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Engineering Services Examination(ESE/IES)

What is ESE / IES ?

Engineering Services Examination commonly known as ESE is conducted annually by UPSC to recruit engineers of four domains i.e. Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics & Telecommunications for the Techno –Managerial posts.

These candidates after the final selection are posted in various Ministries and Departments of GOI such as Railways, Telecom, Border Roads, CPWD, CWC, CPES, NHAI, Naval Armaments, IDSE, MES, Ordnance Factories etc., however, they can move to any cadre, organisation, agency, department, ministry or PSU of the Government of India. All these final selected candidates are designated as class-1 officers.

  • ESE written exam consists of both objective and conventional type questions hence theory, conceptual knowledge and problem solving techniques are equally important.
  • Good writing skills, excellent presentation, subjective theory, explanations, derivations, diagrams and equations will fetch you good marks in conventional or subjective paper.
  • Be aware of exam pattern like how many technical & non-technical questions are asked, negative marks, weightage, exam duration and marks per question. Always make a habit of referring previous year question papers.
  • Prefer Reference books for derivations, equations, conceptual thinking, theory etc.
  • Short Cut Techniques: Use short techniques for numerical solving instead of traditional approach.
  • Reading news paper, watching morning bulletin, surfing websites will help the candidates to prepare and score better in the General ability paper carrying 200 marks. Do not neglect General Ability part as this section is scoring and also plays an important role in personal interview.
  • Practice previous year question papers and analyze the weak topics and concentrate more on those topics. Always try to solve the papers in given time to obtain an idea that how many questions you are able to solve in given time limits.
  • Intense knowledge of the subjects, strong basics, and clear concepts helps in better understanding of the subjects and prove to be instrumental in getting good scores.
  • Personal Interview: Sound technical knowledge, Positive attitude, Body language, Good communication skills, knowledge about current affairs plays an important role to clear personal interviews. Candidates should be prepared for the questions about their strengths and weaknesses.

(I) Nationality:

A candidate must be either:

  • (a) A citizen of India or
  • (b) A subject of Nepal or A subject of Bhutan or
  • (c) A Tibetan refugee who came over to Indian before the 1st January, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India or
  • (d) A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka or East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire and Ethiopia or from Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Provided that a candidate belonging to categories (b), (c) and (d) above shall be a person in whose favor a certificate of eligibility has been issued by the Government of India.

(II) Age Limits:

  • A candidate for this examination must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 30 years on the 1st January, of the exam year.
  • The upper age-limit of 30 years will be relaxable up to 35 years in the case of Government servants of the following categories, if they are employed in a Department/Office under the control of any of the authorities mentioned in column 1 below and apply for admission to the examination for all or any of the Service(s)/Posts mentioned in column 2, for which they are otherwise eligible.
  • The upper age-limit prescribed above will be further relaxable:
    • Up to a maximum of five years if a candidate belongs to a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe.
    • Up to a maximum of three years in the case of candidates belonging to OBC category.
    • Up to a maximum of five years if a candidate had ordinarily been domiciled in the state of Jammu & Kashmir during the period from 1st January, 1980 to the 31st day of December, 1989.
    • Upto a maximum of three years in the case of defence service personnel disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area, and released as a consequence thereof.
    • Upto a maximum of five years in the case of ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered at least five years Military Service as on 1st January, and have been released
      1. on completion of assignment (including those whose assignment is due to be completed within one year from 1st January) otherwise than by way of dismissal or discharge on account of misconduct or inefficiency, or
      2. on account of physical disability attributable to Military Service or
      3. on invalidment;
    • Upto a maximum of five years in the case of ECOs/SSCOs who have completed an initial period of assignment of five years of Military Services as on 1st January, and whose assignment has been extended beyond five years and in whose case the Ministry of Defence issues a certificate that they can apply for civil employment and they will be released on three months notice on selection from the date of receipt of offer of appointment.
    • Upto a maximum of 10 years in the case of blind, deaf-mute and Orthopaedically handicapped persons.
  • Minimum Educational Qualifications:
    • Obtained a degree in Engineering from a university incorporated by an act of the central or state legislature in India or other educational institutions established by an act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as universities under section-3 of the university grants commission act, 1956 or
    • Passed Section A and B of the Institution Examinations of the Institution of Engineers (India) or
    • Obtained a degree/diploma in Engineering from such foreign University/College/Institution and under such conditions as may be recognised by the Government for the purpose from time to time or
    • Passed Graduate Membership Examination of the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers (India) or
    • Passed Associate Membership Examination Parts II and III/Sections A and B of the Aeronautical Society of India or
    • Passed Graduate Membership Examination of the Institution of Electronics and Radio Engineers, London held after November 1959

Provided that a candidate for the post of Indian Naval Armament Service (Electronics Engineering Posts and Engineer Group 'A' in Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing/Monitoring Organization) may possess any of the above qualifications or the qualification mentioned below namely: M.Sc. degree or its equivalent with Wireless Communication, Electronics, Radio Physics or Radio Engineering as a special subject.

