How to prepare for GATE

Complete Preparation Guide

 Are you a GATE aspirant? Getting a top rank in GATE can be a daunting thought specially when you start thinking about the competition. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Having helped many aspirants prepare and crack GATE, we have decided to create the most comprehensive step by step guide on how you can prepare for GATE in the most effective way and score your best. 

It will be long and detailed guide but if you read till the end, it is going to be very effective.

This guide is useful for aspirants of all streams and your most queries about GATE preparation will be cleared after reading this. However, if you have any specific query, then you can contact our expert team of GATE, ESE and ISRO toppers to help you by mailing us on

Here is an overview from start to finish of all the steps we’ll walk you through in this guide. 
• How to know what to read
• Choosing the best preparation source
• Planning your preparation timeline
• How to know if you need to join coaching or not
• The art of making notes
• Managing study along with college / job
• From where to solve questions
• Importance of revision 
• How to get your doubts cleared
• Choosing an effective test series

Before we start preparing for GATE, let’s cover some of the most commonly asked questions that we get.

Is it possible to crack GATE in first attempt?

With right approach and direction, yes it is very much possible. We know a lot of students who have cracked GATE in their first attempt. Founder of EXERGIC, Chandresh Mahajan, is AIR-37 in GATE 2014 and he cracked GATE in his first attempt in final year of engineering. Every year, many students from various branches are doing it. You can too.

Can an average student crack GATE?

Absolutely. We have seen and taught many students who performed average in academics in school and college, but they got AIR < 100 in GATE. Every exam is different. Do not gauge your capabilities by your previous experiences.

How many months it usually takes for a topper to prepare for GATE?

We never recommend comparing the time taken by someone else, because everyone has different intelligence, different conditions, different abilities. But to give you a rough idea of average time, cracking GATE is very much possible by regular and planned studies for about 10 months, even if you are not in touch with technical subjects already.

Whether you are self preparing or joined any coaching, this step-by-step guide is going to help you in planning and cracking GATE.



GATE is an exam where syllabus is vast. Almost 4 years of syllabus is asked in a single exam. So before starting preparation of GATE, it is highly recommended to understand the syllabus first. You can download the syllabus from official website of IITs. This is how a section of syllabus is going to look like:

Now, as you would have noticed, there is a big problem here. The official syllabus only mentions broad topics which include many other small subtopics. For example, in the topic ‘Stress and Strain’, there are a LOT of topics and concepts about which there is no mention in official syllabus. And if you are not specifically aware of what to read, what not to read and how much to read, you will get diverted towards wrong direction which will not benefit you in GATE.

 So, for new aspirants, knowing what to read, what not to read and how much to read is also a big struggle.

How to overcome this struggle?
1. Those who have joined any online coaching / classroom coaching, can directly refer to what is being taught there without bothering much about it because the mentors are already well aware about the syllabus.

2. Those who are self-preparing should constantly refer to questions asked previously in GATE (Previous year GATE questions) to make sure they are strictly reading what is relevant and required for GATE. You may think that there is no harm in reading extra, but you must keep in mind the vastness of GATE syllabus. Whatever you read must convert to marks in GATE. Research can be done later in higher studies.



It is very important to learn what is right. Standard reference books are a good source of course. It is very good to read standard books if you are self-preparing and you have ample time in hand. But since there is less than 12 months for GATE 2019, we would not suggest you to go for standard reference books.

This is why we won’t recommend standard books for GATE 2021:

1. If you start reading standard books now, it will take minimum 1.5 month to read and understand one standard book for one subject. To master the core subjects, you would need to read at least 2 books. So, you have to roughly invest 2.5 – 3 months in covering theory portion of 1 subject. There are 4 – 5 core subjects in every branch and so covering only theory of core subjects will consume the time you have in your hand. That is why we never recommend standard books to anyone who want to prepare in 1 year.

2. Those books are not written for the purpose of cracking GATE. They are written for that particular subject. So, there are a lot of things and concepts and questions in them which are not meant to be prepared for GATE. Saving your time is important when it comes to reading theory because then you will be able to devote more time to solving numericals which is most important for GATE.

Now to get a study material in place of reference books, you can consider this source:

Exergic Video Course: Content prepared by team of seasoned and experienced GATE Toppers to cover GATE syllabus efficiently. India’s most popular GATE Course.

If you are interested in knowing about Exergic courses, you may visit:



Is GATE preparation possible without coaching? Should I go for Classroom or Online coaching? Many more such questions float in the mind before starting GATE preparation.

Yes. GATE is possible without coaching and there is no compulsion to join any coaching. AIR-1 (ME) GATE 2014, AIR – 1 (ME) GATE 2017, AIR – 1 (ECE) GATE 2018 and many more toppers did not attend any classroom coaching and cracked GATE in 1st attempt in final year of engineering (and in case you are wondering, none of them is from IIT / NIT). You may see AIR-1 being displayed every year in every coaching but many of them just attended Test Series and not Classroom coaching. So, remove this bias from your mind that without classroom coaching you cannot get a good rank. You can crack and get AIR-1 in GATE without any coaching as well!

