Meet A. Balasubramanian (aka Bala), a 2015-batch EEE alumnus of our college, who stood out with an astounding all-India rank of 7 in GATE 2015 - an exam which only 15% of takers manage to even get a rank in - as he talks about his aims, study methods and hobbies. Read on to find out more.
Congratulations on your applauding success in this year's GATE ! Was this success expected or did it come as a surprise?
I knew this earlier as I had been working for this since a year. We should start preparations one year prior to the examination. Students wanting to appear for the GATE 2016 must start preparations now.
Why did you choose to write the GATE exam rather than any other competitive exam?
My aim was to work at one of the many PSUs, which recruit mostly through GATE. Other competitive exams like the GRE get you into foreign universities, which I was not interested in.
Were you aware that only 15% of the candidates appearing for GATE qualify the exam?
Yes, I was aware. Generally people are not aware of the nature of the GATE exam. They think that GATE is just like any other college exam, and that they can get by with a lax attitude towards preparation. They open their books only a few weeks before the exam. That won’t work. We need to start preparing at least a year before the GATE exam to thoroughly grasp the concepts.
When did you start preparing for the GATE and when is the ideal time to start preparation?
I started preparing from January 2014 and started problem solving from March 2014. GATE is mostly about problem solving. We should practice solving problems first and then study. We would have gained basic knowledge about all the subjects, from our first three years in college. This would suffice to solve previous year question papers. That is what I did.
How did you manage to balance your time between college hours and preparation time for GATE?
Here at Anna University, we are quite free in the 6th and 7th semesters. In the sixth semester, we get around three half days a week. On such days, I attended classes in the morning and sat down for preparations from the afternoon. In the seventh semester, many classes were cancelled due to placements; that was an added advantage.
What were the other institutions and PSUs you got offers from? And why did you particularly select BPCL from them?
I got my first interview call from BPCL, and chose it because of the job security there. I was earlier interested in IOCL, but I later noticed that it faced big losses from time to time, so opted for BPCL instead.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? What are your future aims and goals?
My aim was to work in a PSU and now I have joined one. Let's see how this goes, for a year. If I'm not satisfied with my work, I will pursue my Masters in IISc Bangalore.
What all were your supporting factors for the preparation of GATE?
I solved a lot of previous-year and mock question papers. I had actually enrolled myself in TIME, but I didn't find the classes very useful. They had many mock question papers which I downloaded and solved. I also played football - the FIFA '14 game - for around an hour everyday, which helped me unwind and relax.
What advice do you have to offer to your fellow GATE aspirants?
From the third year, one needs to start by solving previous-year GATE question papers. Since this exam has been conducted since 1992, we can find question papers from the years 1992 to 2015 on the Internet. This method works, because by the middle of your third year at Anna, you would have a decent exposure to several core subjects, which will help you solve the questions asked. Further, we need to be thorough with nearly 30 subjects to crack the GATE exam, which makes it a tedious task to study all those 30 subjects first and then start solving the papers. Hence, we should start solving the papers and study only those questions we find hard to solve.
The Guindy Times wishes Bala all the best in his future endeavours.