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Friday, March 15, 2013

My Journey from GATE 2012 to IITD

My Info

Name – Avval
AIR - 205
Gate Score - 802
Currently Studying - M.Tech(CS) at IITD

My Experience

I passed out my B.Tech in 2010 and joined a mass recruiter company. Soon realized that it was not meant for me and started looking for a way out. Found the answer in masters. So, I prepared for the exam on weekends, called in sick for a month before GATE and wrote it. The day the result came out, I put down my papers. It was one of the most memorable days of my life.

Next, came the phase of applying to the various courses. I applied to the following colleges/courses:
IISc - M.Tech (Computational Science) and MSc.(Engg.)(CSA)
IITB - MTech (RA 3 yr)
IITK - MTech (CS)
IITM - MTech (CS)
IITKGP - MTech (CS) and MTech (IT)

At that point, I thought that the hard part was over and that things should work out smoothly from then. But I was wrong. Although the rank was good enough for me, it wasn't good enough to get me a direct admission.
You see I'm not that great in Mathematics, and I made a mistake of ignoring Maths during GATE prep as well. Luck was in my favor at the GATE exam since they didn't ask many questions from Maths, but the luck had started to run out at the next phase of selection. As it turned out, all the colleges seemed to be only interested in testing my knowledge of MATHS!!!

IISc -M.Tech(Computational Sc)

The very first test was that of IISc. I don't completely remember everything but AFAIK, it had about 30 questions. Most of them were of 11/12th std Maths questions. Though they had mentioned testing programming skills etc. as well, I remember at least 25/30 questions to be from maths and the rest covered everything else.
You can refer to this link for syllabus:
As expected, I screwed up that test and didn't get shortlisted for the interview.


The next thing was IITK. Well, after asking many people I was of the impression that IITK written test and interviews were supposed to be the toughest, and all I'd heard from everyone was that you ought to be excellent in Maths, esp. in depth knowledge of Probability related topics was mandatory; that majority of their questions would be from probability etc. I was not confident. Plus, I wanted a good shot at IIT Delhi. I always preferred Delhi for several reasons. I didn't wanna risk my chances of screwing up Delhi, so decided to chuck Kanpur and focus on preparing for Delhi.
But one thing I came to learn was that Kanpur was worth a shot. The paper (as I heard from everyone else) was quite similar to the actual GATE paper and NOT full of maths like I expected it to be. So, the lesson to be learnt is that don't give up all that easily. Do give it a try at least.


The plus point at KGP was that they gave 70% weightage to the GATE score and 30% to the interview. So, I was quite hopeful to get it. They didn't have any separate written exam. Just an interview. I was the first one to be interviewed on my day. It was a panel of three profs. They started by asking why I wanted to pursue MTech. They were interested in knowing whether I was there just to get a better job or if I would go into a more academic oriented research work/PhD etc. They asked me my favorite subject. They didn't seem to be happy to hear DBMS. One sarcastically even mocked me saying "Oh! research work in DBMS!". The other panelists asked me some basic definitions from concurrency and transaction, which I answered properly. The mocking prof started asking me questions from maths. They were basic definitions from Calculus. Stuff like functions, continuity, differentiability etc. All I could think was "Why can't Maths leave me alone"! Anyway, I answered whatever I could remember. Then another panelist, a lady prof asked me to mention my next favorite subject. I promptly said, "Algorithms". She mentioned the problem statement of the Travelling Salesman Problem and asked me how would you go about solving such a problem. Trying hard to recollect, all I could recall was that it was an NP complete problem and I didn't know what a good solution could be. I started telling her about Dijkstra's algo although the two problems were unrelated. She switched tracks asking me questions about Dijkstra's. She mentioned about negative edges and negative cycles in directed graphs. She became happy to hear the term Bellman Ford algo and let me go.
As it turned out, I cleared that interview and got selected in MTech(CS).


The results of KGP weren't announced by this time. I went for the interview. Though I was scheduled to be interviewed by noon, I had to wait till 7 pm for my turn to come. This was a horrible experience. JCA is offered basically by the Maths department jointly with the CS dept. They wanted candidates who had good knowledge of Maths. When I entered, they asked me, "Kya padha hai?" I mentioned DBMS and Algo. They asked me to solve some puzzle related to sorting in linear time with a certain constraint. I was unable to work out the solution at that time and found my confidence dying exponentially. They started asking questions from Maths. Mostly topics from linear algebra, definitions from vectors and matrices, their applications etc. It was so not my day! I got very nervous and screwed up the interview. The interviewers were clearly disappointed and let me go. I knew I didn't stand a chance. Taught me a lesson about the importance of Maths!


The interview date clashed with that of IITD MCS interview dates, so I didn't appear for that because I preferred a two year program at IITD over the 3 year program at IITB.


This interview was scheduled about a week after the JCA interview. I was completely shattered after the JCA interview. I REALLY wanted to get this one (esp. after having sacrificed my shot at IITK and IITB!!) To boost my confidence, the result of the KGP interview had been declared before that and I was in. :)
In the preceding week before the MCS interview, I had prepared several sorts of Algorithm questions ready to mention it as my favorite subject. (I was told that IITD interviewers ask our favorite subjects and ask questions only from those areas and so I was advised to prepare a couple of subjects thoroughly). However, the scene was somewhat different from my expectation.

I was never asked my favorite subject. I had two panelists. They started by asking why I wanted to pursue higher education after two years of work-ex. To that, I answered, "Sir, I realized that I was not learning anything any more". They seemed to like that answer. 
Next, started the technical part. One of them started asking me questions about hamming distance and started framing a tricky problem involving hamming distance and probability. I told him that probability wasn't my strong suit. The other panelist then started asking me questions from discrete maths. Luckily, I was good in those questions. She asked me questions like difference between functions and relations; what are the possible maximum functions/relations from one set to another; to derive those expressions; mathematically prove why the max. no. of functions would be more/less than the max no. of relations etc. I correctly proved and derived all the results. They seemed happy and let me go. I had a feeling I would get this one and I did. :)

The day I got in was one of the happiest days of my life! I hope this experience is of some help to all you people striving to get into a good course.
One piece of advice I would give is to NOT stop studying after GATE results. 

All the best!!


  1. Thanks avval for sharing your experience...

  2. nice
    good for junior to get admission tips

  3. hi avval,

    can u please help with the preference of area of specialiation that u registered for IITK form.

  4. thnx for sharing

  5. Thank you sir ,for sharing your interview experience .
    sir, can you please give me some tips of cracking GATE exam.

  6. Please share your experience in your MSc Engg at CSA.

  7. hi,
    can u give the timeframe for each of these interviews. Around which month each happened?

  8. Hey,
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  10. Your personal sharing is brilliant. It will also help those who are yet planning to make there career but couldn't able to get the right track.

  11. Thankyou for sharing your experience. I think applicatio and practice are truly a major requirement. I found a link to some free GATE tests online that help:

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