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GATE 2021 Civil Engineering Exam Pattern, Marking Scheme and Weightage of Topics

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Nikkil Visha

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IIT Bombay has revised the exam pattern of GATE by allowing the candidates to appear for a maximum of 2 papers. If you are planning to appear for GATE Civil Engineering paper then you can also sit for Architecture and planning engineering or Environmental Science Engineering paper.  

  • This year, GATE Civil Engineering paper will have 3 types of questions i.e. MCQs, MSQs, and NATs. Negative marking does not apply to the NAT and MSQ questions.
  • GATE 2021 is a computer-based test with a time duration of 3 hours.
  • The paper is divided into 3 sections and consists of a total of 65 questions. The 3 sections are General Aptitude, Engineering Mathematics, and core subject. However, the General Aptitude section is common for every candidate.  Check GATE 2021 Civil Engineering Syllabus

GATE is one of the most competitive examinations in the country. Thousands of students from all over India attempt this exam in order to qualify for admissions to the best post-graduate programs and job opportunities. GATE CE is a challenging paper to answer. Knowing the paper pattern can be very helpful during the time of preparation. Read the article to know more about GATE 2021 CE exam pattern, marking scheme, weightage of questions, sample questions, and much more. 

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Highlights of GATE 2021 Civil Engineering Exam Pattern

  • 3 types of questions in GATE CE paper - MCQs, MSQs, and NAT questions.
  • The MCQs will have 4 options out of which only 1 is correct.
  • NAT questions will require students to provide a numerical value as the answer.
  • MSQs type of questions has one or more than one option correct. 
  • 1 and 2 marks are awarded for every correct answer to an objective type question as per the marks assigned.
  • -1/3 and -2/3 marks for every incorrect answer to an objective type question as per the marks assigned.
Civil Engineering Paper Code CE
Exam Mode Online
Total Marks 100
Number of Questions 65
Types of Questions MCQs, MSQs, and NAT
Number of Sections 3 (General Aptitude, Engineering Mathematics, Civil Engineering Subject Questions)
Weightage by Section General Aptitude – 15% of total marks Engineering Mathematics – 13% of total marks Civil Engineering Subjects – 72% of total marks
Total Time Duration 3 hours (180 minutes)
Sectional Time-Limit None

GATE Civil Engineering Exam Pattern

Details of GATE 2021 Civil Engineering Paper Pattern

Time Duration:

  • GATE CE is a 3-hour long computer-based paper. 

Language of Paper:

  • The language used is English.

Total Marks:

  • The total marks in GATE CE are 100 and the total number of questions is 65.

Type of Questions: 

  • GATE CE will primarily consist of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and Numerical Answer Type (NAT) questions.
  • MCQs are objective questions that carry 1 or 2 marks in all sections. Every question will have 4 choices out of which only 1 is the correct answer.
  • NAT questions carry 1 or 2 marks in all sections. The answers to these questions are numerical values that are to be entered using a virtual keypad. No choices are given for these questions.
  • In MSQs, questions will have a choice of four answers. Out of which, one or more than one choice(s) are correct.

Total Number of Section:

  • GATE CE has three sections - General Aptitude carrying 15% of the total marks, Engineering Mathematics carrying 15% of the total marks, and Civil Engineering Subject Questions carrying 70% of the total marks.
  • The compulsory General Aptitude section carries a total of 15 marks.
  • The compulsory Engineering Mathematics section contains 10 questions that carry a total of 15 marks. Out of these 10 questions, 7 questions carry 1 mark each, and 4 questions carry 2 marks each. 
  • Some of the questions could be NAT.

Know More GATE 2021 Exam Pattern

GATE CE Marking Scheme

Marking Scheme for GATE 2021 Civil Engineering Paper

The subject wise weightage in GATE CE paper is:

Discipline Subject Number of Questions Marks
Civil Engineering (CE) Engineering Mathematics 10 13
General Aptitude 10 15
Civil Engineering Subjects 45 72
Total 65 100

Marking Scheme:

Type of question Negative marking for wrong answer Marking for correct answer
MCQs 1/3 for 1 mark questions 2/3 for 2 marks questions 1 or 2 marks
NATs No negative marking  1 or 2 marks

Nature of Questions in GATE

Nature of GATE 2021 Civil Engineering Questions

Based on Facts & Laws

  • These kind of questions have their basis in known principles, facts, laws, or formulae pertaining to the discipline of civil engineering. 
  • You will be expected to answer these questions from your memory or a one-line computation.

