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Categories: Exam Olympiad

NSO 2021 – All about the National Science Olympiad

NSO or the National Science Olympiad is a competitive exam conducted each year for school students by the Science Olympiad Foundation. The Olympiad helps them to judge their academic progress by giving them the chance of competing with students from all over the country. The students participating in the Olympiad are ranked on the basis of marks obtained in it. Based on these marks, the students can judge themselves within school, at city level, at zonal level and at international level. The participating students also receive a Student Performance Report (SPR) that helps them get a detailed performance comparison.

If you are looking for comprehensive information on NSO, then this is the right place to be. In this article, we will talk in detail about its eligibility, key dates, application procedure, results and awards.

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NSO – Overview

NSO aims to cultivate scientific reasoning and logical ability among the students. Before the in-depth discussion about NSO, let’s discuss in brief about its various aspects. The table below gives a brief overview of the NSO and throws light on the objectives, awards, key dates and application process.

Overview of NSO

Sr. No. Particulars Details
1 Objective To help students assess their academic growth
2 Provider Science Olympiad Foundation
3 Eligibility Class 1 to 12 students
4 Application process Through respective schools
5 Exam dates Level 1 exam: November

Level 2 exam: February

6 Awards Up to INR 50,000 + Gold medal + Performance certificate

NSO – About SOF

The NSO is organised on a yearly basis by the Science Olympiad Foundation (SOF).  The aim of the Foundation is to promote scientific temperament among students. It is an educational organisation that assists the academic development of students through various competitions and Olympiads. For over two decades, the organisation has been striving to promote scientific attitude through innovative activities involving students from across the country. Among the various competitions organised by SOF, the major ones are National Cyber Olympiad, National Science Olympiad, International Mathematics Olympiad, International English Olympiad, International Company Secretaries Olympiad and International General Knowledge Olympiad.

NSO – Key dates

The students interested in applying for the NSO must be aware of the various key dates so as to avoid missing the deadlines. The table below highlights all the key dates relevant to the Olympiad.

Key dates for NSO

Sr. No. Event Key dates*
1. Application deadline 30 days before the exam date
2. Set A exam 19th and 20th December 2020
3. Set B exam 09th and 10th January 2021
4. Set C exam 30th and 31st January 2021
5. Set D exam 13th February 2021

*The dates mentioned above are tentative and subject to change as per the discretion of SOF.

NSO – Eligibility

The NSO is primarily for school students who want to assess their scientific and academic aptitude. The Olympiad takes place in two levels, Level 1 and Level 2. For 2020-21, the NSO will be conducted on three dates for Level 1. Furthermore, considering the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, the Level- 2 exams may not be conducted. In this situation, the results of the first level of exam will be considered final.

Eligibility for Level 1 exam

There is no particular criterion for Level 1 exam. The opportunity is open to school students from class 1 to 12. There are no criteria for minimum marks, thus making the Olympiad open to all school students.

Eligibility for Level 2 exam

Only the students who perform well in Level 1 exam will be shortlisted for Level 2. The following students will be eligible:

  • Top 5% of the students from each class who appeared for Level 1 exam
  • Top 25 zone wise rank holders from each class
  • Class toppers from each participating school where at least 10 students from a class appear in the exam and score 50% qualifying marks

However, there is no need for the students from class 1 and 2 to appear for Level 2 exam. They will be ranked based on their performance in Level 1 exam only.

NSO – Application process

The students of class 1 to 12 can apply for NSO through their respective schools. One can follow the below steps to apply-

  1. Prospectus containing the registration forms will be sent to the schools registered with SOF. Students can receive the registration forms from their respective schools.
  2. In case the school is not registered with SOF, it can still request the prospectus by contacting SOF through phone (0124-4951200) or email (info@sofworld.org).
  3. Students must fill the registration forms with the required details and submit it to their respective schools.
  4. The schools must then return the duly filled registration forms to SOF before the due date.

