GATE vs IES: Paper Pattern

GATE and IES/ESE are the two most sought-after career opportunities for all engineering graduates. Aspirants who decide to make a career in their technical lines have a hard time deciding between these two examinations. Opportunities and avenues through these two exams are different. Also, preparation strategy and approach in exam are also a little different. In this blog, we try to pinch down all the differences in the paper pattern and in various other aspects between GATE exam pattern and IES pattern. Hope this blog on GATE vs IES helps aspirants to take an informed decision whether they should go for GATE or sign up for IES.

  • Eligibility and Syllabus:

    GATE exam is held for a total of 24 engineering disciplines whereas ESE is conducted for only four core engineering branches namely Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Electronics, and Telecommunication Engineering. Allied branches to these four core branches, like Production and Industrial Engineering can apply for posts available for Mechanical engineers and Instrumentation engineers and Computer Science graduates can apply for posts in Electronics and Telecommunication engineering. ESE and GATE do not demand candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in the same discipline in which they have applied for the examination. Subjects asked in GATE and IES for some branches are exactly the same whereas the ESE syllabus and pattern for some branches is wider in scope. Apart from the technical subjects of the respective branches, Paper-1 of ESE contains 10 subjects to check General knowledge that an engineering graduate must possess whereas GATE checks Aptitude, Reasoning, English and Engineering Mathematics other than subjects of respective technical discipline.

  • Distribution of marks:

    Paper-1 of ESE which tests General knowledge of a candidate has a weightage of 200 marks whereas the objective paper of technical stream in stage-1 is of 300 marks. The two conventional papers in the second stage of Mains, that check the technical knowledge of a candidate, are both of 300 marks each and the interview, which is the last stage, has a weightage of 200 marks, which sums up to a total of 1300 marks. GATE, on the other hand, is a 100 marks paper in total. Aptitude and Engineering Mathematics both have a combined weightage of almost 30 marks, where number of questions asked from Engineering Mathematics varies from 8 to 10 each year. The rest of the paper is to test the technical aptitude of a candidate. Type of questions asked and the weightage of questions are different.

  • Types of questions:

    Questions asked in GATE are either MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions) or NAT (Numerical answer type). MCQs will have four options for every question and candidate is expected to choose the most appropriate answer from them and in case of a wrong answer, students are penalized with negative marks. Whereas NAT is generally a numerical problem, the answer to these questions is a real number and is to be entered by using a mouse and virtual keypad displayed on the monitor. There is no negative marking for these questions. There are 35 questions of 2 marks each and 30 questions of 1 mark which is a total of 65 questions. Question paper of IES Preliminary exam, on the other hand, has only MCQ type questions of equal weightage. There are 100 and 150 questions, each of 2 marks, in paper-1 and paper-2 of ESE prelims respectively. In both GATE and IES, students are penalized with one-third of the total marks of the question in case of a wrong answer. The other stages of IES do not have negative marking though as questions asked in mains are subjective in nature. In Mains stage of ESE, questions are subjective in nature and each question has a number of sub parts. The main deciding factor of GATE vs IES lies in the Mains stage of ESE only. Since, here writing skills, presentation skills, planning for answers before writing them in a time bound manner also come into the picture. Preparation and approach for GATE and ESE both remain almost same until ESE Prelims. After Prelims, however, approach for ESE Mains is completely different from GATE. This becomes the deciding factor for candidates to choose between the two exams. Aspirants need to work upon writing answers, draw diagrams, include codes, flowcharts etc. in a bounded space since the introduction of QCAB.

  • Mode and conduct of examination:

    All the stages of IES are conducted offline whereas GATE is completely an online examination. Aspirants are required to solve 65 questions in three hours in GATE exam, with the help of an on-screen virtual calculator. In ESE, however, two and three hours are given to solve 100 and 150 questions respectively in Prelims and calculators are also not allowed. This implies that the level of questions asked in IES Prelims is comparatively lower than in GATE. Mains level questions of ESE, are however, assumed to be much higher in level than of GATE. Questions in ESE are based more in memory and involve minimum calculation which is not the case in GATE. In Mains stage of ESE scientific calculators are allowed. These papers are subjective in nature and students are expected to write their answers in QCAB (Question-cum-answer-booklet) which is a consolidated booklet with questions printed on them and a fixed allotted space to write answers for respective questions. The third tier of ESE is the personal interview.

  • The approach in the exam:

    Since the mode of exam conduction is different for the two exams, students must prepare and approach for the two examinations differently. One must practice questions for ESE prelims without using a calculator form the start itself and with the help of OMR sheets, if possible. Joining an offline test series for each stage of exam adds to the practice and prepares an aspirant best for the exam day. Giving tests in an exam like environment helps to train the mind to work with maximum efficiency in the exam environment. Practicing to fill OMR and writing in QCAB, both can come from test series and are, both unavoidable. For GATE, since only virtual calculator is allowed in the exam and is conducted on-screen, it is highly recommended that one enrolls for a good online test series like Made Easy for good practice for the exam. Other than test series also, one must practice working on the virtual calculator from the start itself, on laptop or computer screen to avoid any blunders in the D-day.

