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Screening test and interview at IIT-Kanpur: My own perspective
#1
Rainbow 
The most crucial time has come for the highly motivated prospective scholars. GATE is over and the results are out along with the list of selected students for screening tests and interviews.

One of the most sought after, among all the top Indian institutes to pursue M.Tech/PhD in the field of life sciences, has been Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur. One nice attribute of IIT-Kanpur's selection procedure for M.Tech in the Dept. of Biological Sciences and Bio-Engineering (BSBE) is that they give the chance to prove your intelligence, irrespective of your rank. As you may have observed, a small decrease in gate score, leads to a huge change in rank, Dept. of BSBE, IIT-Kanpur, does consider this fact and calls, a huge number of aspirants, who, despite being intelligent and highly motivated, commit few errors, and lose good rankings (False negatives). They also have in mind that the ones getting high ranks, might have got it by fluke (False positives).

The overall process of selection of Dept of BSBE, IIT-K, comprises of 2 stages. Firstly there’s a screening test followed by interviews of the screened candidates. So, first, let me talk about the screening test.

The screening test comprises of multiple choice questions, designed to test the research aptitude of the students. The questions are framed from different scientific fields. Conceptual questions from Physics, chemistry, Biology, Mathematics and general science are the main constituents of the paper. There is no particular syllabus, but for those, who have a better understanding of their past studies, can easily attempt the questions even without preparation.
To get a flavour of the types of questions that come in the test, one can refer to questions which have come in CSIR-NET, paper A and B. Also, the questions of this screening test are quite similar to those which come in the TIFR entrance test for biological sciences. Aspirants can also refer to these too.

Also, to test the writing skills of the candidates, one essay writing section is also there. Four to five topics like “Role of women in leadership” or some issues with academia/research are given, and an essay is to be written on any one. In this case, don’t be verbose. Write crisp and to the point, and avoid using fancy words.

Practicing such kind of questions is enough to get you pass the first hurdle.

The most important stage of selection, and the second hurdle, is the interview. The person who manages to impress the panel, gets the chance to experience the academic life of IIT-K.

My personal experience:

After clearing the screening test (which I was pretty sure of because I had cleared the TIFR entrance test and NET prior, and most of the questions looked similar) all the candidates were allotted time slots for interview. Once I reached inside the department, I saw all the aspirants with their books and notes, studying in isolation which made me panic (NB: do not get scared of these people, coz most of them don’t get selected as they are too nervous). I sat with one of my acquaintance, whom I met during the interviews of IIT-Kharagpur, later became my batch mate at IIT-Kanpur. We chatted till our names were called. As I entered the interview room, I saw 5 faculty members of the department, waiting for their next prey. The first question asked was, why M.Tech, why not PhD.? Luckily it was easy for me as I was pretty sure why I wanted to do masters first. I told them I am not knowledgeable enough to pursue PhD. The argued and tried to divert me, but that’s the main catch, they wanted to know my level of dedication (NB: in such scenarios, follow your own principles and heart and never digress). Secondly, I was asked to mention 3 of my favourite subjects (NB: In such scenarios, always tell subjects, which are linked. Not just 3 random subjects which you know the best). As I told them my favourites, they asked me the reason, and asked me, how they are related. I was prepared for this and answered. Then they started asking technical questions related to those subjects which were very conceptual in nature. Here, the candidate has a chance to drive the interview as per his/her wish but refrain yourself from giving wrong answers. Be confident and if you don’t know any answer, tell the panel, the truth. Overall, by their questions, they gave me a tour of 5-6 fields of science; from rDNA technology to protein engineering, evolutionary biology and finally to drug design and protein ligand interactions. While making the panel laugh and entertaining them, I answered all their queries, and my last question was “What is the meaning of your name?”. As I told them the meaning of my name, which actually is “experience”, they had a nice laugh and told me that I actually stood up to my name, which was the final nail in the coffin, and I was sure, I got the licence for pursuing M.Tech from IIT-K and I finally managed to get a masters from the institute.

Takeaway lessons:

1. Be confident and bold. Confidence is something, which gets reflected in your personality, which helps in impressing people.
2. Never digress from what you believe. This tenacity is what they want to check.
3. Never give wrong answers or else, you’ll be dragged into the loop of wrong facts, and ultimately, you’ll end up contradicting yourself (Yes, the professors are too brilliant and they love feasting on confusion). If you’re confused, just admit it. There’s no shame in admitting your limitations (even the brightest mind don’t know everything).
4. Be funny. The panel members are also human beings, having sense of humour. After interviewing so many nervous people, they expect some humour and entertainment. Remember, entertain the panel, and increase your chances of getting selected.
5. Chat with other candidates and make friends because, career is not the only thing in life.
6. Never get nervous by seeing book worms or professors or the ambience. Once you get selected, nothing else matters.
7. Lastly, keep calm and do your part.

Best wishes to the aspirants.

--ADAS
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#2
Hello sir,
Can you share your experience of interview at IIT kgp too.
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#3
Nice one ADAS. Your article should be highly beneficial for students looking for first hand experience regarding selection process at IIT Kanpur. It's good to see you around this forum. Thanks !!
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#4
(04-30-2015, 08:40 AM)shilpa sarkar Wrote: Hello sir,
Can you share your experience of interview at IIT kgp too.

