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My Experience with GATE : The Gateway to IITs & NITs
        GATE is Locked ! Every graduate from an average university dreams of in reputed institutes like IITs or NITs and I am not an exception. But he has to unlock the GATE to reach there. Luckily we all have that ‘Key’ but most of us fail to unlock just because of not having the proper knowledge , how to use it.

        Being a biotechnology student in my early college days I fell in love with DNA  Tongue . Higher study and research became my only goal. Now to achieve my goal and enter that world the gate pass was Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE ). Well, I was also in the race like all others. I appeared in GATE 2015 and finished with 94.46 percentile. It was totally unexpected as I wished for much more. I was disappointed with my performance because I could feel what I had missed. I missed the dream IITs just because of some silly mistakes. Here I share my own experience and tips that I feel may help someone like me who desires to crack Gate and become an IITian.

Love your subject : This is the first key to success. Whatever you do, always do it from heart. Only then you ‘ll not get tired with the hard works and efforts you put . Better to say enjoy study.

AIM High : While you set your goal, say you want to crack gate, always aim high like you ‘ll be among the top 100 rankers. Just think, you are not different from those guys who will secure such ranks. The one who will be 1st in GATE 2016 is someone like you, someone having two eyes, two ears, one nose , and most importantly one brain. You have the same grey matter , so why don’t you use it?

When to Start preparation : Being the Admin of a Facebook group named ‘’BiotechWorld’’, I often face this kind of questions. Well, honestly speaking it depends on the candidate. If you have very much clear concept of the basics, 3-4 months is enough for preparation to get a respectable score in Gate. But, for average students like me the time runs out due to semester exams, projects, seminar, workshops etc. So, what I want to suggest you all, is after completing a semester, don’t say the subjetcs Good bye, just be in touch with those are in gate syllabus. Just at weekends review one or two chapters from the earlier sem , say you are in 5th sem, u can read microbiology as it is generally taught in 2nd or 3rd sem. Now, when you are at the end of 6th sem, start preparing for Gate seriously. Honestly speaking, six months time is enough for all category students.

How to Start preparation: If you are a beginner and you are reading this article first I ‘ll suggest you to go through the GATE syllabus very carefully. Read the previous years question papers and make yourself familiar with the exam like  question pattern, the marks division etc. Next ask yourself where you are standing now. How much effort you have to put. Then start to prepare subject wise. I try to summarise the whole thing below.

Two Subjects not to Ignore at all : See, all the gate aspirants do have minimum knowledge of their core subjects. But what will make the difference is the Mathematics and the General Aptitude Section. From my own experience there are not too much hard questions from these parts. You have to just practice it more and more.
i)   The Books To be followed: For my preparation I followed Engineering Mathematics by Pal and Das ( vol I, II and III ) , Numerical Methods by K. Das . But if you get any math book with topics covered well you can easily follow that.
ii)  For General Aptitude section use any good book and try to develop your reasoning ability. For GA I ‘ll suggest the Numerical and Verbal Ability Book by Gateforum .
iii) For mathematics must do the Linear Algebra ( Matrix and Determinant must topic ), Sequence and series, Differential equations and Probability (This is very important to solve many other questions in genetics so be master of this). You ‘ll get min 10 marks out of 15 (approx ) if you cover the above mentioned topics.
iv) After that most importantly solve these two sections from all the previous papers. Hope you ‘ll able to do most of them.

Now the Core Biotechnology : According to me I list the most important subjects here:
1. Bioprocess Engineering : This is one of the most scoring subjects in gate as maximum questions are numerical answer type (see, the numerical ans. type questions don’t have any negative marking so attempt all these ).
i) For bioprocess there are two very popular books. One is the Bioprocess Engineering Principles, by Pauline M. Doran and the other is the Bioprocess Engineering: Basic Concepts, by Shuler and Kargi. Both are excellent books but I followed  the 2nd one.
ii) Emphasise on these topics : Kinetics of microbial growth, substrate utilization and product formation , chemostat problems, monod equation, sterilization principle, scale-up technique.
iii) What I suggest for bioprocess is that first go through the chapters well then write down all the formula of the chapter in a copy. After that close your eyes try to memorise these formula along with the basic principle of it. I assure you, this ‘ll help a lot while solving a problem.

2. Genetics and Molecular biology : These are also two very important scoring subjects.
i) For Genetics you can blindly follow Genetics-A Conceptual Appoarch by Benjamin Pierce . In genetics many numerical questions are asked. To improve your problem solving ability you can follow- Genetics through Problems by B.N. Behera.
ii) For Molecular Biology I preferred iGenetics: Molecular Approach by Russell. But you can use any good book like Kerp or Watson if you wish.
iii) For genetics numerical problems I ‘ll suggest to focus on the following topics : Mendelian inheritance , Linkage, recombination and chromosome mapping, Hardy-Weinberg Law of population genetics.

