Ever wondered what makes competitive exams so different from your school-level exams or even boards? Well, just a quick glance over the type of questions asked in these exams gives a picture of the cognition required to solve such questions.

While on the one hand, your final exams or the board exams test your progress in learning various topics, the competitive exams, on the other hand, push your critical thinking abilities and challenge you with the questions that require deep analysis. To this end, the school students come across various opportunities such as Olympiads, NTSE, NSTSE, and more that test their critical thinking abilities and prepare them for various competitive exams in the future.


The National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) is a national level scholarship program by the Govt. of India. It is conducted on two levels:

  • Stage I- State level, conducted by the states
  • Stage II- National level, conducted by NCERT

This exam is applicable for class X students studying in India and abroad. The NTSE scholars are awarded Rs. 1250 per month in class XI and class XII and Rs. 2000 per month in Graduation and higher studies. Additionally, the NTSE scholars have the edge over their peers in admission to the premium educational institutes of India and abroad.


The National level Science Talent Search Examination (NSTSE) is conducted by the Unified Council for the students from class 2 to class 12 across several countries such as India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen, Indonesia, Oman, Kuwait, Russia, Nepal, Libya, Bahrain, Iran, and Tanzania.

This exam, like NTSE, tests the abilities of critical thinking and analysis in students. The top rankers are awarded cash prizes ranging from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 2 Lakhs. Apart from that, the students are awarded resource books and online subscriptions for Olympiad coaching, a medal, and a certificate of appreciation.


Olympiads are conducted on a national and international scale and encourage students from similar academic levels to participate. It is conducted for students from classes 1 to 12 with the aim of testing the students’ preparedness for competitive exams as well as their awareness of various topics. There are several Olympiads, such as International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO), IEO (English), IGKO (General Knowledge), ICO (Commerce), National Science Olympiad (NSO), NCO (Cyber), etc.

The successful candidates in Olympiads gain an edge over other students in various competitions for higher education in India and abroad.


The National Standard Examination in Junior Science (NSEJS) is a science Olympiad conducted by the Indian Association of Physics Teachers (IAPT) in association with Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE). The students in class 10th or lower are eligible for this exam. It is a part of the International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO), which is conducted in five stages:

  • Stage I (NSEJS)- It is an objective-type test that selects approximately 300 students who make it into the merit list for the second stage.
  • Stage II (INJSO)- The students are required to score at least 50% of the Maximum Admissible Score (MAS) to qualify for this stage, called Indian National Junior Science Olympiad (INJSO). The test contains both objective and subjective questions.
  • Stage III (OCSC)- The top 35 students from INJSO are selected for Orientation-cum-Selection Camp (OCSC) in junior science, held at HBCSE. Students are exposed to innovative experiments with a focus on conceptual and procedural understanding in Theoretical and Experimental Science.
  • Stage IV (PDT)- In the Pre-departure Training (PDT) Camp for IJSO, the students undergo rigorous training in HBCSE prior to their departure for the IJSO.
  • Stage V (participation in IJSO)- This is the final stage where six Indian students, representing India and accompanied by their teachers or mentors, participate in IJSO. Students from 40-45 countries take part in this event.

Apart from the above-mentioned examinations, there are several other exams conducted at school level that test a student’s understanding of various concepts and their practical application. These exams are often linked to various scholarship programs and provide an edge to the students in their pursuit of higher education.