Hello Shilpa,

as asked, I've shared my experience at IIT-KGP too, in a new thread. Hope this helps you as well as others.

Regards

ADAS
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#5
(04-30-2015, 05:12 AM)Dear senior,In which GATE paper I should apply to join Mtech(BSBE) IITK.I am Mechanical engineering graduate. .kindly reply as soon as possible. Wrote: The most crucial time has come for the highly motivated prospective scholars. GATE is over and the results are out along with the list of selected students for screening tests and interviews.

One of the most sought after, among all the top Indian institutes to pursue M.Tech/PhD in the field of life sciences, has been Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur. One nice attribute of IIT-Kanpur's selection procedure for M.Tech in the Dept. of Biological Sciences and Bio-Engineering (BSBE) is that they give the chance to prove your intelligence, irrespective of your rank. As you may have observed, a small decrease in gate score, leads to a huge change in rank, Dept. of BSBE, IIT-Kanpur, does consider this fact and calls, a huge number of aspirants, who, despite being intelligent and highly motivated, commit few errors, and lose good rankings (False negatives). They also have in mind that the ones getting high ranks, might have got it by fluke (False positives).

The overall process of selection of Dept of BSBE, IIT-K, comprises of 2 stages. Firstly there’s a screening test followed by interviews of the screened candidates. So, first, let me talk about the screening test.

The screening test comprises of multiple choice questions, designed to test the research aptitude of the students. The questions are framed from different scientific fields. Conceptual questions from Physics, chemistry, Biology, Mathematics and general science are the main constituents of the paper. There is no particular syllabus, but for those, who have a better understanding of their past studies, can easily attempt the questions even without preparation.
To get a flavour of the types of questions that come in the test, one can refer to questions which have come in CSIR-NET, paper A and B. Also, the questions of this screening test are quite similar to those which come in the TIFR entrance test for biological sciences. Aspirants can also refer to these too.

Also, to test the writing skills of the candidates, one essay writing section is also there. Four to five topics like “Role of women in leadership” or some issues with academia/research are given, and an essay is to be written on any one. In this case, don’t be verbose. Write crisp and to the point, and avoid using fancy words.

Practicing such kind of questions is enough to get you pass the first hurdle.

The most important stage of selection, and the second hurdle, is the interview. The person who manages to impress the panel, gets the chance to experience the academic life of IIT-K.

My personal experience:

After clearing the screening test (which I was pretty sure of because I had cleared the TIFR entrance test and NET prior, and most of the questions looked similar) all the candidates were allotted time slots for interview. Once I reached inside the department, I saw all the aspirants with their books and notes, studying in isolation which made me panic (NB: do not get scared of these people, coz most of them don’t get selected as they are too nervous). I sat with one of my acquaintance, whom I met during the interviews of IIT-Kharagpur, later became my batch mate at IIT-Kanpur. We chatted till our names were called. As I entered the interview room, I saw 5 faculty members of the department, waiting for their next prey. The first question asked was, why M.Tech, why not PhD.? Luckily it was easy for me as I was pretty sure why I wanted to do masters first. I told them I am not knowledgeable enough to pursue PhD. The argued and tried to divert me, but that’s the main catch, they wanted to know my level of dedication (NB: in such scenarios, follow your own principles and heart and never digress). Secondly, I was asked to mention 3 of my favourite subjects (NB: In such scenarios, always tell subjects, which are linked. Not just 3 random subjects which you know the best). As I told them my favourites, they asked me the reason, and asked me, how they are related. I was prepared for this and answered. Then they started asking technical questions related to those subjects which were very conceptual in nature. Here, the candidate has a chance to drive the interview as per his/her wish but refrain yourself from giving wrong answers. Be confident and if you don’t know any answer, tell the panel, the truth. Overall, by their questions, they gave me a tour of 5-6 fields of science; from rDNA technology to protein engineering, evolutionary biology and finally to drug design and protein ligand interactions. While making the panel laugh and entertaining them, I answered all their queries, and my last question was “What is the meaning of your name?”. As I told them the meaning of my name, which actually is “experience”, they had a nice laugh and told me that I actually stood up to my name, which was the final nail in the coffin, and I was sure, I got the licence for pursuing M.Tech from IIT-K and I finally managed to get a masters from the institute.

Takeaway lessons:

1. Be confident and bold. Confidence is something, which gets reflected in your personality, which helps in impressing people.
2. Never digress from what you believe. This tenacity is what they want to check.
3. Never give wrong answers or else, you’ll be dragged into the loop of wrong facts, and ultimately, you’ll end up contradicting yourself (Yes, the professors are too brilliant and they love feasting on confusion). If you’re confused, just admit it. There’s no shame in admitting your limitations (even the brightest mind don’t know everything).
4. Be funny. The panel members are also human beings, having sense of humour. After interviewing so many nervous people, they expect some humour and entertainment. Remember, entertain the panel, and increase your chances of getting selected.
5. Chat with other candidates and make friends because, career is not the only thing in life.
6. Never get nervous by seeing book worms or professors or the ambience. Once you get selected, nothing else matters.
7. Lastly, keep calm and do your part.

Best wishes to the aspirants.

--ADAS
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