NTSE 2020 Exam Eligibility Criteria

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Eligibility Criteria for NTSE Exam

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) conducts NTSE or National Talent Search Examination. It is one of the most sought after examinations in our country. Students studying in any school from any board can appear for this exam. NTSE exam not only offers great opportunities for one’s future studies, but students can also get a scholarship for their academic career. NTSE exam eligibility is the prime question of all students who aspire for this exam.

Know all About the Eligibility Criteria for NTSE Exam

NTSE is held in two stages. Its first stage takes place at the state level and the second stage is held at the national level. Usually, more than 1,200,000 students appear for this exam, but on average, only 5000 qualify for the second stage. Out of those students, only 1000 students get selected for the scholarship. Eligibility for NTSE exam in two stages is completely different. NCERT has laid down certain criteria that are as follows:

Stage I Eligibility of NTSE Exam

  • Candidates must be Indian National.

  • Student of Class 10 of any government or private school. Moreover, candidates studying in Open or Distant learning courses can also apply for the exam.

  • Students who are below the age of 18 years and are pursuing Class 10 may apply for this exam.

  • Each candidate is required to fulfil the criteria laid down by their respective State, such as minimum qualifying marks for the previous class, age limit etc.

Indian students who are studying abroad and want to appear for NTSE are eligible to appear directly for the Stage II exam, provided they have sent their previous class mark sheet attested by the head of their educational Institution. 

Stage II Eligibility of NTSE Exam

  • A candidate must be an Indian citizen.

  • Candidates who have qualified in stage I, state level, are eligible for stage II exam.

Eligibility Criteria for Candidates Studying Outside India:

  • Candidate has to be an Indian National

  • They should have scored at least 60% in the previous year examination.

  • Candidates should also be ready to pursue their higher education in India itself as the scholarship is valid only in India.

There are other criteria as well, which affects NTSE exam eligibility of a candidate, such as the percentage of marks in Class 9, laid down by the State. These marks differ in various states and according to the category of students. For stage II of the exam, there are criteria for qualifying marks in SAT and MAT exam of stage I.

A major criterion that affects a candidate’s chance in the NTSE exam is the Reservation norms laid down by Government. These norms are represented in a table below.

Another Crucial Factor for NTSE Exam

Category of Students

Percentage of Reservation

Scheduled Caste (SC)


Scheduled Tribe (ST)


Other Backward Classes (OBC)


Persons with Disabilities (PWD)


Economically Weaker Section (EWS)


Qualifying marks for NTSE exam eligibility of this category of candidates also vary and are generally lower than that required for the general category students. The cut-off marks required for a general candidate to qualify for stage II NTSE exam is 40% whereas the cut off marks for SC/SC/OBC and others are 32%.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What is the Exam Pattern of NTSE Exam?

Ans. NTSE exam is held in two stages. Stage I is conducted at the state level, which is overseen by the state authorities. Stage II is a national level exam and conducted by the Central administration. The NTSE exam follows an offline mode where candidates have to answer in OMR sheets. The exam is divided into two papers. Paper 1 is the Mental Ability Test (MAT) and paper 2 is the Scholastic Ability Test (SAT).

The state authorities decide the medium of exam in Stage I and Stage II can be given in Assamese, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi and many more local languages. There is also no negative marking in NTSE exam.

Q2. How to Acquire the Admit Card for the NTSE Exam?

Ans. NTSE exam, which is conducted by the NCERT, decides on a time period to distribute admit cards to the candidates. The admit card consists of the candidate's name, roll number, exam date with timings, etc.. It also contains the centre for the exam with its address.

Admit card for the NTSE stage I exam is sent by post to the candidates’ address, specified in the application form. If a candidate does not receive the admit card, they can contact the Chief Superintendent to obtain the admit card. In the case of stage II of the NTSE examination admit card is distributed through an online process from tentatively. Students have to download their respective admit card from the official website with their login details.

Q3. How are the Eligibility Criteria of NTSE for Local Students Different from those Studying Abroad?

Ans. Eligibility criteria of the students applying for the NTSE exam depend on certain factors, such as the candidate has to be an Indian citizen and must be studying in Class 10 of a private or government school of any board. Unemployed students who are below 18 years of age and are studying in class 10 of distance learning courses are also eligible to apply for this exam. Candidates have to fulfil the norms laid down by state like the age limit, the minimum marks of the previous year etc. Those candidates qualifying for stage I get to appear for stage II exam.

The primary difference in the eligibility criteria for local students and students studying abroad is that overseas students directly get to appear for the Stage II NTSE exam, without appearing for stage I.