National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) is a national-level scholarship program in India to identify and recognize students with extremely high intellect and academic talent. Close to 1,50,000 students appear in this scholarship exam every year. The scheme is open to students of Indian nationality. Only students studying in Class X are eligible to appear for the selection process. As it is organized by an official body (NCERT), it is widely regarded by the Government of India as the toughest and most prestigious examination at high school level in the country.
In 1964, the scheme was extended to all the states and the union territories in the country with 350 scholarships for the students of Class XI. Those scholarships were awarded on the basis of a written examination, a project report and an interview. The written examination comprised the Science Aptitude Test and an essay on a given scientific theme. The candidates were to submit the project report at the time of the written examination. A stipulated number of candidates selected on the basis of those three components were then subjected to personal interviews. The performance of the candidates on those four components was eventually employed for the purpose of awarding scholarships. Those scholarships were awarded for pursuing education only in basic sciences up to doctoral level.
With the introduction of 10+2+3 pattern of education, the NSTS scheme also underwent a change in 1976. It was no longer confined to only basic sciences but was extended to Social Sciences, engineering and medicine as well. It was renamed as National Talent Search Scheme (NTSS). Since the education system in India was undergoing a change, the scheme was made open to the students of Classes X, XI and XII and separate examinations were conducted for each class. The number of scholarships was raised to 500. The selection procedure was also changed. Now the candidates were subjected to two objective type written tests, namely the Mental Ability Test (MAT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). A stipulated number of candidates qualifying these two tests were subjected to a face-to-face interview. The final awards were made on the basis of composite scores obtained in the MAT, the SAT and the interview.
The number of scholarships was again enhanced from 500 to 550 in 1981. Those 50 scholarships were exclusively meant for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates. The number of scholarships was once again escalated to 750 in 1983 with a provision of 70 scholarships especially for SC and ST candidates. That arrangement continued until the scheme was decentralized in 1985. Yet another change in the scheme was effected from 2000 wherein the number of scholarships was raised from 750 to 1000 with the provision of reservation for SC and ST candidates based on the national norms of 15% and 7.5% respectively. Number of scholarships is now being increased to 4000 (from year 2013).
The scheme was partially decentralized in 1985 and was confined to only class X. Under the new arrangement, the selection of candidates for the awards became a two-tier process. The states and the union territories have been entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the first tier screening examination known as State Level Talent Search Examination. Each state and union territory selects and recommended a stipulated number (state quota) of candidates for the national level examination to be conducted for about 3000 candidates by the NCERT.
The states got complete autonomy to design and conduct their written examinations. However, they were advised to follow the national pattern which comprised MAT and SAT. The MAT, which consisted of 100 multiple choice type questions, was to be attempted by all the candidates. The SAT consisted of 25 multiple choice type questions each on eight subject areas namely Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Civics and Economics. The candidates could choose any four out of these eight subjects and had to answer a total of 100 questions in the SAT.
A stipulated number of candidates who qualified at the national level examination were called for face-to-face interviews. The award of scholarships was finally determined on the basis of the candidates’ scores obtained in all three components namely the MAT, the SAT and the Interview.
A crucial modification in the scheme was again made in the year 1995 when the provision of choice in the SAT was abolished and all the subjects were made compulsory. These subjects were Science, Social Science and Mathematics with 40, 40 and 20 questions respectively.
The scholarships under the present scheme are awarded to the candidates for pursuing courses in sciences and social sciences up to doctoral level andin professional courses like medicine and engineering up to second-degree level subject to the fulfillment of the conditions provided. Also, an important decision was taken in the year 2008, when NTSE is open only to the students of class VIII as against class X earlier.
The most recent decisions are revising and stating that a third level, Interview, would be discontinued and that the examination would be shifted to Class X.
Read more about National Talent Search Examination: Rewards
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