I’m-totally-clueless-and-scratching-my-head-WARNING: This is basically for students in India.
I thought that I would write something about this since there isn’t much good information available on it on the Web, true Indian government style. This post itself will not tell you much, so STOP READING NOW. The competition I’m writing about isn’t worth participating anyway, but this is for those stubborn ones who simply WON’T listen.
There, now having ensured that nobody is reading this part of the article, I can continue in peace.
The Junior Science Talent Search Examination (JSTS) is conducted SEPARATELY in each state (union territories too) of India by the respective state education departments. It is based on the lines of the National Talent Search Scheme/Examination (NTSS/NTSE) and only students of class IX can participate in this, only from their school, not individually. Since I gave the exam in New Delhi, my knowledge is restricted to that but then, you may find it useful (duh, forgot that nobody’s reading this coz I told them not to!).
The first round of JSTS is written test; in my case it was conducted in February (bang in the middle of my final exams) and I think that is the norm. Don’t panic, it’s always conducted on a Sunday.
The written test is conducted in two parts – Mental Aptitude Test (MAT) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). MAT is a one-and-half hour test which tests the candidates’ general knowledge, and a small section on mental ability and reasoning is also there. Some questions are multiple choice questions (MCQs), while others have to be answered in word/sentence. Questions with picture clues may also come, like identify the symbol of this organization, etc. The response has to be answered within the question sheet itself. For the general knowledge section, just keep out an eye for the major news articles. For dummies, reading books like Manorama Yearbook may help. If you are good at this, you could finish this paper within 15 minutes, like I did, but you won’t be allowed to attempt the next paper if you do.
After enjoying a nap of about 45 minutes, I got to attempt the SAT. It tests the candidates’ in science and mathematics. A 100-question paper with 75 questions on science and 25 on mathematics, in this one ALL questions are MCQs (hooray, but not quite – it is still of a good level) and responses have to be indicated in question sheet itself. The science questions basically come from the textbook, but at some places, you have to apply the concepts learnt at school (if you are nice enough to actually study there in the first place) and then answer the questions. For mathematics, I would advise you to thoroughly study the previous class’ (class 8) book too, since a significant amount of questions can come from there.
Remember to give the invigilator your paper before rushing out.
Now, wait for about 6 months for government machinery to wake up and manually check your papers. Your school would be notified if you qualify for the next and final level, so if you don’t hear anything by July then get back to your studies and stop waiting because your boards are very near. And don’t crib about letters misplaced by the postal system, the education guys are nice enough to call up and confirm letter deliveries.
The final stage is an interview, held at a centre in your state. It may be held over many days as there are many students. The interviewers are VERY unpredictable – they asked textbook questions from other students in my batch, but I was asked about college-level physics, but they are nice people and generally don’t do so (my case was different as I expressed interest in a career in particle physics). Just take it easy and you’ll sail through, ranks can improve dramatically at this stage if you do well. Remember to socialize, it’s a good opportunity to meet achievers like you!
Now wait again for two-three months. They’ll send your school your final rank, and should also contain your marks. Ask them for it if you don’t get these two. You will also receive a certificate if you get a high rank and a measly amount as ‘scholarship’, which you may be able to see with a high-power microscope. Don’t expect the certificate and the cash soon though, I haven’t received mine yet.
Actually, students participate in this to get a feel of the NTSE, and for prestige. The certificate does count for something.
Almost forgot; if you qualify after reading this, do send me some guru-dakshina. Contact me through my profile page to do so. And if have already participated, add your own comments to this post.
P.S. – I got rank 140 in the written exam (because I hadn’t prepared for it, exam next day) and got rank 20 in the final round, and I’m still awaiting my prize.
P.P.S. – I did get the certificate and the cash (finally!). Turns out, my previous school got it quite some time back. Oh well. And yes, there’s a correction, because the certificate says I got rank 20 (and not 38).