Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Post-GATE experience

My GATE credentials are GATE-CS/IT 2014, AIR 626, Score 713, Marks 51.95 and General category.
IIT Hyderabad, 06/05/2014 - Here, I went to attend the test/interview for Ph.D in Computer Science. It was a not-to-easy task to reach the IIT from Kacheguda railway station. It was, in fact, a multimodal transportation - local train, express train and share auto. IIT is currently in a temporary campus. Some departments have already shifted to the permanent campus, which is expected to be complete in an year or two. The primary reason I went there to interact with the candidates since most of them had already completed their M.Tech. Also, since this is Ph.D, I will get TA. Again, since my subsequent test/interview is in Madras, I thought I would get a head-start by attending test/interview somewhere else. Considering the proximity to Madras, Hyderabad was the perfect choice.

All information regarding the test pattern is given here - http://cse.iith.ac.in/phdadmission/phdadmission_info.html. The objective section was pretty easy. For the theoretical section, I had chosen TCS. It was very difficult for me and some of the questions were above B.Tech/GATE level. After the test I felt have very less chance to get shortlisted. But finally I was shortlisted for interview. It seems IITs are interested in direct Ph.D candidates and we got an edge because of that. My suggestion is that if your aim is to take a Ph.D in Computer Science, then consider taking the option of a direct Ph.D, instead of going for Masters and then trying for Ph.D. It saves you lot of time and energy. My interview didn't go well. I was not prepared about my research areas or interests. The interviewer asked about my B.Tech mini/main projects. There was one question from Algorithms - "What is the time-complexity of an algorithm, when nothing specifically is asked like best-case, average-case or worst-case." My answer was average-case time complexity because the other two cases are extreme cases and less likely to occur compared to the average-case. The result came after about a week and I was not selected. They had shortlisted about 25 for interview and then they selected 9 from them.

Next stop, IIT Madras, 12/05/2014 - Here, I had test/interview for M.S. (By Research) in Computer Science. This is research-oriented programme and is not a substitute for M.Tech, which is course-oriented. The details are given here - http://www.cse.iitm.ac.in/admissions. They had shortlisted about 380 candidates for written test. The test had both objective and subjective section. The paper was pretty easy. I was feeling confident, yet tensed, this time. Confident because I had cleared the same written test 6 months back during the Spring semester admission. Tensed because I wanted to prove myself that my clearing the test 6 months back was not a fluke as I could not clear the interview then. Finally, the results were announced and I was shortlisted among 45 others.

The interview was 'okay-okay' for me. The panel was friendly and asked me my favourite subject. I said Algorithms. The questions were pretty simple. I feel I took more time to arrive at the solution. Were they expecting a quick answer or were they simply looking at the method in which you arrive at the solution? No idea. The interview results are not yet announced. Usually they select about 15-20 candidates for each semester. So I have a 0.5 probability of getting selected.

Next halt, IIT Delhi, 15/05/2014-16/05/2014 - Here, I came for an interdisciplinary programme called VDTT. There were only interviews and no written test - http://vdtt.iitd.ac.in/Admissions.html. VDTT is jointly run by CS, EE department and CARE in IIT Delhi. The first round of interview was good and went on for about 40-45 minutes. The interviewer asked questions from almost all CS subjects. I could answer most of them, except for some in Digital Logic - "How to create a latch using a 2x1 multiplexer." The interviewer was very friendly to me and I asked him some general question regarding the VDTT programme, which he explained. I was shortlisted for the second round of interviews, which are conducted by R&D projects@IIT Delhi and sponsoring companies like Texas Instruments, Cypress Technologies. I had three interviews that day. They interviewer is only checking your aptitude towards the area he is working on. Be attentive to the project/industry presentations. I was too lazy that in one interview I was asked to explain the project. I had no clue and I was shown the door immediately, after which I felt depressed. Since the other two interviews went well, I was hoping of getting selected here.

The results came the next day and I was selected for an R&D project. TADA!!! Now I was really happy that I'm gonna study in an IIT. I had few more test/interviews in queue and I decided to go on and attend them as well.

Pit stop, IIT Bombay, 19/05/2014 - Here, I had test/interview for M.Tech in CS(Research Assistantship). They had shortlisted about 300 for written test. The selection process is available here - http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/page33. The written test was good and it was both objective and subjective. Since this was IIT Bombay, for which there will be cut-throat competition and due to large number of candidates, I was not confident this time. But in about 3 hours, the results were announced and I was also one of the 60 candidates who were selected for interview. Next part was similar to that of the VDTT programme wherein you are interviewed by research projects within the CSE department. There were 10 projects and I gave preferences for four of them. There was no interview for my first preference and they declared selection would be on the basis of your score in the written test. I had one interview which did not go well. It was both HR and technical. Since I had 2.5 years working experience, I was asked about the nature of work I did, which I explained very well. After seeing IIT Bombay CSE department, the lively atmosphere, I felt I need to study here.

As of now, 20/05/2014, I am waiting for my interview results of IIT Madras and IIT Bombay. I have interview calls for SERC and CSA departments in IISc, Bangalore on 02/06/2014, 03/06/2014. I am planning to prepare and attend them as well.

The result of IIT Madras was declared on 27/05/2014 and I was one of the 12 students who were selected for admission. After about a week, IIT Bombay results were also announced, but my name was not there in the list.

Final destination, IISc, 02/06/2014 - I attended interviews in three departments, namely Electrical Engg., SERC and CSA. There was no written test in EE department. But, I cleared written tests in the other two. All interviews, except the SERC interview, were not good for me. All I want to tell wannabe IISc-ians is that if you have a good foundation in mathematics, then any IISc interview is just a piece of cake. When the results were declared after a week's time, I was not in the list. It did not come as a surprise for me because I had not done proper preparation for the interviews, which I now regret. Always try for the best. Ample opportunities are there in life. It is up to you as to how you make use of them.

Finally, I decided to join IIT Madras for MS (by research) programme in CSE department. Listen, my brethren, it is nothing but sheer determination and passion that leads you to the gateway of success. 

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Kevin. Thanks for sharing your interview experience. All the best for your research works at IIT