NTSE (National Talent Scholarship Examination) Exam Pattern 2018

Last Updated - February 24 2018

NTSE (National Talent Scholarship Examination) Exam Pattern 2018

NTSE Exam Format talks about the detailed paper format, syllabus, marking scheme, sectional weightage, types of questions and total time allotted to each section. It is decided by NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) each year. Overall, the exam format of NTSE (National Talent Scholarship Examination) has not seen any major changes over the years.

Here are the key highlights of NTSE Exam Format:

  • NTSE Exam Format for Stage 1- This will be a state-level exam. Stage 1 consists of 2 sections namely- Mental Ability Test (MAT) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The exam is held in offline mode. There will be a total of 200 multiple choice questions. Negative marking does not apply at NTSE Stage 1.
  • NTSE Exam Format for Stage 2- This will be a national-level exam. Students who complete Stage 1 will appear for this stage. Stage 2 is also divided into Mental Ability Test (MAT) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) sections. This exam is also held in offline mode. Negative marking is eligible in this paper. 

NTSE is a 2-tier scholarship program for talented class 10 students organizeed by NCERT. Read below to learn clear details about NTSE 2018 Exam Format. Stage 1 will be held in November 2017 while Stage 2 exam will be held in May 2018.

Highlights of NTSE Exam Format 2018

NTSE 2018 Exam Format will give all candidates an idea about what can be expected from the exam. The details about different aspects concerned to the scholarship test like the method of the exam, the time period of the exam, type of questions that will be asked in the exam, marking scheme, the total number of questions, etc. are said in the table that follows:

NTSE Exam Format Highlights

Exam Mode

Offline (pen and paper-based test)

Question Paper type

Objective (MCQs)

Number of Stages


Number of Sections

2 (Mental Ability Test and Scholastic Aptitude Test)

Total no. of questions


Marks honoured for accurate response


Total marks


Exam duration

3 hours (180 minutes)

Medium of language

English or Hindi

Negative marking

Eligible only for Stage 2

NTSE Exam Format 2018 for Stage 1

  • The question paper will be segregated into 2 sections- Mental Ability Test (MAT) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
  • The medium of the language of the exam in English or Hindi.
  • The maximum marks a candidate can score in Stage 1 are 200.
  • Students must select the most suitable response out of 4 alternative options.
  • Stage 1 of NTSE is a pen and paper based/ offline test. It is a state-level exam.
  • They must note that negative marking scheme will not be eligible for NTSE 2018 Stage 1 exam. 
  • The second section i.e. SAT will be further divided into 2 parts- Language Test and Sciences, Mathematics & Social Sciences.
  • It consists of 200 objective questions to be solved within a period of 180 minutes.

Here are the key sectional weightage of NTSE Stage 1:

Test No. of questionsMaximum marksTime
Mental Ability Test (MAT) 505045
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)Language Extensive Test505045
Aptitude Test10010090
Total 200200180

NTSE Exam Format 2018 for Stage 2

  • The paper is divided into two parts – MAT and SAT, like that in Stage-I.
  • Stage 2 of NTSE is organizeed at National Level, where shortlisted students from Stage-I (State-level) exam appear to compete for the scholarship.
  • There will be a total of 200 objective-type questions. Check  Specimen Copy of NTSE OMR Sheet
  • No marks will be deducted for unattempted questions.
  • However, 1/3 marks are deducted for every wrong response marked by the aspirant at this Stage.
  • The test is to be finished in 180 minutes.
TestNo. of questionsMaximum marksTime
Mental Ability Test (MAT)505045
Language Test (LT) English/ Hindi505045
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)10010090

Qualifying Criteria of NTSE 2018

The qualifying marks for NTSE is various for all papers and subjects and is various for all categories. Here we have listed the qualifying percentage for each paper, subject, and category:-

PapersMaximum MarksQualifying Percentage/ Marks
-- -- General CategorySC/ST/PH Category
Paper I (MAT)49*40% (19.6)35% (17.15)
# Paper II (English Language)5040% (20.0)35% (17.5)
# Paper II (Hindi Language)5040% (20.0)35% (17.5)
Paper III (SAT)96**40% (38.4)35% (33.6)
Total Marks14540% (58)35% (50.75)
  • *: One question dropped from MAT paper
  • #: Qualifying paper (its number will not be considered while preparing the merit list)
  • **: Four questions dropped from SAT paper

Read more about  NTSE Qualifying Criteria

Marking Scheme of NTSE 2018

Aspirants must know the marking scheme in order to decide how to attempt the questions in NTSE. There has not been any change in the marking scheme of NTSE over the years. Read the stage-wise NTSE Marking Scheme:

NTSE Marking Scheme- Stage 1

  • +1 marks will be honoured to students for marking every correct response.
  • There will be no penalty for marks charged for marking wrong or inaccurate responses i.e. negative marking will not be eligible
  • Marks will not be deducted from the total score of the person for leaving a question blank or failure in attempting it.
  • Sectional cut off score and the sectional time limit will be eligible for the exam.

