Competitive exams focus on imparting factual knowledge and developing the required intellectual skills to apply that knowledge. Their curriculum aims to concretize what was already learnt and takes the students to the next level. Such students develop the ability for independent work, and objective thinking. Most competitive exams follow a combination of an Aptitude component and a subject knowledge component. The aptitude component is based on raw problem solving skills, analytical ability. These are not directly related to school curriculum. The question format also tests logical thinking. The subject knowledge component focuses on advanced extension of regular math and science school curriculum that can be mastered only by regular practice.
NTSE (National Talent Search Examination) is a flagship activity of the NCERT started in the year 1963. The purpose of the scheme was to identify talented students and nurture their talent. The scheme covers areas like Sciences, Social Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Management and Law. It honors and helps talented students by providing financial assistance in the form of a monthly scholarship. For courses in Basic Sciences, Social Sciences and Commerce, this assistance is provided up to Ph.D. level. For professional courses like Engineering, Medicine, Management and Law, this assistance is given only up to Post Graduation. The NCERT conducts the National Talent Search Examination for students studying in Class 8 only.
SCHOLARSHIPS: On the basis of the examination conducted, 1000 scholarships will be awarded for each group of students appearing for Class VIII examinations. The amount of scholarship will be Rs. 500/- per month as per NTS rules.
RESERVATION: 15% scholarships will be reserved for students belonging to the SC category, 7.5% scholarships for students belonging to the ST category and 3% for Physically Challenged Group of Students.
SELECTION: There will be two-stage selection process for award of scholarship. For Stage-I, selection will be done by States/UTs through a written examination. Students who qualify Stage I will be eligible to appear for Stage II examination conducted by NCERT. The States/UTs will also conduct the selection test for National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme along with the Stage-I written examination for NTS.
IMPORTANT DATES: Tentative Dates of examination are given below:
- Stage I (State Level): Mid-November 2012
- Stage II(National level): May 2013
Stage 1 exam is a written exam conducted at the state level. It has 2 papers, namely, MAT and SAT
MAT: MAT or Mental Aptitude Test is a written test where in you need to answer 100 questions of mental ability in a span of 90 minutes. Maximum marks is 100 i.e. each question of 1 mark and qualifying mark is 40 for general category students while 32 for reserved category students. SAT or Scholastic Aptitude Test is a written exam again of 90 minutes duration with 100 question to be answered. Of these 100 questions, 40 are on Science, 40 are on Social Science and remaining 20 are on Maths. Each question is a multiple choice question where you need to identify 1 correct answer out of 4 options. Again the max marks is 100 and qualifying marks are 40 and 32 for general and reserved category students respectively. What is the course for NTSE Although there is no set syllabus for NTSE, the SAT usually follows your school curriculum. From 2013, NTSE will conducted for class 10 students. 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.
How should you prepare for NTSE: 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. Here is my advice based on how I prepared for NTSE.
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 or good NTSE sample questions 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 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 Practice, practice and practice: 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.
How much time should you devote to prepare for NTSE: This is a very personal aspect. If you ask me, I did not devote much time, may be 2-3 hours per week. But this is personal choice. You can devote more or you can devote less time. Just make sure to be very critical of your performance and minutely assess your progress.
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This article has been contributed by Komal Ghadigaonkar. She is a faculty of Mathematical Olympiad with Lakshya.