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GATE 2021: Decoding the changes, check new paper pattern

GATE 2021 will be held from February 5-7 and February 12-14. Check changes in application procedure, paper pattern

GATE 2021 will be held from February 5-7 and February 12-14. Representational image/

Written by Jaspal Singh 

GATE 2021: Graduate Aptitude test in Engineering (GATE 2021) has reflected some major changes and carried out vital amendments in four different aspects of the examination. Those four categories are changes in eligibility or qualification, applications, testing pattern, and syllabus.

Change in eligibility or qualification

The changes in the eligibility and qualification criteria will help students who are still in their third year of college to apply for GATE. There is no age limit for applying for the examination and they have also lifted the number of attempts, making it possible for suitable candidates to apply as many times as they wish to. Another reflective change which will drive more students to apply for the entrance exam is that students with backlog papers can also sit for the examination and the GATE score will now be valid for the next three years from the time the candidate took the test.

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Changes in application

Candidates can appear either for one or two papers in GATE 2021. The combinations of the two papers have been divided into primary and secondary papers. The second paper is required to be from the given set of combinations provided by the GATE committee.

Please find below the combinations of the two papers:

GATE 2021 Check changes in paper pattern. Graphics: Designed by Gargi Singh

GATE 2021: Change in exam pattern

The mode of examination is CBT (computer-based test). The total number of questions in the test amount to a total of 65. Out of the 65 questions to be asked in the paper, 55 questions will be attributed to technical and engineering mathematics and 10 questions are reserved for general aptitude. The questions will be divided into three major categories:

MCQ ( Multiple choice questions)

These will be objective in nature. One or two marks will be allotted to each question. Students will be given four probable answers to the questions to choose from, out of which only one will be correct. Candidates will be negatively marked and a total of 1/3 marks/points will be deducted for an incorrect answer of 1 mark question and 2/3 marks will be deducted for a wrong answer of a 2 marker question.


MSQ ( Multiple select questions): Again, these are objective questions in nature. One or two marks will be allotted to each question and students will be given a choice of four answers to choose from. One or more than one choices can be correct. No negative marking will be given for incorrect answers at the same time no partial credit will be provided for choosing a partially correct combination of choices.

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NAT (Numerical answer type question): These are 1 or 2 mark questions. NAT requires a candidate to enter a number for the answer. The desired answer should be entered by a virtual numeric keypad and the range of the answer will be provided as well. Students are required to round off the answer at the end of the calculation. There is no negative marking for any wrong answer and there is no partial credit as well.

GATE 2021: Change in syllabus

A number of topics from the GATE 2021 syllabus have been removed and some new ones have been added. The syllabus has become more holistic in nature and covers various other aspects that would be crucial for an entrance exam of the same stature as GATE. The removal of topics are more and hence will result in the easing of the burden and pressure on students. With the introduction of two new subjects, the total number of subjects for GATE 2021 has increased to 27.


It is important to note that GATE has introduced two new papers, which are Environmental Science and Engineering (ES) and Humanities and Social Science (XH). With the introduction of these two papers, Humanities and Commerce students have a chance at enrolling and cracking the GATE examination. This opens up a plethora of opportunities for them, as they could now venture into research and explore jobs in the same field.

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Candidates appearing for the examination can crack it by adhering to a disciplined schedule and being faithful to one self. At the same time, a thorough analysis of the syllabus, curriculum and marks distribution/weightage will ensure how much time the candidate is required to spend on each topic or subject. Studying the pattern of previous years’ papers always turns out to be beneficial accompanied by recognising and working on ones weaknesses. Now, students can prepare for GATE from the comfort of their homes on online platforms like Unacademy, where they will be guided and trained by efficient educators.

A collective view of the changes made to GATE 2021 showcases that it will be beneficial to the students preparing for the examination. The easing up of the syllabus and a revised grading pattern will encourage more students to take up the examination.

The author is top Educator, GATE/ESE, Unacademy (EX-IES, Scientist)

First published on: 16-08-2020 at 12:02:11 pm
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