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GATE 2021 Physics Syllabus, Books and Preparation Tips

Exam: 05 Feb `21
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Nikkil Visha

Exams Prep Master | Updated On - Jan 6, 2021

GATE 2021 Physics syllabus includes core physics and general aptitude topics. The majority of questions i.e. 85% are asked from the core subject and the rest of the questions i.e. 15% from general aptitude topics. In Physics there will be a total of 65 questions of 100 marks. The duration of the exam will three hours.  

  • In GATE 2021, candidates are allowed to opt for 2 papers. All those candidates who have opted for PH as their first paper can select the second paper from EC/ GG/ IN/ MA/ MT/ ST. 
  • Also, if you are from an arts or commerce background or in the 3rd year of graduation then also you are allowed to sit for the exam. Read More

After qualifying GATE 2021, candidates will be able to get admission in courses offered at various institutes of the country like IITs, NITs, etc. Read the article to know more about the revised syllabus, exam pattern, books, preparation tips, and much more. 

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GATE 2021 Physics Syllabus

GATE 2021 Physics Syllabus

Section 1: Mathematical Physics

  • Linear vector space: basis, orthogonality and completeness; matrices; vector calculus; linear differential equations; elements of complex analysis
  • Cauchy Riemann conditions, Cauchy’s theorems, singularities, residue theorem and applications
  • Laplace transforms, Fourier analysis; elementary ideas about tensors: covariant and contravariant tensor, Levi-Civita and Christoffel symbols.

Section 2: Classical Mechanics

  • Alembert’s principle, cyclic coordinates, variational principle
  • Lagrange’s equation of motion, central force and scattering problems, rigid body motion; small oscillations
  • Hamilton’s formalisms; Poisson bracket; 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; dielectrics and conductors
  • Maxwell’s equations; scalar and vector potentials; Coulomb and Lorentz gauges
  • Electromagnetic waves and their reflection, refraction, interference, diffraction and polarization
  • 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; one-, two- and three-dimensional potential problems; particle in a box, transmission through one-dimensional potential barriers, harmonic oscillator, hydrogen atom; linear vectors and operators in Hilbert space; angular momentum and spin; addition of angular momenta; time-independent perturbation theory; elementary scattering theory.

Section 5: Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics

  • Laws of thermodynamics; macrostates and microstates; phase space; ensemble
  • 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
  • LS and jj coupling; hyperfine structure; Zeeman and Stark effects; electric dipole transitions and selection rules; rotational and vibrational spectra of diatomic molecules; electronic transition in diatomic molecules
  • Franck‐Condon principle; Raman effect; NMR, ESR, X-ray spectra; lasers: Einstein coefficients, population inversion, two and three-level systems.

Section 7: Solid State Physics

  • 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: 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; nuclear models, liquid drop model: semi‐empirical mass formula
  • Fermi gas model of nucleus, 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.

Direct link to download GATE Physics(PH) syllabus PDF 

Sample Questions of GATE 2021 Physics Paper

  • Sample Question 1: An infinitely long thin cylindrical shell has its axis coinciding with the z-axis. It carries a surface charge density σ0cosφ, where φ is the polar angle and σ0 is a constant. The magnitude of the electric field inside the cylinder is _______?
  • Sample Question 2: For the following circuit, the correct logic values for the entries X2 and Y2 in the truth table are
  • Sample Question 3: Low energy collision (s-wave scattering) of pion (π+) with deuteron (d) results in the production of two protons (π + + d → p + p). The relative orbital angular momentum (in units of ħ) of the resulting two-proton system for this reaction is _________?

Check GATE Paper Analysis

GATE Exam Pattern of Physics

GATE 2021 Exam Pattern of Physics

  • Mode of Examination: Online
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Types of questions: MCQs and NATs
  • Sections: 2 Sections – General Aptitude and Subject-based
  • Total Questions: 65 questions
Section  Distribution of Marks   Total Marks Types of questions
General Ability 5 questions of 1 mark each
5 questions of 2 marks each

     15 marks 

Physics 25 questions of 1 mark each
30 questions of 2 marks each 
    85 marks   MCQs and NATs

Marking scheme

  • Total marks: 100 marks
  • Negative marking: Only for the MCQs 
Type of question Negative marking for wrong answer

1/3 for 1 mark questions

2/3 for 2 marks questions

NATs No negative marking 

Read More GATE 2021 Exam Pattern 

Best Books for Physics

Important Books for GATE 2021 Physics Paper 

Book Author/ Publication
Chapterwise Solved Papers Physics GATE 2020 Vijay Kumar
GATE 2020 – Guide – Physics  GKP
GATE 2020 – Chapter-Wise Previous Solved Papers – 20 Years’ Solved Papers – Physics GKP 

How to Prepare for Physics?

