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NTSE – National Talent Search Examination

NTSE – National Talent Search Examination, initially termed as National Science Talent Search Scheme (NSTSS) and National Talent Search Scheme (NTSS), is one of the most sought-after national level examinations conducted by National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT). NTSE offers 1000 scholarships for students of class 10th to allow them to pursue courses in the stream of science and social science (for up to doctoral level studies) and professional courses such as engineering and medicine (for up to second-degree level).

What is the scheme all about? Who can apply for NTSE? What is the procedure to apply for the exam? How can you appear for the exam? This article covers answers to all your questions related to the scheme.

NTSE – An Overview

Boasting a long history of over 55 years, the NTSE (National Talent Search Examination) has undergone numerous changes in terms of scheme name, eligibility, award, number of awards and pattern of examination. Initiated as a test specifically for the students in the basic science stream, the NTSE, today covers a large segment of academic streams thereby helping a large number of students in pursuing their dream education.

Click here to view the NTSE 2018 Notification.

NTSE – Important Dates

When is the NTSE examination conducted? When can a student apply for the examination? When is the state level examination conducted? When is the national level examination conducted? These questions are obvious to occur in your mind. Being an NTSE aspirant, you need to keep track of all the important dates and timelines related to it. The table given below provides you complete information about all the significant dates related to the examination.

NTSE Important Dates
Stage of Examination Particulars Important Dates


Stage – 1 (State Level)

Last date for application submission to State Liaison Officer To be notified by respective state#
Date of examination in Mizoram, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Meghalaya and Nagaland 3rd November 2018
Date of examination in all other states and union territories except West Bengal 4th November 2018
Date of examination in West Bengal 18th November 2018
Results declaration From February to April*
Stage – 2 (National Level) Examination in all states and union territories 12th May 2019
Final results declaration From July to September*

*The above-mentioned dates are tentative which may change on the discretion of the provider.

#The date for the application may vary from state to state.

NTSE – Eligibility Criteria

Who all can participate in the National Talent Search Examination (NTSE)? What are the eligibility conditions that a student must fulfil for the exam? Get the answer to all your questions in the table given below. It carries the detailed eligibility criteria for NTSE Stage 1 and NTSE Stage 2 both.

Detailed NTSE Eligibility Criteria
S.No. Stage Eligibility
1. Stage -1 (State/UT Level)
  • The students who are currently studying in class 10th at a recognised school including Navodaya Vidyalaya, Kendriya Vidyalaya and Sainik School can apply for state-level examination from the state where their school is located.
  • Students studying under ODL (Open and Distance Learning) can also apply for the scholarship provided they are below 18 years of age, unemployed and are appearing for the class 10th examination first time.

Note: The state may levy their own eligibility conditions like qualifying percentage etc. for Stage-1 examination.

2. Stage – 2 (National Level)
  • The national level examination is open to students having Indian nationality only.
  • The students must be studying in class 10th either in India or Abroad.

For students in India

  • The candidates shortlisted in the Stage -1 (state level examination) will be qualified to appear for the national level examination.

For students studying abroad

The students, who are Indian nationals but studying abroad in class 10th can directly apply for the national level examination, only if –

  • He/she has obtained at least 60% marks in aggregate in the previous examination.
  • He/she takes up the examination at a centre in India and bears the cost by himself.
  • He/she requests through the HOI (Head of the Institution) where he/she is studying.

Note: The scholarship will be paid to students from abroad only if they pursue further studies in India.

NTSE – Application Process

How can you apply for the NTSE? What are the steps to be followed for NTSE application? Where can you get the application form for the examination? The application process for NTSE is offline and requires you to follow a few simple steps. Also, you don’t need to fill in a separate application form for both levels of examination. Only one application is enough to file your candidature. Here is a step-by-step application guide for both students living in India and abroad.

NTSE – a step-by-step guide for Indian students

Step 1: Look out for state-level notification by respective State/UT government in the newspapers or circulars in your school.

Step 2: Contact your respective State Liaison Officer to get the application form.

