Qualifying for IIT’s Data Science Program — Experience Sharing

Pyari Kumaran
5 min readMay 1, 2022


My little chit chats

“Anything from IIT is a yes”. My mentor and dear teacher Dr. RPR Sir’s words helped me take a decision to finally register for the IIT’s Online Data Science course.

Making the decision to commit for a long term course was a difficult thing to do. But, I decided to do it. I qualified for IIT’s Data Science program (course linked here) in last October after undergoing a one month course with them. The course being highly flexible, decided to start this month after a gap of more than 6 months. Breathers are important while we learn. I had done the IIT’s qualifier course and Udacity’s Data Engineering Nano Degree almost in parallel, while working full time on my current job. After a good break, I am all set to start the course now. Scribbling my experiences on qualifying for IIT’s Data Science program

Into the matter:

Why this course?

Long back, when I was a civil engineering student, one of my teachers made a statement that he will only be guiding boys for the mandatory graduation project. Not taking out his name here, but I can say that he was “the best” we had when it comes to teaching structural engineering. Probably that was the point I lost all my interest to pursue my career as a civil engineer though I went ahead and did a PG in the subject with a GATE scholarship.

I later chose IT as my profession. I was passionate about it. People call it my lack of confidence, but, tbh, during the first half of my career, I have struggled when it comes to solving complex programming problems. I attribute it to the lack of training/lack of fundamentals in the subject. I have written about my struggles so many times on this blog and not planning to write about it again. When I decided to come back to programming, I had always worked on the fundamentals on whatever I chose to work on. It is recently that I moved to data. I started as a data analyst and currently am working as a data engineer. Machine learning and data science is the area I have been targeting to learn. When I took up a the course in Data Analysis from Udacity, it had an introduction to Machine learning. I realised that without a proper fundamentals in Mathematics and Statistics (including probablity), it might be difficult to master the subject.

I didn’t want to hurry this time and was waiting for the right time and I came across this course one fine day. While I knew that this is the course, I was worried about a long term commitment. It took around 1.5 years for me to start on this course after coming across this course.

In short, “The reason” to chose this course was because of the way it approaches data science by bringing in together all the fundamentals that it is required for you to become a data scientist.

Subjects handled in this course?

Mathematics, Programming and Statistics are the main focus of the course.

How to enrol for the course

IIT Madras announces the dates for the start of every qualifying course and every term on their website. We can subscribe to their notifications. We have to pay a fee to register for the qualifier course. IIT gives you access to the material for the preparation for the qualifier . After a 4 week’s course, you have to write a qualifier at an examination centre of your choice. (There are several centres across the country & even outside the country).

IIT will publish your transcripts and the answer keys before the results are announced and you will have an idea about the results even before the results are announced.

After you get your results, you can continue with the ongoing term or defer the registration to a later batch.

Course Flexibility

The course is flexible in nature in several aspects.

(a) Qualifier to registration — One gets ample time to register for the program even after you qualify. As mentioned earlier, we can either choose to continue with the ongoing batch or defer the registration.

(b) There are multiple exit points for the course.

(i) After foundation in data science

(ii) After a diploma in programming

(iii) After a diploma in data science

(iv) You can also do a full fledged online degree in data science.

Qualifying this course: How was the preparation done? What helped to qualify in the first attempt?

To be honest, the course was a bit hectic. We get to understand why IIT has that brand value. If you want to clear the qualifier, there is no scope to slack. All the 4 weeks, you have to work consistently. There are mandatory weekly assignments and 4 subjects to handle every week.

  • Keeping aside the time for preparation was the first and foremost thing that helped me when it comes to writing the qualifier. I preferred early mornings to do this without much distractions.
  • RPR sir, my teacher had given me the most important tip to crack the qualifier. He said, take up the mock exams. This is the second most important thing which helped. The mock tests gives us an idea about the pattern of the exams upfront and most importantly, it gives us a feel of how to manage your time while writing the exams. The exams are lengthy. To ensure that you can attempt all the papers well, it is important to get a practice with the help of the mock exams.
  • The revision sessions conducted before the exams are helpful too. In my case, the only revision class that I attended was that of Maths. I had just managed to cover Maths portions just two or three days before the exams and it is the revision class that helped me ensure that I passed in Maths.
  • The bonus :) — A personal note. I always give the least priority when it comes to investing time on soft skills. IIT’s course helps lazy bundles like me. The course has one more subject in the course — English. And, for the first time in my life, I am loving to learn English as a subject.

My course started today. Since I am not sure about committing four full years on this, my current plan is to exit after a Diploma in Data Science. I am looking forward to doing the course.

Before closing :)

Usually, I don’t like winters in Bangalore. It makes me unproductive. Last winter however was exciting because I had a new jacket. A jacket which said, “Data Scientist from IIT Madras”. I loved wearing it though I was(/am) not yet one.

Posting the picture again here out of sheer excitement :)



Pyari Kumaran

In love with technology and programming. Believes in sisterhood. Minimalist (atleast, aspiring to be one). "Ex-SJW"