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ESE Exam 2021 Overview

Updated on 01 July 2020
Competitive Exams guide
7 min read 1 views
Updated on 01 July 2020

The Engineering Services Examination (ESE) is conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to recruit candidates for the various engineering positions. An engineering graduate can opt for this exam to secure jobs in domains like Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics & telecommunications. After the candidate has been selected, he/she is posted in departments like Ministry, Naval, Borders, Cadre, Railways, Organisations, PSU, etc. Candidates gain a respectable position in the society with the level of competition and efforts required to clear this exam. Let’s discuss the detailed exam overview for candidates who wish to opt for the ESE Exam 2021.

1)The Exam Date:

The tentative dates for the ESE Exam 2021 are as follows:

ESE Events 
Tentative exam dates 
Release of official Notification for the exam. 
Last week of September 2020
The application process for filling the online exam starts. 
Last week of September 2020
Last date to fill the application form.
Last week of October 2020
Release of Admit Card 
Second week of December 2020
ESE Preliminary Exam
First week of January 2021
Result Declaration of Prelims Exam
March 2021
ESE Mains Exam
Last week of June 2021
Declaration of Final Result 
September 2021

2)The Exam Pattern:

The ESE exam is an offline exam that is mainly divided into ESE Prelims, ESE Mains and final interview/personality test round. 

ESE Prelims: 

  1. The ESE Prelim exam consists of two papers i.e. Paper1 and Paper2. 
  2. Paper 1 is common to all the candidates where questions related to general awareness and engineering aptitude is asked. 
  3. Paper 2 consists of a particular engineering subject/stream which the candidate has opted for.
  4. The ESE Prelim Exam is conducted offline i.e. OMR sheets are provided to the candidates to mark the answers. 
  5. The type of questions asked in the exam is objective-based and the duration of the exam is for 5 hours.
  6. The total number of questions asked in the prelim exam is 250 where general awareness questions are 100 and engineering aptitude questions are 150. 
  7. The duration of Paper 1 is 2 hours where the paper weighs for a total of 200 marks.
  8. The duration of Paper 2 is 3 hours where the paper weighs for a total of 300 marks. 
  9.  For each wrong answer, ⅓ marks are deducted. 

ESE Mains:

  1. Candidates who clear the Prelims exams are only eligible to appear for the Mains exam.
  2. Mains contain two papers i.e. Paper 1 and Paper 2.
  3. Both the papers will contain the questions on the type of discipline the candidate has selected. 
  4. The exam is conducted offline i.e. it is a written examination.
  5. The duration of the examination is for 6 hours (3 hours for each paper).
  6. The paper weighs for a total of 600 marks where 300 marks are for Paper 1 and the other 300 marks are for Paper 2. 
  7. In both the papers, there are 8 optional questions in total where the candidates have to answer only 5 of them. 
  8. Note that there is no negative marking for the entire Mains paper.

Personal Interview/Personality Test:

After clearing both the written examination, candidates are called for the personal interview round (also known as the Personality test).

In this round, the recruiter assesses the skills of the candidate in terms of:

  1. Suitability for the job role
  2. Managerial/Leadership Skills
  3. Mental ability 
  4. Knowledge of current affairs 
  5. Other social traits


3)The Exam Syllabus:

The syllabus for ESE Exam 2021 contains the following topics. 

For General Awareness- Topics based on current affairs (National & International) in the field of social, economical and industrial development.

For Engineering Aptitude- Analytical ability, logical reasoning, Engineering mathematics & numerical analysis, general principles of drawing, design and importance of safety, Basics of project management, Basics of energy & environment, Standards & quality practices in production, construction, maintenance & services, Basics of material science & engineering, ethics & values in the engineering profession and Information & Communication Technologies based tools and their application in engineering like e-governance, networking and technology-based education. 

For Civil Engineering (Paper-I) - Building Materials, Solid Mechanics, Structural Analysis, Design of Steel Structure, Design of Concrete and Masonry structures, Construction practice, Planning & Management.


Flow of machines, Hydraulic machines & Hydro power, Hydrology & Water Resources Engineering, Environmental engineering, Geotechnical Engineering & Foundation Engineering, Surveying & Geology, Transportation & engineering.  

For Mechanical Engineering (Paper-I) - Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics & Heat transfer, IC engines, Refrigeration & Air conditioning, Turbo machinery, Power plant engineering, Renewable sources of energy.


Engineering Mechanics, Engineering Materials, Mechanisms & Machines, Design of machine elements, Manufacturing, Industrial & maintenance engineering, Mechatronics & robotics. 

For Electrical Engineering (Paper-I) - Engineering mathematics, engineering materials, electric circuits & fields, electrical & electronic measurements, computer fundamentals, basic electronic engineering.


Analog & digital electronics, systems & signal processing, control systems, electrical machines, power systems, power electronics & drive.

For Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering (Paper-I) - Basic Electronic Engineering, basic electrical engineering, materials science, Electronics measurements & instrumentation, network theory, analog & digital circuits. 


Control systems, analog & digital communications systems, advanced electronics topics, electro magnetics, Computer organization & architecture, advanced communication topics. 

4)Admit Card:

The admit card is released three weeks before the examination. 


The cutoffs for each stream varies according to the caste category. The estimated cutoffs for this year is as follows:

Cutoffs for Prelims Exam -

Electronics & Telecommunication

Candidates can get an idea of the ESE Exam 2021 cutoffs by referring to this year’s cutoffs. Note that, the cutoffs for the Mains exam is yet to be announced. 

6)Number of Vacancies:

The number of vacancies for this year is 495. For the next year i.e. 2021, the number of vacancies will be announced soon by the UPSC. However, the estimated vacancy for the next year is around 600.

7)Application Process & Fees: 

Candidates who want to apply for ESE exam 2021 should register themselves at their official website i.e.

The application fees for the same is Rs 200. Candidates belonging to SC/ST/PH/Women are exempted from the payment of the fees. 

This is the complete ESE Exam 2021 overview which one needs to know. Candidates are advised to check the official portal to get an exact idea of the exam dates and other related notifications.

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