Apart from reflecting the relative performance level of a candidate, GATE scores serve as a value-add.

Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) is an all-India examination being conducted and administered by the Indian Institute of Science and seven Indian Institutes of Technology. It is conducted by the National Coordination Board GATE, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

In the present competitive scenario, where there is mushrooming of universities and engineering colleges, the only yardstick to measure and test the caliber of engineering students is the GATE. There is a misconception among students that GATE exam is meant for ME./M.Tech which finally leads to a teaching career only.

The GATE advantage

In this context, the following points are worth noting about this examination:

Many public sector undertakings such as BHEL, Indian Oil Corporation, NTPC, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (there are PSUs totalling 217 in number) are using the GATE score for selecting candidates for their organisations. Students who qualify in GATE are entitled to a stipend of Rs 8,000 per month during their M.Tech course. Better remuneration is being offered for students of M.Tech/M.E as compared to those pursuing B.Tech /B.E. A good GATE rank assures a good job. After joining M.Tech. at IITs and IISc, one can look at a salary package ranging from Rs 7 lakh to 30 lakh per annum, depending upon specialisation and performance.

Clearing GATE is also an eligibility clause for the award of Junior Research Fellowship in CSIR Laboratories. M.Tech. degree is mandatory for those wishing to apply for research positions in R&D centres. The GATE score is valid for two years and those who qualify this test are eligible for doing Master’s degree at NUS, (National University of Singapore), Singapore. A GATE score definitely gives one an edge when it comes to joining reputed companies as well as off-campus recruitments. For those who couldn’t pursue their BTech in IIT, it provides another opportunity to study in the prestigious IITs. Above all, it certainly gives you a huge technical edge over others in all your interviews and career planning.

Raising numbers

In the recent years the trend is very significant. From 1.66 lakh aspirants in 2008, the number of aspirants touched 5.5 lakh in 2011 and is expected to touch eight lakh in 2013. It is one of the toughest examinations in our country where competition is very high and requires focused study in a planned manner.

It aims at rigorous testing of the students’ capability in engineering concepts along with managerial skills. Engineering subjects cover 70 per cent weightage while General aptitude and Engineering Mathematics cover 15 per cent respectively.

The three-hour GATE paper has a total of 65 questions, out of which 30 questions are of one mark and 35 questions are of two marks. The two-mark questions further include two pairs of common data questions and two pairs of linked answer questions.

To secure a high a percentile one should remember that a candidate is being judged relatively and not absolutely. The overall rank achieved depends upon the preparation level of your competitors.

Scoring tips

The following tips would certainly help you in scoring well in the exam:

Go through previous years’ question papers along with solutions, and analyse the subject pattern and focus on those subjects which have maximum weightage.

Books can further be divided into two categories: Books that deal with the fundamentals and focus on conceptual clarity. Here textbooks by reputed publishers are a must. Books that provide a great deal of difficult and time-consuming questions and are used essentially as practice material.

Do not rely on just one book for a topic; instead consult a couple of books for the same topic. Prepare notes after completing each chapter.

Practise the maximum number of questions possible on a given topic. This certainly strengthens your preparation.

Keep in mind that those topics which are not in GATE syllabus could be certainly left out.

Make a list of topics in which you think you are ‘weak’ and focus on them. Have all essential formulae on your fingertips. Try to see if there are shortcut methods for a particular problem.

Joining a coaching institute is beneficial as you would be exposed to a regular systematic study. Also, joining a peer group would make one more competitive. Online coaching classes/test series are beneficial too.

Theory preparation should be completed one month before the exam and then practise many number of times.

Keep oneself updated about any changes or developments in the GATE examination for the coming year.

How to tackle the paper

Start the paper with one-mark question (25 in number). Since these are easy to attempt, they will help in building confidence. Proceed then to two-marks questions from Common Data and Linked Answer Questions.

Attempt this part with caution. These add up to eight more questions in addition to the 25 attempted above. Then go to General Aptitude section of 10 questions. All these will add upto 43 questions attempted. All these should be done in a timeframe of 100-110 minutes.

Now we are left with 22 questions in the technical portion and we can allot 50 minutes to this comfortably. At the end, you must have 15-20 minutes for a quick revision of the answer sheet to ensure all is in order.

While attempting the paper, leave questions which you are not sure of. The most deciding factor is negative marking. Avoid making any guesses and try to eliminate choices by analysis and calculations.

The writer is author of Mechanical Engineering for GATE and trains aspirants for this subject

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