GATE way to a great future

  • Gauri Kohli, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 04, 2015 11:55 IST

A major national-level entrance test mainly for postgraduate programmes in engineering, science and technology, the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) also serves as a gateway to a job with public sector undertakings (PSU). This year’s edition of GATE began on January 31, 2015, and will continue up to February 14, 2015.

The test score is used for admissions to postgraduate courses like ME, MTech and direct PhD in higher education institutions with financial assistance from the ministry of human resource development. PSUs Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd may also use a candidate’s GATE score during their hiring process for engineers and related positions.

The GATE score of a candidate reflects how knowledgeable a candidate is about a particular subject. Seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee) jointly administer GATE, along with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). IIT Kanpur is the organising institute for GATE 2015.

Depending on a particular institute’s norms, candidates are admitted directly into a programme based on their performance in GATE only. It also depends on a candidate’s performance in the interview conducted by the department to which he/she has applied. Academic record is also taken into account.

As per the guidelines of the ministry of human resource development, in case a candidate is to be selected through test/interview for postgraduate programmes, a minimum of 70% weightage will be given to the performance in GATE and the remaining 30% weightage will be given to the candidate’s performance in test/interview and/or academic record.

Features of GATE

Candidates have to apply for one of the 22 papers in a computer-based test. A candidate’s GATE score is valid for three years. The test comprises a single paper to be completed in three hours that contains 65 questions carrying a maximum of 100 marks. Apart from multiple-choice questions, the test consists of numerical questions.

Tips and tricks

There are two kinds of GATE aspirants - those who have decided in the first year of engineering that clearing GATE is their goal and those who wake up to the exam’s potential in their pre-final or final year.

Abhijit Chaudhari, director, GATE Forum, says: “The first step in the preparation for GATE is the concept strengthening and in this the former set has a distinct advantage. Diligently following the lessons in their engineering course greatly increases their grasp of the fundamentals and concepts and this also helps them ace their university exams. And it is sufficient for them to practice a variety of questions as GATE is just an extension of their engineering syllabus. The latter group is faced with a far greater challenge - to cover up for the lost ground and that too without the aid of a teacher. To overcome this difficulty, one could opt for a good classroom coaching module, so that concepts can be strengthened in a shorter span.”

Working professionals find it a little difficult to prepare for this test as they lose touch with the syllabus. Such students should focus on practising mock tests to refresh concepts and improve speed. Mathematics is important as those with a strong base in the subject tend to do well,” says Nitin Rakesh Prasad, co-founder, Gate Academy. Your goal in terms of the rank to be achieved also plays a big role in shaping the preparation. “If your goal is to join any of the top courses in IITs, you need to get a rank of less than 1000, which means that you cannot afford to leave out any section during preparation. On the other hand, if just qualifying is the goal, one can afford to leave out some sections and focus on the important ones and still get enough marks to qualify. Engineering mathematics and general ability constitute 30% of the marks and hence are critical but also high scoring sections,” he adds.

It is a good idea to start early and the ideal time to start the preparation is the third year of engineering where candidates should focus more on mathematics and basic engineering subjects like networks (electronic/ electricals/ instrumention) or engineering mechanics. These students should spend around four to five hours per week in the beginning and gradually increase the study hours by 20 to 25 hours per week during the last six months.

“The ideal time for hardcore preparation should start nine months before the exam. During the first three months, the students should work towards clearing their basics. The later six months should be utilised to solve problems and getting into the depth of the topic. Trying to finish the syllabus could be a futile attempt. Instead, they should select four to five subjects in which they are strong,” adds Prasad.

GATE 2015: type of questions

# Multiple choice questions (MCQ) carrying 1 or 2 marks each in all papers and sections. These questions are objective in nature, and each will have a choice of four answers, out of which the candidate has to mark the correct answer
# Numerical answer questions of 1 or 2 marks each in all papers and sections
For these questions the answer is a real number, to be entered by the candidate using the virtual keypad. No choices will be shown for such questions
All papers will have questions that test the candidate’s general aptitude (language and analytical skills), apart from knowledge of the core subject

I started my preparation from October and just brushed up my weaker areas. December onwards, I was more focused on problem solving and practising mock tests
Ankit Goyal, all-India rank 1, GATE 2014

I started studying for GATE in June 2013 and took weekend classroom coaching as I was also working at that time. Consistency is the key to success if you are getting ready for the test Saurabh Sarda, all-India rank 3, GATE 2014

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