Based on Core Topics

  • These questions test your understanding of the discipline of civil engineering. 
  • You will be required to bring out simple conclusions from fundamental ideas.

Application Based Questions

  • Here, you will have to apply learned knowledge by computing or logical reasoning.

Analysis and Synthesis

  • These kind of questions could be presented to you in a linked format where an answer must be given to the first question of the pair in order to be able to answer the question that succeeds it. 
  • You can also expect common data questions where the same data would be shared by 2 questions that are independent of each other.

Common Data Questions

  • Multiple questions would be connected to a common data passage or problem. 
  • Depending on the presented data, 2 or 3 questions can be formed. 
  • Every question is independent and the solution can be derived separately.

Linked Answer Questions

  • These questions are of the problem-solving type. 
  • You will find a problem statement after which you will have to answer 2 questions. 
  • These questions will be connected to each other, which means that the second question will rely on the first question’s solution.

Download GATE Civil Engineering Practice Papers

Important Topics in Civil Engineering

Important Topics for GATE 2021 CE

The important topics that will be tested in GATE CE are –

Section 1- General Aptitude

  • Numerical Ability – Numerical computation, Numerical estimation, Numerical Reasoning and Data Interpretation
  • Verbal Ability - English Grammar, Verbal Analogies, Vocabulary

Section 2 – Engineering Mathematics

  • Linear Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Ordinary Differential Equation (ODE)
  • Partial Differential Equation (PDE)
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Numerical Methods

Section 3 – Civil Engineering Subjects

  • Structural Engineering - Engineering Mechanics, Solid Mechanics, Structural Analysis, Construction Materials and Management, Concrete Structures, Steel Structures
  • Geotechnical Engineering - Soil Mechanics, Foundation Engineering
  • Water Resources Engineering - Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics, Hydrology, Irrigation
  • Environmental Engineering - Water and Wastewater, Air Pollution, Municipal Solid Wastes, Noise Pollution
  • Transportation Engineering – Transportation Infrastructure, Highway Pavements, Traffic Engineering
  • Geomatics Engineering - Importance of surveying, principles and classifications, mapping concepts, coordinate system, map projections, measurements of distance and directions, leveling, theodolite traversing, plane table surveying, errors and adjustments, curves

Direct Link to Download GATE Civil Engineering Syllabus PDF

Sectional Weightage of Topics

Weightage of Different Sections in GATE 2021 Civil Engineering 

Based on the data of previous years the sectional weightage of important topics is provided below:

Section 1 – General Aptitude

Section Topics Weightage
Set 1 Set 2
Numerical Ability Numerical computation 8 8
Numerical estimation
Numerical Reasoning and Data Interpretation
Verbal Ability English Grammar 7 7
Verbal Analogies
Total 15 15

Section 2 – Engineering Mathematics

Section Topics Weightage
Set 1 Set 2
Engineering Mathematics Linear Algebra 10 12
Ordinary Differential Equation (ODE)
Partial Differential Equation (PDE)
Probability and Statistics
Numerical Methods
Total 10 12

Section 3 – Civil Engineering Subjects

a. Structural Engineering

Section Topics Weightage
Set 1 Set 2
Structural Engineering Engineering Mechanics 1 0
Solid Mechanics
Structural Analysis 6 3
Construction Materials and Management
Concrete Structures
Steel Structures 5 4
Total 12 7

b. Geotechnical Engineering

Section Topics Weightage
Set 1 Set 2
Geotechnical Engineering Soil Mechanics 15 14
Foundation Engineering
Total 15 14

c. Water Resources Engineering

Section Topics Weightage
Set 1 Set 2
Water Resources Engineering Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics 8 7
Hydrology 3 4
Irrigation 2 1
Total 13 12

d. Environmental Engineering

Section Topics Weightage
Set 1 Set 2
Environmental Engineering Water and Wastewater 10 12
Air Pollution and Noise Pollution
Solid Waste Management
Total 10 12

e. Transportation Engineering

Subject Weightage
Set 1 Set 2
Transportation Engineering 11 11

f. Geomatics Engineering

Subject Weightage
Set 1 Set 2
Geomatics/Surveying 5 5

Check GATE Civil Engineering Paper Analysis

Sample Questions from Previous Year

Sample Questions from GATE 2021 Civil Engineering Major Topics

Section 1 – General Aptitude

1 Mark Questions:

  • Q.1. The lecture was attended by quite ________ students, so the hall was not very ______?
  • Q.2. They have come a long way in _________________ trust among the users.

