Under the new pattern, there will be only one paper and all questions will be of multiple choice type.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in collaboration with the University Grants Commission conducts the National Eligibility Test (NET) for determining the eligibility of candidates for the award of Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) and for determining eligibility for appointment as lecturers in specified disciplines falling under the faculty of Science.

A candidate may apply either for ‘JRF + Lecturership' or for ‘Lecturership only'. It should be clearly understood that the NET declares only the eligibility. The candidates will have to try separately for JRF or appointment as lecturers.

Eligibility

Academic Qualification: M.Sc. or equivalent degree, with at least 55 per cent marks. A relaxation up to 5 per cent will be given to candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, and physically/ visually challenged categories.

Age

For JRF: 19 to 28 years. Upper age-limit may be relaxed up to 5 years for candidates belonging to SC / ST / OBC (Non-Creamy Layer), physically/ visually challenged and female applicants.

For Lecturership: Minimum 19 years. No upper age limit.

Prevailing pattern

As per the pattern in vogue till December 2010, there were two papers each of two and a half hours duration. The two papers were scheduled in two sessions on the same day. A candidate can opt for any one of the five streams provided — chemical / Earth / life / mathematical / physical sciences — depending on his qualification.

Part ‘A' of paper I with 40 general science questions shall be common to all the candidates. A candidate shall be required to answer a maximum of 25 questions from part ‘A'. In case, a candidate answers more than 25 questions, only the first 25 answered questions will be taken up for evaluation.

Part ‘B' of paper I and paper II will differ in the structure and syllabi, depending on the stream selected. There would be short-answer questions also.

The new scheme will take effect from June 2011. The five streams will be retained. But there will be only one paper in the place of the present two. All questions will be of the multiple choice type. The question paper in each stream will be for three hours, and will carry a maximum of 200 marks. The question paper shall be divided into three parts.

Part A: Common to all subjects. A maximum of 20 questions of two marks each, on general science and research aptitude. A candidate can answer any 15 questions. Maximum 30 marks.

Part B: Will contain subject-related conventional MCQs. The maximum number of questions to be attempted shall be in the range of 25-35. Maximum 70 marks.

Part C: Will contain higher value questions that would test the candidate's knowledge of scientific concepts and / or application of the scientific concepts. The questions shall be of analytical nature where a candidate is expected to apply the scientific knowledge to arrive at the solution to the given scientific problem. Maximum 100 marks.

There will be negative marking at 25 per cent for wrong answers. To enable the candidates to go through the questions, the question paper booklet will be distributed 15 minutes before the scheduled time of the exam. The answer sheet however will be distributed only at the scheduled time of commencement of the examination.

After the scheduled closing time of the exam, the candidates shall be allowed to carry the question paper booklet. No candidate is allowed to carry the question paper booklet in case he chooses to leave the test before the scheduled closing time. Model question papers in the new format would be made available along with the notification for the June 2011 examination.

The general pattern and division of marks among the three parts are as given above. But there are some differences among the five streams. The detailed structure of the question papers and division of marks in the five streams will be as indicated below.

Chemical sciences: Part ‘A' will carry 20 questions pertaining to general science, quantitative reasoning and analysis and research aptitude. The candidates shall be required to answer any 15 questions. Part B will contain 50 multiple choice questions covering the topics given in the syllabus. A candidate shall be required to answer any 35 questions. Part C will contain 75 questions. A candidate shall be required to answer any 25 questions. Each question shall be of four marks.

Earth, atmospheric, ocean, and planetary sciences: The pattern for Parts A and B will be the same as for chemical sciences. Part C will contain 50 questions. Each question may have sub-parts.

A candidate shall be required to answer any 10 complete questions, including sub-parts. Each question shall be of 10 marks.

Life sciences: The pattern for Parts A and B will be the same as for chemical sciences. Part C will contain 75 questions. A candidate shall be required to answer any 25 questions, each with four marks.

Mathematical sciences: The pattern for Part A will be the same as for chemical sciences. Part B will contain 40 multiple choice questions. A candidate shall be required to answer any 25 questions, each carrying three marks. The total marks allocated to this section shall be 75. Part C will contain 60 questions. The questions in this part shall have multiple correct options. Credit in a question shall be given only on identification of all the correct options. No credit shall be allowed in a question if any incorrect option is marked as correct answer. No partial credit is allowed. A candidate shall be required to answer any 20 questions. Each question shall be of 4.75 marks. The total marks allocated to this section shall be 95. For Parts A and B, there will be negative marking at 25 per cent for each wrong answer. No negative marking for Part C.

Physical sciences: Part A will carry 20 questions pertaining to general science, quantitative reasoning and analysis and research aptitude. The candidates shall be required to answer any 15 questions, each with two marks. Part B will contain 20 multiple choice questions covering the topics given in the Part ‘A' (core) of the syllabus. All questions are compulsory. Each question shall be of 3.5 marks. Part C will contain 25 questions from Part ‘B' (advanced) that are designed to test a candidate's knowledge of scientific concepts and / or application of the scientific concepts. There will be 10 compulsory questions. Out of remaining 15 questions, a candidate shall be required to answer any 10.

Each question shall be of five marks. The total marks allocated to this section shall be 100.

(For details of the application process for the next test, refer ‘Test Track' in the issue of The Hindu-EducationPlus dated March 8, 2011.)