Preparation Tips for GATE 2021 Physics Paper 

  • Knowledge of Syllabus and Pattern: Candidates must have accurate knowledge about their syllabus and exam pattern so that they can prepare a proper plan for preparations. Candidates are advised to go through the syllabus prescribed by the authorities only. The exam pattern of GATE is also released every year by the authorities so you must stick to that only.  
  • Download Practice Papers: Candidates must download the previous years' papers for practice. These papers will you in getting a better idea about the exam pattern, type of questions, difficulty level of questions, weightage of sections or topics, etc. With the help of practice papers, you can also work on your weaker areas.  Download GATE Practice Papers
  • Prepare a Time Table: Candidates must follow a trick time table to prepare well for the exam. You must devote 6-8 hours every day for preparations only. You can also take frequent breaks in between for relaxation of body and mind. 
  • Revision is Must: Prepare handwritten notes during the time of preparations. These notes should include all the important formulas, points, tips, tricks that are required to solve the questions. Daily revision of notes will help you in memorizing things for a longer period of time. 
  • Accuracy and Speed: To improve speed and accuracy, you must practice more and more practice papers or online tests. Candidates must solve 1-2 practice after every 3 days. You can also take mock test to check your speed and accuracy. Do not get disappointed if you are not able to do well in these. In fact, you must observe your weaker areas and start working on them.

Read Preparation Tips of GATE Topper

GATE Syllabus of Other Subjects

GATE 2021 Physics Syllabus FAQs 

Ques: What will be major topics that one needs to prepare for GATE 2021 Physics paper?

Ans: Candidates should focus on General Aptitude which is common for every discipline and other than that prepare all the core subject topics. 

  • Section 1: Mathematical Physics
  • Section 2: Classical Mechanics
  • Section 3: Electromagnetic Theory
  • Section 4: Quantum Mechanics
  • Section 5: Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics
  • Section 6: Atomic and Molecular Physics
  • Section 7: Solid State Physics & Electronics
  • Section 8: Nuclear and Particle Physics

Ques: What type of questions will be asked in GATE 2021 Physics paper?

Ans: Two types of questions will be asked in the paper: MCQs & NATs

Type of question Negative marking for the wrong answer

1/3 for 1 mark questions

2/3 for 2 marks questions

NATs No negative marking 

Ques: What will be the weightage of different sections in GATE 2021 Physics paper?

Ans: The maximum number of questions i.e 85% weightage will be given to the core subject syllabus and the remaining 15% weightage will be given to the general aptitude section. 

Ques: Are there any books to prepare for GATE 2021 Physics paper?

Ans: Candidates can refer to the following books:

Book Author/ Publication
Chapterwise Solved Papers Physics GATE 2020 Vijay Kumar
GATE 2020 – Guide – Physics  GKP

Ques: Can I opt for Physics and Humanities paper in GATE 2021?

Ans: Candidates are allowed to opt for a maximum of 2 papers. But it is not necessary that you can opt for these papers because the authorities will release a predefined list of combination of papers that candidates can opt. The list will be prepared by taking into consideration various factors. 

GATE 2021 : 37 answered questions


Ques. Which is the best coaching for GATE or IES in Allahabad?

● Top Answer By Aniket Atul Mahulikar on 15 Jan 21

Ans. GATE and IES both exams have almost the same syllabus. If you are residing in Allahabad and looking for the best coaching institute, then you have limited options. Both the papers are highly competitive and require experienced faculty for mentorship.  A few of the coaching institutes have associated industry experts to help GATE or IES aspirants. The top choices from which you can opt for includes:  Mechasoft AIEFA Mechasoft:  It is a good coaching institute with trusted faculty like Mr. A.K. Tripathi. Tripathi Sir is an expert in Control Systems who also teaches some other electronics subjects.  AIEFA:  AIEFA had a collaboration with Gateforum before. Now it’s a separate coaching center. It has poor management and the class schedule is not fixed. They teach in extremely long hours sometimes.  You can also go for self-studies and take the help of online guides. If you find it essential to opt for a coaching institute, you can opt for Mechasoft because the batches are small, and doubt clearing sessions are effective. For online classes, you can opt for Made easy, Times, or Ace academy.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. Is it good to prepare for the GATE and the IES simultaneously?

● Top Answer By Sandip Pal on 14 Jan 21

Ans. If you are preparing for IES then you can also simultaneously prepare for GATE as well with just a little extra effort. The syllabus of IES is quite vast as compared to the GATE syllabus. If your primary goal is to crack IES, concentrate more on the IES and study for GATE parallelly. If you are more interested in GATE, you need to make some extra effort. However, if you are equally interested in both you can follow the strategy given below for preparation. IES Preparation:  Read class notes and solve the workbook regularly.  Make short notes for each subject containing formulas, facts, and the new concepts you learned while reading. Solve previous year’s questions for IES and GATE. Note down the important questions you come across. During revision, go through the short notes you made and the questions too.  Give online and offline mock tests regularly.  GATE Preparation: If you follow a smart study plan you can complete the GATE preparation in just one and a half months. The syllabus for GATE is just like a subset of the IES syllabus. Both of them have several topics in common. You can follow this strategy to crack the exam: One month before GATE, thoroughly read all the class notes. Solve previous year’s question paper as much as possible. Take as many mock tests as you can. 10-12 days before the exam, revise the short notes daily. You can prepare for IES for the whole year and do the major chunk of preparation for GATE in the last 1-2 months. One of my friends followed this pattern for his preparation and was successful. But you don’t have to follow this plan blindly, you can make up your own strategy too.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. What is the difficulty level of the BITS HD exam compared to the GATE?