3. Immunology: For Immunology no doubt go for Kuby, the best book I have ever read.
i) It is one of my favourite subjects so I feel all topics are important. Still you can focus on these topics: Antigen-Antibody structure and classes, Ag-Ab Reactions, MHC, CD markers , Complement system.
ii) For Immunology I must recommend you to watch the YouTube video lectures of Dr. Mobeen Sayed. I bet after watching all the 102 lectures you ‘ll fall in love with immunology.

4. Bioinformatics: For this I got very few books with basic concepts. Most people follow the book by Rastogi, but I found it little bit difficult. I read the book Essential Bioinformatics by  Jin Xiong and it really helped me a lot.
i) In bioinfo the important topics are the different databases, different file formats ,FASTA, BLAST, PAM, BLOSUM etc.

5. Microbiolgy : For this you can go for Prescott, a very nice book.
i) The important topics are Microbial growth related problems, Microbial genetics, Antibiotics and their mode of action.

6. Biochemistry : If you want a deep concept, Nelson and Cox is the best one. But for Gate preparation I think Biochemistry by U Satyanarayan is enough.
i) The topics that you must not ignore are All about Enzymes, the different biochemical assays, signal transduction pathways.

7. Recombinant DNA Technology : It is the real application of biotechnology at the molecular level and one of my favourite areas. If you have enough time, you can start with the book Principles of Gene Manipulation by Primrose else go for Analysis of genes & genomes by Richard J. Reece.
i) The important topics to be focussed are Restriction and modification enzymes,  Vectors, cDNA and genomic DNA library, PCR, gene transfer technologies etc.
ii) Numerical come from PCR, Restriction enzyme digestion , no of restriction sites in a given DNA etc.

8. Plant and Animal Biotechnology: well, in recent years not much questions are asked from these two subjects. But for safe side, don’t ignore these.
i) For Plant Biotechnology the book I would suggest is Introduction to Plant Biotechnology by H.S.Chaowla , but for genetic engg. of Plant part you can go fo Slater.
ii) For Animal Biotechnology you can follow the book by Ian Freshney.

9. Process Biotechnology : Honestly speaking I did not read this subject completely. I just read the different products and it’s source microorganism. This is the only area in this subject from where the questions are asked.
i) If you want to completely read this you can follow Biotechnology by U Satyanarayan, here the topics of gate syllabus are completely covered.

• So far all the discussion were for the beginners. I recommend to follow the above books when you first face the subject, that means at the time of semester preparation. Next, say u have 6 months left for the GATE exam. Most of the subjects you read earlier are lost in the black hole of your brain. How to start then?

• There are few combined book available at market like the books GATE Tutor by Arihant Publication and GATE Biotechnology by GK Publication. Most students buy these books for overall preparation, even I bought them too. These books contain most of the topics of gate but acc. to me not upto the mark except the GA and Math sections. For GA and Math you can take help of these two if you wish. Moreover what I found about these books, there are lots of confusing ans. of the MCQs and sometimes wrong too. So is there no single book you can rely?

• Oh yes, there is one. Biotechnology : A Problem Approach by Pathfinder Publication. I really loved it. This is very much authentic and well written. At the final months you can read this book only along with your previously made notes. If you read this book completely, i can assure you to get at least 98 percentile.
• Please note : I have most of the eBooks I mentioned above. So if you need any feel free to contact me to the email-id given at the end of this article.

• So far, it was all about the study materials and good books. But a competitive exam is not only the test of knowledge. It is how you control your mind in the specified three hours duration. Here is the big mistake I did. In my personal life there were some problems due to which I had to clear gate and it was kind of MUST. This brought me unnecessary pressure and tension. It is true that we often cannot give our best because we fear to fail. This prevents you to give your best in the proper situation. I think there are many students like me who suffer with such pressure that pulls them back. I ‘ll tell how these tension and pressure forced me to do so many mistakes.