Applicants must note that they also need to pay a registration fee for applying for NSO. The fee is in the following manner-

  • Registration fee of INR 125 (including GST) per student for schools in India
  • Registration fee of USD 9 per student for international schools
  • Schools may collect an additional amount of INR 25 (USD 1 for International schools) per student towards honorarium of incharge, remuneration to teachers to teach, guide using study material supplied by SOF and other miscellaneous expenses.

NSO – Exam structure

As discussed earlier, NSO has two levels of examination: Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 1

The Level 1 exam takes place tentatively in the month of December to February. The exam doesn’t have strict eligibility criteria and is open to school students of class 1 to 12. The relaxed criteria aim to encourage the participation of a higher number of students. The salient features of Level 1 exam are:

  • The first level test is organised in the respective schools of the participants during school hours.
  • The exam itself is an objective-type test comprising of 35 multiple choice questions for class 1 to 4 and 50 multiple choice questions for class 5 to 12.
  • The question paper has three sections: Logical Reasoning, Science, Achievers Section (for class 1 to 10) and Physics/Chemistry, Achievers Section, Mathematics/Biology (for class 11 and 12).
  • The medium of the test is English and each class has a separate question paper.
  • The test paper is based on CBSE, ICSE/ISC and State Board syllabi.

Important Note: For the academic year 2020-21, the SOF exams will be conducted online at the residence of the students considering the current pandemic situation.

Level 2

Students performing well in Level 1 appear for Level 2 exam. However, only class 3 to 12 students participate in it as class 1 and 2 students are judged based on their performance in Level 1 only. The following students are eligible to appear for Level 2 exam:

  • Class wise top 5% candidates in Level 1 exam
  • Class wise and zone wise top 25 rank holders in Level 1
  • Class topper is eligible where at least 10 students appear in the exam and score 50% qualifying marks

NSO – Awards

The top-performing students and schools will be felicitated with awards at the international and zonal level. Find the detailed description of various NSO awards for students and schools in the tables below.

Awards for students

Top performing students will receive various awards depending on the ranks they achieve. The tables below discuss the various awards for students participating in the Olympiad.

Awards for Level 2 and for class 1 and 2

International level
Rank Awards Number of awards
1st INR 50,000 Each + Gold Medal + Certificate of Outstanding Performance 12
2nd INR 25,000 Each + Silver Medal + Certificate of Outstanding Performance 12
3rd INR 10,000 Each + Bronze Medal + Certificate of Outstanding Performance 12

Awards for Level 2 and for class 1 and 2

Zonal level
Rank Awards Number of awards
1st INR 5000 Each + Gold Medal + Certificate of Zonal Excellence 240
2nd INR 2500 Each + Silver Medal + Certificate of Zonal Excellence 240
3rd INR 1000 Each + Bronze Medal + Certificate of Zonal Excellence 240
4th to 10th Gifts worth INR 1000 Each + Medal of Distinction + Certificate of Distinction + Certificate of Zonal Excellence 1680
11th to 20th Certificate of Zonal Excellence + Medal of Distinction + Certificate of Distinction + 3600
26th and above Merit certificate All

Awards for Level 1 performance

Zonal level
Rank Awards Number of awards
1 to 25 Medal of Distinction + Certificate of Distinction 240
26 and above Participation Certificate All

Awards for schools

There are awards for various top performing schools too. The tables below discuss the various awards for schools participating in the Olympiad.

