Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Here is the GRE home page. The proposed changes are presented here. Some free General Test preparation materials are available here. All these are from the official GRE site.

GRE General Test, the exam (some would say The Exam) that you need to take if you wish to get into Masters and Doctoral programs in US universities, is changing. The main change is that it will become (starting about one year from now) some 60 % longer than it is now, but the overall pattern remains roughly the same. The remaining changes are mostly administrative. I really wouldn't call it 'revamping', but NYTimes would.

The official website of GATE at IISc is here. A similar site is maintained by each of the IITs vested with responsibility for organizing this exam.

GATE, on the other hand, is The Exam to take if you wish to pursue a Masters program in engineering in any of the leading universities or institutes; in the sciences, it is one of a set of exams that a student can take. Unlike the GRE General Test that tests you on general skills (verbal, quantitative and analytical reasoning), GATE is subject specific. Another difference is that GATE is offered only once a year. The 2006 edition of GATE will be held on 12 February 2006, and the issue of application forms has already begun.

Until 2004 (or, was it 2003?) GATE had two sections, one with multiple choice questions, and another with questions that require longish answers. Many people -- including me -- felt that the entire exam should be converted into one with just multiple-choice questions. We used to cite GRE General Test as a good model of such an exam. Finally, GATE administrators announced the conversion to the all multiple-choice pattern. Ironically, this decision was made at a time when the GRE administrators announced that they were going the other way! As many of you probably know, the present-day GRE requires the candidates to write a short essay.

Frankly, I prefer the all multiple-choice version.


  1. Niket said...


    Are wrong answers penalized?

    Is there only a single correct answer to a question?

    I believe in using at least one of the two. Doing both, IMO, makes students be too conservative.

  2. Niket said...

    I wrote too soon. It looks like GATE has 25% negative grade for incorrect answers.

  3. Animesh said...

    I beg to differ. The written parts in GRE are meant to test the candidates' writing and critiquing abilities, not just answering questions.

    I personally love the fact that the modern GRE has the written section. That is what what grad students here do all the time, read and analyse and write with their own ideas.

    It will be great if the GATE checked that ability also.


  4. Abi said...

    Niket: What is bad about negative marking and one -- and only one -- correct answer? They are rather un-connected, no? IMHO, 'only one answer' rule is a good thing.

    Animesh: Unlike GRE, GATE tests you only on your technical knowledge. What kind of essay can the students be asked to write that would allow for variety and argument?

    BTW, in the old GATE papers, the questions that required longish answers were not essay-type questions; they were mostly problems!

  5. RS said...

    I do think this is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison. If you compared the GRE Subject Test (also knows as AGRE) with GATE, that is a more apples to apples comparison. Has the GRE subject test gone on to essay type questions as well? If that's the case, that would be a case of the GRE test and GATE going in opposite directions (as you point out). Comparing with GRE aptitude test with GATE is a bit of a non-sequitur if you ask me :-).

    The part I didn't like about GATE when I gave it (this is the 1993 version I'm talking about :-)) were the non-core sections (Maths/Physics/Chemistry... I guess you had to choose three such sections?). IMO, those sections directly skew the test in the direction of those who aced JEE, when, at this point in their lives (BTech final year), I think they should be down to testing candidates purely on Engineering Specialty. However, I do agree with you that an all multiple-choice test is an excellent direction for GATE.

  6. Abi said...

    RS: I agree that GATE and GRE-subject test are probably a better comparison. My understanding, however, is that GRE-ST is losing its importance in graduate admissions (correct me if I am wrong here; my current experience with GRE is only through what our students tell me when they apply for higher studies abroad.)

    In the early days of GATE, the basic sciences section (as you rightly pointed out) used to be skewed towards JEE type questions; this section was abolished a while ago. However, I would like its re-introduction in a new avatar, with 'standardised', simple questions that test your quantitative and analytical abilities (at least) -- in other words, it should be re-intruduced with GRE-GT type questions.

  7. Niket said...

    There is nothing wrong with only one correct answer. In fact, having multiple correct answers and negative marking might make students too conservative... which is a bad thing.

  8. Abi said...

    Hi Niket, I am sorry to have misread your comment; it is my mistake. Thanks for the clarification.

  9. Judy Jacob said...

    I have been following your blog for sometime... though this is my first comment here.

    Thought would drop by and send you some flashcards for your opinion before I start using it with my class.