The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) for Physics is a prestigious examination conducted at the national level in India. Aimed at assessing the comprehensive understanding and knowledge of candidates in various engineering and science subjects, GATE Physics evaluates candidates’ proficiency in Physics and its applications.
The GATE Physics exam comprises questions that test candidates on a wide range of topics, including classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and mathematical physics. The examination is not just a test of theoretical knowledge but also evaluates problem-solving skills, mathematical aptitude, and the ability to apply concepts to real-world scenarios.
Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) is a national examination conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and the seven Indian Institutes of Technology (at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee) on behalf of the National Coordination Board (NCB)-GATE, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India.
Qualifying in GATE is a mandatory requirement for seeking admission and/or financial assistance to:
- Master’s programs and direct Doctoral programs in Engineering/Technology/Architecture
- Doctoral programs in relevant branches of Arts and Science, in the institutions supported by the MoE and other Government agencies.
Even in some colleges and institutions, which admit students without MoE scholarship/assistantship, the GATE qualification is mandatory. Further, many Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) have been using the GATE score in their recruitment process.
Age Limit: There is no age limit for the candidates.
GATE exam is conducted once in a year, i.e., in the months of February. The notifications announcing the GATE exam published in the months of September in the weekly journal of nation-wide circulation (Employment News).
Eligibility for GATE
The following categories of candidates ONLY are eligible to appear for GATE:
|Description of Eligible Candidates
|Expected Year of Completion
|B.Sc. (Research) / B.S.
|Bachelor’s degree in Science (Post-Diploma/4 years after 10+2)
|Currently in the 3rd year or higher grade or already completed
|M. Sc. / M.A. / MCA or equivalent
|Master’s degree in any branch of Arts/Science/Mathematics/Statistics/ Computer Applications or equivalent
|Currently in the first year or higher or already Completed
|B.Sc. / B.A. / B.Com.
|Integrated M.Sc. or 5-year integrated B.S.-M.S. program
|Currently in the 3rd year or higher or already completed
|Int. M.Sc. / Int. B.S. / M.S.
|Integrated M.Sc. or 5-year integrated B.S.-M.S. program
|Currently in the 3rd year or higher or already completed
Scheme of Test
The examination will be conducted in an ONLINE Computer Based Test (CBT) mode where the candidates will be shown the questions on a computer screen. GATE examination will be for 3 hours duration and consist of 65 questions for a total of 100 marks. Since the examination is an ONLINE computer-based test, at the end of the stipulated time (3-hours), the computer will automatically close the screen inhibiting any further action.
A Virtual Scientific Calculator will be available on the computer screen during the examination. Candidates have to use the same during the examination. Personal calculators, wristwatches, mobile phones or any other electronic devices are NOT allowed inside the examination hall.
Candidates should not bring any charts/tables/papers into the examination hall. GATE officials will not be responsible for the safe-keep of the candidates’ personal belongings.
Scribble pads will be provided to the candidates for any rough work. The candidate has to write his/her name and registration number on the scribble pad before he/she starts using it.
The scribble pad must be returned to the invigilator at the end of the examination.
The GATE Examination is carried out as ONLINE Computer Based Test (CBT) where the candidates will be shown the questions in a random sequence on a computer screen. The duration of the examination will be 3 hours. The medium for all the test papers is English only. There will be a total of 65 questions carrying 100 marks.
GATE paper would contain questions of THREE different types
(i) Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ),
MCQ carries 1 or 2 marks each, in all the papers and sections. These questions are objective in nature, and each will have a choice of four answers, out of which ONLY ONE choice is correct.
(ii) Multiple Select Questions (MSQ)
MSQ carries 1 or 2 marks each in all the papers and sections. These questions are objective in nature, and each will have a choice of four answers, out of which ONE or MORE than ONE choice(s) are correct.
(iii) Numerical Answer Type (NAT) questions.
Questions carrying 1 or 2 marks each in most of the papers and sections.
