Is GATE Tougher than UPSC? GATE vs UPSC

By Himanshu Bajpai|Updated : April 26th, 2022

Is GATE Tougher than UPSC? In the GATE exam, undergraduate engineering subjects knowledge and the student's General Aptitude skills are tested. While in the UPSC ESE exam, students' conceptual knowledge, general engineering studies, and aptitude skills are tested. UPSC ESE OR IAS tests a candidate's overall subjective exam knowledge in history, geography, economics, environmental science, etc. After qualifying for these exams, the candidate is eligible for the last interview process. Only a few candidates reached this final round; after cracking the interview, a candidate becomes an IAS officer. So students would be guessing around the question - Is GATE tougher than UPSC?

Many GATE candidates conclude that the GATE exam is more challenging than UPSC (CSE or ESE). The class of ideas and queries tested in the UPSC papers is vast as its syllabus is endless. There is a possibility of getting questions in any field or area considered in General studies paper 1 and General studies paper 2 in the case of UPSC CSE, so we have tried to answer your question more broadly - Is GATE tougher than UPSC? by comparing exam pattern of UPSC CSE mains VS GATE.

Table of Content

Is GATE Tougher than UPSC? A Comparison of Exam Pattern GATE vs UPSC CSE Mains

The UPSC exam pattern covers a vast syllabus with general studies (4 Papers) and 2 optional subjects for the Mains stage consisting of 9 papers conducted over 5-7 days. Candidates who secure cut-off in General Studies I and 33% in General Studies II in Prelims will be allowed to give the main exam.

Civils Exam Pattern – Prelims
PaperTypeNo. of questionsUPSC Total MarksDurationNegative marks
General Studies IObjective1002002 hoursYes
General Studies II (CSAT)Objective802002 hoursYes
Total UPSC marks for Prelims400 - Paper 2 is always qualifying with 33% marks.

Exam Pattern for UPSC VS GATE 

UPSC Pattern

In UPSC mains, all of the papers consist of descriptive answer-type questions, and it is a detailed phase, and the total marks in UPSC mains can directly impact your final scores. Therefore, UPSC exam marks for the main phase are extremely valuable as they are a key element in merit representation.

UPSC CSE Exam Pattern – Mains
PaperSubjectDurationIAS Total marks
Paper ACompulsory Indian language3 hours300
Paper BEnglish3 hours300
Paper IEssay3 hours250
Paper-IIGeneral Studies I3 hours250
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II3 hours250
Paper IVGeneral Studies III3 hours250
Paper VGeneral Studies IV3 hours250
Paper VIOptional I3 hours250
Paper VIIOptional II3 hours250

GATE Pattern

IIT Kanpur will soon release the official brochure and exam pattern of GATE 2023. With the help of the GATE exam pattern, candidates can know many important details related to the GATE exam question type, the total number of questions, exam duration, and much more. The Exam pattern with paper codes is shared below - 

Paper Code

Exam Pattern

CE, CS, EC, AE, AG, BT, CH, ME, MN, MT, EE, IN, TF, XE, PE, ST, and PI

GA (General Aptitude) – 15

Engineering Mathematics – 13 question

The subject of the Paper – 72 question

AR, CY, EY, GG, MA, PH, XH and XL

GA (General Aptitude) – 15

The subject of the Paper – 85

GATE 2023 - Highlights

Before appearing for the examination, candidates are advised to understand the exam pattern in order to strategize their preparation. Further, we have discussed the highlights of the GATE exam pattern 2023 listed in the table below.



Examination Mode

Computer Based Test (Online)


3 Hours

Number of Papers in GATE 2023

29 Papers


General Aptitude (GA)  

Selected  Engineering Subject

Type of Questions

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

Multiple Select Questions (MSQs)

Numerical Answer Type (NAT) Questions

Number of Questions

65 Questions (including 10 questions from General Aptitude)

Total Marks

100 Marks

Marking Scheme

All of the questions will be worth 1 or 2 marks

Negative Marking

Two types of MCQs:

MCQs - 1 mark for each correct answer; 1/3 mark will be deducted for every wrong answer.


GATE vs UPSC (CSE or ESE), Which Is Tougher? 

 GATE exam is considered easier than UPSC exams as GATE is a single exam in which high aptitude and single subject knowledge are tested, whereas UPSC consists of many subjects. Moreover, students appearing in the GATE exam will gain entry to the Master's programs, job opportunities, Fellowships, etc. 

  • On the other hand, the students appearing in the UPSC exam will get entry to the top government services of India like Indian Foreign Services, Indian Civil Services, Indian Revenue services, etc. So this does not prove that the questions asked in the GATE exam are lower than in the UPSC exam.
  •  More than 11 lakhs of students study and sit for the UPSC exam each year, and the quality of competition is still higher in the GATE exam with just a maximum of 2 lakhs applicants in each branch.
  • The UPSC exam syllabus is deep compared to the UPSC syllabus, but the aptitude skills of GATE are tougher than UPSC. The level of General Aptitude testing is also high in the GATE exam. Math syllabus is also of a higher level of education asked in GATE than in UPSC.  

Keep learning and stay tuned to get the latest updates on GATE ExamEligibility CriteriaGATE Application Form, SyllabusGATE Cut off, Previous Year Question Papers, etc.

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GATE Exam Related Links
GATE PatternGATE Cut Off 2023
GATE Exam RegistrationGATE Response Sheet
NIELIT Scientist B Previous Year PapersGATE 2023 Fees
GATE Syllabus for CSEGATE Eligibility Criteria 2023
GATE Total MarksHPCL Salary

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