If you’re like most people, you haven’t heard of the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering. But if you’re an Engineering major in India, intent on taking post-graduate studies in the field, then there’s no escaping this government-regulated, standardized exam. In fact, if you’re relying on a fellowship or scholarship from a respected Indian institution, your whole research and studies depend on your ability to pass this test. Nothing is more intimidating, and possibly career-threatening, than this aptitude exam. First off, what is the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering?
The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, commonly abbreviated as GATE, is a pre-qualifying standardized aptitude test administered to post-graduate engineering applicants by both India’s National Coordination Board- GATE and the Ministry of Human Resource Development. As with other professional regulatory measures, the objective of the test is to make sure that students reaching Masteral Studies in Engineering (and possibly related sciences) would meet the minimum standards the government considers as a “must” for future practitioners in the field.
You may ask: why bother?
At first, the existence of the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering may be confusing. After all, if you were able to successfully complete an undergraduate degree in Engineering (e.g. B.S. or B.A. Engineering), then surely you are good enough for the post-graduate level, right?
Perhaps. But the regulation is put to place because Masters in Engineering is being made available not just to Engineering graduates but also to interested applicants from related fields. For example, a person with a B.A. degree in Architecture is free to apply for a Master’s in Engineering if he or she feels that it will enhance his or her competencies and credentials. Any graduate of a Masters in Science degree in the Maths and Sciences are also qualified to apply. The test then makes sense, for while these degrees hint at aptitude for advanced engineering subjects, they don’t necessary guarantee a success in the course.
More so, there are many kinds and forms of engineering, and a high aptitude in one Engineering major is not a guarantee of a high aptitude in the other. A person who excels well in civil engineering, for example, may not necessarily excel in chemical engineering. The same goes with an agricultural engineering trying to transition to Computer Science and Information Technology. Different metrics must apply to the different fields under the umbrella of Engineering.
The General Aptitude Test in Engineering is a 65-item test composed of objective questions and designed to be accomplished in 3 hours. Some sections of the test are designed to be answered online: applicants will be provided with computers and test-takers would have to select the correct answer using their mouse. Other parts of the test are meant to be answered using an Optical Response Sheet or ORS. In the ORS, the respondent has to darken the bubble corresponding to his or her answer using a ballpoint pen. The whole test is to be marked out of 100.
Approximately 15 marks of the GATE are for General Aptitude questions. The rest of the marks are made up of specific aptitudes, for example Engineering Mathematics, Life Sciences and Geophysics. Which specific aptitude test an examinee has to take will depend on the exact Engineering course he or she wants to take. All questions are of multiple-choice and numerical answer types.
A word of caution: if you’re taking the General Aptitude Test in Engineering, it’s important that you give each question careful thought and minimize if not eliminate guesswork. It’s as important too that a test-taker ensures he or she is marking the answer on the appropriate space. This is because wrong answers in the GATE are deducted from correct answers, that is 1/3 of incorrect responses is deducted from the questions an examinee gets right. Thus, even if you got a respectable 80 out of 100 correct, you got about 20 items wrong and about 6 points will be deducted to your total score. For this reason, it’s important that you only take the GATE when you know you are well-prepared and in a fit state of mind.
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