting separate time. It would help to improve their percentage in university examination also. The only thing they need to do is that they should study the subjects little more depth which are common in GATE and University. It would require little extra effort but it pays a lot at latter stage when you appear in GATE. They should practice questions of GATE which appeared in past from these subjects. They should also take subject wise test papers from their seniors, friends or faculty or internet. Practice of previous year questions will help you to know type and level of questions which appear in GATE along with building your confidence. It would also help you indentify the topics which are important and frequently asked in GATE examination. Try to prepare your own notes it would help you a lot for revision in 3rd and final year. Try to devote at least 3 to 4 hours on GATE preparation after your regular college timing. Do not waste summer vacation and holidays. You can fully concentrate on your university examination just one month before university examinations. During your summer vacation try to revise your notes which you prepared in second year for GATE examination.

When you enter in 3rd year of your B.Tech. you will find that you have already developed confidence and know how to study and prepare notes. Your 50% syllabus is already covered which would give you edge over other students who have not started their preparation yet. Again adopt the similar approach in third year. Try to study those subjects in detail which are common in GATE and university syllabus. Practice the previous year GATE questions, prepare your own notes and take subject wise tests. In 3rd year you should also revise the subjects from  short notes which you prepared in 2nd year. Remember keep revising what you have already studied otherwise your memory will be washed away after some time. You should now give 4 to 5 hours of study at home in addition to your regular college timing in 3rd year. At the end of your 3rd year you will find that you are fully prepared for GATE examination. It would boost your confidence level and help you to do better. Devote one full month for your university examination and try to revise your GATE syllabus during your semester breaks and summer vacations.

In final year of your B. Tech., you should keep revising your notes. Try to devote 5 to 6 hours of regular study at home in addition to college. Keep practicing previous year GATE questions and similar questions from text books and take some good quality test series to judge your level of preparation. GATE examination is normally in month of February. Finally, you will find that you are through with very good rank in GATE examination.


Study Plan for 3rd year B.Tech Students:


Students should know that almost whole syllabus of GATE exam is from 2nd and 3rd year of B.Tech syllabus. Ideally, you should have started your preparation for GATE in 2nd year itself. However, you have lost that opportunity. But 50% of GATE syllabus is still in your hand which you are going to cover in 3rd year of your B.Tech. You should study those subjects with little more depth which are common in GATE and university in accordance to syllabus of both GATE and university. Try to make your own notes from GATE point of view and solve previous year GATE questions and take subject wise tests. 

Try to cover two subjects of second year from GATE point of view on holidays and weekends. You should devote at least 5 to 6 hours on study at home in addition to your regular college timing.  

Try to cover remaining subjects of 2nd year during your semester break, summer and winter vacations so that you cover all the subjects of GATE before you enter into final year of your B.Tech.  Devote one full month for your university examinations. 

In final year, keep revising your notes, practice GATE questions and similar question from text books. Try to devote 5 to 6 hours of regular study at home in addition to college in final year also. Take some good quality test series to judge your level of preparation. Finally, you will find you are through with very in GATE examination.


Study Plan for 4rh year B.Tech Students:


The students of final year really need to work hard if they want to qualify GATE examination with good rank. They need to study subjects of 2nd and 3rd year to cover syllabus of GATE. There is hardly any subject from final year in syllabus of GATE examination. So, they need to devote 5 to 6 hours at home and 2 to 3 hours in college just on your GATE preparation. They should cover the subjects one by one but precisely only those topics which are important for GATE examination. The important topics can be indentified with the help of analysis of previous years GATE papers. The study should be highly focused in accordance to analysis of previous years papers.

Read one subject at time, practice GATE questions of every topic simultaneously and take subject wise tests as well. Try to make your own short notes for quick revision. Students should finish the syllabus by December and revise notes in January and finally appear in GATE in February. It is reiterated again that do not cover all the topics and just cover those topics which are highly important from examination point of view. Students can also skip some subjects which consume more time and have less weightage in GATE examination. They should solve previous years GATE questions so that they keep their domain confined and remained focused on types questions asked in GATE examination.



Study Plan for Passed Out Students:

The students who are passed out and preparing just for GATE examination they have plenty of time everyday with them for preparation as compared working professionals or college going students. But they should remember that GATE examination can be cracked with a very good rank only by adopting proper approach and hard work. The approach to deal with competitive examinations is already discussed above. As discussed earlier your preparation start with analysis of previous years question papers with proper time management.  Students should take subjects one by one. They should study only those topics which are important from examination point of view and skip the remaining topics. Always prepare your own short notes and practice GATE questions and similar questions from standard text books. It would be better if you refer books referred in IITs for those topics. Students should not take more than 10 days on one subject to study from GATE point of view. It would be possible only if you follow a very strict time table and study 13 to 15 hours a day. In these 10 days you should be able to read the subject, prepare your short notes, practice GATE questions & similar questions from the books. It would take almost 4 months to complete your syllabus once.  

After covering your whole syllabus once, you should start revising your notes and practice GATE questions again and more similar type of questions from text books. The second revision must not take more than 2 or 2.5 months.  Don’t forget to revise the subject three times before the GATE examination so that you refresh your memory and recall the concepts and facts of subjects. During second revision you should join some good quality test series to assess your level of preparation. It would help to boost your confidence or give you opportunity to find your weakness and improve upon it. Don’t study too much just one or two days before  the examination that may create confusions. Always devote some time on your hobbies and entertainment to refresh yourself.