How to Prepare for GATE Exams


Name: Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)

Meant for: Engineering students

Conducted by: Indian Institute of Science and Indian Institutes of Technology

Exam months: Usually in the months of February and March

Mode of examination: Online (From GATE 2014 onwards, the examination mode will be solely online)

Preparation tiem: Recommended a dedicated preparation time of minimum five to six months

Calculation of GATE score: Based on percentile method, GATE score is always calculated on the basis of a formula

Qualifying score: The GATE committee conducting the exam reserves the right to decide the qualifying mark for that year

Validity of GATE score: Two years from the date the results have been announced

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

If you are a GATE aspirant, then this quote by Benjamin Franklin is for you. GATE calls for religious and rigorous preparation, without which it will be impossible to crack the exam. Preparation is, in fact, one of the most important criteria to clear the exam.


An all-India examination, GATE tests candidates for their complete understanding of various subjects in Engineering and Technology. It is held on behalf of the National Coordination Board GATE, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India by the Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Bangalore, and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT). These eight institutes have the sole authority to conduct the GATE exam.

The main motive of GATE is to test the quality of students and to evaluate if they are eligible for higher studies in premium institutes of India. Successful candidates can use the GATE score to get jobs in public sector units and also to apply for government-aided fellowship programmes.

  • All those engineering students who are aspiring to pursue a Masters degree in institutes like IIT, NIT IISC, or those opting to apply for a PhD in
  • India or abroad.
  • All those with a science and technology background aspiring for a career in government undertakings.

GATE is a great leveler. It comes with no baggage - meaning, to take GATE, it does not matter what your previous academic performance or your previous institute was. You can take this exam and if your score is brilliant, you can fulfill your dream of studying in IIT, IISC or doing PhD in India or abroad or for that matter landing up with a brilliant career.


GATE is a prestigious exam and clearing it opens the doors to many academic benefits. Naturally, many students aspire to clear the exam every year. If we look at the numbers:

Year: 2013

Number of students who took the exam: About 9.85 lakhs Number of students who cleared the exam: About 1.36 lakhs (roughly about 14%). Also note that as seats are limited, to get admission in premium institutes, your GATE score will have to be really high.

Year: 2014

Number of students expected to take the exam: About 15 lakhs Now, isn't this a good enough reason to get you started on the preparation. The competition is tough but with a clear-cut preparation strategy, you will definitely be able to succeed.

Exam Preparation Tips for GATE

Apart from a clear direction and hard work, preparation for GATE also calls for a lot of grit and determination in a person.

Here are few tips that will enable you to prepare for GATE.

Mentally see yourself succeed

First and foremost, see yourself succeed. You have this seed of a dream to clear the GATE exam, water the seed. Believe that you have the ability to clear the exam and that you have cleared the exam. Mentally, if you can visualize yourself clearing the exam, you will physically execute it too. After all, belief can move mountains.

Understand GATE

Now that, mentally, you have decided you are going to clear the exam, try to understand GATE completely - what the exam is all about, the syllabus, the eligibility criteria, the exam pattern, what new elements have been introduced this year. Just try to find out everything about GATE.

Concentrate on the syllabus

Focus on the syllabus. Understand the subjects and the courses involved. Then, look around for study material and books that will cover the syllabus completely. It is of utmost importance that you choose the right study resources. Find such study material that you can easily understand. If you are already taking coaching classes, you may be aware of them or else you can reach out to your college or among your peer group for the same. You will even find good study materials online.

Prepare a timetable

Once you are clear about the syllabus, chalk down a timetable to complete the syllabus well in time. It is usually recommended that you finish preparation of the course 45 days before the exam. These 45 days will then be used for revision and solving question papers. The routine has to cover the completion of all the subjects and topics, because you simply cannot afford to miss out on even one topic. Make a routine keeping these points in mind.

Follow the timetable

This is of utmost importance. Many would make the timetable, but following it would be a difficult task. The moment you feel like neglecting the routine, remember the image that you had in mind of clearing the GATE exam and go back to it. The routine is going to be your guiding force till you complete the exam. Please do not cheat on it. In fact, what you can do is have a small competition with yourself everyday, where you challenge yourself to complete the course in fewer days than been specified in the schedule.

Concentrate on concepts

As you begin following the schedule and picking up each topic, the focus should be to have clear concepts in mind. The questions are usually based on your concepts and clear understanding of the subject. The clearer your concept on each topic, the more confident you become of the subject. Refer to books by various authors, refer to different study material on the same topic till your concepts are clear.

Make notes

As you are studying, keep making notes. These notes should be made in such a manner that they help you when you are revising before the exam. Refer to past question papers

As you are following the routine and completing the syllabus, refer to past question papers. At the end of each topic, refer to the past question paper and see where you stand. Past question papers can give you an idea as to what to expect. From 2014, the exam will be conducted online, but it still would be wise to refer to the past pattern. Try to refer to and solve as many question papers as possible.

Take mock tests

There are tests that allow you to evaluate yourself. These tests come in the form of books, CDs, or you may even find them online. Take these tests and evaluate your performance. This will give you an idea about your level of preparedness and the areas that you have to concentrate on.

Check if you are on time

Always refer to the timetable that you have set for yourself. Check if you are following the schedule diligently and if the preparation is on track. In case you hit roadblocks, try to address them. For instance, one the most common issues that students face is tackling the non-interesting subjects. How do you do that? Well, here is a way:

Divide the syllabus into high scoring and less scoring. Then, first tackle the high scoring portion, then gradually come down to the low scoring ones. Similarly, find ways and means to tackle any issue that may pose an impediment in following the routine.

Make more time for yourself

In case you feel you are unable to give the required time to studies, here are some points that you can take into consideration.
  • List down all the non-priority activities like watching TV, hanging out with friends, clubbing, partying, etc, and cut down on them.
  • List down all the activities that you may be overdoing like sleeping more than required, surfing the Net, chatting on the phone, and cut down on them.
Let these months of preparation be solely for preparation and preparation alone. You can enjoy the activities that entertain you once you clear the exam. Best of luck in your preparation!

Important links that you may wish to refer:

GATE 2014 :

GATE papers and structure :

Important dates :

Mock tests :

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Last Updated on : 29/11/2013

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