2 Mark Questions:

  • Q.1. In a sports academy of 300 people, 105 play only cricket, 70 play only hockey, 50 play only football, 25 play both cricket and hockey, 15 play both hockey and football and 30 play both cricket and football. The rest of them play all three sports. What is the percentage of people who play at least two sports?

Sections 2 and 3 – Engineering Mathematics and Civil Engineering Subject Questions

1 Mark Questions:

  • Q. 1. An element is subjected to biaxial normal tensile strains of 0.0030 and 0.0020. The normal strain in the plane of maximum shear strain is_______?
  • Q.2. Assuming that there is no possibility of shear buckling in the web, the maximum reduction permitted by IS 800-2007 in the (low-shear) design bending strength of a semi-compact steel section due to high shear is_______?

2 Marks Questions:

  • Q. 1. A survey line was measured to be 285.5 m with a tape having a nominal length of 30 m. On checking, the true length of the tape was found to be 0.05 m too short. If the line lay on a slope of 1 in 10, the reduced length (horizontal length) of the line for plotting of survey work would be________?
  • Q.2. A 0.80 m deep bed of sand filter (length 4 m and 3 m) is made of uniform particles (diameter = 0.40 mm, specific gravity = 2.65, shape factor = 0.85) with bed porosity of 0.4. The bed has to be back washed at a flow rate of 3.60 m3/min. During backwashing, if the terminal settling velocity of sand particles is 0.05 m/s, the expanded bed depth (in m, round off to 2 decimal places) is __________ ?

Read How to Prepare Online for GATE Civil Engineering?

What is Civil Engineering and its Scope?

Civil Engineering includes the planning, construction, and maintenance of the human and natural environment, including public works. This division is further broken down into a range of sub-disciplines and its history is linked to knowledge of structures, mechanics, geography, hydrology, the science of materials, geology, and other fields. 

The civil engineering sub-disciplines include construction engineering, coastal engineering, environmental engineering, earthquake engineering, geotechnical engineering, etc. Civil engineering applies physical and scientific principles to solve societal problems.

Scope after GATE 2021 CE

Each year, the number of students who offer GATE in Civil Engineering (CE) is growing rapidly over the years. This is because the Master's courses now need a GATE ranking, but all the PSUs are hiring through GATE as well. 

Some students want to pursue M.Tech from IITs / NITs in different streams such as Structures, Geotechnical, Water Resources, Construction Project Management and Transportation; while others are trying to get a job at PSUs such as IOCL, HPCL, RITES, EIL, NHAI, DMRC, etc. Thus, it is important to understand the significance of the GATE exam and the various opportunities through GATE.

1. Job opportunities in PSUs

  • Nearly 100 PSUs present in the country (such as IOCL, ONGC, HPCL, RITES, EIL, NHAI, DMRC, BHEL, SAIL, NTPC, PGCIL) consider the GATE examination score as criteria for recruiting civil engineers.
  • A job in a successful PSU means that you keep in touch with recent developments in engineering and work on exciting country development initiatives, as well as obtain security and government job benefits.  Check PSU Recruitment through GATE

2. Pursuing M.Tech after GATE

  • One of the most common ways to proceed is by applying for M.Tech at the IITs, IISc, and NITs, having cleared the GATE test. You are also eligible for the MHRD stipend during the two-year Master’s program, with a clear GATE ranking.  Check GATE COAP Counselling
  • This can be a major step for students who dreamed of studying in the country's top institutes such as IITs and NITs.
  • Also if you apply to other states / regional/private colleges that do not require GATE as their criterion for selection, getting a good GATE score will still give you an advantage over other candidates. You can go for private jobs in the technological domain after completing M.Tech, with good packages.

3. Opportunities for research through GATE

  • Research is a field in which the country's civil engineers are not exploring much, as most students either try for M.Tech or government jobs.
  • However, those of you who are excited about learning more should opt for a research-oriented career and give back to society.

