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NTSE 2018 Exam Pattern

Last Updated - June 20, 2017

NTSE Exam Pattern talks about the detailed paper pattern, 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 pattern of NTSE (National Talent Scholarship Examination) has not seen any major changes over the years.

Here are the key highlights of NTSE Exam Pattern:

  • NTSE Exam Pattern 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 Pattern for Stage 2- This will be a national-level exam. Students who clear 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 applicable in this paper. 

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

Highlights of NTSE Exam Pattern

NTSE 2018 Exam Pattern will give all aspirants an idea about what can be expected from the exam. The details about various aspects related to the scholarship test like the mode of the exam, time duration of the exam, type of questions that will be asked in the exam, marking scheme, total number of questions, etc. are stated in the table that follows:

NTSE Exam Pattern 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 awarded for correct answer


Total marks


Exam duration

3 hours (180 minutes)

Medium of language

English or Hindi

Negative marking

Applicable only for Stage 2

NTSE 2018 Exam Pattern for Stage 1

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

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 Comprehensive Test505045
Aptitude Test10010090
Total 200200180

NTSE 2018 Exam Pattern for Stage 2

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

NTSE 2018 Qualifying Criteria

The qualifying marks for NTSE is different for all papers and subjects and is different 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
  • **: Four questions dropped from SAT paper
  • #: Qualifying paper (its number will not be considered while preparing the merit list)

Read more about  NTSE Qualifying Criteria

NTSE Marking Scheme

Candidates 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 below the stage-wise NTSE Marking Scheme:

NTSE Marking Scheme- Stage 1

  • +1 marks will be awarded to students for marking every accurate answer.
  • There will be no penalty of marks charged for marking wrong or incorrect answers i.e. negative marking will not be applicable
  • Marks will not be deducted from the total score of the individual for leaving a question blank or failure in attempting it.
  • Sectional cut off score and sectional time limit will be applicable for the exam.

NTSE Marking Scheme- Stage 2

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

NTSE 2018 Syllabus

  • NTSE syllabus will be based on Senior Secondary or Class 10 level.
  • It will be as decided by NCERT for every section.
  • Candidates 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- Mental Ability 

Students have to cover all the topics given for this section. A variety of problems based on analogies, series and patterns, 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 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. It has the maximum weightage and difficulty level is moderate. Students must focus on this section in order to score well. The main subject-wise topics are mentioned below:

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

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 from 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 Processes

Motion and Force



Magnetic & Electricity at Work


Metals & Non-Metals


Social Science- This subject includes chapter studied from class 8 to 10. Questions based on History, Geography, Political Science and Economics are asked. Important topics are stated 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 Formation

Delhi Sultanate

French Revolution

Solar system

India and its Neighbors

Population Resources and Development

Indian Constitution

Popular Movements and Social Reforms

Indian Freedom Struggle

Our country- India

Indus Valley Civilization

Natural Vegetation

Industrial Revolution

Nationalism in Various 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


NTSE Preparation Books

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

BookPublication/ Author
Study Package for NTSE Class XMcGraw Hill
Practice Papers NTSE Class XTMH Books
Pearson Guide to NTSE Class 10Saurabh Priyadarshini
NTSE Explorer: MAT+SAT+ English Language TestSonia Lal
A Comprehensive Manual for NTSE Class 10Access Publishing

Important Instructions for NTSE 2018

It is the responsibility of every applicant 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 center at least 30 minutes prior to the commencement of the exam and occupy the seats bearing their Roll number.
  • They must only carry their NTSE Admit Card and a ball-point pen for marking their responses.
  • Calculators, Mathematical as also physical tables are not permitted inside the exam hall.
  • Aspirants must write down their roll number on the Admit Card, Answer sheet and Question booklet.
  • They must follow the instructions given by the invigilator and hand over their answer sheet, question booklet and admission card to them.



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