GATE 2021 Vs IES 2021 Exam – Complete Information

In this article we are sharing the comparison between GATE and ESE Syllabus, GATE and IES Paper Pattern and how to prepare for GATE and ESE together/separately. Excellent article for those students who are preparing for GATE and ESE.

GATE and IES/ESE are the two biggest exams for the engineering graduates who wants to peruse their career in engineering/technical fields. 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.

GATE 2021 Vs ESE 2021

GATE Exam is an examination conducted by IITs or IISc for students who wants to take admission in postgraduate courses like etc.  at centrally funded institutions in India. GATE is an online examination which tests the candidates understanding in undergraduate subjects of Engineering, Technology or Architecture, and postgraduate subjects of Science.

Engineering  Services Examination (ESE) is one of the most prestigious examinations conducted in India by Union Public Service Commission i.e UPSC. It gives an opportunity to the engineers to work under the government of India and to be designated as Class – 1 officer in public sectors such as Indian Railways, Power, Telecommunications, Central Water Engineering, Defence service of Engineers, Central Engineering Service, etc. The ESE examination paper is conducted for four branches: Mechanical Engineering, Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Civil Engineering.

Both GATE and ESE exams are designed to test the skills of undergraduate students. More than 80 percent of both GATE and ESE exams have the common syllabus and need proper guidance to crack these exams.

GATE Vs ESE Comparison

  • GATE is objective type exam, and ESE is objective and conventional type exam .
  • GATE exam in only written test, but ESE has both written test and interview .
  • GATE exam has only one written exam to secure the score/rank and ESE exam has different stages to filter the candidates, 
  • ESE has total of 3 stages. Stage 1 includes two objective papers, Stage 2 includes two conventional papers, and Stage 3 is interview.
  • Number of subjects in GATE and ESE are almost same.
  • The GATE Exam Paper is a single paper with 65 questions of a total of 100 marks, and the allowed time duration of 3 hours.

  • ESE exam includes the following stages for a total of 1300 marks.
    • ESE exam stage 1 has two objective papers (General studies & Engineering Aptitude Paper, and Technical Objective Paper)
    • Only qualified candidates in ESE stage 1 are eligible for stage 2.
    • ESE exam stage 2 has two conventional papers (Technical paper-1 and Technical paper-2)
    • Qualified candidates of Stage 2 are eligible for Final stage (stage 3)
    • Final merit is decided based on the total marks obtained in stage 1, stage 2, and stage 3.
  • Virtual Calculator is provided for GATE Exam but Calculator is allowed for only conventional papers of ESE.
  • Objective papers of ESE are easy compared to the GATE Exam.
  • GATE exam is conducted by IITs/IISc to provide M.Tech / Ph.D programmes. GATE Score is also eligible to apply for some PSU’s.
  • ESE exam is conducted by UPSC for recruiting the candidates in various engineering departments.
  • Particularly preparation of ESE could take more than 6 months, whereas GATE preparation takes minimum 3 months.
  • GATE exam is conducted in the month of February, ESE exam stage 1 papers conducted in the month of January, and Stage 2 papers conducted in the month of May.

  1. Eligibility and Syllabus:

GATE exam is held for a total of 24 engineering disciplines

ESE is conducted for only four core engineering branches namely:- 

  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • 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 patternfor 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.

  1. 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
  • 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 Mathematicsboth 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 scorecan 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 scoremore than 85 marks in their respective branches, out of 100.

  1. 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.

  1. What is the relative difficulty level of IES and GATE exams?

You have been itching for this answer, haven t you?

Well, honestly nothing is easy given the huge amount of competition. However, if we talk strictly in terms of the paper the GATE exam requires more critical thinking than the IES exam. IES Exam questions mostly involve a linear approach to solve. But GATE exam questions involve multiple concepts that too applied in the correct order.The real difficulty of the IES lies in its time constraints during the paper and the long process of selection and uncertainty which can get quite unnerving.

Also, it must be mentioned that the IES exam has much more takers than GATE. If we consider the number of candidates appearing in exam vs the number of vacancies available, this ratio is almost 300:1 when we talk about IES Examination but it is 10:1 in GATE.

Having talked about the two exams in detail, the question is since these exams are different, should we have different strategies for the two?

Well, firstly, one should have a clear plan chalked out about the path he/she wants to tread. It is confusing to be in two minds regarding what to do next. You may attempt both the exams for experience, but in case you perform well in both, there should be absolutely no ambiguity regarding your career choices, irrespective of what others say. Always believe in your capability of making decisions for yourself.

For candidates who shall be giving both the exams sometime in the future, let us try and talk about the hybrid approach. There is no doubt about the fact that both these exams shall open a plethora of opportunities for you. While IES is a dream for lakhs and lakhs of candidates every year, GATE opens up the opportunity to re-live the long-lost IIT dream that many of us would not have fulfilled in our undergraduate years. Also, it has been observed that a candidate who does well in IES will not be too far behind in GATE and vice versa. Because, in the end, everything boils down to hard-work and conceptual clarity. One might argue that the IES preliminary stage is easier than GATE. But, one must understand the kind of time crunch faced in IES. To solve all the questions in the given amount of time, you should have prepared questions a notch higher than the level of questions that come in the exam. Therefore, it is always advisable to prepare for the IES preliminary stage and GATE together, solving questions from standard books and the previous years for both the exams. Once you get into the habit of solving tough questions, the only thing one needs to work for the IES mains will be the presentation skills and legibility. Thus, the task shall become a lot easier.

  1. Competition Level of IES and GATE Exam

How the exam is assessed and what competition faces the candidates is also one factor of the distinction between the two examinations.

The IES exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and is appeared for by more candidates than GATE. The ratio to be considered here is the number of candidates giving the exam vs the number of vacancies available. For IES, the ratio comes to 300:1. For GATE, the ratio is 10:1.

With this ratio, it is concluded that in an IES exam, every single seat as 300 applicants. This factor makes IES a relatively tough competitive exam than GATE.

In GATE, quite a good number of students score really well in their first attempt itself. But, that is not the case with IES. With a larger syllabus and much more difficult papers, the IES exam sees only a few brilliant candidates get good ranks in their first attempts. Most candidates score well in their 2nd or 3rd attempts or maybe even more.

Well, let s hope that this clears a lot of doubts regarding the two exams. Remember, the exams may be a little different, but the subjects are somewhat similar and by following a smart approach, one can clear both the exams with flying colours.

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