GATE Preparation: Coaching Classes or Self-Study?

Negative marking and extensive competition in Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) make it one of the toughest examinations in India at graduate level. There is no limit in the number of attempts in GATE. However, a failure attempt means, loss of one year of life and career. Thus, the preparation stage is very crucial for the examination.

A common dilemma which GATE aspirants face is that whether they need any coaching to succeed in GATE? Preparation takes a toll on precious time (more than money), which extends over months. Each student has different mind-set, decision biasness, abilities, and constrains. Thus, the answer to the question, whether or not should a candidate join coaching classes for GATE would vary for each candidate. In this regard, the following points must be examined by the GATE aspirants:

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Why Coaching?

  1. Consistency: Coaching classes can offer a well laid out preparation schedule which can be utilized effectively by the candidates who are not able to maintain a regular duration of preparation. Coaching classes are of great significance in maintaining the consistency in preparation.
  2. Coverage of Syllabus: Good coaching institutes usually offer complete coverage of the GATE syllabus. Some of these also provide inputs on additional and important topics.
  3. Variety of Topics: Standard coaching classes can also offer variety of topics which are prone to be left out by the candidates, but are very important from examination point of view.
  4. Tips and Tricks: Experienced faculty of coaching centers can help with quick tips and methods to crack key problems, which can help save valuable time during the examination.
  5. Peers & Classmates: Mutual exchange of notes and study materials amongst classmates is quite beneficial. Group studies can help in improving the preparation level and confidence.
  6. GATE level faculty: Generally speaking, the faculty in most of the engineering institutions are not typically oriented to guide the students to qualify GATE, because of lack of time & expertise. In such a scenario, coaching centers can be especially useful since they have expert faculty, oriented towards GATE preparation.

Candidates looking to speed up practice on solving problems, save time and avoid negative marking, can benefit from regular coaching classes

Coaching- Think Again!

  1. Time: Travelling to and fro coaching institutes usually adds to fatigue and loss of precious time.
  2. Relevance: There is likelihood that candidates may be restricted their scope of studies to coaching classes and study material received from the Institute. This can hurt overall performance in the exam.
  3. Faculty Credentials: It is not always feasible to avail best mentors in a coaching center for all subject areas. Besides, motivational guidance is essential for success in GATE, which may not be found in all coaching centers.

Coaching classes are not mandatory. If candidate can spare adequate time, attention and money, only then coaching institutes can be thought for.

The concept of self-study:

Candidates can opt for a disciplined self-study. Gaining ample clarity on fundamental concepts of graduation courses is the most essential aspect of preparation for GATE. Adequate practice certainly improves overall performance manifold in the examination hall.

Self-study offers complete control over the time, scheduling and consistency. A sincere candidate can plan and control the time efficiently. Time saved from idle hours of travelling can be utilized in strengthening preparation through browsing, searching and collecting quality study material. Distractions, including TV, internet browsing, chatting, etc. must be kept under check with conscious efforts. may be avoided Time thus saved, must be utilized in having fruitful discussions with competitive circle of friends.

Books must be selected after adequate review. Very good books are now available from reputed publications, which are specifically designed for GATE by master authors in their field with excellent credentials. Even mock test papers are also available on-line for practice. Additional help can be sought from distance learning programs in which various materials are made available by the coaching centres for self-study.

To add, consistency in efforts, conceptual clarity on fundamentals and will to succeed must be continuously fuelled to succeed in GATE.


B.E.(GEC Rewa), M.Tech.(IISc B'lore), IRSME
Ajay Kumar Tamrakar is currently serving Indian Railways as Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer under the prestigious cadre of Indian Railway’s Services of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME).

Author of ‘Wiley Acing the GATE Mechanical Engineering

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