NSO Exam 2021 - The National Science Olympiad (NSO)

NSO 2021 – All about the National Science Olympiad

The National Science Olympiad is a national-level science examination conducted by the Science Olympiad Foundation. The NSO is an annual scholarship exam conducted for students enrolled in Classes 1 to 12. The NSO is a competitive exam aimed to cultivate scientific reasoning and logical ability among the students. The SOF NSO is a rigorous test conducted at two levels - Level 1 and 2. Students participating in the NSO exam get good exposure to participating in a competitive examination, providing them with a window to higher-level competitive examinations. For complete information on SOF NSO, go through the article below. 

NSO – About SOF

The SOF, which conducts the NSO and a host of other competitive exams, is an educational organisation. The organisation aims to popularize academic competition and inculcate a competitive spirit among school children. A group of leading scientists, media personalities and academicians had jointly established the SOF around 25 years ago. The initiative applies several innovative activities that promote a critical thinking ability among students and helps them develop an analytical attitude. SOF also encourages the use of IT in the learning process involving students enrolled in schools across the world. 

The key dates of the NSO exam for the year 2021-22 are provided in the table below. Candidates must, however, note that the NSO key dates may change depending on the impact of COVID on the functioning of schools.

NSO Exam - Registration, Exam Date, Syllabus, Exam Pattern, Result and Other Details

NSO 2021– Key Dates



NSO Exam Date 1

27th & 28th November 2021

NSO Exam Date 2

11th & 12th December 2021

NSO Exam Date 3

18 & 19th December 2021

NSO Exam Registration Date

30 days before the exam date

NSO answer keys

January 2022*

NSO Cutoff 

January 2022*

NSO 2020 Stage 1 result

January 2022*

NSO Admit Card for stage 2

March 2022*

NSO stage 2 exam

April 2022*

NSO stage 2 result

April 2022*


NSO – Eligibility

The SOF specifies the eligibility criteria for the NSO Level 1 and Level 2 exams. 

NSO Level 1 Eligibility Criteria

As per the NSO eligibility criteria, students enrolled in classes 1st to 12th are eligible to appear for the NSO Level 1 exams and there is no minimum marks requirement.

NSO Level 2 Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for NSO Level 2 exam specify that only students between Classes 3 and 12 need to appear in the exam. Additionally, only certain selected students of these classes who qualify for the Level 1 exam of NSO are eligible to appear for the second level. These students include: 

  • Class-wise top 5% of students, who appear for the Level 1 exam.

  • Zone-wise and class-wise top 25 rank holders.

  • Class toppers from each of the participating schools where a minimum of 10 students from a class appear in the exam and obtain 50% qualifying marks. 

  • In case section-wise registration is received, students with the highest marks, irrespective of the section will qualify for the 2nd level. Also, for the section-wise registrations, gold medal winner(s) doesn’t need to qualify for the 2nd level.

NSO - Registration

NSO registration is mandatory for any student who wishes to participate in the exam. As NSO registrations are accepted only on behalf of the schools, the schools must register with the SOF for their students to be able to appear in the exam. Students from Classes 1 to 12 need to coordinate with their respective schools to complete the NSO registration process. 

NSO – Application Process

The SOF sends the prospectus of the National Science Olympiad to all the registered schools. The prospectus includes the registration forms of the students. Students need to collect the application forms, fill them and submit the application fee (INR 125 for Indian, Bhutanese, Nepali and Bangladeshi students, and USD 9 for other international students). The schools are then required to submit the application forms of the students along with the fees to the SOF before the last date of registration as applicable. 

NSO – Exam Structure

The NSO exam structure can be of great help for students who are willing to attempt the exam as it will provide them with an insight into the different sections and type of questions they can expect in the exam. As per the NSO exam structure, the exam duration is 60 minutes and is conducted during school hours only. The medium of the exam is in English. 35 questions in total are asked for students from Classes 1 to 4 while 50 questions are asked for students in Classes 5 to 12. The different sections in the NOS exam for different classes are as under: 

Class 1 to Class 10

  • Section 1: Logical Reasoning

  • Section 2: Science

  • Section 3: Achievers Section

Class 11 and Class 12

  • Section 1: Physics/Chemistry

  • Section 2: Achievers Section

  • Section 3 : Mathematics/Biology

The SOF offers a host of awards for students qualifying for the NSO exam. The awards are categorised according to the grades of the students and the level of the exam. Details of NSO awards are provided in the table below:

NSO – Awards

Level 1 Performance - Zonal



1st to 25th

Certificate of Distinction & Medal of Distinction

26th and Above

Certificate of Participation 

Level 2 - Zonal and Classes 1 and 2


Certificate of Zonal Excellence + Gold Medal + INR 5000 Each 


Certificate of Zonal Excellence + Silver Medal + INR 2500 Each 


Certificate of Zonal Excellence + Bronze Medal + INR 1000 Each 

4th - 10th

Medal of Distinction+Certificate of Distinction+

Gifts worth INR 1000 Each 

11th - 25th

Medal of Distinction + Certificate of Distinction

26th and above

Merit Certificate

Level 2 - International and Classes 1 and 2


Certificate of Outstanding Performance + Gold Medal + INR 50,000 Each 


Certificate of Outstanding Performance + Silver Medal + INR 25,000 Each


Certificate of Outstanding Performance + Bronze Medal + INR 10,000 Each

NSO – Results

NSO Results are typically declared within 8 weeks after the examination is conducted. The NSO results of the students are sent to the schools concerned. Additionally, NSO results are also made available on the official website of SOF. Students can check their NSO result score using their roll number.

NSO 2021 Exam Centers

There are no specified examination centres for conducting the NSO exam. The exam is conducted in the participating schools during school hours. 

NSO – Student Performance Report

The SOF also sends a student performance report along with the NSO result. The report provides a detailed analysis of a student’s performance in the different sections of the question paper. A comparative score of the student with respect to other students of the same class who appeared in the exam is also presented in the SPR. Additionally, if a student has attempted NSO more than once, then a detailed report tracking his/her progress over the years is also included in the SPR. 

NSO 2021 Cut Off Marks

The NSO 2021 cut off marks are determined by the SOF and are released in the week(s) following the conduct of the exam. The NSO cut off determines the qualifying score and also the students of Classes 3 to 12 who will qualify for the 2nd level exams. The NSO cut off is determined by several factors such as the number of students who appeared for the exam, difficulty level of the question paper etc. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the NSO Exam?

Ans. The NSO exam is a national-level, annually conducted exam. Students from Classes 1 to 12 can participate in this exam designed to test the critical thinking and analytical skills of the students. The exam is conducted in two stages and aims to increase the scientific knowledge and reasoning capacity of the school students.

2. Is NSO Difficult?

Ans. The NSO is considered as quite a competitive exam and the difficulty level of the exam is set to judge students based on their ability to reason, apply concepts and comprehend scientific facts. It is a difficult exam, nonetheless, but can be mastered with the right approach and guidance. 

3. What is the Work of NSO?

Ans. The NSO aims to build the scientific reasoning capabilities of the students. Students who attempt the NSO exam are introduced to a wide range of problems all of which require them to have an analytical approach. The critical thinking skills of the students as well as their ability to comprehend are enriched by the NSO exam. 

4. How Can I Prepare For the NSO Olympiad?

Ans. To prepare for the NSO exam, be thorough with the syllabus assigned. The syllabus is based on the curriculum followed by CBSE, ICSE/ISC and other State Boards. Make sure you are acquainted and well versed with every topic of the syllabus. Additionally, practice solving sample papers and previous year question papers to amp up your preparation. 

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