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Ishita, Prerna



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GATE-Psychology: An Opportunity to Study Psychology at IIT

Studying in IIT is a dream of every student, but can Psychology aspirants make this dream come true? Yes, definitely! The GATE examination has introduced a new optional paper- Psychology, for students with a Humanities background. Hence, Psychology Students can now apply for direct entry into doctoral programs in institutes supported by the Ministry of Education. The blog shall throw light on details of GATE-Psychology.


What is GATE? 
The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) is a graduate examination held at a national level and is jointly organized by esteemed institutes like IISc (Bangalore) and IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Kharagpur, Guwahati, Madras, Kanpur, and Roorkee). Earlier, the examination was held for entry into M.Tech, MSc, and Ph.D. programs in science. However, Humanities and Social Sciences (Code: XH) is a new stream to be added. 


Eligibility for GATE-Psychology

Candidates who are in the 3rd year of their undergraduate program or have completed a government-approved degree in the Arts field can apply for GATE. There’s no age limit for this exam.

However, GATE does not ensure admission into the institutes; instead, each institute has its selection norms. GATE score shall have weightage when applying for admission.


Mode of the exam- Computer Based Exam (CBT)


Duration- 3 hours


The exam shall test the candidate’s ability to recall, comprehend, analyze, apply, and synthesize.


Related Post: COGJET 2021

Exam Pattern for GATE-Psychology

The paper will have the following sections:

a. General Aptitude- There will be ten questions. It is for 15 marks- 5 questions for one mark and the rest 5 for two marks.

b. Section “B1”- Reasoning and Comprehension. It is for 25 marks- 5 questions for one mark and ten questions for two marks.

c. Candidate’s Selected Paper (Psychology is one of the 27 optional sections offered as “C5”)- There will be 40 questions carrying 60 marks- 20 questions for one mark, and the rest 20 for two marks.


Types of Question Format:

a. Multiple Choice Question: Only one correct option is possible.

b. Multiple Select Question: More than one right option is viable.

c. Numerical Answer Type: No option shall be available, as the candidate has to solve the numerical problem and enter the answer using a virtual keyboard.

  • The General Aptitude section will only have MCQ type questions, while the rest will have a combination of all the three types of question format.
  • There is negative marking only for MCQ type questions, but there is no partial credit accorded for partially correct answers given for MSQ or NAT type questions.

Syllabus for GATE-Psychology




Research Methods and Statistics

  • Approaches to research: Philosophical worldviews & criteria involved in approach.
  • Research design: quantitative & qualitative, mixed methods.
  • Designing research: Research problems, purpose statement, Variables and Operational Definitions, Hypothesis, Sampling.
  • Nature of quantitative & qualitative research: Structured, semi-structured interviewing, self-completion questionnaires (Survey), observation, Experimental, Quasi-experimental, Field studies, Focus group discussions, Narratives, Case studies, Ethnography.
  • Ethics in conducting and reporting research.
  • Statistics in Psychology: Measures of Central Tendency and Dispersion. Normal Probability Curve. Parametric and Non-parametric tests Effect size and Power analysis.
  • Correlational Analysis: Correlation [Product Moment, Rank Order], Partial correlation, multiple correlation. Special Correlation Methods: Biserial, Point biserial, tetrachoric, phi coefficient.
  • Regression: Simple linear regression, Multiple regression.
  • Factor analysis: Assumptions, Methods, Rotation and Interpretation.
  • Experimental Designs: ANOVA [One-way, Factorial], Randomized Block Designs, Repeated Measures Design, Latin Square, Cohort studies, Time series, MANOVA, ANCOVA.
  • Single-subject designs.


  • Scales and items’ Construction and analysis of items: Intelligence test items, performance tests, Ability & Aptitude test, Personality questionnaires.
  • Method of test construction and Standardization of measures: Reliability, Validity, Norms
  • Application of assessment and measurements in Tests— Applications of psychological testing in various settings-educations, counselling and guidance, clinical, organizational and developmental.

