Preparation Tips For Written Tests And Interviews

Published: 1 Mar 2015 | Last updated 9 September 2015

Every competition is more or less like a battle where people fight for winning those ‘Prestigious Positions’. However, without right strategy and preparation, triumph is mostly close to impossible.

According to my experience (for CSE only), most of the institutes (mostly IITs/IIITs) conduct written and interviews for screening of candidates. Some areas are common to all the institutes.

Written Specific Subjects

  1. Aptitude (Including all subtopics such as Data Interpretation, Data Sufficiency etc.), English
  2. Engineering mathematics
  3. Discrete maths
  4. Data Structures and Algorithms
  5. GATE level Questions from Computer Networks, Operating Systems, DBMS and other subjects.

If we consider only research oriented courses e.g. MS then:
Written Specific Subjects for Research (MS course)
Generally Objective as well as subjective paper (like IIT Madras)

  1. High School Maths (11th and 12th)
  2. Engineering Maths
  3. Discrete Maths(Emphasis on Proofs)
  4. Probability and Statistics
  5. Theory of Computation (Proofs)
  6. Algorithms (Correctness and Complexities)

Interviews generally vary from institute to institute. E.g. IIT Kanpur, for CS, they are unbeatable in Theory Subjects. In interviews, they emphasis on Theory subjects. I will list out most common subjects (which most of the students opt)

  1. Data Structures
  2. Algorithms
  3. Programming (any one language in which you are comfortable. Generally C/C++/Java)
  4. Computer Networks
  5. Operating Systems
  6. Discrete maths

It is worth noting that in CSE, subjects are typically classified into 2 broad categories

  1. System subjects : Computer Networks, DBMS, Operating Systems, Computer Organization etc.
  2. Theory Subjects : Maths, TOC, Algorithms, Compilers, Cryptography etc.

Some more helpful points:

1) As you can see Maths (Engineering maths + Discrete Maths + 11th + 12th Maths ) are common to all these things.

Generally these subjects are included as if you know maths, you can learn anything.No one will be asking a tough and complex problems of JEE level, but knowing them a little bit can get you an edge over others easily. Most of the students prepare these topics for GATE preparation. So, they should keep on studying, rather than just stop because GATE has passed. The advanced courses like Advanced Algorithms, Data Mining, Machine Learning etc which will be offered in your coursework in institute will need good maths. So, being good at maths is always great.

2) Data structures and Algorithms : You might already know the importance of these subjects. These subjects are heart of CSE. If you are very good at them (being good is a relative term), they can get you into Google, Microsoft and IITs or any other place of your choice.

3) Programming : The subjects as DSA are incomplete without this. Generally this is ignored in GATE preparation as it has weightage of 2-3 marks only. So if you are doing nothing in after-GATE holidays, it is the best time to start programming. Competitive programming websites such as SPOJ, Codechef etc are best places to start with. Choose the language of your interest (most of them are at least aware of C) and dive in. Take help of online course available at NPTEL etc and there are a handful of resources available on the Internet.
If you are good at point 2) and 3) , institutions like BARC are waiting for you.

4) System subjects like OS, CO, CN and DBMS are also very important, in addition to theory subjects. Generally during GATE preparation, students find CO, CN very difficult and end up leaving these. But knowing at least basics of all these are very important. Organizations like BARC, they expect you to say, at least 2 subjects out of the 5 system subjects mentioned above. So, being only theory subject oriented or system subject oriented is not good. Your strength might be in one of those two areas, but knowing both areas up to some good extent is really helpful.

5) Developing problem solving approach : Many of the students know sufficient concepts of their syllabus, but interviewer might look for you to apply these concepts to solve the problems. One of my friends in IIT Madras MS interview was asked a question "How to store large number like 100 digit number?". he was not able to answer it properly, but let me tell you something, this is one of the primary problems in competitive programming community and 5th most solved problem in SPOJ with little maths and programming using arrays. Now, you may realize that the combination of good maths, data structures and awareness of good programming skills is how much important and helpful in these situations.

6) Final year students are advised to do good projects. Sometimes the interviews are focused only on projects such as IIIT Hyderabad and BARC. The good project not only plays important role in selection in good institutes but also help you when you appear for Campus placements or apply for internship during your PG. So if you are final year students, you have enough time to do it up to your best level.

7) If you can manage time, it is good choice to enroll in online course (MOOC ) run by NPTEL, Coursera, edx Udacity etc. You can learn a lot from them and get certificate too. The knowledge which you will get from there can be helpful to you in long run and interviewer might also be impressed, if you have exceptional skills other than basic and common ones. Certifications from these MOOCs also imply that you are self motivated to learn, which is very big advantage for you in front of the interviewers.
For additional guidance you can refer to the blog post of Prof. Pankaj Jalote , Director, IIIT Delhi.

Hope that the information provided above was helpful, you can directly ask any question from me in the comment section given below.

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  • Vivek Vikram Singh
  • @vivek14
  • Senior editor at techtud

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