GATE Exam Pattern

GATE Exam Pattern 2021 – Marking Scheme, Syllabus, Important Topics

GATE Exam Pattern 2021: The official website of GATE 2020-21 is live now at GATE 2021 will be conducted by IIT Bombay this year. Candidates planning to appear for GATE 2021 must be aware of the GATE Exam Pattern 2021.

GATE Exam Pattern 2021 consists of all important information, such as a total number of questions, the number of sections, types of questions asked, and marking scheme of the exam. Having an idea about the GATE exam pattern will help candidates in their preparation as it will help them formulate the best strategy required for taking the exam successfully.

Important Highlights of GATE 2021 Exam Pattern

Exam Mode Online
Number of Questions 65
Total Marks 100
Type of Questions MCQs, MSQs, and NAT
Number of Sections 3 (General Aptitude, Engineering Mathematics* and Subject Specification Section)

*In place of Engineering Mathematics, Chemistry will be compulsory for Life Science (XL) Paper.

​*In XH Reasoning & Comprehension will be a compulsory subject.

Total Time Duration 3 Hours (180 Minutes)
Sectional Time-Limit No
  • This year, 2 more subjects have been added to GATE Exam 2021. The new subjects are Environmental Science & Engineering and Humanities & Social Sciences. Now there are a total of 27 subjects.
  • Candidates can appear either in ONE (like earlier years) or maximum TWO papers in GATE 2021.
  • The second paper must be from the given set of combinations that have been provided below. Some branches may NOT get the second paper option.
  • GATE will be conducted in online mode.
  • The duration of the GATE exam is 3 hours and the maximum marks are 100.

GATE Exam Pattern 2021: GATE Paper Codes

There are a total of 27 papers in GATE which are as below. A candidate can appear for any one of the following papers.

GATE Paper Code GATE Paper Code
Aerospace Engineering AE Instrumentation Engineering IN
Agricultural Engineering AG Mathematics MA
Architecture and Planning AR Mechanical Engineering ME
Bio-medical Engineering BM Mining Engineering MN
Biotechnology BT Metallurgical Engineering MT
Civil Engineering CE Petroleum Engineering PE
Chemical Engineering CH Physics PH
Computer Science and Information Technology CS Production and Industrial Engineering PI
Chemistry CY Statistics ST
Electronics and Communication Engineering EC Textile Engineering and Fibre Science TF
Electrical Engineering EE Engineering Sciences XE*
Environmental Science and Engineering ES Humanities and Social Sciences XH**
Ecology and Evolution EY Life Sciences XL***
Geology and Geophysics GG

The XE*, XL, and XH** paper codes are of general nature. The list of subjects available under XE, XL and, XH are tabulated below:

*XE Paper Sections Code
Engineering Mathematics(Compulsory) A
Any two optional sections(2×35 = 70 marks)
Fluid Mechanics B
Materials Science C
Solid Mechanics D
Thermodynamics E
Polymer Science and Engineering F
Food Technology G
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences H
**XL Paper Sections Code
Chemistry (Compulsory) P
Any two optional sections(2×30 = 60 marks)
Biochemistry Q
Botany R
Microbiology S
Zoology T
Food Technology U
**XH Paper Sections Code
Reasoning and Comprehension (Compulsory) (25 Marks) B1
Any two optional sections (60 marks)
Economics C1
English C2
Linguistic C3
Philosophy C4
Psychology C5
Sociology C6


  1. For paper code XE, “Engineering Mathematics” acts as a compulsory section
  2. For paper code XL, “Chemistry” acts as a compulsory section.
  3. Under XL, candidates can select any two of the subjects as optional from code Q to U.
  4. In the case of XE, candidates can select any two subjects as optional from code B to H.

GATE Exam Pattern 2021: GATE Question Type

The GATE 2021 question paper consists of two types of questions and they are listed below:

  1. Multiple Choice Questions(MCQs): For every question, 4 options will be there out of which one is correct.
  2. Numerical Answer Type:
  • a. All answers to these questions will be real numbers where the candidate must enter the answer with the help of the virtual keyboard.
  • b. No choices will be provided for this type of question.
  • c. No negative marking will be there for NAT questions.