● Top Answer By Sahil Sachdeva on 14 Jan 21

Ans. GATE exam focuses on how much the students' concepts are clear and how they can apply them for solving the questions. Most importantly, it contains numerical questions, so it would be better to expect fewer theory questions in the GATE exam. Whereas, BITS HD exam contains the majority of theory questions. You are required to solve more problems in less time. You also have to prepare for aptitude and English. These sections are quite scoring and help to get a better score.  Difficulty Level - Comparison: GATE consists mostly of numerical, while 80 to 90% of the questions in BITS HD are theoretical.  You will hardly find 10 to 15 numerical questions in HD paper out of hundred questions. Numerical questions are not like GATE. These are mostly the formula and solve type. Nevertheless, some numerical may be found very tricky.  You need to have a thorough understanding of your syllabus for BITS HD. Theoretical questions will come from anywhere, and they will test your understanding of the respective topic. BITS HD consists of 15 maths questions that are way more difficult than GATE, 15 general English, and 70 engineering discipline questions. One most important thing to add is that BITS have also started admitting students by accepting their GATE score. If you have a 55+ GATE score, you can get admission to BITS.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. What should be the proper strategy to excel in both GATE and ESE simultaneously?

● Top Answer By Angana Nath on 08 Jan 21

Ans. GATE and ESE (Engineering Service Exam) are almost similar, so preparing for one exam ensures complete preparation of at least one portion of the other. Given below is the strategy of preparing simultaneously for GATE and ESE. ESE: Technical Subjects: Read the theory properly and solve ESE objective questions. Solve all the previous year Gate questions of ECE, EE, IN streams. Solve ESE Test series only, do not start with the GATE test series. Non-Technical Subjects: For these subjects, students must put in the daily effort. Each day 15-20 minutes for this is enough. If you keep up this practice sincerely for 5-6 months, there is a good chance you will be able to score more than 300 in ESE prelims.  GATE: Now that ESE is dealt with, go for the GATE test series. As the theory portion has already been covered, start with solving questions. Give at least 10 full syllabus mock tests for GATE.  How to Attempt GATE questions: Attempt all the 1 mark questions. Go for the aptitude and English section. This will provide a break from all the formula questions which have been solved. For the last 30 questions, attempt which questions are easier so that there is time to get back to questions that could not be solved. After the prelims of GATE, you will have 4-5 months to prepare for Mains. In the meantime attempt the previous years’ question paper of UPSC to get an idea about what is asked in the examination. Read standard books to clear basic concepts. Practice is the key to score well in these exams. So, attempt mack-tests for Main as well.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. What is the minimum score of GATE one should secure to get into PSUs?

● Top Answer By Poorva Chourasia on 08 Jan 21

Ans. The GATE cutoff for PSU recruitment is quite high. Only top rankers in the GATE examination have a chance of getting a call for an Interview. PSUs invite almost 4 times the candidates they actually recruit. As only the top rankers have the privilege of choosing the company they want to work in. PSU Recruitment Details: More than 50 PSUs recruit students based on their scores in GATE. To be recruited, candidates must score above the GATE-cutoff and also the cut-off mentioned by the company of choice. Some companies directly recruit candidates through their GATE scores while some only shortlist. Some PSUs conduct an additional test for recruiting candidates. Some of the companies that accept PSU scores are AAI, BARC, BBNL, BHEL, BPCL, CEL, CIL, DMRC, NBCC, NTPC, HPCL, ONGC, Powergrid, THDC, etc. PSU-Cutoff: Given below are the branch and category-wise cut-offs for some of the major companies, for PSU-GATE. PSU Branch/Post For General Category HPCL Mechanical  68.45 Civil 70.04 Electrical 58.64 Instrumentation 44.33 E&TC 73.05 Chemical 56.67 ONGC(2019) Geologist 557 Chemist 690 AEE Production Petroleum 703 AEE Cementing Mechanical 895 AEE Electronics 868 Surface Geophysicist 621 Programming Officer 840 AEE Production Chemical 689 AEE Cementing Petroleum 873 AEE Electrical 841 Well Geophysicist 697 AEE Mechanical 856 AEE Drilling Mechanical 845 Transport Officer 899 AEE Instrumentation 730 AEE Reservoir 847 AEE Production Mechanical 867 AEE Drilling Petroleum 803 MM Officer 923 AEE Civil 915 The GATE Cutoff for ONGC may vary with each vacancy. Candidates must score a minimum of 65% in their BTech graduation to appear for GATE. The salaries offered are almost the same for PSUs that recruit through GATE, but the salaries offered to people recruited for senior positions may differ.Read more
1 Answer

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