“How I secured a top rank in GATE & CSIR Examination” – Satyam Soni

Hello everyone, My name is Satyam Soni. I hail from Nawabo ka Lucknow. I did my graduation from Banaras Hindu University and post-graduation from IIT Bombay. I am here to talk about my journey to secure Top ranks in Gate and CSIR-JRF. If you are someone who is eyeing these examinations, I hope this article helps you in some way. I have secured AIR 21 in GATE 2020 with a score of 859 and AIR 12 in CSIR-JRF Dec 2019. Although both the examination have a completely different pattern but about the same syllabus. One must be careful while preparing for both examinations.

All about GATE

GATE is a common online exam conducted for admission to postgraduate courses as well as public sector undertaking (PSU) recruitment. It saves quite some time as most PSU recognise it whereas if not taken you shall have to undertake separate examination for each PSU. The choice is yours 🙂

GATE not only accesses the candidates on their respective engineering/science discipline but also the analytical and decision-making abilities. Candidates qualifying GATE are among the top aspirants because of the stiff competition in the exam. That is why PSUs recruit candidates from the biggest pool of talent .Getting employed by the premier PSUs of the country at present means good working environment, handsome salary package, job security and other benefits. 

All about CSIR

While doing your research work and studies, you get the JRF scholarship amount of INR 31,000 (for the initial 2 years) and INR 35,000 (for remaining tenure). If you are passionate about research and development field, one interesting benefit of clearing JRF is you get to work in the top laboratories of India and that too under the surveillance of some best researchers and trainers. You’ll get socially recognized for your educational expertise, Even some coaching institutes can approach you for a job of tutor or guest faculty, you might consider this opportunity to show & brand yourself while sharing your knowledge with students.

Managing Time while preparing for GATE/CSIR etc

One thing is quite evident that you will not get much time for preparation of GATE, as you will have regular classes along with labs. The question is how to manage everything?

So it is just a matter of priorities, you will have to choose what matters most to you. Decide and go for it. 

In my case, I was happy with 9+ cpi, I didn’t want to top at all, so I gave my time accordingly to the semester exam and gate exam. if you pay enough attention to lectures in the class itself, you need not much time for exams separately. So one has to work smartly.

Make your base strong enough so that you can cover the difficult topics easily. Consistency plays an important role in your preparation. Without it, you will not be able to achieve any of your goals.

Practice, Practice & Practice…

Learning a concept is one thing and practising problems are different. Give time to both. Try to solve as many problems as possible. You can pick previous year problems of GATE and NET examination. From my point of view joining any test series for GATE exam is not helpful, because most of the test series include irrelevant questions which will consume your time at first place and will lower your confidence also. but it is totally one’s choice if you find it helpful then you should go for it.

Sticking to common textbooks

I would suggest not to study so many books, just stick to selected books, as it is better to read 1 book 3 times instead of reading 3 books one time. The more you will revise, the more confident you will be with the topics.

Examination pattern

This year onwards GATE has modified the pattern as they have added MSQ questions also, earlier it was only MCQ and NAT type questions. The entire paper is divided into two parts

(a)general aptitude


10 questions are asked from Part (a) which is of 15 marks while 55 questions are asked from part (b)  which is of 85 marks. Overall there are 65 questions for 100 marks.

Some reference books

There are three major sections in chemistry. Namely organic, inorganic and physical.

If your basics are not strong in organic chemistry, I suggest starting with Paula Bruice. Once you are clear with the basics of organic chemistry then read – Clayden, Greeves, Warren and Wothers. However if one is strong in organic then he/she should start with -Clayden, Greeves, Warren and Wothers then if possible read William Carruthers otherwise Clayden in itself sufficient.

For inorganic chemistry, I had covered organometallics and coordination from two books 1-Ajay Kumar 2- B. D. Gupta and A. J. Elias. 

For main-group elements, I read Concise Inorganic Chemistry – J. D. Lee. Don’t give too much time to main group elements and if possible read this topic at last because you have to mainly memorise it. 

For physical chemistry, I had mainly followed Puri Sharma & Pathania. Apart from this, I followed Peter Atkins for a few chapters like statistical thermodynamics.

For quantum chemistry, I followed my semester and handwritten notes only

For organic spectroscopy, I followed Pavia and practised many previous year questions.

Group theory, Nuclear chemistry and stereochemistry,I covered from Youtube videos.

Word of Advice for Juniors

One thing I will emphasize is, don’t leave your preparation one month before the exam. I have noticed that few people study diligently for 4-5 months, but 1 month before they quit.the reason was they start thinking of result too much, whether I will score good or not. I will just say just give your best and leave everything else to fate. Even if you are not selected, just think there is something better than this for you, explore other opportunities as well. We know that something extraordinary happens when it is not planned. I would suggest, don’t do much planning in your life, taking so much pressure won’t help you anyway. As cliche as it might sound just try to enjoy every journey of your life.

Feel free to reach out 🙂

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