GATE XL Topper AIR 5 – Ali Aktara Interview With Biotecnika
Voice Of Biotecnika – Episode No 33
Welcome to by Biotecnika, India’sNo.1 Bioscience web portal. It is our vision to reach every bioscience professional in our country and help them build a strong career. Today in our 33rd podcast – Voice of Biotecnika, we stand proud of our student Miss, Ali Aktara from Bangalore, GATE XL Topper with AIR 5. Miss Ali Aktara has completed her post graduation in botany and wishes to pursue a career in life science research. Today, she has stepped forward to voice her journey with Biotecnika and share her experience and strategies for the competitive examination. Let us all welcome Ali Aktara and lend an ear to the toppers approach.
In conversation with Ali Aktara GATE XL Topper AIR 5.
Q. Tell us something about yourself. What is your ambition in life? Why did you choose this field?
So I’m Ali Aktara, I have completed my MSc in botany from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. And after that, I joined Biotecnika for competitive examinations like GATE and in 2019, GATE XL paper I secured an AIR 5 and right now, I’m preparing for different Ph.D. interviews.
Q. When did you begin your preparations for the GATE Exam?
I started Preparing for GATE Exam after my MSC. Then I came across Biotecnika, that it is providing very nice coaching for this GATE examination and eventually I got enrolled for the classes.
Q. How many hours daily you were spending on studies?
So, I started preparing in March 2018. I started self-study first and in the month of July, I started coaching at Biotecnika. So, basically I took the online coaching, so classes used to be from 10 am to 1 pm, and those classes I used to attend very sincerely. But when it comes to the hours, how many hours I studied, I never kept a count. I used to study when I felt I need to study. But during the exam time, I tried to give most of my time for the exam. GATE Coaching classes from Biotecnika helped me a lot.
Q. What are the exams you are applying for?
Yeah, yeah, there are lots of other exams I have applied for like DBT JRF BET examinations ICMR, CSIR NET also I am appearing again.
Q. What is your style of preparations? How do you remember the facts?
Okay. So, my basic plan was to understand the concept very well. Whatever is the topic I used to go thoroughly with it like to understand the whole idea about it, then I would write down the facts in form of charts, tables, diagrams, and I used to revise them very frequently. I will revise it time to time and so, automatically it gets absorbed to the mind.
Q. How was the GATE 2019 Exam – Was it Difficult?
I didn’t feel it was that difficult. I felt it was easy, as whatever was taught to us in the class at Biotecnika the questions were of the same level.
Q. Any notes making tips you would like to share?
Whenever the class was being conducted online, I simultaneously used to take the notes. Whatever important points our teachers used to tell us and if diagrams any figure anything was required I used to note down all of those and after all the classes got over I used to go through the notes again. I used to read from those notes that I prepare myself and also referred to other standard books. But during the exam, whatever notes I’ve already made, I used to again make short notes from it for topics which I have the tendency to forget so that I will write again and I will go through only those points before the exam.
Q. GATE cut-off seems to have increased this year, how was the paper according to you?
I think the paper was okay. It was moderate – of standard level but the thing is, according to me, I think, more students are appearing GATE Exam now, the competition is increasing day by day. So if you compare the number of students that appear GATE Exam in 2017 and the number of students that attempted GATE 2019 Exam – there’s a drastic change – a huge increase in the number. So I think if more students are appearing obviously there be more competition and the cut-off has to increase.
Q. In GATE XL – there are subject choices in the exam. How did you make your selection?
GATE Exam is a 100 Marks Paper, out of which 50 Marks is for aptitude, 25 Marks is for chemistry and the rest you have to choose, like, we have botany, zoology, microbiology, food technology, and biochemistry out of this five, we have to choose two of the sections. So what I did, I was a botany student so my first choice was the botany section, the second choice was Zoology. Why I chose Zoology is because I studied it in my UG and there are lots of common topics like you can say genetics, biochemistry, immunology, all these things also come under Zoology. So it’s not like that I did not see other questions. What I did is, I went through last year questions and I saw which sections I’m more comfortable with and I realized that Botany & Zoology are best so I opted for these two.
Q. How important is aptitude and chemistry in the exam?
We are from a life science background and we say that maths is not for us, but I secured the full marks in the aptitude section. I just practiced all the aptitude type questions. So, you asked how important aptitude section is? Total 40 marks out of 100 are for aptitude and chemistry. So I don’t think it’s a wise decision to leave it at all. You should practice aptitude & chemistry questions from previous equations and you can see the cutoff is increasing, so we should leave any part at all.