  • Examination tiers:

    The ESE is conducted in various stages whereas GATE is a single stage examination. The Preliminary stage of ESE is conducted around the first week of January and in two sittings, of 2 hours and 3 hours for Paper-1 of GS and technical paper respectively. After prelims, qualified candidates have to appear for Mains around May in which there are two conventional papers to test technical knowledge of a candidate in two sittings of three hours each. After clearing the cutoff of the two stages combinedly, the qualified candidates are called for an interview around October. The final result is then declared around November. Joining for selected candidates is around June next year. This makes ESE over a year-long The benefit of GATE exam here is that it is not so demanding in terms of time. The exam is conducted around February and results are declared within a month or so. After which candidates can prepare for interviews (group discussions also in some case) and apply for various PSU or M. TECH.

  • Cutoff and topper’s marks:

    Qualifying marks in GATE are not more than around one-third, varying branch to branch in any year. Although, GATE marks do not provide as accurate idea of one’s performance as GATE score does. Since GATE exam is conducted in multiple sessions for some branches, a candidate may score fewer marks due to the toughness of that set. After normalization, GATE score can help to compare the performance of two different candidates of different sessions. Also, merely qualifying GATE does not guarantee any placement or allotment of any college for higher studies. In IES, though, qualification of a candidate implies allotment of services in a government department, based on candidate’s preference and ranks. The number of qualified candidates in ESE is fixed and pre-decided, based on the number of available vacancies in various government departments in that particular year. It keeps on changing every year. Qualifying marks in ESE, for general candidates, falls a little more than around 50% of the total marks, that is in the range of 700 marks or so. For example, ESE-2018 cutoff for Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical engineering and Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering was 710, 767, 711, and 660 marks respectively. Toppers of ESE-2018 scored 750-880 marks, which is not more than 70% of the total marks of the exam whereas GATE toppers score more than 85 marks in their respective branches, out of 100.

  • Post exam:

    Before one decides to opt for one of these exams, it’s very important to know the opportunities available after clearing both of them. After the results of GATE exam are declared, the GATE score card is valid for three years, which means that a candidate can apply for admissions in M. Tech, PGDIE/PGDM, etc. till three years after writing the GATE exam. PSUs however accept the GATE score of the year of application only. This is not the case with IES. If a selected candidate refuses to join in that particular year when he qualified, he would be required to re-write the exam to seek an IES job again. In addition, government departments like railways, PWD, Store services, Indian ordinance factory services, Indian naval armament services etc. are the various departments allocated to IES qualified candidates. Whereas aspirants who score a decent rank in GATE have multiple opportunities in a number of PSU or to go for higher education like M. Tech, D., Junior research fellow, etc.

Apart from all the factors listed above, GATE exam pattern and IES pattern are both same in the sense that both require the same amount of effort, hard work, and determination to crack these exams. A little difference lies in approach and preparation strategies for the two exams but, if analyzed very closely, GATE can be considered as a subset of ESE. There have been multiple examples in the past where students have cracked both the exams in the same year with flying colors. So just go for whatever floats your boat but be motivated enough to put in whatever it takes to achieve your aim after that. Hope this blog helps all the aspirants to analyze the differences in paper patterns of GATE vs IES. So that they can take an informed decision about which exam they should prepare for.

All the Very Best!

6 thoughts on “GATE vs IES: Paper Pattern

  • December 30, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    I am a college going student . I have to appear in gate exam in 2020 . I have joined made easy in two year class room program . So i am confused when is the best time to join the test series of made easy .

    • December 30, 2018 at 4:19 pm

      Dear Abhay,

      Thanks for writing to us. The right time to join the Test Series is a very subjective thing as depends on a lot of factor like the level of your preparation and the time you can take out each day for the tests. Ideally, one should start giving tests along with the classes so that your concepts are sound. Once a subject is completed, you can take the test related to the subject. This will help you in getting a good grasp over the subject matter.

      Team MADE EASY

  • December 30, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Made easy blogs are very motivating to us. Sir please write a blog on these two topics..
    1:How to stay motivated throughout a year.
    1: Hard work importance

    • December 30, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      Dear Rishi,

      Thanks for writing to us. We will take your suggestion into consideration while writing blogs in the future. Meanwhile, keep reading our blog to get a better insight about the exams.

      Team MADE EASY

  • December 30, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    How to prepare for the ESE exam ?
    Now I am in 3rd semester.( Electronics and communication engineering)
    What are the study material ?
    Please write to me..

  • January 2, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    i have a little doubt i take admission in made easy but i take admission in ese (15th jan batch) for only gate subjects please tell me that is this good thing or there is some extra syllabus in gate which is not in ese
    as i m only preparing for gate 2020


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