Important Instructions for Candidates

Important Instructions for Candidates

1. GATE Admit Card must be brought to the examination center for verification with a minimum of one original and valid photo identification proof (Aadhar Card, Passport, College ID, PAN Card, Driver’s License, Voter ID, or Employer ID).

2. GATE Admit Card will be considered valid only if the candidate’s signature and photograph are clearly visible.

3. Candidates must report to the venue of examination 60 minutes before the scheduled time of examination.

4. Candidates will be allowed to take the exam only if their credentials get verified by the officials of the examination center.

5. Candidates will be allowed to take their allotted seats 35 minutes before the scheduled time of examination.

6. Candidates will be permitted to start reading the instructions for the examination 20 minutes before the scheduled time of examination.

7. No candidate will be allowed to enter the examination center after 09:30 AM for the morning session and after 02:30 PM for the afternoon session.

8. Candidates will not be allowed to leave the examination hall before the end of the examination.

9. A virtual scientific calculator will be present on the computer screen for the examination.

10. Scribble pads will be available for rough work. Candidates will have to write their names and registration numbers on the pads before beginning any rough work. These pads are to be returned to the invigilator after the examination.

11. Mobile phones, personal calculators, or other electronic devices will not be permitted in the examination hall.

12. No papers, charts, or tables must be brought to the examination hall.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Ques: What is the weightage of the Structural Engineering section in GATE Civil Engineering Paper? 

Ans: Depending on the paper analysis of previous years, candidates can expect 10 to 12 mark questions from this section. Since civil engineering paper is conducted in 2 slots hence the weight of questions in each could vary. last year the weightage of this section in slot 1 was of 12 marks and in slot 2 was of 7 marks. 

Ques: Which type of questions will be asked in GATE Civil Engineering Paper? 

Ans: GATE CE will primarily consist of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and Numerical Answer Type (NAT) questions. MCQs are objective questions that carry 1 or 2 marks in all sections. Every question will have 4 choices out of which only 1 is the correct answer. NAT questions carry 1 or 2 marks in all sections. The answers to these questions are numerical values that are to be entered using a virtual keypad. No choices are given for these questions.

Ques: How many questions will be there in the paper?

Ans: There will be a total of 65 questions. From general aptitude 10 questions, from engineering mathematics 10 questions, and the remaining question will be asked from core subject syllabus. 

Ques: How can I distinguish between NAT and MCQs?

Ans: MCQs are the multiple-choice questions. In this type of question, you will have 4 options and you have to select the right option. Whereas in NAT there will be no option and candidates have to calculate the answer and write their answer by using the virtual keyword. 

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College.

GATE 2021 : 44 answered questions


Ques. Can I get a seat in PEC Chandigarh (MTech CSE) with a GATE score of 400 Gen in the CAT?

● Top Answer By Arunima Sethi on 05 May 21

Ans. No, it is not possible to get a seat in PEC Chandigarh for M.Tech CSE at the GATE score of 400, being in General Category.  For Round 1, GATE 2020 opening score for CSE was 402 and the closing score was 523.  While, during Round 2, the score was between 379-395 for the General category.  The total seats for CSE at PEC Chandigarh is also limited. There are only 30 seats available for the program, out of which only 19 are for General candidates. Seeing my friend’s experience there, I would strongly recommend you to re-attempt the exam and score well. Try to get an opportunity in top engineering institutes like IITs/NITs.  It is not that PEC is a worse institute, but if you prepare well and give GATE again, you might land into your dream college. Also, a Master's is usually the last stage of academic learning for all. So, it is better to invest your Master's degree time in an excellent institute.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. Is a stipend available in PEC Chandigarh University through a valid GATE score card?

● Top Answer By Rohini Mishra on 02 May 21

Ans. To put it short, yes, you do get a stipend at the PEC Chandigarh University, but it depends on certain terms and conditions.  Getting an SGPA of at least 6.5 in the semesters is the most important condition. If it is less than required in any semester, your next stipend will not come for the next adjacent half. If you fail to do so in the 1st semester, the stipend for the second semester would be lost.  If you score SGPA more than 6.5 in the second sem, the stipend of third and fourth in the second semester combined will re-continue.  And if you fail to reach 6.5 in the second sem, the stipend of the third and fourth sem will discontinue. As there are no separate examinations for the 3rd and 4th sem to judge the eligibility of stipend.  The stipend for the first semester is received by the students without any conditions, so you need not worry about this, as this depends on your GATE score. Read more
1 Answer

Ques. What do you prefer, the GATE or the IES?

