Scholastic Aptitude Examinations ( SAT )
The fact that the talent should be identified and nurtured from the vey beginning is the genesis of all talent search examinations. Be it global Olympiads or our very own National Talent Search ( NTS ) Exam of NCERT or Kishore Vaigyanic Protsahan Yojna ( KVPY ) of DST. NTS exam of NCERT is targeted at high school students. It is conducted at two levels class VIII as well as class X. NTS is a two stage test. The first stage is conducted at provincial level and the final stage is conducted at national level. NTS exam consists of two papers namely the mental ability test and scholastic aptitude test. Thousand scholarships tenable up to post graduation or research level are awarded every year in each category. Olympiads target senior secondary students of science streams.
KVPY is aimed at senior secondary students as well as professional graduates having research aptitude. Students having proficiency in basic sciences at senior secondary level can sit for prestigious exams like National Standard Examination in Physics ( NSEP ), National Standard Examination in Chemistry ( NSEC ), National Standard Examination in Biology ( NSEB ) and National Standard Examination in Astronomy ( NSEA ). Initially these exams were unrelated to any admissions, scholarships or jobs. They were designed to enable students and institutions to measure themselves against a national standard. To make them more attractive, they are now linked with admissions and scholarships.
NSEs now lead to National, Asian and International Olympiad Examinations. The Olympiad program is overseen by a National Steering Committee set up by the Board of Research in Nuclear Science of the Department of Atomic Energy. These exams are conducted by Indian Association of Physics Teachers ( IAPT ) under the aegis of Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education www.hbcse.tifr.res.in a division of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research ( TIFR ). India started participating in International Physics Olympiad ( IPhO ) since 1998. NSEs are conducted in November and last date for registration is September 15 www.iapt.org.in Indian National Olympiad is conducted in last week of January or first week of February.
The National Standard Examination in Physics ( at XII standard level ) identifies about 250 – 300 meritorious students across the nation. These students appear for Indian National Physics Olympiad ( INPhO ) tests at about a dozen centres in different parts of the country. About 35 students are selected to receive NSEP – INPhO gold medals and they undergo three week long training at HBCSE, Mumbai in May / June. The top five students among them are identified to receive merit awards at the end of the training camp and torepresent India inthe International Physics Olympiad held in July every year. The International Chemistry Olympiad ( IChO ) has been conducted since 1968. India started participating in this event from the year 1999. Although India is a late entrant in this event, it hosted the 33rd IChO.
The pattern of selection of Indian participant to IChO is similar to the pattern of selection of IPhO. NSEC is conducted along with NSEP, NSEB & NSEA throughout India to shortlist candidates for INChO. On the basis of their performance in INChO exceptional students are picked out for Orientation cum Selection camp of IChO. Just like IPhO and IChO, International Biology Olympiad (IBO) is also a three – tiered competition that brings together the worlds best. In July 2000, India participated for the first time in the 11th IBO. Since then India regularly sends a four member team to IBO.
The Indian Astronomy Olympiad Program is designed to encourage students with good foundations in Physics and Mathematics and an interest in Astronomy to pursue further studies in this field. India started participating in International Astronomy Olympiad ( IAO ) since 1999. This program is conducted in collaboration with the National Council of Science Museums. The program is funded by Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space. From 2005, IAPT offered its wide net work for the conduct of the first stage exam. There are two groups – juniors and seniors. For junior level the student should be in class X or below and for senior level the student should be in XI and for super senior level the students should not have appeared in XII exam.
Super seniors write NSEA with seniors but become eligible for the International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics ( IOAA ). NSEA is conducted on the same date and same venue along with NSEP, NSEC and NSEB. In fact NSEB and NSEA are conducted simultaneously. A candidate has to choose between NSEB and NSEA. A student can sit for any three of the subjects. The exam fee is only 60.00 per subject. No fee is required to be submitted afterwards for second and third stages. The Mathematics Olympiad is undertaken by National Board of Higher Mathematics (NBHM), Department of Atomic Energy www.nbhm.dae.gov.in and run in collaboration with the HBCSE.
Regional Mathematics Olympiad ( RMO ) is held in each region normally between September and first Sunday of December each year. All high school students up to class XII are eligible to appear for RMO. On the basis of performance in RMO students are selected for Indian National Mathematics Olympiad ( INMO ). INMO is held on first Sunday of February each year at various centres in different regions.
The top 30 – 35 performers in INMO receive a certificate of merit. The INMO certificate awardees are invited to a month long training camp in May – June, each year. The final team consisting of five exceptionally gifted students represents India at IMO held in July every year. India has been participating in IMO since 1989.The international travel of Olympiad participants are sponsored by MHRD. The Olympiad program strives to maintain international standards and the selection process is rigorous. Olympiad exams train the students to tackle any entrance exam for professional courses. If one observes the bio – data of IIT or AIIMS toppers one finds that they have participated in talent search exams at one stage or the other.
A success in Olympiad ensures a bright career in basic science education and research from prestigious institutes and subsequent absorption as scientists in reputed national laboratories and scientific organizations. In particular, admissions to recently established NISER, Bhubaneshwar UM DAE CBS, Mumbai and IISERs Kolkata, Mohali and Pune centres are based on the performance of Indian National Olympiad Examinations. The intake capacity of all of these institutes is 100 (20 each for physics, chemistry, mathematics, botany and zoology). These institutes cater a five year integrated Master of Science degree in respective subjects. Green Olympiad has been initiated for high school students in India since 1999. They are first environment Olympiad for schools. This year green Olympiad will be conducted on 27 September. Last date of registration is August 14. Students can register online or can download form from http:/www.teriin.org/olympiad The theme of this year’s green Olympiad is ‘Our Environment and Climate Change.
Ministry of Environment and Forest ( MOEF ) sponsors this Olympiad and the nodal agency for exam is The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). Students of class 8, 9 and 10 are eligible. All participants receive special merit certificates from MOEF. There is cash prize for winners. Participating schools will be supported in implementing environment projects. Moreover Green Olympiads culminates in TERRAQUIZ, a 13 episode quiz program for television. The winning team is crowned as ‘Green Ambassadors’. Kishore Vaigyanic Protsahan Yojna ( Young Scientist Promotional Scheme, KVPY ) is a program started by Department of Science and Technology ( DST ) in 1999 to encourage students of basic science, engineering and medicine to take up research careers in these areas.
A generous scholarship is provided up to the pre – Ph. D. level to the selected students. This program is administered by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. To improve physics education at graduation level, National Graduate Examination in Physics was initiated in 1988 by Indian Association of Physics Teachers ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). Presently five to six thousand students enroll for NGPE. Top 10 % students of each centre are awarded certificates. Top 1% of successful students at national level is awarded merit certificates, book prize and also gets a chance of attending training and summer schools at prestigious R & D institutes in India. Top five students get gold medals. In particular they become eligible for National Initiative in Undergraduate Science program of HBCSE and post B.Sc. integrated Ph.D. program of Satyndra Nath Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences.
NGPE is conducted on last Sunday of January every year. Registration is around November 15 and registration fee is only 60. Mathematics Training and Talent Search Program has been initiated to expose bright students to the excitement of doing mathematics and to inculcate mathematical thinking. The scheme is open to graduate students of science and engineering stream having mathematics as one subject. Fifteen such trainings have been conducted so far. It has been observed that students of big cities and metros take part in such exams and get benefited.
The students of far flung, remote and relatively less developed region are left behind. It seems that the stake holders of education in those regions are themselves unaware about these talent search exams and their long term benefits so they are not able to motivate their students to participate.