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Ex-IES Officer Siddharth Sabharwal tops GATE 2021 ECE paper, Appeared for the exam ‘For Experience'
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Nikkil Visha

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Siddarth Sabharwal, GATE 2021 Topper obtained 82 marks out of 100 in the Electronics and Communication paper and managed to attain AIR 1. Previously, he has cleared GATE exam twice and also aced UPSC IES exam in 2015. He is currently working as an educator with Unacademy. “I gave GATE exam only to gain experience and prepare better methodologies for teaching future GATE aspirants,'' said Siddharth.

In an exclusive interview, he talked about his journey and experience. He shared how his passion for teaching developed and what motivated him to appear for GATE exam this year. Read the full interview to get valuable insights on the books he referred to, his preparation plans, and tips and strategies for future GATE aspirants.

Interview with GATE ECE Topper: Siddharth Sabharwal

Ques. Please tell us about your academic and professional background.

Ans. At present, I am working as an educator with Unacademy, an online learning platform. I intend to help students crack engineering entrance exams such as GATE and other government exams like IES. I appeared for Indian Engineering Services (IES) exam that is conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in 2015. I secured an All India rank of 3 and worked as an IES officer till 2018

Ques. Was this your first attempt at GATE exam? What were your scores? 

Ans. This was not the first time that I appeared for GATE exam. Previously, I cleared GATE exam twice. I appeared for GATE exam for the first time in 2012 and attained a rank of 61 and for the second time in 2013, I secured a rank of 31. This year, I scored 82 out of 100 and managed to get an AIR 1.

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Ques. What were your preparation strategies and schedule for GATE preparation?

Ans. I prepared for the engineering entrance exam while continuing with my job. 

  • I was well aware of the concepts of the exam from my previous year's experience and teaching. Thus, I focussed only on the application part. 
  • To crack GATE exam, I relied heavily on solving as many Mock papers and previous year papers as possible. 
  • Just 2 months before the exam date, I studied for more hours and practiced maximum questions. 

Ques. Which books did you refer to for preparation? Please mention some specific books that are important for cracking GATE exam. 

Ans. I referred to my previous notes and practiced questions from all topics. I would recommend all aspirants to follow these books for clearing their concepts:

Name of the Book Author
Higher Engineering Mathematics Dr. BS Grewal
Network Analysis Van Valkenburg
Micro Electronics Circuit Sedra & Smith

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Ques. What role did mock tests play in your preparation? How important are mock tests to ace GATE exam?

Ans. Mock Tests played the most important role in my preparations. I already had my concepts cleared and relied heavily on solving as many mock tests and previous year’s papers as possible. Mock Tests are important for the given reasons:

  • Help in judging the level of one’s preparation.
  • Assist in identifying the strong and weak points.
  • Aid in understanding the exam pattern and the level and type of questions asked.
  • Improve time management and help in assessing the mistakes.

Ques. What are the most important topics one must definitely prepare for GATE ECE exam?

Ans. For GATE ECE exam, I would suggest all candidates to surely prepare these topics:

Circuit Analysis Probability and Statistics
Semiconductor Memories Electronic Devices
Digital Communications Vector Analysis
Control Systems Op-amp Circuits

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Ques. What are your plans for the future after cracking GATE exam with a top rank?

Ans. Though I cleared GATE exam with AIR 1, I have no plans of seeking admission into any prestigious Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) nor am I looking for a government job. I appeared for GATE exam this year just for the experience. I would like to use the insights and experience gained in this exam to help students prepare better for the exam and help them crack competitive engineering entrance exams with a good rank.

Ques. Did you appear for any other competitive exam apart from GATE?

Ans. I did appear for IES exam conducted by UPSC in 2015. I became an IES officer but I left the most coveted job in 2018 to follow my passion i.e. Teaching.

Ques. Can you tell us how you found your passion for teaching?

Ans. After cracking GATE exam in 2013 with a good rank, I opted to study at IIT Delhi. While I was pursuing my MTech degree, I used to teach my friends and help them understand difficult concepts. This is where I developed an interest in teaching. Teaching gave me a sense of purpose and I wanted to make it my future.

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Ques. What is the experience that you gained after appearing for this year's GATE exam?

Ans. I often asked my students to attempt one-markers first as they were easy to mark and also helped in building confidence and then move on to the two marker questions. However, GATE 2021 exam didn’t have a demarcation of questions based on marks. So, It gave me the knowledge to change my strategy to help students better.

Ques. Tell us about your family background. Was it challenging for you to change your career option to follow your passion?

Ans. I come from a business family in the Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh. When I decided to quit my IES job to follow my passion for teaching, it was very challenging. I had to convince my parents and relatives and it took quite a bit of time to make them understand. But, leaving job security to follow my passion has always been the best decision that I have taken in my life so far.

Ques. What advice would you give to future GATE aspirants? 

Ans. The GATE aspirants need to remember that studying reference books is all good. However, relying only on reference books helps crack college-level exams and not competitive entrance exams like GATE or IES. To crack the competitive exams, what the candidates require the most is conceptual clarity and to practice the concepts regularly.