• But before that, let me tell you that after appearing GATE I felt , securing a decent score is not at all a big deal. There are some tricks and techniques you have to follow. First of all if you get 55 to 60 marks you ‘ll be in top 100. ( Though cut-off and marks vary each year)
i)  In General Aptitude section there is 10 questions. (1 to 10 ).First five with ( 1 to 5 )1 mark and rest 5 (6 to 10 )with 2 marks. There are 4-5 questions you can easily ans. So you can get say 10 from this out of 15.
ii) Next, in Biotechnology section there are 55 questions including math. Out of these 25 (1 to 25) questions are of 1 mark and rest 30 (26 to 55) questions are of 2 marks.
iii)  From Mathematics there are around 15 marks question and if you follow my previous suggestions you can easily get 10 marks from that. So you have 20 marks in hand.
iv) Now, you have to ans 55-20=35 marks more. If you ans 12 questions with 2 marks and 11 questions with 1 marks you get 24+11=35.
v) So out of total 65 questions if you correctly ans. around 35 questions you are done. Sounds so easy right? Yes…there is no big deal to find the easiest questions and ans. them correctly. Just keep calm .
vi) Now let me tell you, for that much you don’t even have to read the whole syllabus. In core biotechnology, if you read Bioprocess engg. Genetics, Immunology, Bioinformatics, Plant Biotechnology, rDNA technology and rest selected topics only, you can easily ans. the desired no. of questions.
vii)  Moreover the most important thing please ‘Do not Guess’. Just ans. those questions you are confident enough.

• Now, when the exam days are coming closer, try to take mock tests for self-evaluation. Many students enroll for the online mock test series from various institutes like Biotecnica, Gateforum etc. But from my own experience I suggest don’t go for it. The question standard of the first one is below the gate standard whereas the second one is too much hard. Better buy some mock papers from Arihant/ GKP/Pathfinder etc. and give your self-test at home.

• Try to solve the mathematics early in the morning with fresh mood.  In later hours you can read/solve the MCQs. After lunch take rest, watch TV or anything you like to make your mind free. In the afternoon start reviewing some topics you have already covered. In the evening read the fresh topics/subjects. After dinner for 1-2 hour practice General Aptitude everyday. This was just suggestion. Anyone can make his own comfortable and flexible timetable. But the most important thing is to sleep well at least 6-8 hours. Drink plenty of water and good healthy food. Never ignore your health at the time of preparation.

• The Vital 3 hours : Yes, that 3 hours are the judgement hours. May be you have read a lot, may be you have enough knowledge but if you can’t show that knowledge in that day in the exam hall, your all knowledge is in vein ( just for current point of view, Knowledge is precious and never go in vein) . I was too much tensed the day before the exam, lot of things were going in my mind. Clearing GATE was  a big question of my life so , I was pressurised . In the exam hall, the questions were not that much hard. While coming out of the hall I was feeling relaxed. But when I started memorising the questions or few people started posting the questions in my facebook group, I was like what I have done.. ! there were so many silly mistakes. Just saying one. There was a question on genetics whose ans. was in % . I got 0.312 and instead of putting the ans. as 31.2% I entered as 0.312 . At least I did around 10 marks wrong this way. Luckily most of them were numerical ans. type so I didn’t get much negative marking for that.  But if I could control my mind , my concentration I could have much better result.

• From my story all what I want to say is that feel the exam as a game where only two results are possible. Either you win or you loose. Just think of the CWC2015. India is no doubt a great team. It won 7 consecutive matches. But in the knockout match it performed bad and it was out of the world cup. Everything is well if the end is well. The GATE exam is also like same knockout match, you can not perform well in those 3 hours. You are out even receiving a call from iits. Just to tell you, one of my friend got only 7 marks more than me and ended up  with 98 percentile.  Hope you can understand now why I am stressing this point so much. A single mark matters and if you can keep yourself calm and cool you can save lots of marks.

• Well, that was enough. You probably feeling bored now. So, the final thing is just love your subjects, have faith in yourself , cracking GATE is not a big deal, if you try with proper planning and efforts you can easily see yourself in the top 100. Smile

With my Best Wishes,
Bharat Manna
(email id -
[+] 5 users Like bmanna's post
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Nice one Bharat, we suggest you should add bold tags inside your article to make it more interesting.

ex: [ b] Love your subject [ / b] (without spaces inside tags).
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Thank you sir for your advice. Smile
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Hey Bharat...

This is Trinanjan, I have also appeared in gate BT 2015...Mine is 93 percentile..with air of 657, and score of 433. I am not able to find any descent universities, so confused right now

what is your rank and gate score??

I am just curious to know..

Hope you wont mind...
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Hi Trinanjan, nothing to mind at all. My AIR is 494 and gate score 464. I am surprised to see the total no of candidates this time because percentile solely depends on it. Only 8923 ! Anyway take advice from Sunil sir, hope you will surely get a good institute.
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I was shocked too....Really 8923!!!....

It will greatly affect the admission criteria...
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really very nice article ayush.
i was shocked when u told me your were expected in top 10.
i know you'll make it big in GATE'16 and i'm not kidding.
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Thanks Shipra. Yes we do face some life events that don't have proper explanations. It's ur kindness to consider me that much knowledgeable. But am not going to retake Gate again, a single exam cann't make my entire life a failure. As u have said, i am planning surely something 'big' that may overcome my failure of not getting into iits. Anyway congratulations again and my best wishes for your upcoming life in a reputed iit-campus. Smile
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