Change in pattern and syllabus of ESE 2017

UPSC has announced the new pattern of Engineering Services Examination which is to be effective from 2017 ownwards. Those appearing for 2016 need not worry, their syllabus and pattern remains the same. This change was  expected quite for some time as there were unofficial rumors in the market of coaching. Now that new format is out in public domain, it is necessary to have some discussions about it.

The changed format of IES is here ESE Reforms publicity


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There has been radical change in the format of ESE. At this point , it is very difficult to predict nature of questions and difficulty level for 2017 aspirants. They will be appearing for the exams without having the backup of ‘previous year papers’. Till now we were almost sure of nature and pattern of questions which were being asked in ESE but this luxury will not be available for next few years. Aspirants have to be ready for surprises till UPSC exhausts its question bank.

Biggest change has been the introduction of stage-1  a.k.a ‘prelims’ . However i don’t think that this stage-1 is equivalent to prelims because the prelims should be just a qualifying stage but in this case that marks of stage-1 will be considered for final selection. In a way, not only you have to perform good to be eligible for stage-2 but also you have to score good for clearing next stages. In civil services, prelims is just a qualifying paper but in ESE it is part of overall process.


Paper -1:- This paper is common for all the candidates. The questions asked will be from general studies and engineering aptitude, thus setting the stage for further competition.Although the general studies still remains the part of paper-1 , its scope has been severely curtailed. There is no separate syllabus for general studies and engineering aptitude. In all, there is combined syllabus given for paper-1. For GS portion , the syllabus given is “Current issues of national and international importance relating to social, economic and industrial development”, this almost negates the necessity of old pattern of  static GS portion from NCERT. But the problem is that we can’t make this presumption about UPSC that everything will be from what it has given as syllabus. So , over the course of one year , at-least one reading can be given to NCERT books for basic understanding. This new pattern has heavily increased the importance of newspaper reading. Even you will be required to make notes from newspaper on a daily basis so that you understand the issues at hand. How to make notes from newspaper is a tricky affair. It will take some time to understand the relevance of news from examination point of view.  This article will help you to grasp the techniques of note making from newspaper.

Engineering Aptitude covering Logical reasoning and Analytical ability: This should be manageable at the level of aspirants himself. You can also follow because he has lot of resources on this topic which he gives for other exam but it may be relevant here too. Logical reasoning and analytical ability should not be a big issue for any average engineer. You can by any decent book from market , or wait for coaching institutes to release their material

Engineering Mathematics and Numerical Analysis : We all study this subject in first year of our colleges. Also , this topic is included in GATE examination for every branch. Pick up your first year books and start preparation now. Those who are in their first year of college should take this subject seriously.

General Principles of Design, Drawing, Importance of Safety:  Civil and mechanical engineers study design and drawing in second year of their  course so your friends in this department will helping you to get through this subject. I think coaching institutes will bring out study material as soon as possible

Standards and Quality practices in production, construction, maintenance and services: This belongs to the domain of Production and Civil engineers. Those who are still in graduation should really look into others branches as well.

Basics of Energy and Environment: This is the primary domain of Civil and Environmental engineers. In fact, environmental engineering takes the lead here.

Basics of Project Management: Again this is topic straight from civil engineering like CPM and PERT.

Basics of Material Science and Engineering: Every branch has this subjects , so each aspirants should study books of other department

Information and Communication Technologies: This is the domain of Computer Science and IT department. Apart from just using Facebook and WhatsApp try to learn the IT structure of these applications, atleast of those which you use regularly.

Ethics and values in Engineering profession: Here this most important question “Why did you become an engineer”. What are the  core values of an ‘engineer’? How will you serve the society in this profession.?

Right now there is no study material which comprehensively covers all the topics of Paper-1. We will have to wait few months before the materials are out in the market. I will also try to update this article with the relevant links from other websites. At present, you will have to manage yourself till coaching institutes do their job. NPTEL  is a good website to start learning basics of core engineering. UPSC wants you to study basics of almost every core branch and acquire interdisciplinary skills so that in future you will be better able to communicate with officers from other department.

You should be able to appreciate the technicalities of other branches of engineering. You should not shouldn’t study in isolation. Take interest in basics of other department. Make friends from diverse background of specialization. After few months, coaching institutes will flood the market with study material for above topics. At this juncture, you will have to arrange such material which seems beneficial from point of view of Stage-1 examination.


This is an objective paper which will be discipline specific. Earlier the pattern was of  2 papers with 200 marks each. The syllabus was also divided accordingly. Now, there is a single paper of 300 marks which means that whole syllabus will be covered in a single paper which makes it quite tough. The best way to prepare is to go for objective papers of previous years. Both Paper-1 and Paper-2 should be covered as there is a single objective paper this time.


The word ‘mains’ has traditionally  been associated with civil services. From 2017 onward, the vocabulary of ESE aspirants will also change. After you qualify stage-1 , there will be a subjective examination of 600 marks. UPSC will announce results of stage-1 atleast after 1 months but it can easily go to two months. Those selected in stage-1 will write two conventional paper of 300 marks each. Compared to previous format, the number of question will increase for subjective papers. However,I don’t think that the strategy for preparing subjective exam will undergo significant change.  After two months of prelims , you will give one single day exam thereby concluding your  written part of the process.  By this time ,you would have been judged for 1100 marks in total.

Introduction of mains in ESE is debatable. On one hand ,it increases the overall duration of examination process, while on other it gives you enough time to prepare for subjective examination.
We don’t know the examination cycle of new format. It would be difficult to guess so as to which other exams would be affected because of ‘ESE’.  Suppose the cycle of exams start in January, so you will be preparing of GATE as well as Prelims simultaneously. If the prelims are held in May , then some of you who are civil services aspirants will not be able to go for prelims of civil services.  At present ,there is no option before you except to prepare in uncertainty. Whatever comes , you should be ready to make full use of the opportunity at hand. Whenever an examination format changes, it is either an opportunity or catastrophe for aspirants.

Due to mains, the strategy changes from now. Earlier you prepared to be ready for objective and subjective exams at the same time. Now you can prepare one thing at a time. Objective before prelims and subjective before mains. 1-2 months’ time would be sufficient for revision of subjective questions. I think the test series would also get modified to suit the needs of changed examination format.

 Personality Test

Interview weight-age has been left untouched, I think it is a good decision. After clearing two stages, no one would want to fail in third stage due to high variation of marks in interview. The preparation and mock for interview would the remain same. .


Apart from structural changes in format, the content has been changed only for paper-1 of stage -1. This exam will bring out knowledge required for an engineer and patience required for a manager. All the stages are filled with traps and the one who knows the maze or the pit-falls of the game is going to win it. Now you can say that  format has been changed from one day cricket to a test match. As Always , GATE remains T20 sizzler. You have to be all-rounder for surviving in the game. I would suggest you not to play IPL, only the genuine player will win here. Don’t run after quick results, remember that in the end you have to be a man of match. Remember, Interview will like a journalist asking for your opinion before the game is over and the result will be like a captain who is holding the trophy.

Thank You
All the best for the ‘Games of Dholpur House’