For these questions, the answer is a signed real number, which needs to be entered by the candidate using the virtual numeric keypad on the monitor (the keyboard of the computer will be disabled). No choices will be shown for these types of questions.
The answer can be a number such as 10 or -10 (an integer only). The answer may be in decimals as well, for example, 10.1 (one decimal) or 10.01 (two decimals) or -10.001 (three decimals). These questions will be mentioned with, up to which decimal places, the candidates need to present the answer. Also, for some NAT-type problems an appropriate range will be considered while evaluating these questions so that the candidate is not unduly penalized due to the usual round-off errors. Candidates are advised to do the rounding off at the end of the calculation (not in between steps). Wherever required and possible, it is better to give NAT answers up to a maximum of three decimal places.
General Aptitude Section
The paper will consist of a mandatory General Aptitude (GA) section which will have 10 questions. 5 of the questions will be of 1 mark and the remaining 5 will be of 2 marks. Therefore, the total marks for this section will be 15 marks.
This section is intended to test typically the Language and Analytical Skills.
1 Mark MCQs – 1/3 mark will be deducted for every wrong answer.
2 Mark MCQs – 2/3 mark will be deducted for every wrong response.
Zero marks will be awarded for unattempted questions
No negative marking will be done for multiple Select Questions (MSQ) and Numerical Answer Type (NAT) questions.
In all the papers, there will be a total of 65 questions carrying 100 marks, out of which 10 questions carrying a total of 15 marks will be on General Aptitude (GA) and 55 questions carrying a total of 85 marks will be on the physics syllabus.
Design of Questions
The questions in a paper may be designed to test the following abilities:
(i) Recall: These are based on facts, principles, formulae, or laws of the discipline of the paper. The candidate is expected to be able to obtain the answer either from his/her memory of the subject or at most from a one-line computation.
(ii) Comprehension: These questions will test the candidate’s understanding of the basics of his/her field, by requiring him/her to draw simple conclusions from fundamental ideas.
(iii) Application: In these questions, the candidate is expected to apply his/her knowledge either through computation or by logical reasoning.
(iv) Analysis and Synthesis: These can be linked to answer questions, where the answer to the first question of the pair is required in order to answer its successor. Or these can be common data questions, in which two questions share the same data but can be solved independently of each other.
GATE is administered jointly by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (namely, IITs at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, and Roorkee). The GATE Committee, which comprises of representatives from the administering institutes, is the sole authority for regulating the examination and for declaring the results. For administrative purposes, the examination cities in India are segregated into eight zones. The operations related to GATE, in each of the eight zones, are managed by a Zonal GATE Office at the administering institute (IIT or IISc). One of the administering institutes is designated as the Organizing Institute (OI), and it would be responsible for the end-to-end process, as well as, the overall coordination amongst the administering institutes for conducting GATE.
Zones and the Corresponding Administrative Institutes
Zone-1 Indian Institute of Science Bangalore
Zone-2 Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Zone-3 Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
Zone-4 Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati
Zone-5 Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Zone-6 Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
Zone-7 Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Zone-8 Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
Section 1: Mathematical Physics
The syllabus for GATE Physics is comprehensive and covers a wide range of topics in physics. The GATE Physics syllabus is divided into various sections to assess candidates’ understanding of fundamental principles and their ability to apply them to solve complex problems. Here is a concise overview of the GATE Physics syllabus:
Vector calculus: linear vector space: basis, orthogonality, and completeness; matrices; similarity transformations, diagonalization, eigenvalues and eigenvectors; linear differential equations: second-order linear differential equations and solutions involving special functions; complex analysis: Cauchy-Riemann conditions, Cauchy’s theorem, singularities, residue theorem and applications; Laplace transform, Fourier analysis; elementary ideas about tensors: covariant and contravariant tensors.
