Every year over 1.3 lakh candidates appear for the GATE Civil Engineering entrance. There is intense competition for this entrance, as successful candidates get plum jobs in the PSU sector or can pursue further studies in elite institutions like the IITs or IISc.

Now, a little bit about the GATE entrance test:

  • Objective type of paper (100 marks, 65 questions, type of questions are multiple-choice questions and numerical ability questions)
  •  the average preparation time is around eight to nine (?) months
  • questions are highly conceptual and test your fundamentals, speed, and accuracy.

As mentioned earlier, the gate syllabus is very extensive.  Click here to download the syllabus.

The table below gives a list of subjects and the recommended books for Civil Engineering.

Strength of Materials R.K.Rajput
Structural Analysis - Theory of StructuresB.C.Punmia
Reinforced Concrete Design and StructureDevdas Menon and S.Pillai
Design of Steel StructureS.K.Duggal
Environmental Engineering K.N.Duggal
Transportation EngineeringS.P.Chandola
Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulic machinesModi and Sethi
Fluid Mechanics in SI unitsYunus Cengal
Hydrolysis and Water Resources EngineeringS.K.Garg
Surveying (vol 1, 2, and 3)B.C.Punia, Ashok Jain and Arun Jain
Construction Materials and ManagementS.C.Rangwala, M.L.Gambhir, B.C.Punia
Highway EngineeringS.K.Khanna and C.E.G.Justo

So we have around 15 books that we need to refer to already, moreover the list is not exhaustive and candidates admit that they need to refer to more than one reference book for a particular subject.

On average, each book is around 300 to 400 pages and one needs to refer to around 15 such books.  One also needs to take into account the fact that in addition to studying from the reference books, a candidate also needs to spend a considerable amount of time—around 40% which roughly works out to three and a half to four months of time—solving the previous years’ test series and appearing for the GATE Mock tests.

Consequently, this brings up the question: Are multiple reference books the right source material for a candidate who is preparing for the GATE entrance? Is referring to books an effective option and will it leave the candidate enough time so that he/she will be able to solve the previous years’ test series and apply for the GATE mock tests?

For candidates who need to reinforce the concepts and fundamentals learned in the four years of the engineering syllabus, the task of poring over the thick engineering books may seem daunting.

The books also contain a lot of material that is not included in the GATE syllabus.

Candidates can take the alternative path of preparing for the GATE civil using video lectures.

To illustrate, here is a sample of a video lecture on XYZ. 

The notable attributes of the lecture are:

  • The trainer, Mr. XYZ  is an alumnus from ABC.
  • The topic of the lecture is XYZ.     
  • All the important topics in this subject — list all the topics in the subject have been covered
  • GATE questions have been solved?

Thus, video lectures can also be used in place of reference books. However, it is vital that when a candidate is preparing using video lectures,  he/she makes notes. These notes will not only help candidates to comprehend a topic thoroughly but will also help them immensely during revisions. In addition, as there are many formulae to be memorized, candidates should also keep a small notebook for all the important formulae. So, in their spare or commute time, they can familiarize themselves with the formulae. 

So, dear GATE aspirant, the decision is now yours to make. What will it be—books or video lectures?