The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) was established by the Government of India in the year 1961 with a view to bringing about qualitative improvement in school education in the country. No sooner the Council was set up than it mounted a number of programmes in this direction. One such programme was to identify and nurture the talented students. This programme took up the shape of a scheme called National Science Talent Search Scheme (NSTSS) in the year 1963 which provided for the identification of talented students and awarding them with scholarships. During the first year of the implementation of the scheme, it was confined to the Union Territory of Delhi wherein only 10 scholarships were awarded to the Class XI students.
In the year 1964 the scheme was extended to all the states and the union territories in the country with 350 scholarships for the students of Class XI. These scholarships were awarded on the basis of a written examination, a project report and interview. The written examination comprised the Science Aptitude Test and an Essay on a given scientific theme. The candidates were to submit the project report at the time of the written examination. A stipulated number of candidates selected on the basis of these three components were then subjected to personal interview. The performance of the candidates on these four components was eventually employed for the purpose of awarding scholarships. These scholarships were awarded for pursuing education only in basic sciences up to doctoral level.
Consequent upon the introduction of 10+2+3 pattern of education, the NSTS scheme also underwent a change in the year 1976. It was no longer confined to only basic sciences but was extended to social sciences, engineering and medicine as well. It was renamed as National Talent Search Scheme (NTSS). Since the education system in the country was undergoing a change, the scheme was made open to the students of Classes X, XI and XII and separate examinations were conducted for each class. The number of scholarships was raised to 500. The selection procedure was also changed. Now the candidates were subjected to two objective type written tests namely the Mental Ability Test (MAT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). A stipulated number of candidates qualifying these two tests were subjected to face-to-face interview. The final awards were made on the basis of composite scores obtained in the MAT, the SAT and the interview.
The number of scholarships was again enhanced from 500 to 550 in the year 1981. These 50 scholarships were exclusively meant for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates. The number of scholarships was once again escalated to 750 in the year 1983 with a provision of 70 scholarships especially for SC/ST candidates. This arrangement continued until the scheme was decentralised in the year 1985. In the year 2000, the number of scholarships was raised from 750 to 1000 with the provision of reservation for SC and ST candidates based on the national norms of 15 per cent and 7½ per cent respectively.
Yet another change in the scheme has been made in the year 2006 wherein the NTS examination will now be held at the end of Class VIII. However, the NCERT will conduct two more examinations for Class X students in the selection year 2007 and 2008 in order to give on opportunity to those who are presently in Classes X and IX..