Common mistakes students do while preparing for GATE

Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) exam basically tests the comprehensive understanding of the candidates in various undergraduate subjects in Engineering/Technology/Architecture and post-graduate level subjects in Science. There are several opportunities for engineering students through GATE exam for postgraduate courses like M. TECH and also for employment in various PSU(s) like BHEL, GAIL, IOCL, NTPC, NPCIL, etc. Every year, around ten lakh engineering students sign up for GATE preparation and aspire for good ranks to avail these opportunities but due to some common mistakes in gate exam preparation, only a few of them reach the pinnacle of success. Avoiding these little common mistakes while preparation can avoid the delay in achieving success. Some of the frequently observed mistakes are

1. Beginning preparation without analysis

A lot of students start their GATE preparation without analyzing the syllabus themselves. A comprehensive study of the exam pattern and trend of questions asked from various topics is very important before you start the preparation. GATE preparation does not need a very inclusive preparation in terms of coverage of syllabus. One needs to track and analyze the previous paper trends properly. In depth study of concepts is required to stand the cut throat competition; earlier cut off were less but in today’s scenario toppers are scoring somewhere around 95-98 marks and relatively the cut off has also increased. Also, one must identify their weak and strong areas and approach each subject accordingly. Same time and attention to each subject may not be a helpful idea.

2. Improper prioritizing

Without a mind map of the course of action to follow, loss of efficiency and effort may occur. Topics can be classified into two different types which are; conventional (traditional) areas of the syllabus and rarely asked topics. Conventional areas are those which must be prioritized since they are sure to carry the highest percentage of marks. Rarely asked topics can be taken care of at the end of the subject as they can provide an extra edge, in case a question from those topics comes up. Similarly, out of numerical and theoretical topics, depending on one’s own comfort and strengths, one must identify and prioritize topics accordingly.

3. Research-oriented study

Often students waste a lot of time by trying to follow a plethora of sources to study. Time is a very crucial aspect while preparing and it should be saved by avoiding unnecessary research on any topic. GATE Preparation must be highly exam-oriented. Reading complete textbooks for each subject takes up a lot of time and effort. It is a very good practice for enhancing knowledge but not so much when one tries to prepare for GATE in a stipulated amount of time. The focus must always be on clearing the exam and thus, the preparation strategy must be highly goal-oriented at all times. Textbooks or any such sources must only be referred for topics that one finds tough to understand from their primary source of study. It is here where Coaching comes into the role play, as experienced faculties give you the right direction regarding how to study, what to study and how much to study. This actually saves your unnecessary efforts and saves time.

4. A generic approach for the preparation

Following a generic approach or someone else’s approach for preparation is another common mistake being observed. Preparation plan should be unique for every aspirant and for each subject. This practice is not good because every individual has his/her own limitations and strengths. So, one may take help from other’s strategy and plans to develop their own but not follow them completely. Similarly, each subject cannot be prepared in a similar manner and some subjects require more practice. Whereas subjects that involve more theory must not be taken one after another. Proper short notes and repeated revisions for such subjects is helpful, whereas practicing more questions for numerical or concept-based subjects proves more helpful.

5. Poor revision plan

This is the most common mistake seen in GATE exam. A well-organized revision plan is even more important than a proper preparation plan because retaining is more important for the judgment day than understanding. Planning your preparation strategy in such a way that there’s no room for revision in the end would be a blunder. Also, keeping revision only for the end is also equally harmful. The revision must be done at regular intervals through practicing questions, re-reading notes or appearing for test series. Time dedicated for revision must be increased with each progressing month of preparation.

6. Lack of discipline

Lack of discipline does harm to everybody’s life, in general. And then if you decide to devote a crucial phase of your life to preparation for GATE, this is one mistake you would certainly want to avoid. A well-disciplined and scheduled routine is very important while preparing for entrance exams. Continuity is another important aspect. A consistency in study hours and a set pattern must be maintained. It is suggested that one studies in stretches of two to three hours at once. The number of such sessions can be increased gradually and according to one’s caliber and stamina. Studying for twelve hours in a day, three days a week and two hours a day for the rest of the week does not let the mind train itself for the exam day. Furthermore, one’s study timing and schedule must be fixed and stuffed with small breaks in between. Proper food habits, sleep habits and exercise are a few more things that can add to one’s efficiency while studying.

7. Demotivation from others’ results

Everybody has their own battle and their own way to fight it. At the same instance when its 2 pm in India, it would be 4:30 am in New York but that does not make India faster than New York. Same applies to people. Everybody has their own time zone and achieve what he or she deserves accordingly. What is important is that they should keep moving forward. One should not get demotivated by others’ success only because they achieved it earlier. It’s better to learn from their mistakes and get inspired by their hard work and then keep moving according to your plan.
Students generally go into solitude while preparation which is not good in the extreme. Rather, small support groups of two-three students with like minds and similar goals can be helpful. Discussion and doubt resolution can be done very easily with help of such groups.

8. Unverified study sources

Lack of trust in the faculty or oneself often leads students to go for some additional sources of study. These sources which may include some web portals, YouTube channels or local textbooks may be unverified. Reading from these sources sometimes may land you to gain incorrect information or concepts. This practice may be very harmful therefore it is very important to maintain trust in your primary source of study. If, in any case, it’s very important to refer any secondary sources, they must be verified first. Also, before referring to any book for model questions or previous year GATE solutions, one must check the credibility of the publication to ensure correct learning.

9. Lack of evaluation

Students tend to appear for less online tests or take offline tests for GATE to save some money. This leads to insufficient practice for the actual exam in its true mode. Regular evaluation and proper analysis are very crucial for proper GATE preparation. It helps one to understand where they stand among all the aspirants. Also, by analyzing mistakes and obtained marks, further course of action can be decided easily. Tests must be taken in online mode with virtual calculator only so as one can properly analyze their speed, accuracy, and concepts.
Only appearing for the test is not enough though. After a test is completed, one must examine the questions which you failed to attempt, look for a plausible reason why you could not answer them and update your strategy accordingly. As for wrong attempts, it is important to know if the mistakes are being repeated. If the mistakes are conceptual or related to memory, referring to the notes again may help. If more calculation related or silly mistakes are made, more practice is needed.

10. Insufficient tuning for the exam day

This mistake is generally seen thirty to forty days before the exam, or after the admit card has been released. Students tend to follow the same schedule until the end which is not a healthy practice. The human body needs to tune with their daily schedule to work at its maximum efficiency. After one receives her or his admit card, he/she must tune or plan their schedule according to their final exam slot. This helps the body to be the most productive and efficient in that time slot. For example, if one is habitual of studying at night and get afternoon session for the exam, one may not be at their most efficient self at that time. Also, one must also try to give actual computer-based tests conducted for a real-time experience of GATE exam. This helps one to get acquainted with the exam environment and avoid panic on the exam day.
During the exam, it is important to remain hydrated, energetic and stress-free as they say, ” prepare hard, test easy.”

These GATE exam study tips put together with strong determination and motivation can help students avoid common mistakes in GATE exam and achieve success without any delay.

“Mistakes are only harmful when you’re not learning from them, else they are just advancing steps towards success.” Success is easy for no one. Only those who can identify, accept and rectify their mistakes and learn from others’ can make it through easily. It’s very important to read success stories and take motivation from them but what is more important is to read failure stories and learn lessons from them.

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