Now if people are getting AIR-1 without coaching, should I also not attend any? Look. Every aspirant is different, every aspirant has different intelligence, different strengths, different situations, different scenarios. Even if we take two aspirants, who are COMPLETELY identical in everything but studying in different colleges, they will get different ranks because may be the college of one of them is more strict in attendance and assignments than the other. So, before taking any decision, think thoroughly. But if you think you have sufficient time in hand to cover theory in least time from your study material and you have good source to solve numericals, then there is no need to join any coaching.

Before starting to compare different ways to prepare, a brief introduction:
In self study, you prepare using standard reference books / notes. In online coaching, you prepare by watching Video Classes (Live / Recorded). In classroom coaching, you attend classes by visiting coaching centre.

Now, you can decide which one to choose based on these comparisons:
• Money invested will be least in Self Preparation, slight more in online coaching and very high in Classroom coaching. If money is a key point, choose self preparation / online coaching.

• You will have ample time for self study if you prepare on your own or join online coaching. Time for self study is pretty less in Classroom coaching. If you think you need to have some quality time to do self study, avoid classroom coaching.

• Some of us get demotivated easily and lack regularity. In self preparation, you have to keep yourself motivated and ensure that you are regular. You can do so by attaching GATE with something you feel emotionally connected to (parents, PSU, girlfriend). In Online coaching, it is more easy to keep yourself motivated and regular if you are provided with study plan and interaction with mentor using online sessions / webinars. In classroom coaching also, it is easy to keep yourself motivated since you can talk to your mentors.

• For those who are self preparing can use our Facebook groups (link given in STEP 9 below) for clearing their doubts. Exergic provides India’s best doubt solving and guidance support via Premium Group. Know more about Premium Groups here. It is difficult to clear doubts in classroom coaching since number of students is large.

• In online coaching, you can cover whatever you missed or could not understand. In classroom coaching, missing a class or losing attention span in class can cost you dearly.



It is important to plan your studies in a way that you can complete syllabus at least 2-3 months before GATE 2019. Then only you can devote time for effective Revision and Test Series.

Plan those subjects first in which you are most comfortable in / they carry high weightage. For example, for Mechanical Engineering, we are showing one sample order of covering subjects:

• Strength of Materials
• Theory of Machines
• Fluid Mechanics
• Engineering Thermodynamics
• Engineering Thermodynamics Applications
• Manufacturing and Production
• Industrial Engineering
• Heat Transfer
• Machine Design
• Engineering Mechanics

This is one recommended order of preparation for Mechanical Engineering (if you are not very weak in Engineering Mechanics). Before starting preparation, try to allot time to every subject so that you can cover syllabus in time.

Watch the video (and subscribe to our YouTube channel) below to get an idea of how to set targets for completing your syllabus before deadline.



When starting to prepare, generally aspirants are having a tendency to make notes in great detail but after few months, they realise that since they understood the concepts right and if they are regularly solving numericals, they will rarely need to read those detailed notes again.

So, how to make useful notes without wasting time?

Look there are two types of notes that we recommend you should make:

1. Short notes: This include formulas plus 1-2 liner concepts which cover the whole relevant GATE syllabus in shortest time possible. Try to write very common and obvious concepts as short as you can. No need to write full sentences. You can use diagrams, flow-charts, arrow etc to make it short and crisp.
To give you an idea, you have to make them so concise that you can revise 1 subject in just 2-3 hours.

2. Numericals learning notes: When you face any good questions that you solve from free weekly test conducted in Exergic app, or question bank, or test series, and you observe something conceptually new in that question, note that question down. Also note what is the good thing you found in that question. Keep revising these notes weekly. This way you will never forget the learning from these questions and numerical solving capability will also improve gradually, which is very important for gate.



Preparing for GATE along with managing regular college chores can get difficult sometimes. But if managed properly, it is not that difficult. All it needs is a good plan and your determination to stick to it.

Chandresh Mahajan, founder of Exergic, not only secured an AIR -37 in GATE 2014 in first GATE attempt but also managed to be the topper of his batch securing a CGPA of 9.59. Keeping his experience as a reference, we are providing you guidance on how you can do it too.

Points to keep in mind:

• First make up your mind that GATE is your priority, and not your college studies. The place where you should compromise is college studies and not GATE preparation.

• College gives you a leeway to have around 75% attendance. So you can miss around 25% of the lectures. Plan those 25% well. Do not skip your college to sleep in your hostel if you are feeling sleepy or unwell. Better to attend college and sleep on last bench. Remember that your professors can make you sleep better. So attend the classes. Sit of the last bench and sleep. Save those 25% for GATE Preparation leaves.

• You spend a LOT of time in your college daily. If you do not utilize that time for GATE, it is going to get difficult. Study for GATE even in college hours.

• Since it might not be possible to solve GATE numerical in the regular college classes, you can study theoretical subjects which do not need much mental attention. For example, mechanical engineers can take images of subjects like Material Science, Manufacturing and Production, and study them in college classes through mobile.