Preliminary Examination Paper - I Objective General Studies & Engineering Aptitude 2 hours 200 marks
Preliminary Examination Paper - II Objective Engineering Discipline 3 hours 300 marks
Mains Examination Paper - I Conventional Engineering Discipline - I 3 hours 300 marks
Mains Examination Paper - II Conventional Engineering Discipline - II 3 hours 300 marks


  • To clear the prelims stage it is necessary to get at least 15% of marks in each paper, i.e., 30 marks and 45 marks respectively. To be sure of being eligible for Mains stage, one must aim to score at least 50% in each paper or 250+ marks overall in Prelims; this may vary branch to branch.
  • The short listing ratio for Mains Examination is considerably higher depending on the vacancies and is generally around 1:12 i.e. 12 persons are shortlisted for 1 post.
  • The minimum cut off marks to clear the Mains stage is 20% in each paper, i.e., one need to score at least 60 marks in each of the papers to be eligible for Interview stage. To be sure of getting an interview call, one must aim and score at least 50% in each of the mains paper or 300+ marks overall, however this may vary branch to branch and year to year depending on difficulty level of the paper.
  • The calling ratio for personal Interview is generally 1:3 i.e. 3 candidates will be called for filling up 1 post.
  • Next stage is the interview, interview is total of 200 marks and a good candidate gets marks in the range of 100-120. For a guaranteed selection, one must aim to score 140+ in the interview.
  • Usually, top 10 rankers score around 60 to 65% of the total marks (1300 marks). Last candidate to be recommended scores around 55 to 58 % of the total marks.

ESE 2020 Syllabus

BROAD CONTENTS OF THE GENERAL STUDIES AND ENGINEERING APTITUDE PAPER

( Stage-I, Paper-I).

General Studies and Engineering Aptitude


(Stage I - Paper I, Objective type, Common to all Candidates, 2 hours duration, 200 Marks maximum)

The questions from the following Topics will be set in Paper-I of Stage-I

  • 1. Current issues of national and international importance relating to social, economic and industrial development
  • 2. Engineering Aptitude covering Logical reasoning and Analytical ability
  • 3. Engineering Mathematics and Numerical Analysis
  • 4. General Principles of Design, Drawing, Importance of Safety
  • 5. Standards and Quality practices in production, construction, maintenance and services
  • 6. Basics of Energy and Environment : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, Climate Change, Environmental impact assessment
  • 7. Basics of Project Management
  • 8. Basics of Material Science and Engineering
  • 9. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) based tools and their applications in Engineering such as networking, e-governance and technology based education.
  • 10. Ethics and values in Engineering profession

Big Journeys begin with Small Steps

“Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough Innovation, but from flawless Execution.”
Often I hear a concern among the students regarding “What should be our strategy to crack ESE/GATE exams?" To answer this question in the most simplified way, this article is my sincere effort to strategise things for aspirants, which will be fruitful for young friends.
There are two categories of ESE/GATE Aspirants :(1) Freshers , preparing first time for the competitive exams (Neophytes) (2) Repeaters , who have already given one or more attempts (Rank Improvers)

(I) Strategy for Neophytes:

If you are fresher and preparing first time then I would suggest you the following approach to be adopted-

  • Define your aim and target the desired exam right from the beginning. You should examine closely the examination pattern, syllabus and the level of difficulty.
  • The first step for amateurs should be, to go through previous years’ question papers of the aimed exam and identify what type of questions are asked, like whether it is theoretical (then what subjects/which topics are mostly asked) or derivations or numerical type.
  • Keep one best reference book for each subject. You are not advised to read too many books for each subject; practically it is not possible in limited time frame.

The STUDY REGIME:

Make an overall plan of your career; define immediate and ultimate goals of your career, then make a roadmap to execute in most effective manner. Being an engineer you should understand the importance of planning and execution of the plan.
Overall plan may be further divided in three stages:

1. Six month /One year plan:

Divide months for different subjects and plan it so as to complete the entire syllabus in the left over time. In the current scenario of high cut-offs, do not go for selective study; instead cover the entire syllabus, because you never know “the topic left could be the topic of conquest.”

