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Article on GATE

GATEway to a high-tech career

It is literally a GATEway to higher education and a promising career in engineering.

Eligibility criteria

A master's degree in any branch of science or M.Sc. in Mathematics. Students in the final or pre-final year of these programmes are also eligible.

A bachelor's degree in engineering/technology/architecture/pharmacy would also suffice. Candidates in the final or pre-final year may also apply.

Candidates in the second year or above of the B.Sc. four-year Integrated Master's Degree Programme, or in the third year (or above) of the five-year Integrated Master's Degree Programme in engineering/technology.

Candidates with professional qualification equivalent to BE/B.Tech. through a UPSC/AICTE-recognised examination.

GATE exam

The examination is a single paper of three-hour duration of the objective type. Negative marking is adopted for some questions in the paper. The results of qualifying candidates will be ranked on an all-India basis and indicate a percentile score. A percentile score of 99 means one is in the top one per cent category of the candidates who appeared for GATE.

Candidates who get less than 70 percentile get no score card.

GATE scores are valid for 2 years. One can reappear for the GATE exam if one is not satisfied with the earlier score. The new score (if better than the old one) will be used for admission.

Students have to apply to individual institutes and get application forms after the GATE results are out. M.Tech. course admission details are advertised in leading newspapers from April 1 till July end. However, some institutes do not advertise and students should approach them directly for the forms. The concerned institute may conduct a written test and/or interview for admission.

Students of M.Tech. are paid scholarships by the Government of India for the entire 18-month period.

Importance of coaching

Dr. Gokhale, who had been secretary, GATE examinations for 1997-98, notes that the examination is widely recognised in industrial and academic circles. He observes there were many coaching Institutes in cities like Hyderabad and Chennai.

Coaching was necessary, according to a former principal of a private engineering college. "The Chemical Engineering Department at the Government Engineering College, Kozhikode, offers coaching to students now as a small initiative," says Prof. V.K. Sasikumar, Head, Chemical Engineering Department, Government Engineering College, West Hill, Kozhikode.

However, experts advocate preparing for GATE by practising the old question papers following the time limits strictly, since time management in GATE is also crucial. Also practising the questions helps one to familiarise oneself with the GATE exam pattern. Some institutes have recently started conducting separate written tests or interviews or both for PG admissions, apart from considering GATE scores.

Importance of PG

Dr.Gokhale observes that even a student who has completed B.Tech. at a State engineering college can look forward to doing M.Tech. in a more reputed institute like an IIT or NIT by taking GATE and thus increase his value in the job market.

Prof. R. Sreedharan, who has been monitoring admissions, including M.Tech., at NIT-C over the years, observes that some of the students of self-financing engineering colleges outside Kerala try to get into an IIT or NIT by cracking GATE.

R&D institutions

Prof. Sasikumar says that with India becoming the hub of research and development (R&D) activities and many companies abroad outsourcing these activities to Indian research institutions like CSIR, M.Tech. students have a big chance to grab more opportunities in the research sector where a PG degree carries weight.

Dr.Gokhale points out that after the 9\11 attacks in the U.S., a slump in the IT market had re-oriented the engineering students towards higher studies.

With opportunities galore in the R&D and other sectors, taking the GATE is increasingly becoming the preferred option for students. Unlike their seniors who kept going back to academics after a few years' work, present-day students prefer to complete higher studies at a younger age as they set for themselves ambitious career goals.

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