• After every 2-3 lectures, pay little attention to what is going on in the class so that at least you have a very rough idea of what is being taught and you will get a break as well.

• If you are preparing well for GATE, many subjects taught in your college will be easy for you since conceptual and numerical part will be covered by GATE preparation.

• For subjects which are not in GATE, try to cover the class content every week for them in college hours only. It is take very less time since such subjects are limited and easy.

We have made a free time table and study schedule for college going GATE aspirants, you can use that to make one for yourself. Go through that here.



Some of us may believe that it is impossible to crack GATE with job but that is not true. Every year many GATE toppers are those who are working professionals. Chandresh Mahajan (founder of Exergic) has worked with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. for about 15 months before resigning. After adding his opinion to the experience of many of our friends and students who did it along with 9-5 job, w
e have written a blog in great detail to guide working professionals for GATE. You can go through that blog here.



It is needless to say that it is impossible to get a good rank without solving good questions. The most common way in which a regular aspirant solve questions is by attending Test Series. But there is something very wrong if you directly start attempting test series. Since test series show your All India Rank for every test that you give and test series is attended by almost everyone (who is just starting to prepare as well as those who are attempting GATE since last 2 years), so aspirants hesitate in attending tests. This hesitation increases more if they do not get good ranks in their initial tests. This is not good for any aspirant if they start comparing their marks with others from the very beginning. Look. The starting phase of question solving is to learn and cement concepts and not to compare yourself with others. But many fresh aspirants gets disheartened if they score bad and get over excited if they score good. Both of these states are not good if you want to get a good rank in GATE.

So, given that attempting test series is must, you should keep yourself telling that I will improve gradually. Never take your marks in mock tests too seriously. Just focus on learning and improving. We have seen many aspirants who were not so good in test series but they got very good AIR and those as well who were among the toppers in test series but they failed to perform in GATE. So, keep yourself emotionally balanced while attempting test series.

You can also do one thing which will great improve your concepts without the negatives of Test Series. Watch this video to know how:



Doubts are common, but their resolution is not. Many of us waste a lot of time and getting our doubts resolved. Fortunately, Exergic has created a free doubt solving community for GATE aspirants. Join that Facebook community here:

You can post any of the doubts you face and tag GATE toppers in that group and they will help you in doubt clearance. If you are looking for a systematic doubt support throughout the year by experts, you must visit this page to know about Exergic Premium Group.



Given that the syllabus of GATE is vast, you must keep all the concepts on your tips. This can be ensure by a proper revision technique.

There is no need to follow any difficult revision plan to puzzle you. You can simply follow this: You must be making short-notes as told in STEP-5 above, right? Spend 1-1.5 hours daily in the morning to read it. Read any subject. It is not necessary to read only that subject which you are preparing right now. Speed of revision should be such that you can revise 1 subject in 2-3 days. That is it! That is all you need if you are making your notes right.

For revising numericals, revise your Numericals learning notes (also covered in STEP – 5) once in a week.

It is as simple as that. Make good short-notes. Revise them DAILY. 🙂



Test series is a very useful tool to crack GATE. They are used to:

• Compare your performance with other aspirants.
• Check your improvement relative to other aspirants.
• Build exam taking skills.
• Developing a plan for writing GATE that which section are you going to attempt first, etc.

Other than solving good questions, analysing your performance is equally important when GATE exam approaches near. If you do not understand and do not correct what you are doing wrong, how you think you can improve? And that is why many aspirants keep on attending more and more tests but do not see any major improvement.

Analysing your tests can be broken down into many factors:
1. Identifying particular mistake pattern
2. Recognising types of mistakes you do
3. Finding your weak / strong theory subjects
4. Finding your weak / strong numerical subjects
5. Inventing test writing strategies
and many more…

You should do a thorough analysis of all this after attending any test (especially full length tests). And based on this analysis, you should keep improving the way you attempt tests. You should also experiment different ways to attend tests and see what works best for you.

Some things to keep in mind regarding test series:
• Attempt subject wise tests from the beginning and start attempting Full Length Tests 4 months before GATE.
• Try to attempt at least 15 Full Length Tests.
• Keep adding good conceptual question to the Numerical Learnings notes.
• Do not judge your capabilities from the marks you get. Keep working to improve them. Do not let the panic overcome your ability to think.
• Do not expect any rank in GATE based on your Mock test. It is all about learning and improving. Getting good rank in mock test is not your motive.

The only test series for GATE which provides so much thorough analysis is Exergic GATE Test Series. At the end of every test, Exergic provide a Video Analysis which includes many concepts and possible silly mistakes in that test. This provides an ultimate learning experience to the test series users.

You may think that we are self-promoting but still we will highly recommend you to join Exergic Test Series. You may join any other test series also in parallel with Exergic and you will notice yourself how the quality of questions, our analysis and feedback makes it way better than others. 🙂

Details of test series here:

We hope you got a good idea of how you can prepare for GATE. If you have any further query, feel free to mail us at

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