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If GATE BIOTECH is your target, this is A MUST READ!
It won't be wrong if we start calling India, the country of competitive exams! There won’t be a single government funded institute whose student intake for the higher degree courses might be independent of a competitive exam. And, when it comes to seeking admission in Class A institutes of the country, the competition gets stiff as stones!

If CAT (Common Admission Test) is the lord for MBA seekers in India, GATE is the God for those seeking M.Tech (and even PhD). Lakhs of students appear for the exam every year, but only few thousands make it to the IITs (the literally worshipped institutes in India). So, in this article, I’ll share some pointers about this exam, which might help change your perception about GATE BT, and strategize in a better way. The obvious question that might have been clicking your nerves would be, “Who am I to give you the tips?” Well, in that case, all I would like to say is that currently I’m pursuing MS(Research) in Biochemical Engineering & Biotechnology at IIT Delhi (India); I would pass out from here by July 2013 (couple of months); I first qualified GATE BT 2010 (while I was in 3rd year of B.Tech) with 99.6 percentile, followed by GATE BT 2011 (4th year) with 99.2 percentile; and meanwhile I also managed to qualify for CSIR UGC NET 2010 LS( AIR 87) and DBT JRF 2011 (AIR 87 List B); I cleared IIT Bombay’s selection process too, but decided to join IIT Delhi in July 2011. So, I just hope that maybe I could share some tips that could help anyone amongst you aiming an eye on GATE BT this year/coming years.

Though all of you should feel free to ask any question about the exam, my article will focus on following:

People might start shedding tips on exams by asking you to know the syllabus of the exam very well, but if you really trust my opinion, you should better know the pattern than the syllabus. By pattern, I mean really simple things like How many total questions are there? How many 1 mark questions are there? How many 2 mark questions are there? How many 4 mark/linked questions are there? If you really consider GATE a battle (though you ought not to), then the best way to start preparation for the battle is not by knowing the details of the warriors but by ascertaining the number of them! And, once you come to know that there are just 65 opponents (65 questions are asked in GATE BT), you should feel very relaxed! This is too small a number for 3 hours of battle!

Now, the next information you should target is the grouping of questions of different weightage. There are total 30 questions of 1 mark each. So, out of 65, 30 questions are such that they can be finished in 15 minutes (no matter you know the answers or not). So, the brilliant news is that you have over 160 minutes for just 35 questions to solve!
Out of remaining 35 questions, 10 are made by 5 linked questions (each linked question has one passage and two questions related to that passage), the five linked questions can give you 20 marks. Remaining 25 questions are of 2 marks each.

So, this makes up the total weightage of the exam to 100 marks.

The blue-print of the exam greatly depends upon the host institute. The right to host the exam keeps shuffling between the 7 top IITs of the country i.e IIT Delhi, Bombay, Kanpur, Chennai, Guwahati, Kharagpur & Roorkee. Once you have gathered the information on who’s going to conduct GATE for the prospective year (like 2010 was by Guwahati, 2011 by Chennai, 2012 by Delhi, 2013 by Bombay), collect all the previous year papers of the GATE exam conducted by the host institute. Now, don’t get confused by the fact that GATE BT started in 2010 only, so how to find the papers? You need to collect all GATE XL (i.e GATE LIFE SCIENCES) papers of all previous years and focus on section J i.e Biotechnology of the paper(s).

Following links should help you:

Believe me or not, the questions repeat! Sometimes the same question is asked exactly the way it was asked in the previous year(s), and mostly the repetition is by changing the statement. And, good thing is that, pick up any previous year exam, the blue-print shall remain the same:

Q 1-25 are 1 mark each
Q 26-40 are 2 mark each
Q 41-50 are linked questions (4 marks per pair, no marks for 2nd question if 1st is left blank or wrong)
Q 51-55 are 1 mark each aptitude questions
Q 56-65 are 2 mark each aptitude questions

The consistency of the blue-print really gives you a good feeling about how the paper would be and how to strategize the attempts.

