General resources for Astronomy and Astrophysics


Preparation Strategies

National Standard Examination in Astronomy(NSEA) is a slightly different NSEs from the others due to the fact that it is based upon a subject not covered in common entrance exam classes. Also, I think it is one of the easier to qualify as I, and most of my classmates, qualified NSEA in 11th and not NSEP and NSEC, even though we studied for the latter 2. For NSEA, just like other exams, I left my JEE preparation completely and studied just for NSEs in the fortnight preceding the exams. NSEA covers a decent amount of 12th grade mathematics and physics. Some topics of 12th grade which are covered are Electrostatics, Magnetism, Conic sections, Matrices and Determinants, and basic Calculus. An important point to note is that out of 80 questions, only about 10 questions have some relevance to astronomy, moreover, most of them could be solved using basic common sense. So, astronomy or astrophysics does not have a major role in NSEA but I would recommend gaining basic knowledge of astronomy which would be very helpful in studying for the later stages. I completed about 10 model test papers given in our classes, and lots of previous year papers. I also skimmed through INAO papers to get some idea about the “next level.” Improve your speed, there is simply not enough time in NSEA. Also, I can’t emphasize this enough, but please train yourselves to use your calculator. There are many functions which are quite helpful, and hidden in plain sight. At least, learn to save variables, convert rad to deg, decimal to fraction and vice-versa, and review the calculations done. In many states, cutoff is MI so prepare yourself to be at least near that range.

Used: Casio fx-82ES Plus

Scored: 159/240 (Highest)

Copy of my original Question paper (Yes, that is mine on Aakash site:))

Resources and Online material

For the astronomy part, I was recommended this book. I feel that Schaum is enough for the level of questions asked about astronomy. Then, Wikipedia is another great resource for studying and exploring the topics of the grade ahead if you already have not taken classes about them. It is where I initially learned about calculus and matrices. For previous year papers, you can use the Internet Archive and go to a date in the past and access whichever year’s you want. (if someone makes a collection of all the papers, I can link it here)


Preparation Strategies

I scored 56/100 in INAO 2019 and 90.5/100 in INAO 2020.

Resources and Online material

Previous year papers of INAO from HBCSE website

I would also recommend solving easier questions for actual IOAA papers. The easier ones are quite similar to INAO ones, so solve them if you have time.


I will not spoil the experience of OCSC by giving much detail.

In short, just read the material they give before the start of OCSC, pay attention to whatever happens in lectures, and be ready to sleep at 3AM on observational days and you will make it through.

To those who have any inclination to not put astro on last, do not put it at last at all. It is much chiller and fun than other OCSCs with loads of learning, amazing facis (facilitators), exciting astro stuff, and breathtaking view from GMRT. You would love it.

Also remember, the INAO score is not reflective of performance in OCSC; it all depends on how fast you can absorb and assimilate so much fascinating material by amazing profs (previous experience usually helps but interest dominates). Anyways, feel free to contact me if you have any questions about OCSC.