NTSE Marking Scheme- Stage 2

  • The only difference will be that negative marking will be eligible.
  • Marking scheme for NTSE 2018 Stage 2 will be similar to the premier stage.
  • 1/3rd mark will be deducted from the total score of candidates for every wrong response.

Syllabus of NTSE 2018

  • It will be as decided by NCERT for every section.
  • Aspirants must make sure that they follow the right syllabus to prepare well for the exam.
  • The section wise syllabus is given as follows:
  • NTSE syllabus will be based on Senior Secondary or Class 10 level.

NTSE Syllabus- Mental Ability 

Students have to cover all the topics given in this section. A variety of problems based on analogies, series and formats, classification, hidden figures, coding and decoding, assembly of blocks, problem-solving etc. will be asked in this section.

NTSE Syllabus for Mental Ability

Alphabets and Number test

Word Problems

Analogy (Non-Verbal and Verbal)

Water and Mirror Images

Blood relations

Venn Diagrams

Direction Sense

Series (Verbal and Non-Verbal)

Calendar, Time and Clock

Ranking and Arrangements


Paper Cutting and Folding

Cube and Dice

Missing Character

Embedded Figure

Mathematical Operations

NTSE Syllabus- Language Test

It is a relatively scoring section designed to judge the power of reading comprehension, logical sequencing and creative components of language. Main topics for the English language are-

NTSE Syllabus for Language Test

One word substitution

Rearrangement of jumbled words

Paragraph and sentence completion

Synonyms & Antonyms

Reading comprehension


NTSE Syllabus- Mathematics, Science and Social Science

This section requires vast topics to be covered. Students must focus on this section in order to score well. The main subject-wise topics are mentioned below: It has the maximum weightage and difficulty level is moderate.

Mathematics- This topic comprises chapters studied from class 6 to 10. The main chapters are- About 30 questions are asked on this topic.

NTSE Syllabus for Mathematics

Basic Geometry


Coordinate Geometry



Simple & Compound Interest

Direct and Inverse Variations

Surface Areas and Volume


Square & Cube Roots

Linear Equation

Rational Numbers


Quadratic Equations

Number System

Probability and Statistics

Percentage & its Application

Playing with Numbers

Science- This subject also has topics studied from class 6 to 10. However, more focus is laid on Class 9 and 10 chapters. About 35 questions are asked on this subject. Important topics are-

NTSE Syllabus for Science

Acid Bases and Salts

Work and Energy



Cellular Level of Organization

Structure of Atom

Carbon and its Compound


Diversity in Living organisms


Fibers and Plastics

Common diseases

Food Production &Management


Human Body

Periodic Classification of Elements

Heredity and Evolution


Life Procedures

Motion and Force



Magnetic & Electricity at Work


Metals & Non-Metals


Social Science- This subject comprises chapter studied from class 8 to 10. Questions based on History, Geography, Political Science and Economics are asked. Important topics are said below:

NTSE Syllabus for Social Science


World History


Water Resources


Vedic Period

British raj

Union Government

Democracy and Elections

UN and International Agencies

Diversity and Livelihood

Mughal Empire

Early Medieval Period


Early States


Eighteen Century Political Patternion

Delhi Sultanate

French Revolution

Solar system

India and its Neighbors

Population Resources and Development

Indian Constitution

Famous Movements and Social Reforms

Indian Freedom Struggle

Our country- India

Indus Valley Civilization

Natural Vegetation

Industrial Revolution

Nationalism in Different Countries

Internal Structure of the Earth and Rocks

Motion of the Earth

Introduction and Sources of Ancient Indian History


Jainism, Buddhism and Conquerors from Distant Lands


Preparation Books for NTSE 2018

NTSE 2018 reference books are given below to help students score well:

BookPublication/ Author
Study Package for NTSE Class XMcGraw Hill
Exercise Papers NTSE Class XTMH Books
Pearson Guide to NTSE Class 10Saurabh Priyadarshini
NTSE Explorer: MAT+SAT+ English Language TestSonia Lal
An Extensive Manual for NTSE Class 10Reach Publishing

Important Instructions for NTSE 2018

It is the responsibility of every participant to ensure that they follow some rules and regulations to maintain the decorum of the exam hall so that NTSE 2018 proceeds properly. These instructions are given below:

  • Students must report to the test centre minimum 30 minutes prior to the commencement of the exam and occupy the seats bearing their Roll number.
  • They must only carry their NTSE Hall Ticket and a ball-point pen for marking their answers.
  • Candidates must write down their roll number on the Hall Ticket, Response sheet and Question Booklet.
  • Calculators, Mathematical as also physical tables are not permitted inside the exam hall.
  • They must follow the instructions given by the examiner and hand over their response sheet, question booklet and admission card to them.

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