NTSE – Syllabus, Examination Pattern and Books

NTSE syllabus- The NTSE (National Talent Search Examination) is a national-level scholarship program run by the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training). Though there is no strict NTSE syllabus prescribed by NCERT, it has a fixed pattern and is associated with the syllabus of Class 9 and Class 10. The examination is conducted in two parts namely, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the Mental Ability Test (MAT). While MAT requires the students to solve questions related to mental aptitude, SAT carries questions from science, social science, and mathematics.

What are the topics covered in NTSE syllabus? Which books should be referred for the NTS Examination? What is the structure of the examination? The answer to a lot of questions like these and much more information has been provided in this article for the assistance of the applicants.

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NTSE Syllabus – Examination Pattern

The NTSE (National Talent Search Examination) examination is conducted every year at two levels – Stage 1 and Stage 2. NTSE Stage 1 is conducted by different states and the union territories, whereas the second stage is conducted by NCERT at the national level. It is an offline examination based on multiple choice question format (MCQ). There are 4 options provided for each question amongst which only one is correct, the candidate has to identify the right answer and mark it.

The NTSE state-level screening examination for all the states and UTs is conducted on the first Sunday of November – except for Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Meghalaya and Mizoram – where it is conducted on the first Saturday of November every year.

Both state level and national level examination are divided into two parts: MAT and SAT.

Mental Ability Test (MAT)-  The questions in this test are based to check the mental ability of the applicant . The examination comprises 100 questions and it is divided into 3 parts namely- verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, and the grammar section.

Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)- This section tests the knowledge of the students related to subjects like physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, history, geography, civics, economics, and general knowledge.

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NTSE Syllabus – Overview of Examination Pattern

NTSE is conducted in two different stages, i.e., Stage 1 and Stage 2. 

  • Stage 1 is conducted by the states/UTs, whereas stage 2 is conducted under the supervision of NCERT. 
  • The medium of the examination could be English, Hindi, Bangla, Asamiya, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Odia, Urdu, Telugu or Tamil. 
  • Students can choose either one of the languages.
  • Each stage comprises two tests for students, namely the MAT (Mental Ability Test) and the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). 

To know the exam pattern for both stages in detail, the students can refer to the table below- 

S.No. Particulars Details
1. Mode of examination Offline (OMR sheet) 
2. Medium of examination English, Hindi, Bangla, Asamiya, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Odia, Urdu, Telugu, and Tamil
3. Number of papers  2 [Mental Ability Test (MAT) & Scholastic Aptitude Test( SAT)]
4. Number of questions  MAT– 100

SAT– 100

5. Types of questions Multiple-choice questions
6. Marks allotted for each question 1 (One)
7. Time duration for each test 120 minutes
8. Scholarship Aptitude Test (Pattern) Science – 40 Questions

Social Science – 40 Questions

Mathematics – 20 Questions

9. Negative Marking Not applicable 


NTSE Syllabus – Key Information

NCERT does not specify any prescribed syllabus for NTSE. The students aspiring for the examination can prepare by referring to the syllabus of Classes 9 and 10. 

NTSE Stage 1 paper is based on state board syllabus, so students must refer their state board books for the proper preparation. Whereas, NTSE Stage 2 paper is based on NCERT syllabus, so students should prepare well from their NCERT books.

Below is a tabular representation of the syllabus for both stages of the examination:

S.No. Section Areas Covered*
1. MAT (Mental Ability Test) The test is based on questions related to –

  • Analogies
  • Series
  • Classification
  • Pattern perception
  • Hidden figures
  • Block assembly
  • Coding-decoding
  • Problem-solving
2. SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)

The test comprises questions based on –

  • Science
  • Social Science
  • Mathematics

*The areas covered in the examination mentioned above are based on expert inputs and the paper pattern of previous years.

Subject-wise NTSE Syllabus for SAT Examination

The syllabus for the examination is mentioned in a descriptive manner below.

SCIENCE – Chemistry

S. No.      Syllabus for Scholastic Aptitude Test
1. Structure of an Atom
2. Acid, Bases and Salt
3. Carbon and Its Compounds
4. Metals and Non-metals
5. Periodic Classification of Elements
6. Physical and Chemical Changes
7. The Universe

SCIENCE – Biology

1. Cellular Level of Organizations
2. Air, Water and Soil
3. Heredity and Evolution
4. Fibers and Plastics
5. Food Production and Management
6. Diversity in Living Organisms
7. Our Environment
8. Human Body
9. Micro-organisms
10. Reproduction
11. Plant and Animal Nutrition
12. Life Processes
13. Some Common Diseases

SCIENCE – Physics

1. Magnetism and Electricity
2. Motion and Force
3. Work and Energy
4. Light and Sound
5. Measurements
6. Source of Energy
7. Sound
8. Light


1. New Empires and Kingdoms
2. Jainism, Buddhism and Conquers from Distant Lands
3. Industrial Revolution
4. Culture, Science and Literature
5. The Mauryas
6. Vedic Period
7. Medieval Architecture and Culture
8. Resources and Development
9. French Revolution
10. The Delhi Sultanate
11. World History
12. Early Medieval Period
13. British Raj
14. India and Its Neighbors
15. Indus Valley Civilization
16. The Mughal Empire
17. Introduction and Sources of Ancient Indian History


1. Early States
2. Indian Constitution
3. Democracy and Elections
4. 18th Century Political Formation
5. Indian Economics
6. The Judiciary
7. Union Government
8. Indian Freedom Struggle
9. Popular Movements and Social Reforms
10. UN and International Agencies
11. Local and State Government
12. Nationalism in Various Countries


