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Updated: December 29, 2009 15:41 IST

The toughest of them all

R. Ravikanth Reddy
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TENSE MOMENTS: There is a 33 per cent negative marking for every wrong answer in GATE. Photo: K Murali Kumar
TENSE MOMENTS: There is a 33 per cent negative marking for every wrong answer in GATE. Photo: K Murali Kumar

GATE-qualified candidates are also eligible for the award of Junior Research Fellowship in CSIR laboratories and CSIR-sponsored projects

One of the toughest examinations with intense competition but rarely in the news is the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), administered by the IITs and IISc for admission to all the post-graduate courses in engineering in the country. These courses are offered as M.E., M.Tech. and M.S. depending on the university and the institutions that design the courses.

In some States, including Andhra Pradesh, a separate entrance test is held for M.Tech and M.E. courses and those qualifying are given a seat after the GATE qualifiers are exhausted. Some institutions specify GATE qualification as mandatory even for admission of self-financing students to postgraduate programmes.

The GATE-qualified candidates are also eligible for the award of Junior Research Fellowship in CSIR laboratories and CSIR-sponsored projects. Toppers in some GATE papers are entitled to apply for “Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Fellowship” which is awarded by the CSIR.

Some government organisations prescribe GATE qualification as a requirement for applying to the post of Scientist or Engineer. Before applying, candidates must ensure that they have chosen the right paper, which makes them eligible to seek admission to the programmes they are interested in.

Offline test

The test will be held in the normal mode for all the streams except Textile Engineering and Mining Engineering for which an online test is held. The offline test will be held on February 14 while the online test on February 7, 2010. The results will be announced on March 15. There are 21 different papers (one for each stream) in GATE including engineering streams such as ECE, CSE, EE and pure sciences such as Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. For each of the streams, the syllabus is different and therefore the question paper is different as well.

Syllabus and pattern

GATE is an objective-type test with multiple-choice questions with a total time duration of three hours. There are 65 questions for a total of 100 marks. There is a 33 per cent negative marking for every wrong answer.

The question-wise distribution is as follows: one mark technical questions (Q No. 1 to 25), two mark technical questions (Q No. 26 to 55), one mark aptitude questions (Q No. 56 to 60) and two mark aptitude questions (Q No. 61 to 65). “The surprise factor is the addition of the aptitude section in GATE'10. With 10 questions, contributing to 15 marks, this section could well be the deciding factor this time,” says Aditya Reddy of Gateforum that trains GATE aspirants.

The verbal aptitude part includes questions on English grammar, sentence completion, verbal analogies, word groups, instructions, critical reasoning and verbal deduction. The numerical aptitude part includes questions on numerical computation, numerical estimation, numerical reasoning and data interpretation.

Once the initial hurdle (GATE) is cleared, an aspirant is faced with another – that of the admission process of various colleges. Each department of each college has a different selection procedure which often creates confusion and indecisiveness in the mind of the aspirant. “For example, the M.E. programme at the IISc has direct admission whereas the M.Tech programme has a written test followed by an interview and the M.S. programme has only an interview. Hence a candidate has to prepare for all processes thoroughly,” says Mr. Aditya Reddy.

Also, one has to apply to each of the departments separately since there is no common counselling procedure. Hence each candidate has to judiciously select departments where getting admission is easy based on the GATE rank.

A rank of below 100 would guarantee a seat in either the IISc or IITs, but those securing a rank above 100, the options get confusing, especially while choosing the combination of institute and specialisation and also in cases of inter-disciplinary admissions.

This is where a student will do well to take expert guidance (Gateforum has comprehensive admission guide on its website - *www.gateforum.com').

Top institutes

The top institutes which offer admission based on GATE score are IISc, Bangalore, and the seven IITs. There are several other good colleges that take students for master's programme through GATE.

The 20 NITs located across the country, the university colleges such as Jadhavpur University, Anna University, IT BHU and Osmania University and all the private colleges offering M.Tech. course admit students based on the GATE score.

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