An estimate of cut-off really tells you the extent to which you may take risk in the exam. GATE BT’s cut-off has hardly touched 40 marks in past so many years. Now, if you see the cut-off and the maximum marks (i.e 100) you should get a feeling that if attempted wisely, GATE is not at all a big deal!

There are 30 questions of 1 mark each! They are often the simplest ones (that’s why they are one mark each). Most people do the blunder on this simple part! They attempt almost all of them, even if they are confused over the answers. My advice is, attempt only those 1 mark questions, whose answer you can reach to in 30 seconds. Leave the rest, there’s 1/3 negative mark for wrong attempt. So, even if you manage to attempt 15 questions, it’s indeed a big achievement! You have already made almost 15 marks out of 50 (for top 500 rank) needed. Now, you have 35 questions to score 35 marks more. So, even if you manage half of them correct, you are through to top 500 rank (qualifying at 40 marks is way more easy!!!). But the irony is that people hardly manage even 40 marks, all due to the blunderous and surplus attempts! There’s 2/3 negative marking for each wrong attempt in 2 mark questions.

Know your target and attempt wisely!
During my first attempt in GATE BT 2010, I had attempted just 42 questions out of 65, and scored 55 marks (cut-off was around 34). That fetched me an AIR 44! I had attempted 20 questions of 1 mark each and 2 linked questions (made 4 questions), and 18 two mark questions.
In GATE 2011, I had attempted 51 questions, and scored 62 marks (cut-off was 41). That fetched me an AIR 143!
So, it’s not the number of questions you attempt, but how many of them are correct, that matters.

Now, the next thing you should be aware about is that “NOT MANY PEOPLE ATTEND GATE BT”. Hardly 11000-18000 students appear for GATE BT every year. This should again let you feel the relaxation in competition in GATE BT. Even if you manage a rank in top 1500, you may find a seat in IITs! Different departments have varying GATE SCORE cut-off. There are some departments like CTARA of IIT Bombay, where you can get admission even at GATE Rank of over 2000!! (People who manage near cut-off marks, get such ranks). So, even if you qualify with low marks, it doesn’t take away the hope of finding a seat in IITs. So, again, stay relaxed and attempt wisely!

Most of you are always scared of GATE. Get rid of this thought!
Ask yourself one question, “Who attempts GATE?”
And the answer is,” Students like you only! They are also from sub class colleges and aspire for getting into IITs. Rather, each of the GATE aspirant is equally nervous as you are. You are not competing in GATE with some KOTA trained students as in JEE, but normal B.Tech qualified people who want to upgrade their qualification. ” A simple, calm and normal application of your knowledge in Biotechnology, gained through four years of B.Tech, can easily lead you through this Exam. Practice the previous year papers and explore their questions in details rather than scrolling the books as per GATE syllabus. It not only saves time but conditions your mind in a better way to attempt the similar patterned questions in the exam.

My best wishes to all the GATE aspirants. May the gate of GATE opens for you soon!


ALSO READ: GATE Biotech Aptitude Part Preparation
READ MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE- How I cracked Gate with a 99.6 percentile:
Sunil Nagpal
MS(Research) Scholar, IIT Delhi (Alumnus)
Advisor for the Biotech Students portal (
Computational Researcher in BioSciences at a leading MNC

Suggested Reads:
Top Biotech Companies | Top places to work
Indian Biotech Companies and Job Openings
Aiming a PhD in Top Grad School? | These are the Important Points to Consider
Careers in Biotechnology | A list of various Options
Biotechnology Competitive Exams in India
It is very helpful message for BT students.nice...
thank u for your advice. I really want to clear gate bt 2014 though last time I couldnt
Thanks a lot Sir. Your advice will be really helpful.

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If GATE BIOTECH is your target, this is A MUST READ!52