Biological and evolutionary basis of behavior

  • Heredity and behavior Evolution and natural selection, Nervous system, structures of the brain and their functions.
  • Neurons: Structure, functions, types, neural impulse, synaptic transmission. Neurotransmitters.
  • Hemispheric lateralization
  • The endocrine system types and functions, Biological basis of Motivation: Hunger, Thirst, Sleep and Sex.
  • Biological basis of emotion: The Limbic system.
  • Hormonal regulation of behavior.
  • Methods of Physiological Psychology: Invasive methods – Anatomical methods, degeneration techniques, lesion techniques, chemical methods, microelectrode studies.
  • Non-invasive methods – EEG, Scanning methods.
  • Muscular and Glandular system.
  • Genetics and behavior: Chromosomal anomalies; Nature-Nurture controversy [Twin studies and adoption studies].

Perception, Learning, Memory, and Forgetting

  • What is sensation, sensory thresholds and sensory adaptations, Vision, hearing, touch and pain, smell and taste, kinesthesis and vestibular sense.
  • Perception: role of attention; organizing principles of perception, gestalt perception, depth perception and illusions.
  • Theories of learning: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, social learning theory, cognitive learning.
  • Memory: encoding, storage, retrieval, Information processing theories of memory, Retrieval in Long term memory, reconstructive, nature of long-term memory.
  • Forgetting: encoding failure, interference theory, memory trace decay theory, the physical aspects of memory.

Cognition: Thinking, Intelligence, and Language


  • Basic elements of though: Concepts, Propositions, Imagery.
  • Current paradigms of cognitive psychology – Information processing approach, ecological approach.
  • Problem-solving: Methods of problem-solving, Strategies and obstacles, Role of Metacognitive processing, decision-making: choosing among alternatives.
  • Intelligence: Theories of intelligence (Spearman; Thurstone; Jensen; Cattell; Gardner; Stenberg) and Emotional Intelligence; Measuring intelligence, Individual differences in Intelligence; Role of heredity and environment, Difference between Intelligence, Aptitude, and Creativity.

Personality: Theories of personality


Psychoanalytic, behaviorist, social cognitive view, humanism and trait and type theories, Biology of personality, and Assessment of personality.

Motivation, Emotion and Stress and Coping


  • Approaches to understanding motivation: instinct, drive-reduction, arousal, incentive, humanistic, Achievement motivation, Intrinsic motivation, aggression, curiosity, and exploration.
  • Emotions: nature of emotions; biological basis of emotions, Theories of emotions: James-Lange, Cannon-Bard, Schachter and Singer, Lazarus.
  • Definition of stress; what are stressors; cognitive factors in stress. Factors in stress reaction: General adaptation syndrome; effect of stress. Coping with stress: problem-focused coping; emotion-focused coping.
  • REBT and meditation

Social Psychology

  • Social perception: Attribution; impression formation; social categorization, implicit personality theory.
  • Social influence: conformity, compliance and
  • Obedience.
  • Attitudes, beliefs, and values: Evaluating the social world, attitude formation, attitude change and persuasion, cognitive dissonance, Prejudice, discrimination, Aggression, power and prosocial behavior, Belief systems, and value patterns. Group dynamics, leadership style, and effectiveness.
  • Theories of intergroup relations and conflicts.

Development across the lifespan

  • Nature versus nurture in human development,
  • Prenatal development: Chromosomes, Genes, and DNA.
  • Physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development in infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
  • Theories of aging.
  • Moral development.

Applications of Psychology

  • Psychological disorders: Conceptions of mental disorders.
  • Assessment and diagnosis, DSM, and Other tools. PTSD and Trauma.
  • Psychotherapies: Psychodynamic, Phenomenological/Experiential therapy; Behavior therapy; cognitive therapy; biological therapy.
  • Applications of theories of motivation and learning in School: Factors in educational achievement; counselling & guidance in schools.  Application of theories of motivation, learning, emotions, perceptions, group dynamics & leadership to organizational set-up.
  • Issues of Personal space, crowding, and territoriality.

The entire application process for GATE is done online, through a website- GOAPS. The applicants can submit their application only after attaching all the necessary documents and paying the application fee. Marks obtained in GATE remain valid for three years from the date of the declaration of results. The registration for GATE 2021 is already closed, but fresh dates for 2022 will be announced next year.


GATE is one of the prestigious exams in India. It not only helps in post-graduate level admissions, but the GATE score also aids when seeking jobs in public sectors. With options now made available for Humanities students, it is expected to increase job opportunities for Psychology aspirants in government sectors. 


Download the GATE 2021 Brochure



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