Strategy for NTSE: Just go back to basics

Rigorous practice, solving test papers and analysing performance hold the key.

The National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) is the country’s oldest and most prestigious talent search examination. It is conducted in two-stages. Stage-I is conducted by the state boards, while stage-II is conducted by NCERT, at the national level.

Every state has a fixed quota in stage-I and there is no state-wise upper ceiling for selecting NTSE scholars through stage-II. Students studying in Class X are eligible to appear in the NTSE stage-I exam, which is held in the month of November, every year. Academically, it is quite important for a student to appear in NTSE. A few reasons are listed below:

As NTSE is a competitive exam, appearing in it gives one an opportunity to compete with other talented students. 

Students vying for a career in the field of science should treat NTSE as an important milestone. 

Clearing NTSE (both stages) is a big achievement. It enhances one’s confidence substantially.

Under the NTSE scheme, successful students are entitled to monthly scholarships until they finish their studies. Although it may not be a substantial amount; it holds value since it is being sponsored by a Government body.

In many cases, students doing exceedingly well in school exams find it difficult to perform in a competitive exam. For such students, NTSE is a kind of “Reality Check” — it relieves them from living under the illusion of being good. They can learn from their weaknesses and take corrective steps over a period of 2 years time (i.e. while they would be in Class 11 and 12) so that they can perform well in competitive exams after Class 12.

If a student wants to go abroad (especially to countries like the US or UK) for higher education, he or she will need to showcase a strong academic and extracurricular profile. Success in NTSE helps strengthen the academic credential of a student wherein they tend to earn extra credits.

NTSE exam structure is such that it enables a student to develop Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Mental Ability (MA). Students develop the habit of solving questions by application of a learned concept. It is probably the only exam for school students which assesses and in a way instils these attributes.

It goes a long way as most of the important competitive exams after Class 12 tests students on their ability to solve questions based on logic, reasoning and analytical approach. 

Preparation strategy

The entire syllabus can be divided into two parts viz Class 9 and Class 10. Firstly, a student should focus on NTSE stage–I. For that one could adopt the following approach:

Class IX syllabus: Mostly this part poses a challenge, the reason being students tend to forget the concepts over a period of time. Hence, one should have a proper revision plan leading up to the exam. If you think you have a few grey areas, fix them now.

Class X syllabus: You would have covered some portion of the syllabus by now. The remaining syllabus must be dealt with appropriately. You should also cover a few advanced levels of current topics to gain complete insight.

Alongside, prepare good quality revision notes.

Try to finish the entire syllabus a few weeks before the exam, so that you will be left with some time to do the revision from your notes.

From now on, get into testing and assessment mode. Rigorous practice, solving test papers and analysing performance hold the key. Do not put off taking mock tests thinking that you are yet to finish the syllabus.

Remember, solving test papers and analysing them is also a part of the preparation. You will get to build test temperament, will be able to identify strong and weak areas, learn to manage time during tests, and improve upon speed and accuracy.

Subscribe to an all India level test series. This will enable you to assess your performance with respect to others, understand the weak areas and build a strategy to overcome weaknesses. Make sure, you attend to all post-test analysis sessions to gain insights.

For Mental Ability Test (MAT) section, try to attempt a mixed bag question paper of 100 questions every alternate day.

Do solve previous year question papers to get a good idea on the type of questions that would be expected. You should also prepare a concept list so as to understand which chapter or concept, you need to focus on, subject-wise.

Lastly, remain focused, stick to your study plan and do not allow stress to build up.

(The writer is centre head, FIIT JEE, Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi)

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