Step 3: Fill in the application form.

Step 4: Get it signed by your school Principal.

Step 5: Submit the duly filled application along with the examination fee (if applicable) to the State Liaison Officer.

NTSE – a step-by-step guide for Indian students abroad

The Indian students studying abroad can directly apply for the national level examination through following steps –
Step 1: Make your request through your respective Head of Institution (HOI).

Step 2: Get your mark sheet of class 9th attested by the HOI.

Step 3: Submit your application to the Head, Department of Educational Survey Division, NCERT, New Delhi-110016 before 31 December 2018.


NTSE – Examination Fee

Though NCERT does not charge any kind of fee from the students to conduct the Stage – 2 examinations, the States and Union Territories may notify for fee requirement in their notifications which the students need to pay for the Stage – 1 examination. You can get detailed information about the application fee and how to pay it through your respective State Liaison Officer.

NTSE – Exam Pattern

Every year, NTSE is conducted at two different stages, namely state level and national level. The state level examination (Stage 1) is conducted under the supervision of State/UTs whereas the national level examination (Stage 2) is conducted by the NCERT. Furthermore, each stage comprises three tests for students, namely the MAT (Mental Ability Test) and the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). What is an exact pattern of the examination? What is the medium of the questions asked in the examination? How many questions do you need to answer? Is there any negative marking? Find the answer to all these questions in the table given below –

S.No. Particulars Details
1. Mode of examination Offline (OMR sheet)
2. Medium of examination English, Hindi, Bangla, Asamiya, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Odia, Urdu, Telugu and Tamil
3. Number of papers 2 (MAT & SAT)
4. Number of Questions MAT (Mental Ability Test) – 100

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) – 100

5. Types of questions Multiple choice questions
6. Marks allotted for each question 1 (One)
7. Time duration for each test 120 minutes
8. Scholarship Aptitude Test (Pattern) Science – 40 Questions

Social Science – 40 Questions

Mathematics – 20 Questions

9. Negative Marking Not applicable at the national level (Stage -2)

NTSE – Exam Syllabus

NCERT does not specify any prescribed syllabus for NTSE. The students willing to prepare for the examination can generally refer to the standard syllabus of class 9th and 10th level. Though the MAT test involves you to solve questions related to mental aptitude, the SAT test carries questions from science, social science and mathematics. Below is a tabular representation of syllabus that is being covered at both the stages of examination.

NTSE Detailed Syllabus

S.No.          Section                             Areas Covered*
1. MAT (Mental Ability Test) It covers questions based on –
  • Analogies
  • Series
  • Classification
  • Pattern perception
  • Hidden figures
  • Block assembly
  • Coding-decoding
  • Problem-solving
2. SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) This section of examination covers questions based on –
  • Science
  • Social Science
  • Mathematics

*The areas covered in the examination mentioned above are based on expert inputs and the paper pattern of previous years.

NTSE – Admit Card

While the admit card for NTSE (Stage -2) are made available by NCERT on its official website, the admit cards for NTSE (Stage -1) can be availed through your respective state/UTs. The admit cards contain your roll number, venue as well as the date and time of the test. Thus, you need to mandatorily bring this admit card to the examination centre for taking up the examination. You can download these admit cards 21 days prior to the day of examination.

NTSE – Selection Process

The selection process of NTSE is divided into two stages that include Stage 1 (State level examination) and Stage 2 (National level examination). Students qualifying the stage 1 examination will be qualified for the second stage of examination. The minimum qualifying marks that a student must obtain is 40% in each paper (for General/OBC category students) and 32% in each paper (for SC/ST/PH category students). Furthermore, the students shortlisted at Stage 1 will have to appear for the NTS examination at the national level and based on their performance in both MAT and SAT, the final results are declared.

NTSE – Results

The final result of NTSE is generally declared between the months of July and September by combining the scores obtained by students in both MAT and SAT. In order to be considered for the merit, you need to obtain the qualifying marks in both the papers separately. The students shortlisted for the scholarship will be intimated through the official website of NCERT and a registered letter. Also, the marks of all students, including the shortlisted ones and the ones who did not qualify is revealed individually on the official website.