I will tell you how I prepared for the Chemistry section. So, I saw the syllabus and I went through the topics that I am familiar with. And I analyzed that from these topics questions are coming repeatedly in past exams. So I had picked out some five or six topics out of eight, I guess. Then I went through each topic and prepared notes accordingly.
Q. A computer-based test is much different than a paper-pen exam. What is your opinion? How should one prioritize through the paper displayed on the screen?
I have attempted both the paper pen or offline and online exam. So for me, I personally feel that the computer-based test is far better because in an online exam you don’t have to write your name separately, don’t have to fill up the bubbles perfectly. In an online exam, you can switch between questions you can change your answers as well. So it is far better than an offline exam.
Q. How do you think online classes are beneficial? Is it better than Offline class?
I think online classes are better, at least for me. We see a ppt screen in an online class. So we can see the diagrams & images clearly, the teacher need not draw it on the board – it takes a lot of time. If a teacher has a ppt ready she can use that teach us – edit on that and teach, saves time for all and is very convenient.
Q. Did you take any other professional help for your GATE Exam preparations?
Professional help was only from Biotecnika. It helped me a lot throughout.
Q. Did Biotecnika’s mock tests and study materials help you For GATE Exam preparations?
Yes, it helped a lot. Mock test especially helped a lot as it gave a feel of the exam hall, We used to have weekly tests which were also very helpful.
Q. Did you felt the need to study reference journals and articles? Which reference books have you gone through?
I went through the Ppt’s and video lectures in our study portal that Biotecnika provided. Apart from that teachers also suggested going through some reference books. So, I also read through some books like – Cell biology by Gerald Carp, Biochemistry by Lehninger but I read only selected topics and Prescott’s Microbiology.
But it when comes to Journals & research papers, nowadays we can see the questions are coming from the depth of the topics for which deep knowledge required. So, I think it would be a good habit for a student if he or she can go through some of the research papers because, you know, competition is getting more tough nowadays, it’s better to prepare smartly.
Q. There are many research books and ample materials to study from, how should one prioritize?
I look for books which have easy language and which also helps to build concepts very well and it also should have some experimental background. For eg, while studying the structure with protein, if we get to know a bit more on how it was identified, the process behind, if we know a little bit experiment background, it becomes easy for us to understand and to remember.
Q. What are the key areas one should choose, for last minute preparations?
If you have one month left and you want to revise, then you should start revising very seriously. At that point, you have to know that there are certain topics, which is common for all GATE XL exams – it has come in all exams. For example, for biochemistry – protein structures, primary secondary structures, amino acid structures, In Genetics – topic like gene mapping, all these things always come. So you have to understand what are the very important topics and make sure that you are not leaving those topics.
Q. Any recommendations and advice you would like to share?
Yeah, so first of all, I’d like to say that clear your concept doesn’t matter from where you’re doing. It could be video lectures, it could be books – anywhere, but just make your concept clear. And then write down the important facts, formulas in a single notebook so that you can revise before the examination and try to give mock tests, try to solve the previous year question, its the most important – prepare very well work hard.
But during the exam, relax & come down and give your best. Before the exam, you should decide that what are the parts she/he – how many questions she/he wants to appear for each section and how much time she wants to allot to each section. It will help a lot.
Q. As a successful GATE qualifier, what are your future plans?
So right now I’m trying for Ph.D. admission in different renowned institutes have also applied for different entrance exams. I want to pursue my career ahead in research.
Q. How was your overall experience at Biotecnika From Day 1 While Preparing For CSIR NET & GATE Exam?
Okay, so I was very excited from day one because I spoke to you people first. I was waiting when the classes will start, and since the first day of classes – each and every topic is taught in depth and in a very easy manner at Biotecnika. Whatever I have learned at Biotecnika I was able to use it different competitive exams. So overall it was a great experience. Thank You so much for this.
So, this was Ms. Ali Aktara, GATE XL Topper AIR 5 – who has worked hard and has achieved one more step closer to her dream. If she can do it, so can you. Keep her strategies in mind. Work hard, work smart. Reach out to us on the number displayed on the screen, chat with us and we will help you realize your ambition. Biotecnika team wishes Ms. Ali, all the very best for her future endeavors and also a bright future to all our listeners out there. Have a good day ahead.
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