How to prepare for NTSE Scholarship Exam for Class 10 Students?

National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) is a national-level scholarship program in India. It’s an attempt to recognize and tap into students’ potential. Organized by a government body viz. National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT), it’s considered to be one of the most prestigious exams. Every year, close to fifty lakh students appear for this scholarship exam, out of which 1000 scholarships are awarded. The scholarship is open only to the students of Indian nationality. Students studying in Class X are eligible to appear for this examination. In this article, we will share with you the top tips to become an NTSE scholar.

NTSE preparation is bound to get you confused. What to read and what to leave? How to practice for NTSE? How much to practice? Should we also do class-9 course material? If I am from a state board, do I need to prepare differently for NTSE?

NTSE is a 2 stage examination.

What is NTSE Stage-1 exam?

Stage 1 exam is a written exam conducted at the state level. It has 2 papers, namely SAT and MAT

  • Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)

This test has multiple-choice questions, where one alternative is correct. However, it can also have matching, arrange the sequence, true & false statements and questions based on passages. The idea is to assess the reasoning ability and logical thinking of the candidates.

Sample Questions for SAT

  • Mental Ability Test (MAT)

This test is given to the candidates to judge their power of reasoning, ability to think, ability to judge, evaluate or discriminate, ability to visualize in the space, spatial orientation, etc. A variety of questions, for example: analogies, classification, series, pattern perception, hidden figures, coding- decoding, block assembly, problem solving etc. are used for this purpose.

Sample Questions for MAT


The number of questions, maximum marks and time allowed are as follows:

What is NTSE Stage-2 exam?

A new pattern of Stage 2 exams has been announced by NCERT, where each correctly answered question earns the candidate one mark while an incorrect answer deducts 1/3 marks. This level of exam tests the students’ potential concerning their mental abilities, languages, scholastic aptitudes and social sciences

What is the course for NTSE?

Although there is no set syllabus for NTSE, the SAT usually follows your school curriculum. Hence the syllabus for SAT would include maths, physics, chemistry, biology, history, civics, geography and general awareness topics. The topics are those that you would have covered till class 9 and partially in class 10.

What are Scholarship Rewards?

Students who clear the second stage of exams are eligible for the NTSE scholarship. Moreover, there are no restrictions like parental income, government school, domicile, etc. However, in case the student moves abroad for studies, the scholarship will no longer be provided.

With the stakes so high and the competition so stiff, here are some tips for aspiring students on how to go about cracking the NTSE exams.

Tips to prepare for NTSE Exam

MAT and SAT carry equal weight in NTSE exam. There it is critical to give due time to both the papers while preparing. Some of us tend to overdo preparation of 3 subjects but in the process tend to ignore MAT. However it is important to realize that MAT carries more weight than any of the subjects.

  • Start your preperation with last year’s NTSE papers: The objective is understand the type of questions asked and your current level. I suggest that you take last year’s paper and just write the exam once with all seriousness. Does not matter if you have not prepared or never heard of it before. Just sit down and write the test. This will help you gain a knowledge of NTSE and also give you a fair idea of your standing
  • Follow NCERT Books: Follow NCERT books of classes IX and X for NTSE preparation. For some concepts in biology, refer NCERT Class XI Biology textbook (only portions that are relevant to IX and X class curriculum). It’s imperative to thoroughly study the Social Studies NCERT book for NTSE.
  • Strengthen Your MAT Section: The MAT section tests your mental ability. Hence, you must give sufficient time for preparing for this part.
  • Strengthen Your SAT Section: Follow NCERT for the scholastic aptitude section of NTSE. You must also read a good general knowledge book for ‘out of the course’ questions
  • Practice, practice and practice: You must solve a lot of sample papers and mock tests at least thrice a week. There are a lot of NTSE sample papers available on the internet. You should aim to solve these papers within the stipulated time so that you can improve your speed and know the sections that consume more time

These are the only 3 steps that can lead to success. Get exposed to more questions of mental ability so that you are not shocked on the exam day, solve more papers and then analyze each one in detail. Take the help of your school seniors. As you practice, you can also get confident of your speed, subject knowledge and accuracy.

  • Analyze your performance: Make sure to minutely assess what you could do and what you had a hard time with. Is it the knowledge of subject matter that you lacked? Or did you miss out because you made some silly mistakes? Or is it that mental ability questions took a long time for you to crack? Whatever it is, just analyze your performance very minutely and critically
  • Make a plan: Once you know your weak points, make a plan. You will definitely need to study and revise the subject matter. That is required not just for NTSE but also for your school. So there is no letting up on that front. You will also need to practice more mental ability questions. But the allocation of time will depend upon your analysis of how weak or strong you are in that particular aspect


I would suggest that the first step in preparation is to get to know all there is to know about NTSE. Also keep in mind about other national level talent search exams like NSO, KVPY, NCO, SSTSE etc that are conducted annually. Since the course content and exam structure is similar, it might be useful to appear in those too. To know more about other scholarship tests CLICK HERE

Advantages of being NTSE Scholar

NTSE is a talent based evaluation system scientifically designed for class X students. It measures individual’s strengths and weaknesses on the basis of the concepts learnt at school. Close to 300,000 students appear in this scholarship exam every year, and 1,000 scholarships are awarded, out of which 775 are from non-reserved.

We are going to discuss why you should attempt NTSE and how it is going to help you in future.

  • The Central government awards scholarships to NTSE scholars for pursuing studies in sciences and social sciences up till doctoral level. In case of a professional course like engineering or medicine, the scholarship is granted up to postgraduate level. 1000 scholarships, each of 1,250 INR per month is given to scholars from Class XI onward & 2,000 per month during college. The scholarship for PhD programs is as per the UGC standards.
  • Being an NTSE Scholar gives you confidence to crack competitive exams like JEE, NEET, etc in future. A lot of coaching and online programs for JEE & NEET provide you a scholarship (Even up to 100%). if you are a NTSE Scholar.
  • NTSE Scholars also get discounts on study materials and books from different publishers.
  • Colleges in India have reserved seats exclusively for NTSE Scholars. So even if you are not able to crack other competetive exams in 12th, you already have an access to some of the best colleges in country.
  • If you are aspiring to opt for advanced studies out of the country, then you have an edge over others as an NTSE scholar. Those applying for US scholarships get additional marks for being an NTSE qualifier. The universities abroad ,like NSU Singapore etc, are familiar with NTSE and give preference to candidates who have qualified the exam.
  • ‘NTSE scholar’ on resume is an added advantage when you apply for private/government jobs or interviews. An NTSE scholar is given preference in government jobs as well. It is indeed helpful when appearing for interviews for IFS, IAS, IRS, IPS, etc.
  • NTSE Scholars also get benefits during NDA selections.

Considering the benefits of clearing NTSE, both to improve your knowledge base and in terms of pursuing your academic career, start preparing for this prestigious exam and excel in your field of interest. It is a self-assessment and scholarship examination that tests your ability in the best possible manner.

Padhte Chalo, Badhte Chalo!

#PadhteChaloBadhteChalo is a free initiative by Eckovation (Team of IIT Delhi Graduates) to provide Quality Education to all the students for free. We’ve created a learning group for NTSE Preparation on Eckovation App, where you can get access to Quality Video Lectures, All India Level Practice Tests and a platform to discuss your doubts with educators 24×7.

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