NTSE – Scholarship Details

The rate and number of scholarships rendered under NTSE have undergone several revisions over the years. As per the current scheme, a total of 1000 scholarships will be given to students nationwide out of which 15% reservation is given to students belonging to SC category, 7.5% reservation is available for ST candidates and 27% reservation is given to OBC candidates. Also, there is a reservation of 4% for students with benchmark disabilities. The amount of scholarship that you will receive depends on your current class or level of study. The detailed information about NTSE scholarship award is given in the table hereunder –

Details of NTSE scholarship awards

S.No. Class/Level of Study Scholarship Amount
1. For class 11th and 12th INR 1250 per month
2. For undergraduate and postgraduate courses INR 2000 per month
3. For students pursuing PhD courses As per the UGC norms

Scholarship Disbursement – Rules and Regulations

The selected students who are pursuing studies in the stream of Social Sciences, Science, Languages, Humanities, Commerce, Fine Arts and Vocational studies will get scholarships up to PhD level. However, the students who are currently pursuing studies in the stream of Engineering, Medicine, Management, Technology and Law will get the scholarship up to second-degree level. The disbursal of scholarships at different levels of study is subject to your fulfilment of following conditions –

Detailed Conditions for NTSE Scholarship Disbursal
S.No. Level of Study Eligibility Conditions
1. Higher Secondary Level
  • The scholarship shall commence the moment you get your subsequent promotion in class 11th.
  • It is payable for up to two years for your studies in India only.
  • If you are pursuing a diploma/certificate course, you can also get the scholarship if you are unemployed.
  • You need to secure an aggregate score of 60% or equivalent to receive scholarship every year. In case, you don’t secure the minimum percentage for two consecutive or non-consecutive years, the scholarship will be discontinued forever.
2. First Degree Level
  • You must secure a minimum of 60% marks at +2 level or equivalent examination to ensure the continuation of scholarship at first degree level in any stream.
  • The scholarship will continue for subsequent years if the student maintains at least 60% marks in aggregate in internal exams or final degree.
  • In case, the student does not secure 60% marks for two consecutive or non-consecutive years, the scholarship will be discontinued forever.
3. Second Degree Level
  • You need to have obtained an aggregate score of 60% or equivalent to receive scholarship every year.
  • In case, you fail to secure 60% marks for two consecutive or non-consecutive years, the scholarship will be discontinued.
4. M.Phil./PhD Level
  • To ensure the continuation of studies at pre-doctoral or PhD level, you must pass MA/MSc/MCom/M.Phil. course with minimum 60% marks or equivalent in the first attempt.
  • The scholarship will continue during the second and fourth year of your PhD programme if your guide certifies that you have delivered high-quality work during the first and third year respectively.

NTSE – Key Preparation Tips

Since NTSE is a nationally-acclaimed examination, you need to make sure that you prepare well for it in every respect. Of course, you can receive the scholarship on the basis of your performance in the examination. To perform well in the exam, here are some crucial NTSE preparation tips for you that can help you crack the exam with ease.

Work in a planned way

Before you begin your preparation for NTSE, you need to make sure that you have a plan ready for it. If not, prepare a time-chart that covers all the topics of your syllabus. Ascertain that you give significant time to both your strong and weak areas.

Begin with previous years’ papers

Once you are well aware of the syllabus that you need to cover in the specified time limit. You should start solving previous years’ papers. You will get a clear understanding about the exam pattern and the type of questions that are being asked in the examination. Making this a regular practice will give you an idea of where do you stand in the competition.

Practice is the key

Yes, the key to preparing well for NTSE is practice. The more you practice, the more are your chances of getting things right. Also, regular practice helps you in gaining confidence about the subject knowledge, speed and accuracy. You can also take help of your peers in this process.

Keep track of your performance

If you are regularly solving sample papers or previous year’s papers, you should also keep track of your performance while attempting the papers. Doing this will help you recognise your key strengths and weaknesses.

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