2. Subject-wise Plan/ Bi-weekly plan:

For each subject, study should be exam oriented, i.e. you should get acclimatize with the subject , so that you know which area is to be focussed like whether theory has to be focussed or numerical or solving previous years’s questions will suffice. Every subject requires different approach .For example in mathematics you may be required to focus on practicing problems where as in English altogether different approach, similarly in technical subjects the approach may differ from subject to subject.
If you are enrolled in any coaching institute; then concentrate and study well in coaching classroom, your class notes should be full and final and should be ready in classroom itself, with simultaneous marking of IMPORTANT concept /formulae and develop a habit of writing of NOTE points ,wherever required. If only self study is your style of preparing without coaching, then also notes making is advisable.
One point to be kept in mind is “Work for Yourself”; i.e. make notes for yourself, it should be self hand written notes, as this will increase your writing efficiency in terms of speed, accuracy and hand writing and also helps in memory retention.

3. Daily To-Do list /Daily plan:

This is basically for effective time management. Plan and freeze the study hours and abstain from using mobile phones, social media, what's app etc during these hours. 10 to 15 minutes are sufficient to plan next day schedule, it will help in removing redundant activities of your schedule and you can make best use of your time for study. I would also suggest to pre plan your area /subject /topic of your study for next day, it would help in activating senses of your mind to stimulate for study which helps in better memory retention.
Solving previous years’ questions of GATE & ESE (at least of last 10-15 years) should be made contemporaneous with class notes. Do not postpone it for later, topic that is covered in class or studied on your own, finish the previous years' questions on priority basis.
While solving questions, mark the questions which you were not able to solve. Refer the reference book for the clarity of concepts, and solve again. In front of the question write the Page Number and Name of the book referred and in the book referred underline or highlight the concept. This above methodology is to be followed for all workbook and other materials also. After a few months while doing revision you should re-attempt these marked questions only and no need to solve other questions.

Make a REVISION plan:

Make a habit of reading and revising simultaneously. While studying a particular subject; devote 70-80% of self study time in developing concepts of new subject and rest 20-30% time should be religiously devoted for revision of already completed topics/subjects. And, towards months closer to exam, increase the revision time for proper retention of concepts till exam day.
While revising, make sure you do the following:

  • Review of class notes.
  • Revise underlined/ highlighted portion of text book.
  • Then attempt only the marked questions once more.
  • If time permits, then start with new set of questions.

Make Micro notes:

After finishing every subject make micro notes, which have only principal formulae/ diagrams/ concepts of at most importance, especially note down the area which you find difficult to remember. Then, once this is done, take a snapshot and store in your mobile gallery. These will be your Digital Micro Notes, which can be revised anywhere and everywhere, while travelling, gap between two classes, free time.

Flow like a river:

Be loquacious and discussion oriented with friends and seniors and keep on clearing your doubts, don't allow to accumulate the doubts which may result in mental stress. Also interact with successful seniors and fellow mates to know about their path of success/strategy, it is synonymous with river water which when flows gets self purified.

Evaluate yourself:

Take tests in examination environment and make note of areas of difficulty and make a roadmap to improve these before the next test.
Stay away from incompetent and non-achievers. Don’t let their failure demoralise you in any sense.

Make holistic and balancing approach:

Cover entire syllabus but more time should be given to important areas. Identify important subjects and mark important topics within a subject. Scoring and low scoring areas should be segregated. Make a balance study plan for technical and non technical subjects. Mathematics and Reasoning Aptitude section is quite scoring in GATE exam.

(II) Strategy for Repeaters:

  • Review your past performance and find the reasons for failure. Consider failure as next stepping step. In fact you have not failed your success is little postponed.
  • Identify weak areas of each subject and start your preparation by first improving these areas.
  • Focus more on solving different types of problems and that too from new source of material in each iteration.
  • Plan your study to maintain regularity and self motivation; daily scheduling and subject wise scheduling is very important for a systematic preparation.
  • Join some good test Series & Appear for tests with full preparation and take the test in examination environment and solve previous years' questions of various exams. Solving previous years’ papers of GATE, ESE& CSE may be very useful.
  • To maintain continuity and keeping up the self motivation, form groups of 3-4 friends and make schedule of group study once in a week to discuss complex questions and doubts.

Dheeraj Kumar Singh
(GATE CODERS Group)

ESE 2020 Exam Schedule

Examination Stage Date of Notification Last date of receipt of Application Exam Date
Preliminary Examination 26.09.2018 22.10.2018 06.01.2019
Mains Examination - - 30.06.2019