NSEP 2020 Exam Pattern

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Pattern of NSEP 2020

Due to Covid 19 - The usual three-stage procedure for the selection of the teams to represent India at the International Olympiad that has been followed in prior years is now being shortened to a two-stage procedure as a one-time exception only for the academic year 2020 - 21. Read more about IOQ 2020-21.

National Science Examination in Physics (NSEP) is the first step of the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) program. The Indian Association of Physics Teachers (IAPT) is the conducting agency of NSEP. It is the only agency to conduct the National Standard Examinations voluntarily for the past 31 years to encourage budding scholars. 

Any student aspiring to be one of the 5 candidates to represent India at the International level must clear NSEP first. Therefore, NSEP preparation demands not only an in-depth knowledge of the syllabus but also a clear understanding of the NSEP Exam Pattern/Format.

What is the NSEP Exam Pattern/Format?

Most concepts of Physics cannot be prepared by reading and memorizing, only. An understanding of its concepts to the core is required for students to appear in the Physics examinations. The same follows while preparing for National Science Examination in Physics (NSEP). Students need to develop a clear understanding of the important details of the NSEP exam pattern. Refer to the table below to understand the exam pattern properly. 


No. of Questions 

Question Type


Negative Marking

Part 1


Multiple-choice questions with one

correct option   



Part 2


Multiple-choice questions 

with one or more correct options.


No Negative marking






What is the Language of NSEP?

As the name suggests the National Science Examination in Physics is a national level examination and the question paper comes in certain regional languages, as well. The NSEP Exam Pattern/Format shows that English, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati are the only four languages in which the question paper is set. Students need to select their preferred language during enrollment. 

What is the Syllabus of NSEP?

The syllabus of the National Science Examination in Physics is based on the syllabus of Physics up to CBSE class 12. That is why every student must develop a clear concept about the exam pattern of NSEP. 

Students willing to reach the next step leading to IPhO must prepare in a way that covers the entire syllabus. Below are the chapters with respective weightage.

Chapter Name


Alternating Current

  • Resonance

  • Power Consumed in AC Circuit


Current Electricity 

  • Power, Battery, Energy, EMF, 

  • Terminal voltage, and Kirchhoff’s Law,

  • Instruments


Center of mass, momentum, and collision,

  • Motion of com

  • Head-on collision


Electromagnetic Field

  • Magnetic force on a charge

  • Magnetic field due to a magnet and earth

  • Magnetic field due to ring

  • Magnetic field due to a straight wire

  • Magnetic Force and 

  • torque on a current-carrying loop, dipole moment of inertia 


Circular Motion 

  • Kinematics of circular motion 

  • Circular motion in the vertical plane


Work, Power, and Energy

  • Work-Energy Theorem

  • Work Done by a variable force


Sound Wave

  • Organ pipes and resonance

  • Doppler effect


Rectilinear Motion

  • Equation of motion 

  • and motion under gravity


Simple Harmonic Motion

  • Spring mass system

  • Equation of SHM



  • Conductor and its properties


Geometrical Optics 

  • Spherical Mirror

  • Refraction by Prism

  • Lenses

  • Refraction in general

  • Refraction by a spherical surface


Heat Transfer

  • Thermal conduction 

  • in linear conductors at steady state



  • Archimedes principle and force buoyancy


Electro-Magnetic Induction 

  • Self-inductance EMF and magnetic energy density



  • The universal law of gravitation



  • Coulomb’s Law


Rotation (Rigid body Dynamics)

  • Moment of inertia


Wave optics



  • Transistor

  • Diode

  • Logic gates


Newton’s Law of Motion

  • Calculation of force and acceleration


Surface tension

  • Excess pressure in drops and bubbles


Modern Physics-1

  • Electric transition in the h/h 

  • like atom/spices, and, 

  • effect of motion of the nucleus

  • X-ray

  • Photoelectric effect



Combination of Capacitors


KTG and 1st law of Thermodynamics

  • Kinetic energy and equation of state

  • The first law of Thermodynamics




Above is the rough overview of the 2017 question paper of NSEP. The important chapters remain the same almost every year. A thorough discussion will guide students on how to prepare for NSEP and on which chapter they should focus more while studying. 

There are several books that can be helpful, including H.C Verma books. These books are prescribed for even students of class 11 for a better understanding of class 12 topics. NCERT solutions are the best guide for students who are preparing for NSEP.

Solving previous year question papers provided by IAPT can be a great help to get a clear idea about the NSEP 2020 pattern. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How to Prepare for NSEP?

The National Science Examination in Physics is the first stage in the five-phase exam leading to the International Olympiad. Students who nurture a keen interest in Physics must clear the first phase to become eligible for the next rounds. 

To prepare for NSEP, students must follow certain rules. Previous year question papers provide valuable insight into the NSEP paper pattern. Students need to practice solving MCQs as fast as possible within the restrained time.

NSEP is based on the physics syllabus from up to class 12 of CBSE India. As there is no definite syllabus other than the parts mentioned earlier, students need to possess in-depth knowledge about every topic and concept. NCERT solutions and H.C Verma books will be a great help in this matter.

2. What is the Question Paper Pattern for NSEJS 2020 – 2021?

The paper for NSEJS is divided into 60 multiple-choice questions. Each correct answer will draw 3 marks, while there will be a penalty of 1 mark for every incorrect answer. 

Amongst the 60 questions, 10 multiple-choice questions will have one or more than one correct alternative to choose from. This paper carries a total of 240 marks.

The questions are primarily based on materials from CBSE class 10. Equal emphasis is put on all the subjects of science, i.e. Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Mathematics. The primary medium of this exam is English and Hindi, but students have the provision to opt for regional languages as well.