Awards at international level

International level
Category Awards Number of awards
Best Principal INR 25000 Each + Citation + Trophy 10
Best Teacher INR 10000 Each + Citation + Trophy 10

Awards at zonal level

Zonal level
Category Awards Number of awards
Best Principal INR 10000 Each + Citation + Trophy 100
Best Teacher INR 5000 Each + Citation + Trophy 60

Awards at district level

District level
Category Awards Number of awards
Best Principal INR 2500 Each + Citation + Trophy 500
Best Teacher INR 1000 Each + Citation + Trophy 500

NSO – Results

The results of the NSO are usually declared within 8 weeks of the examination. The schools registered with the SOF directly receive the results. Students can also check the results on the website of SOF. The results of Level 1 exam are usually declared during the last week of December. Similarly, the results of Level 2 exam are usually declared in the month of March. It must also be noted that these are tentative dates and the exact dates will be decided by SOF each year.

NSO – Student performance report

All the participants of the NSO receive a Student Performance Report (SPR) which is a detailed analysis of how the students attempted the Level 1 exam of the Olympiad. It helps students and their parents get an idea of their performance in the Olympiad. This, in turn, helps students understand their strengths and weaknesses. SPR helps identify the areas where a student needs to work upon. The SPR has six sections:

  1. Section A – provides the student’s marks and rank achieved in School/City/Zone/at International level
  2. Section B – provides a section-wise performance score of the student
  3. Section C – provides correct answers to questions asked in the Olympiad exam, the answers given by the student and performance comparison of the student’s answers vs other students in the Zone and at the International level
  4. Section D – provides a percentage score analysis of the student with a comparison with the Class, City, Zone and International level
  5. Section E – provides a comparison of average marks analysis at the School, City, Zone and International level
  6. Section F – provides a comparison of the student’s performance in the Olympiad exams during the past 8 years


If students still have any doubts, they can look below for various frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Q. I am a Class 9th student. Am I eligible for NSO?
Yes. NSO is open to students of class 1 to 12. The exam takes place on two levels. High performing students in Level 1 exam are eligible for Level 2 exam.

Q. What is the syllabus for Olympiads?
Olympiads are designed on the basis of the syllabus prescribed by the CBSE, ICSE and various state boards. One can find the exact details of the syllabus on the website of SOF.

Q. Should the participants refer to any particular books for NSO preparation?
NCERT books/course books prescribed by the CBSE/ICSE/state boards can be referred for preparation. Also, the following can be consulted:

  • MTG class wise workbooks (For Class 1 to 12)
  • ‘SOF Olympiad Trainer’ mobile apps
  • Olympiad Skill Development System (OSDS)
  • Previous years’ papers
  • Olympiads’ books of reasoning (for preparation for the reasoning section of Olympiads)
  • The 100 percent real test papers
  • E-Quiz
  • Various magazines like Chemistry Today, Biology Today, Mathematics Today and Physics For You

Q. I have already appeared for the Olympiads while I was in a lower class? Can I appear again?
Yes. Students can re-appear for the Olympiad to improve their previous rankings.

Q. I am going to write the Olympiads for the first time. Can I get sample papers?
SOF sends sample papers to all the registered schools. In case, the school couldn’t provide the papers to students, they can also access the same on the website of SOF.

Q. When are the results of Olympiads declared?
The results are usually declared within 8 weeks of the examination. The same can be found on the SOF website or can be accessed through the respective schools.

Q. Can students take NSO in any other language too?
No. English is the only medium for NSO exam.

NSO – Contact information

In case any queries still remain, students can get in touch directly with the SOF in any of the following ways:

  • Address: 1st Floor, Plot no. 99, Sector – 44, Gurgaon (Haryana) India. Pin- 122003
  • Phone: 0124-4951200, 9312680855, 9312680857
  • Office: 406, Taj Apartment, Ring Road, Adjacent Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, India. Pin – 110029
  • Registration queries: 0124-4951200, info@sofworld.org
  • Exam queries: 0124-4951200, info@sofworld.org
  • Result/Awards: 0124-4951200, result@sofworld.org
  • Roll no/Admit Cards: 0124-4951200, rollnumber@sofworld.org
  • General queries: 0124-4951200, info@sofworld.org
Shikhil Vyas

A biotechnologist by education, a copywriter by profession and a dreamer by heart.

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