GATE Exam Pattern 2021 For Various Paper Codes

The GATE 2021 exam pattern for various paper codes are tabulated below:

Paper Code Exam Pattern
CE, CS, EC, AE, AG, BT, CH, ME, MN, MT, EE, IN, TF, XE, PE, ST and PI General Aptitude– 15%

Engineering Mathematics – 15%

Subject of the Paper –  70%

AR, CY, GG, EY, XL, PH and MA General Aptitude – 15%

Subject of the Paper – 85%

GATE Exam Pattern 2021: GATE Marking Scheme

The GATE 2021 Marking scheme will vary from one code to another. The GATE marking scheme is tabulated below:

Paper Code General Aptitude Marks Subject Marks Total Marks
CS, CY, EC, EE, CE, CH, AR, AE, AG, EY, BT, GG, IN, ME, MA, PH, PI, TF, MN, MT, PE, ST 15 85 100
XE (Section A + any two sections) 15 15+2*35 100
XL (Section P + any two sections) 15 25+2*30 100


  1. The paper codes AE, AG, BT, CE, CH, CS, EC, EE, IN ME, MN, MT, PE, PI, TF and XE  will have Engineering Mathematics (15%) & General Aptitude (15%) as compulsory sections. The rest of the sections will be based on the subject selected by the candidate.
  2. The paper codes AR, CY, EY, GG, MA, PH, ST and XL will have only 2 sections – 15% will be based on General Aptitude and the remaining 85% of the question paper will be based on the subject which candidate has selected.
  3. For 2-mark questions, 2/3rd marks will be deducted for every incorrect answer.
  4. For 1-mark questions, 1/3rd marks will be deducted for every incorrect answer.

GATE Exam Pattern For All Papers

GATE Exam Pattern For General Aptitude

  1. General Aptitude acts as a compulsory section in all GATE papers.
  2. 15 % weightage of total marks will be given to the General Aptitude section.
  3. In this section, candidates will be examined based on their language and assessment skills.
  4. The detailed GATE exam pattern for General Aptitude is tabulated below:
Question Type Total Questions Total Marks
One Mark questions 5 questions 5 marks
Two Mark questions 5 questions 10 marks
Total 10 Questions 15 marks

GATE 2021 Exam Pattern For All Papers Except GG, XE, XL

  1. For all the papers except for the paper codes GG, XE, XL, the questions will be MCQs and numerical answer type in nature.
  2. There will be a total of  55 questions out of which 25 questions will be of 1 mark and 30 questions will be of 2 marks each.

GATE Exam Pattern For GG

  1. Geology and Geophysics paper consists of two parts. Part A consists of Mulitple Choice Questions and Part B is further divided into 2 sections i.e., Section 1 – Geology and Section 2 – Geophysics.
  2. Part A consists of 25 questions each carrying 1 mark.
  3. Whereas Part B consists of 30 questions each carrying 2 marks.

GATE Exam Pattern For Engineering Sciences  (XE)

  1. There will be a total of 55 questions.
  2. Engineering Mathematics (Section A) acts as a compulsory subject.
  3. A total of 11 questions will be asked in Engineering Mathematics.
  4. Now coming to Section B, candidates can select any two subjects as optional from the paper code B to H.
  5. The detailed GATE Exam Pattern for paper code XE is tabulated below:
Section Total Questions Total Marks
Section A (Compulsory) 7 (1-mark question) 7
4 (2-mark question) 8
Section B to H (Any two) 9 (1-mark question) in each of the two sections 18
13 (2-mark question) in each of the two sections 52
Total ( 2 Sections) 55 Questions 85 marks

Note – General Aptitude section of 15 marks should also be attempted along with the above sections. 

GATE Exam Pattern For Life Sciences  (XL)

  1. General Aptitude section of 15 marks should be attempted.
  2. Chemistry acts as a compulsory subject in section A.
  3. Now in Section B, aspirants can choose any 2 optional subjects from the paper code Q to U.
  4. The detailed GATE Life Sciences exam pattern is tabulated below:
Section Total Questions Total Marks
P or Chemistry Section 5 (1-mark each) 5
10 (2-marks each) 20
Sections Q to U (Any two) 10 (1-mark each) in each section 20
10(2-marks each) in each section 40

GATE Exam Pattern 2021: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding GATE Exam Pattern 2021 are as under:

Q1. Is GATE conducted offline as well?

A: No, GATE is conducted only in the online mode.

Q2. What kind of questions are asked in GATE?

A: There are two types of questions asked in GATE – 1) Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ), and 2) Numerical Answer Type (NAT) questions.

Q3. Is there any penalty for wrong answers in GATE?

A: Yes, for 1-mark questions, the penalty is 1/3 marks; for 2-marks questions, the penalty is 2/3 marks. However, there is no negative marking for wrong answers to NAT questions.