India's National Talent Search Exam

'Studying'. by Handi Loksono

For millions of school children in India, the National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) is one of the most prestigious examinations that they can attempt. It is the oldest nation-wide search for talented school students in India, conducted by the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) since 1964. The program’s raison d’etre was initially to identify a cadre of future scientists who would contribute to the task of nation-building. The National Science Talent Search (NSTS), its original avatar from 1964 to 1976, was an experiment in science education that left a distinct imprint on the modes and content of large-scale testing in India as well as provided a model for the nurture of talented students. My doctoral research traced the evolution of this ambitious program from a search for science talent to a general talent search to explore the idea of 'talent' and how it is harnessed though content analysis of institutional literature and policy documents generated over fifty years, information obtained from 15 states using the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and interviews with a select number of winners from 1964 to 2000. The study approaches ‘talent’ as a historical and social discourse intimately connected with that of the ‘nation’ in post-colonial education policy, without losing sight of the gap that exists between institutional and individual interpretations of the same.



Journal Articles

Philip, Rachel. 2021. 'India's National Science Talent Search Examination: Remembering a brief experiment in Science Education'. Science and Education. DOI:10.1007/s11191-021-00210-5

(The full text is accessible through my ResearchGate profile).

Philip, Rachel. 2016. 'Revisiting Assessment: Through the work of Alfred Binet'. Educational Quest.7 (2). pp. 79-85.

(For the full text, visit:

Philip, Rachel. 2016. 'The Social Construction of Academic Ability: A Review of Literature'. Gyanodaya. 9 (2). pp. 24 -34.

(For the full text, visit:

Conference Presentation

Philip, Rachel. 2014. 'Deconstructing Talent: An analysis of India's oldest talent search programme' at Fifth International Conference of the Comparative Education Society of India (CESI), India: New Delhi


Philip, Rachel. 2023. The Nation's Got Talent: Evolving Ideas of the Talented Student in Post-Independence India. Routledge.

book chapter

Philip, Rachel. (Forthcoming). The Talented Student: Evolution of the Category in Post-Independence Indian Education Policy in Razzack, A., Sarangapani, P. and Jain, M. (eds). Education, Teaching and Learning: Histories, Cultures, Conversations, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan