The starting point of all achievement is desire.
Krishna Murthy wanted to get AIR 1 in GATE exam from the day he started preparing. He was studying B.Tech in EEE (Electrical and Electronics Engineering) in BITS Pilani, a stream he had opted for despite having got enough marks in UG engineering entrance exam to have opted for CSE. In the four years he realized that computer science interested him immensely. After getting to know that one can change stream in Master’s degree, he decided to attempt GATE 2016 for CSE paper. The rest as they say is history.
As the result of GATE exam was announced on 18th March he was pleasantly surprised to see that he got All India Rank 7 in CS. In his interview for the GATE Toppers Interviews series, he speaks at length about how he prepared, for the benefit of future GATE aspirants.
|College of graduation||BITS Pilani (B.Tech in EEE)||GATE Score||966|
|GATE attempt||First attempt||GATE Marks||–|
|Subject||Computer Science||After GATE Result||M.Tech|
About Krishna Murthy, GATE 2016 Topper (CS AIR 7)
Q. Share your feelings after cracking the GATE exam with such a good score.
A. From the beginning, I targeted AIR 1 which gave me much needed motivation to cover breadth of the syllabus. But I just hoped for below 100 rank to get direct admit. Single digit rank was a pleasant surprise.
Q. Please tell us a little bit about your family? How did your family support in your preparation?
A. I belong to a middle class family from Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh. My father started his career in AP state government as a typist. My mother is a housewife.
Entire credit of this success goes to my mother and father. They respected my decision to leave job and IIM Kozhikode admission, and take risk of spending an year in preparation for technical entrance exam of another engineering stream, despite the societal pressure. They gave me full autonomy and support during the entire period.
During the last month, my mother even used to wake up early morning to wake me up (the hardest part :P) and sleep again.
Q. What was your favorite subject (in college)?
A. From childhood, I loved solving riddles, logical questions and Mathematics which I believe had given me a lot of advantage even before I started preparation.
Q. What motivated you to appear for GATE ?
A. When I completed +2, I did not have knowledge about engineering streams or even knowledge of how to use computer or internet which led me to make a safe choice of taking EEE, inspite of having score high enough to take CSE in the same college.
In college, even the basic algorithms of computer science fascinated me, and made me realize I made a wrong personal choice. Like most of the engineers, I landed in a software(non-core) job where my interest towards some other topics of computer science developed further.
I came across GATE 2015 CS topper Ravi Shankar Mishra’s interview and saw that his Bachelor’s was from Mechanical engineering. This led me to find out that one can change their stream in Master’s, if he/she can crack entrance exam of that respective stream. This motivated me to give GATE in CS.
Q. You have studied at BITS Pilani (Goa Campus) one of the prestigious college, how was your experience there? And why you opted for BITS only?
A. My time in BITS helped me a lot in developing as a person, thanks to the extra-curricular activities organized by the students themselves. I got chance to interact with many talented students from various parts of India and understand their perspectives towards various aspects of society. One nice aspect of BITS is it does not have any kind of reservations.
Q. What are your future career plans? PSU or Post Graduation?
A. Post Graduation.
- Krishna Murthy scored 966 and got All India Rank (AIR) 7.
- He had studied B.Tech in EEE at BITS Pilani but decided to change stream for Masters. He appeared for Computer Science paper in GATE 2016 and will be pursuing M.Tech for same.
On how he prepared for GATE and tips for GATE preparation
Q. When did you start preparing for GATE exam? On an average, how many hours a day did you study?
A. I started going to coaching from mid-June. But the serious preparation started from mid-November. On an average, I studied around 10 hours from mid-November to December, around 12 hours during January.
Q. How one should start preparing for GATE?
A. Phase 1: Developing a brief idea of what is present in each topic of each subject. Till 4 months before exam.
If one is from same background, just going through syllabus sheet and couple of previous papers will do the trick, assuming you attended college classes and prepared notes.
For others, coaching classes, nptel lectures (videos.gatecse.in/) will help during this phase. Making notes is helpful.
Phase 2: Understanding concepts. Till 1 month before exam.
For each topic, go through the notes prepared by you in the first phase. Try to solve previous year problems (book.gateoverflow.in/ or ACE Previous year questions) on your own. If you are unable to solve some problem, read related theory from any standard book (books.gatecse.in/). If you still have doubts, post them on discussion forums (gateoverflow.in/). Add new points and tables to remember (by heart) to the notes.
Phase 3: Revision.
Revise notes (and previous year questions again from uncomfortable topics).
Personally, I have not given any mock test as I am very comfortable with time per question in GATE. If you want to practice, give them (targate is similar to gate/ made easy challenges your depth).
Q. Which was the most difficult topic and how did you crack it?
A. Computer Architecture and Networks. I left out few subtopics that are theoretical or not emphasized in previous year’s. This did cost me a few marks in the exam.
Q. Have you attended any coaching classes? In your opinion, is it necessary to take coaching for GATE Preparation?
A. Yes, I attended classroom coaching from ACE Engineering Academy, Hyderabad. If one is from same background, special coaching is not necessary to crack GATE. If one is switching streams, I highly recommend coaching.
Q. What are the most important topics for GATE CS preparation that you think a GATE aspirant should focus?
A. Algorithms, Operating systems, Database Management, Theory of Computation
Q. What is your success mantra?
A. Know why you are doing, what you are doing
Q. If there were three key tips to crack the GATE (CS) exam, what would they be?
- Clear understanding of topics
- Good notes
- Previous papers
Q. What should be kept in mind for last minute GATE preparation?
A. If you have a habit of preparing good precise notes, it helps a lot here. Preferably do not read anything new or postpone something for last minute. Panic only makes things worse.
Q. Any suggestions/ advice to the aspiring GATE Students?
A. Conceptual clarity matters a lot more than no. of hours put in.
All coaching materials have few mistakes. It is when you trust your answer more than the one on the back, you are on right path.
Do not look at the answers before solving questions and then apply method to get that answer (Unfortunately, this is the most common problem with many aspirants I came across).
- This GATE topper studied for 10-12 hours daily to prepare for GATE exam.
- Preparation strategy was divided into three phases – Getting a brief idea of each topic (till 4 months before GATE), Clear understanding (till 1 month before GATE), revision.
- He found computer architecture and networks to be the toughest topic.
- According to Krishna there are three most important aspects of GATE preparation – clear understanding of topics, good notes, previous year papers.
- One must avoid looking at answers before solving the question, says GATE Topper Krishna Murthy.
Exam day experience and important points for GATE aspirants
Q. There are a lot of students who are apprehensive about the online (computer based test) pattern. In your opinion, is the format something to be worried about?
A. No. Do not get lost on the unnecessary details on the side. Go through the buttons functionalities and pick only the useful ones. Practice all kinds of calculations on virtual calculator.
Q. On the exam day, what was your experience like? Please elaborate upon this as it will be extremely helpful for the students.
A. I highly recommend visiting the exam center beforehand. Make sure your ride knows where the college is and go in a familiar route (I booked a cab driver who started taking me to a different place. Luckily we enquired in middle of the journey). Plan to reach the center at least an hour before. I recommend not reading anything once you are out of your room. Do not get intimidated by people studying at the center. Clean your allotted computer screen yourself before exam and get comfortable with surroundings before exam. Listen to the invigilator carefully.
I followed the order of aptitude 1m then 2 m followed by technical 1m then 2m. Try solving all the questions, instead of recollecting from memory. If you encounter a question that takes more than 3 min or unclear, just ‘mark for review’ it and solve it after going through the entire paper. I completed 50 min before time and went through the 2 mark questions again. When you are solving the second time, solve it again freshly (and see why answers are not matching).
- Do not worry unnecessarily about the computer based test format.
- Practice using the online calculator.
- Know the route to exam hall in advance.
This interview was compiled by Aglasem correspondent Pranjali Rastogi.