1. Agriculture
2. Resources and Development
3. Atmosphere
4. Maps and Globe
5. Natural Vegetation
6. Population
7. Biosphere
8. Diversity and Livelihood
9. Internal Structure of Earth and Rocks
10. Major Domains and Landforms
11. The motion of the Earth
12. Our Country- India
13. Solar System
14. Water Resources


1. Algebraic Expression
2. Arithmetic Progression
3. Polynomials
4. Quadratic Equation
5. Square Roots and Cube Roots
6. Mensuration
7. Surface and Area Volume
8. Direct and Inverse Variation
9. Percentage
10. Simple Interest and Compound Interest
11. Statistics
12. Basic Geometry
13. Circles
14. Triangles
15. Coordinate Geometry
16. Number System
17. Real Numbers
18. Rational Numbers
19. Trigonometry
20. Arithmetic
21. Linear Equations
22. Exponents
23. Probability


1. World
2. Awards and Recognitions
3. Sports
4. Abbreviations
5. Book and Authors
6. India


1. Paragraph Completion
2. Sentence Completion and Formation
3. One Word Substitution
4. Synonyms and Antonyms
5. Rearrangement of Words
6. English Grammar
7. Comprehension
8. English Grammar

*This is a qualifying examination. The marks scored in this subject will not be included in the final score of the applicant.

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Detailed NTSE syllabus for MAT Examination

S. No.          Syllabus for Mental Ability Test
      1. Word Problems
      2. Analogy (Verbal and Non-verbal)
      3. Alphabet and Number Test
      4. Blood Relations
      5. Ranking and Arrangements
      6. Coding-Decoding
      7. Venn Diagrams
      8. Distance and Direction
      9. Mathematical Operations
    10. Series (Verbal and Non-verbal)
    11. Mirror and Water Images
    12. Embedded Figures
    13. Calendar, Time and Clock
    14. Classification

NTSE Syllabus – Books

For the NTSE Stage I paper the students can refer to the books which cover the state board syllabus. Whereas, for the NTSE Stage II paper the NCERT books can be helpful for preparation.

However, MAT is a section where books are not of great help. A student needs to practise consistently to excel at cracking MAT.

Here are the some of the books which scholars can refer to while preparing for NTSE.

List of Books to Refer Based on NTSE Syllabus

S. No.             Book Name       Author   Publication
1. A Comprehensive Manual for NTSE for Class 10th Abhijit Guha, N.D. Arora, V. Sasikumar, Divya Johry, Majid Husain Access Publishing
2. Practice Papers for NTSE Stalin Malhotra, S.L. Gulati, Hari Mohan Prasad McGraw Hill Education
3. Study Package for NTSE McGraw Hill Education McGraw Hill Education
4. The Pearson Guide to NTSE Navin C. Joshi, Saurabh Priyadarshi Pearson India
5. NTSE Explorer Er. Sonia Lal MTG Learning Pvt. Ltd.
6. Lakshya NTSE- Class 10th (Study Material + Mock Papers + Motivational Book and CD) AIETS Experts Disha Publication
7. Target NTSE Class 10th (MAT + SAT) Disha Experts Disha Publication
8.  Study Guide NTSE (MAT + SAT) for Class 10  Arihant Experts Arihant Publications (India) Pvt Ltd
9.  NTSE MAT + SAT 15 Years Solved Paper for Class 10 Arihant Experts  Arihant Publications (India) Pvt Ltd
10. Foundation Science for IIT-JEE/ NEET/ NTSE/ Olympiad Class 7 – 3rd Edition Disha Experts  Disha Publications
11. A guide to Mathematics for NTSE  Rajat Vijay Jain Disha Publications



NTSE Syllabus – Key Tips for Preparation

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses– It’s very important for a student to know his strengths and weaknesses and what to expect out of what. For instance, if a student is great in mathematics and average in science, he/she can use this knowledge to acquire an overall good score.
  • Buy a General Knowledge book– The students should be updated with the current affairs in order to ensure a good score in the examination. The students are advised to purchase a general knowledge book to keep themselves updated.
  • Avoid silly mistakes– Try not to make silly mistakes. Take your time in understanding the questions and then answering them.
  • Be consistent- The student should be consistent in his/ her preparation and avoid laziness. Consistency is the key to the crack NTSE.
  • Reference Books- Apart from following the books published by NCERT for preparing, the student should go through other reference books for the examination.
  • Mock test and Sample papers- Prepare through mock tests which make the student acquainted with the type of questions that are expected in the examination paper.
  • Previous year question papers- The student should solve previous year question papers. The examination pattern is usually kept intact every year and a lot of questions or question type are recurring in the examination. Thus, the student should solve at least 2-3 previous years’ question papers to adapt to the timing.
  • Analyse performance- The students should constantly analyse what is easy for them, what comes across as hard for them and what takes a lot of effort and time. Students should prepare in such a way that even if it is slow they should constantly make some progress. Preparation is pointless without rectifying errors.
  • Time management- Since NTSE is based on multiple-choice question (MCQ) format, each question carry 4 options from which the student has to identify the correct one. The student should be very careful to work on his/her time management skills in order to complete the examination.
  • Thorough and efficient practice- Lastly, practice is what will get you through. Practice test and sample papers, take help of the teachers and friends to gain a cutting edge over others.

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