ESE/IES 2021: Preparation Tips for Non-Technical topics

Updated On -

Jul 23, 2020

Abanti's profile photo


Exams Prepmaster

If you aspire to serve the nation while at the same time do a respectable job related to the field of engineering, you can straightaway apply for ESE (Engineering Services Exam). On selection, start working as a civil servant in the engineering services of the public sector.

ESE exam 2021 will be conducted sometime in January next year, it is imperative to start preparing early. Most students are quite confident with the portion of technical questions in the paper if they are well versed in their academic subject. However, they face problems with the non-technical parts. The non-tech portion poses a challenge to the students.

  • For performing well in this national exam, it is crucial to plan out well in advance a study timetable that encompasses both the tech and non-tech portions.
  • For scoring well, it is imperative to focus on both sections.

Exam pattern of ESE

The ESE is conducted by the UPSC in two phases namely

  • Preliminary exam
  • Main exam followed by an interview

The preliminary exam has both the non-technical and tech or domain-specific portions. The main exam will only test the candidates on the domain-specific pieces. The table below will explain the pattern in detail.

Exam type  Number of Paper  Type of paper  Subject tested  Duration (in hours)  Total marks 
Preliminary Paper 1 Objective type General Studies and Engineering Aptitude 200
Paper 2 Objective type Engineering discipline-specific  300
Mains  Paper 1 Conventional type  Engineering discipline-specific 3 300
Paper 2 Conventional type  Engineering discipline-specific 3 300

By looking at the pattern and marking scheme of the preliminary exam, one can make out how important the non-technical part is. To prepare the non-tech parts efficiently, it is better to make the right notes, revise and stay focused on the syllabus.

Prepp Test Series

Essential aspects of Non-tech paper of ESE

For striking a correct balance while preparing the non-tech portion of ESE, it is crucial to learn the nuances of the syllabus as to what all is encompassed in part.

As already mentioned, the General Studies and Engineering Aptitude is of 2 hours and carries 200 marks. The important sections are as follows:

Current affairs

As all government exams have current affairs, the ESE has substantial questions from current affairs as well. That said, this is one of the most challenging portions that need to be tackled diligently. Most questions pertaining to the national and international importance of social, Political, Economic, and industrial development are asked in this section.

Some tips

  • Make sure to read newspapers daily and start doing this for 6-8 months before the exam.
  • One can make notes of the important news articles and revise these daily.
  • For preparing the GS, there are various magazines issued by coaching institutes that can be studied as well.

Approximately 9-10 questions are asked from this section, so current affairs have to be done well. Plus one can also prepare for the interview by knowing about current affairs.

Engineering Aptitude

This section is just like that of the CAT paper that tests the analytical and logical aspects. There are several questions from this portion.

Some tips

  • This portion can be done by practicing it for two days every week. The questions are basic and can be prepared quickly.
  • Make sure to solve the previous year papers from Arihant books on logical reasoning and analytical ability.
  • Make notes of the basic concepts and revise them.

Numerical Ability and mathematics for engineering

This section is one of the important and easy parts for most engineering students as they have already dealt with these types of questions in their engineering course.

Some tips

  • Brushing up on the basics of mathematical engineering is imperative to score well in this portion.
  • It has about 6-8 questions, and if practiced well, one can score full marks in this.
  • Practicing questions and revising them regularly can do wonders.

General principles of design and drawing and Safety measures

This part consists of two subdivisions, the design part and the importance of the safety portion. For Mechanical students, focus on designing and drawing portion while for others, focus more on the safety portion.

Some tips

  • It is imperative to visualize the concepts and elevation of the different geometrical objects.
  • Study the concepts and simultaneously solve questions to strengthen the basics.
  • Most coaching institutes have their study materials that can be helpful.

This section has about 4-5 questions in the paper.

The subject of quality and standards

For preparing this particular section, one can take the help of the notes given in the industrial and production branch. It is also important to solve previous year question papers to get a grasp on the types of questions asked.

There are 7-8 questions from this portion.

Energy and environment

This section consists of maximum questions, nearly 12-13 questions. These questions are mostly static, but they might come from current affairs as well.

Some tips

  • Read the energy and environment topics while reading current affairs. Make notes on it and revise them.
  • One can read any basic environmental book of a coaching institute and read from there as well.
  • It is imperative to keep yourself updated with the latest information on energy and environment as the same could be asked for an interview.

Project management

For civil and mechanical engineering students, the project management portion is relatively easy. For others, practicing questions from a good book and clearing out the basics will help.

Engineering material sciences

This subject is again studied by students of engineering in their 1st year. About 10-13 questions come from this section.

Some tips

  • Have a comprehensive read of the books available for this subject.
  • Some important topics are mechanical and electrical properties of the materials, ferrous and non-ferrous alloys, polymers, composites, etc.
  • Study these topics well as they are easy to study and practice questions.


This portion has 8-10 questions, all based on current happenings. So to prepare this particular section, either one can read books available for the topic or read newspapers religiously. By reading newspapers, one can be prepared for any new developments in the sphere of ICT that are often asked in the paper. This will also prepare the students for the interview and the current affairs section.

Importance of ethics and values in engineering

Ethics and values test the students on their managerial skills. There are no particular books to prepare them from, but one can always have a look from the previous year papers. Some 9-10 questions are asked from this section, so pay attention to the question asked and apply common sense.

One just needs to focus on what has been taught in their engineering course for all four years and just revise them. For portions that have been domain-specific like the design part of project management, students can take help from coaching or experts in these topics.

General tipsto ace Non-tech part of ESE exam

Some other general important points to keep in mind while preparing the non-tech paper are as follows.

  • Choose study material wisely

It is imperative to study and choose reading materials wisely. Focus on what is important and do not study everything. For instance, one can rely on the notes and books prepared by the coaching institutes as they are already efficient in this section. The students will also be able to prepare it comprehensively, and it is suggested that one must bring all study materials beforehand only.

  • Prepare notes for GS

The importance of GS is vital, and it is always advisable to make good notes of it as it comes handy at the last moment. Reading the newspaper is essential, and by making notes, one can revise them well.

  • Inculcate newspaper reading for triple benefits

So reading newspapers serves you three benefits. It will help the students in solving questions of current affairs, ICT, and energy and environment sections. It will also help them in knowing about any new developments in the current scenario and make them ready to crack the interview questions as well.

  • Take help from friends.

Now for the designing and project management portion, Mechanical and Civil engineering students surely have the upper hand. So it is essential to study these topics with those friends who are studying these topics and are good at it. Also, in the case of subjects like material sciences that are taught in 1st year across all departments, studying them with friends will be beneficial as all the inputs will add to your knowledge. Studying individually might be time-consuming, with friends everything becomes interesting.

  • Time management

Time management skills are quite important for ESE because students need to strike a balance between both the paper's preparation. For clearing the preliminary, scoring well in both the paper's is crucial, so it is advisable to make a proper timetable, giving equal time to both.

  • Don't make the mistake of ignoring these topics.

Always remember to prepare and study well for the non-tech part of the ESE. Do not leave anything thinking that the non-tech part is not important. This mentality can wreak havoc with your rank as well. So don't take this portion lightly, prepare it well, and do good in the paper.

With these tips and tricks, I hope it is clear how to approach this section and prepare for the same well. Always remember to pay attention to every section, and you will surely achieve success.

All the very best for the upcoming ESE 2021!

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.