Are you taking a break to prepare for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)? Sit down and ask yourself a few questions. Why do you want to take up the GATE? Is it because you want to get a PSU job or do you wish to study further?

  • If it is for a PSU job, then we are running out of time here. Age limit to apply for a PSU job using GATE score is usually in the late twenties (on average). Find out which companies you are eligible to apply.
  • If you wish to study further, then make absolutely sure this is what you want. When you say “I want to give all my time for preparation because I’m finally understanding and enjoying my subjects“, that is actually a positive sign, and I hope you mean it.

Do not allow negativity around you (family, relatives or friends) to get to you. They may or may not intend to, but your inner guilt is going to make you think you are being looked down by them for not having a job or a career yet. This is very important if you want to remain focused till GATE 2017. Let go of your ego. Let people say what they want. Believe in yourself, and believe in those who believe in you. Let the rest of the world go to hell. Literally.

Next. I’m assuming it has been x years since you graduated from your bachelors degree. Take your time to put together whatever notes or textbooks you have from your undergraduate days. Trust me, they are gold. Also, get 1 or 2 GATE question banks/previous papers collection for your stream, like GK Publishers, Arihant, Wiley Maestro, Made Easy, or any other. (This is to give you an idea of how a GATE question paper is, and/or how they have evolved over the years)

Now for the important part. Make a proper schedule. The keyword is proper. You have 12 months at your disposal. A lot can be achieved in 12 monthsISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) was built in 15 months. So, imagine. Spread out the entire GATE syllabus over the next 9-10 months. Try to finish by November so you can practice paper solving comfortably in the last two months. Use this time to really strengthen your basics. Most universities/colleges you apply using GATE score are likely to have their own written tests/interviews at the time of admissions. This is going to help you later as well.

Don’t go topic to topic (like finishing one topic before going to the next). It is a bad idea and by December, you might feel out of touch with what you covered earlier in March. Instead, spread out topics on a weekly basis. For example, if you are from Mechanical Engineering stream, do Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer on Mondays, Machine Design and Strength of Materials on Tuesdays, etc. Try and simulate a college environment at your home, if need be, like having 45-90 minute study periods, lunch break, etc. And yes, Sunday holiday!

Whether or not to get a temporary job while preparing for GATE should entirely be your decision, based on your confidence and comfort levels. Teach as you learn, if that makes you happy. It does not have to be engineering, even high school or middle school tuition will do. As long as you do not lose sight of your goal.

Last but most important, use this year to diversify your skills and strengthen your personality and character. Learn a new language or art. Eat healthy and exercise. Physical fitness goes a long way. Go out on weekends. Improve your self-confidence. It will help you in your higher studies as well as later on (in your professional career as well as personal life). Turn into a completely new (but better) person if you have to but just do it!

I have seen enough success and failure, so you can take my word on this. I am 26 right now (I passed out in 2011). I don’t have a job. I squandered many an opportunity in the last 10-11 years, constantly fighting anxiety and depression (I dropped out twice, out of IISc Bangalore in 2012 and IIT Bombay in 2015, despite having an IQ of 149 and a GATE percentile of 98.9 in 2011). Only I am responsible for where I am today. I bear the guilt of letting my parents down and having to depend on them financially when other people of my age are earning good salaries, buying cars, getting married and settling down. Believe it or not, peer pressure is a big factor in India.

Avoid thinking about the past, regrets, etc. I know you can’t stop entirely, but the more you think about it, the more you are going to be distracted from your focus. So, each time you have a negative thought, just get up from there, maybe take a walk and come back.

Train your mind to think only on the positives. It is not easy but it is not impossible either. Happy studying. 🙂

I shall see you on the other side. Good luck!

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