Section 2: Classical Mechanics
Lagrangian formulation: D’Alembert’s principle, Euler-Lagrange equation, Hamilton’s principle, calculus of variations; symmetry and conservation laws; central force motion: Kepler problem and Rutherford scattering; small oscillations: coupled oscillations and normal modes; rigid body dynamics: inertia tensor, orthogonal transformations, Euler angles, Torque free motion of asymmetric top; Hamiltonian and Hamilton’s equations of motion; Liouville’s theorem; canonical transformations: action-angle variables, Poisson brackets, Hamilton-Jacobi equation.
The special theory of relativity: Lorentz transformations, relativistic kinematics, mass-energy equivalence.
Section 3: Electromagnetic Theory
Solutions of electrostatic and magnetostatic problems including boundary value problems; method of images; separation of variables; dielectrics and conductors; magnetic materials; multipole expansion; Maxwell’s equations; scalar and vector potentials; Coulomb and Lorentz gauges; electromagnetic waves in free space, non-conducting and conducting media; reflection and transmission at normal and oblique incidences; polarization of electromagnetic waves; Poynting vector, Poynting theorem, energy and momentum of electromagnetic waves; radiation from a moving charge.
Section 4: Quantum Mechanics
Postulates of quantum mechanics; uncertainty principle; Schrodinger equation; Dirac Bra-Ket notation, linear vectors, and operators in Hilbert space; one-dimensional potentials: step potential, finite rectangular well, tunneling from a potential barrier, particle in a box, harmonic oscillator; two and three dimensional systems: the concept of degeneracy; hydrogen atom; angular momentum and spin; addition of angular momenta; variational method and WKB approximation, time-independent perturbation theory; elementary scattering theory, Born approximation; symmetries in quantum mechanical systems.
Section 5: Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics
Laws of thermodynamics; macrostates and microstates; phase space; ensembles; partition function, free energy, calculation of thermodynamic quantities; classical and quantum statistics; degenerate Fermi gas; black body radiation and Planck’s distribution law; Bose-Einstein condensation; first and second-order phase transitions, phase equilibria, critical point.
Section 6: Atomic and Molecular Physics
Spectra of one-and many-electron atoms; spin-orbit interaction: LS and jj couplings; fine and hyperfine structures; Zeeman and Stark effects; electric dipole transitions and selection rules; rotational and vibrational spectra of diatomic molecules; electronic transitions in diatomic molecules, Franck-Condon principle; Raman effect; EPR, NMR, ESR, X-ray spectra; lasers: Einstein coefficients, population inversion, two and three-level systems.
Section 7: Solid State Physics & Electronics
Elements of crystallography; diffraction methods for structure determination; bonding in solids; lattice vibrations and thermal properties of solids; free electron theory; band theory of solids: nearly free electron and tight-binding models; metals, semiconductors and insulators; conductivity, mobility and effective mass; Optical properties of solids; Kramer’s-Kronig relation, intra- and inter-band transitions; dielectric properties of solid; dielectric function, polarizability, ferroelectricity; magnetic properties of solids; dia, para, Ferro, antiferro and ferri-magnetism, domains and magnetic anisotropy; superconductivity: Type-I and Type II superconductors, Meissner effect, London equation, BCS Theory, flux quantization.
Section 8: Solid State Physics & Electronics
Semiconductors in equilibrium: electron and hole statistics in intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors; metal-semiconductor junctions; Ohmic and rectifying contacts; PN diodes, bipolar junction transistors, field-effect transistors; negative and positive feedback circuits; oscillators, operational amplifiers, active filters; basics of digital logic circuits, combinational and sequential circuits, flip-flops, timers, counters, registers, A/D and D/A conversion.
Section 9: Nuclear and Particle Physics
Nuclear radii and charge distributions, nuclear binding energy, electric and magnetic moments; semi-empirical mass formula; nuclear models; liquid drop model, nuclear shell model; nuclear force and two nucleon problem; alpha decay, beta-decay, electromagnetic transitions in nuclei; Rutherford scattering, nuclear reactions, conservation laws; fission and fusion; particle accelerators and detectors; elementary particles; photons, baryons, mesons and leptons; quark model; conservation laws, isospin symmetry, charge conjugation, parity and time-reversal invariance.