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How to Prepare Strength of Materials for GATE Mechanical Engg?

Strength of Materials is one of the important subjects from GATE point of view. This blog has been written by Prince Dhanda. He graduated from YMCA University of Science and Technology in 2017. Then he appeared in Mechanical Engineering (ME) paper in GATE 2018 and secured an All India Rank (AIR) of 46.


GATE (ME) | Preparation Tips for Strength of Materials

In this blog, I will be discussing an important subject of Mechanical Engineering: Strength of material and also known as Mechanics Of Materials. It is a very conceptual topic and the prerequisite for design part and I suggest to the readers that first go through Engineering Mechanics for the better understanding of this topic.

Being a core subject of mechanical its weightage is on an average 10% of GATE paper so it becomes necessary to cover this subject and for the candidates having an interest in doing further studies in design. Its importance is equally in case of an interview.

However, I will focus on preparation strategy of this subject from GATE point of view and As one of the main pillar of GATE mechanical, it requires at least 2 round of revisions.

A rough breakup of questions of various topics in the last 30 years in GATE is as follows:

S. No. Topic No. of Questions
1 mark 2 marks
1 Stress and strain 10 19
2 Stress-Strain relationship & Elastic Constants 18 9
3 Mohr’s Circle 3 7
4 Thin Cylinder 6 2
5 SFD and BMD 4 7
6 Bending of Beams 13 30
7 Torsion in Shaft 9 12
8 Springs 2 4
9 Euler’s Theory of Columns 6 3
10 Strain Energy and Thermal Stresses 6 3

What is the Total Number of Questions asked in Strength of Materials for GATE Exam?

Now for a better understanding of these topics, I am also adding the number of 1 mark & 2 marks questions asked from various topics in last 5 years:

S. No. Topic No. of Questions
1 mark 2 marks
1 Stress and strain 5 8
2 Stress-Strain relationship & Elastic Constants 11 5
3 Mohr’s Circle 2 1
4 Thin Cylinder 3 1
5 SFD and BMD 1 3
6 Bending of Beams 2 11
7 Torsion in Shaft 6 5
8 Springs 2 1
9 Euler’s Theory of Columns 2 1
10 Strain Energy and Thermal Stresses 2 1

Now it is easy to understand that bending of beams is the most important topic throughout and stress and strain getting importance in the last 5 years.

Which is the Best Standard Book to study Strength of Material or Mechanics of Material?

Out of a plethora of options available we would suggest you, to go for Gere & Timoshenko. This is one of the best standard books for SOM available in the market & also it will help you to build your concepts. And for the problem-solving, B.C. Punamia is suitable.

How Much Time is Required to Prepare Strength of Materials for GATE?


Time required to prepare strength of materials

To prepare Strength of Materials for GATE (ME) Exam you would require approximately:

  1. 21-22 days (if you have 8-10 month of preparation) with 4-5 hours daily
  2. 10-11 days (if you have 4-5 months of preparation) with 8 hours daily

You really need to understand how to manage your time when preparing for GATE Exam, so that you can get enough time to revise as well.

What are the Most Important Topics in Strength of Materials | GATE (ME)?

Important Topics in Strength of Materials

Let’s start our topic-wise discussion (most important concepts are bold):

1. Stress and Strain (5 DAYS)

As seen from the above scenario that it the topic that gaining more importance and as it is the basic so it is very important from the point of view of interviews also. This is the only chapter from which theoretical questions are more commonly asked like: What is Stress in a material?

First Understand the Various types of loading condition and clear understanding of which kind of stress is exerted by which kind of load.

Axial displacements in bars, compound bar, Impact Elongation and Compression, Plain Strain, Principle Stress and Strain. Practice numerical on these topics.


This topic is easily covered by the just follow basic learned in earlier chapter and relations b/w Elastic Constants
(E, G, K, n) 
should be remembered.

Practice numerical on Poisson’s Ratio and Relation b/w elastic constants.

3. Mohr’s Circle (1DAYS)

It is also a small topic after studying an analytical formula for finding Principal Stresses and directions.

Practice more and more numerical on Stress at various planes in a point, Max shear stress.

Also, While Preparing for GATE (ME), make sure that you constantly keep on revising these topics which are important from the GATE point of view.


It is the total formula based topic and very easy to score marks.

Remember formulas of Hoop stress, Longitudinal stress, Circumferential strain, Longitudinal strain and Volumetric strain for thin cylinder and thin spheres and practice numerical on these.

5. SFD and BMD (3 DAYS)

The most important topic in SOM for interviews. So, Through understanding is required. But now, This topic is losing potential as the paper point of view.

SFD and BMD of simply-supported beams and cantilevers for various loading (point load, UDL, UVL, concentrated moment).Practice numerical on these topics.


This is also the most important topic for the paper and also require basic information on engineering mechanics.

Understand the variation of bending stress in the beam under diff loading condition, learn how to shift the load, learn bending equation. For deflection learn the various possible case as in paper there will no time to drive.

Practice numerical on Deflection (Superposition method, Moment area Method, Castigalno theorem), Beam of uniform strength and Bending equation.


It becomes easy to understand this topic after bending as a similar variation of the twisting moment in a shaft.

Learn Twisting Moment equation and Practice numerical on series and parallel arrangement of shafts and finding various parameters like angle of twist, stiffness etc for the hollow and solid shaft.

8. SPRINGS (1/2 DAY)

Learn the formula of Deflection, Stiffness of helical spring and practice numerical.


Very easy and Formula-based topic just learn Euler’s buckling load for these end conditions (Both End Hinge, Hinge and Fix, Both End Fix, Fix and free) and Slenderness Ratio.


In this thermal stresses is the important topic for GATE and Practice numerical on Thermal Stresses on Yielding Support, Free Expansion, Rod fixed at both ends.

For Strain Energy better to remember the basis derivations of strain energy for Beam/Shaft under Torsion, Bending and axial load.

Finally, I suggest the future aspirant attack this subject as a whole.

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