● Top Answer By Keshav Jindal on 25 Feb 21

Ans. I would prefer GATE or IES because in GATE the ratio is 10:1 whereas in IES the ratio is 300:1. This makes IES a very tough competitive exam but in GATE it is easier to get good marks and rank higher as the paper is easy and less competitive compared to IES.  The IES exam is tougher than GATE because here a candidate has to excel both in academics and personality. In GATE the questions are concept based and it is easier to solve if all the concepts are clear. Also in the GATE exam, there are 65 questions and the time limit is 3 hours but in the IES exam there are 120 questions and the time limit is 2 hours. So you get less time to solve all the questions.  After qualifying for your GATE exam with good marks, you can apply to any of the big companies with higher packages and it also opens your gate to apply for PSU.   After qualifying for your IES exam, you will get a job as an assistant executive engineer and after 3-4 years of experience, you will get promoted to executive engineer post. Then after many years of experience of like 20+ years, you will get Chief Engineer posts.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. What is the pattern for the written test for M.Tech at IIT Gandhinagar?

● Top Answer By Kumar Shiwam on 24 Feb 21

Ans. The admission for M. Tech at IIT Gandhinagar is done on the basis of academic records, written test, personal interview, and valid GATE scores. Those students who have a good academic record along with good GATE scores are not supposed to appear in the written test and personal interview.  The pattern of the written test is as follows: 10 questions of General aptitude questions consisting of logical analytical and reasoning ability and engineering mathematics are asked. 15-20 questions are asked related to basic courses in various disciplines up to the third year of an undergraduate program. The total duration of the written test is 1 hour for 80 marks. A total of 40 marks for general aptitude and 40 for basic knowledge. There is a negative marking and very basic questions are asked in the test. For branch subjects, all questions are asked related to SOM, fluid mechanics, etc.  The reservation category will get relaxation in the cut-off marks as per the norms. You will also be entitled to and fro sleeper class train tickets for the shortest route from your hometown to the institute. If you pass the test then you will attend the interview on the same day.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. What are the best coaching centres for GATE and IES in Civil Engineering?

● Top Answer By Sabeer Chalana on 23 Feb 21

Ans. There are many coaching centers throughout the country for IES and GATE coaching. However, these 2 institutes enjoy a huge reputation and recognition at the national level due to their experienced faculty and their study material quality. Made Easy: It is one of the best in the field when it comes to GATE and IES coaching. They have the best faculty teaching the subjects for the students.  Their specialty lies in their high quality and concise presentation. One of my friends enrolled in the Delhi center weekend coaching program, which he claimed to be good. Their online test series is one of the best you can opt for. They are prepared keeping the present pattern in mind. The number of students enrolled is hefty and gives you a clear picture of the competition. Some criticize that their teaching lacks depth compared to other institutes. Their courses and tests require analytical knowledge and are more than enough to crack GATE/IES exams. IES Masters: This institute is one of the best in this field and has earned respect for its excellence and quality coaching within a short span of its inception. All the major subjects for all batches are handled by Mr. Kanchan Thakur who is the director of the institute. He has a brilliant command over all the subjects in Civil engineering. The study material of this institute is best and is even recommended for those who choose civil engineering as an optional subject in UPSC exams. One small setback is that other faculties than the director are not on par when compared with the faculties of Made Easy. For the GATE Online test series, you can opt for Made easy test series, and for the IES test series you can opt for IES Masters. If you plan to join made easy to enroll in Super Talent Batch which has all top faculties teaching in this batch. For Classroom coaching for civil engineering in GATE/IES, Super talent batch can be preferred if not then IES Masters. For Postal study course, one can opt for IES masters.Read more
1 Answer


vanshika chandra
Can I give Gate in 2 subjects?
abdul nazir

Hi Vanshika, Yes you are allowed to choose 2 subjects in GATE, however, for second subject you need to pay additional fees. For details on GATE exam click here.

dharshini rajendran
Which topics must be focussed more?

Dear Dharshini Rajendran

Greetings from Collegedunia. The topis from core subjects should be focussed more to get a good score in GATE 2021 Examination. For more details, kindly go through this link – GATE 2021 Syllabus