During your school life your academic experience should be supplemented by a variety of skills that will look good in your resume. These skills and experiences will later help in impressing interviewers and thus enabling you to land a job or an internship or even research positions abroad. One such helpful addition to your resume would be the Olympiad exam achievements.
What are Olympiad exams?
Olympiads are exams conducted by private/public organizations that take place at school level syllabi. Participation of schools enable participation of students in Olympiad exams. These exams can be based on a variety of subjects – Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, English, and Computer Science, etc.
This article will focus on the various Olympiad examinations available for Indian schools.
National Talent Search Examination
NTSE, as it is abbreviated, is available to class 10th students. It is taken in two stages: Stage 1 selection is done by states/union territories through a written examination on Mental Ability and Scholastic Aptitude (on school syllabus). There is an allotted quota for the states and UTs to recommend candidates for Stage 2. Stage 2 examination is conducted at national level by NCERT again on MAT and SAT.
- Analytical thinking forms a major part of NTSE. Topics of Science and Mathematics are tested with about 15% questions being based on advanced level applications that are of SAT level.
- Social studies is straight forward in Stage 1 but in Stage 2 general Social studies knowledge is tested. It is recommended to stick to your regional board for Stage 1 and an added CBSE in Stage 2 as extra knowledge is required to ace it.
- Rewards for clearing both stages gives you the benefits of Rs. 500 per month and the title of an NTSE scholar.
- Indian National Olympiads
Tests students in four subjects – Junior Science (Class IX and X), Physics, Chemistry and Astronomy (Class XI and XII) by the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education held in January/February every year. In order to appear in National level (INPhO, INChO, INAO, INJSO) the students must qualify the National Standard Examination level (NSEP, NSEC, NSEA, NSEJS). The top 1% students are selected for National Level. A total of 30 students is selected from these to attend the Orientation cum Selection camp (OCSC), held at HBCSE, Mumbai. The team for the International Olympiads are selected to represent India based on a rigorous procedure of theory and practical examinations at the centre.
From the preparation aspect, the first round of examinations are of JEE Main type difficulty, meaning- good reasoning and conceptual knowledge can help you clear it. The second round, however, is extremely difficult and it tests both theory and practical understanding of the student. The syllabus for the second level is advanced UG level, so one can figure the vigorous testing being done through the Indian National Olympiads.Some universities and institutes like the Chennai Mathematical Institute directly admit students who have attended these camps.
- Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana
KVPY is a scholarship program funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. The aim of this fellowship is to encourage research careers in students in the fields of basic sciences. The selection process is based on two aspects – Aptitude Test (75%) and Interviews (25%). The selection rate is very low with about 1200 students receiving fellowship out of one lakh who appear. The students who qualify for the fellowship are rewarded with Rs. 5000 monthly allowance which they will get if they choose to pursue B.Sc/B.S./B.Maths/B.Stat for their under graduation. After 3 years this fellowship increases to 7000 per month.
The exam can be taken in Class 11 (SA stream) and Class 12 (SX stream). Students can choose to attend any three of 4 subjects(Physics, Chemuistry, Mathematics, Biology) in part 1 and any two of the said in part 2. One should expect JEE Advanced level questions to appear and since there are negative marks there is no room for error. The interviews will test you extensively deliberating on your interest to do research, if any. It is an added perk to take an attempted project of yours to impress the interviewers.
- SilverZone Examinations
Probably the easiest of all the examinations listed, SilverZone is a private organization that owns the Science Olympiad Foundation and conducts exams of NSO, iOM, Information Technology Olympiad and IEO (English). The normal school syllabus would do to crack these exams.
- Regional Mathematics Olympiad
The highest difficulty Olympiad for Mathematics presently available. Those who clear RMO can sit for the Indian National Mathematical Olympiad which is also conducted by the Homi Bhabha Research center. Each region’s exam will be prepared locally and this happens in 1st Sunday of December every year. Usually the test is for 3 hours with 6 to 7 problems. The second round takes place in the first Sunday of February. The INMO is a 4 hour exam which is tested centrally. The exam is of very high difficulty and the top 30-35 performers receive a merit certificate. The merit performers are trained for the International Level Olympiad to represent the country.
The above Olympiads are additional to academics and would prove to be excellent additions to the student’s career. Since the exams are taken over a wide region, they give a feel of what competitive exams are and will certainly boost the students’ morale for their later walks of life during UG admission.