We have gathered a list of the most popular biology olympiads from around the world! Check them out!
USA Biology Olympiad (USABO)
Official website: https://www.usabo-trc.org/
About the Competition:
As the premiere biology competition for high school students in the United States, the USA Biolympiad (USABO) enriches the life science education of nearly 10,000 talented students annually. It provides the motivation, curricular resources, and skills training to take them beyond their classroom experience to the level of international competitiveness. Check out “What Is the USABO?” in the toolbar above for further information about the USABO.
After two rounds of challenging online exams, 20 Finalists are invited to a residential training program where they learn advanced biological concepts and exacting lab skills at the USABO National Finals.
Since CEE began administering the USABO, every member of the “USA Biolympiad Team” has medaled at the IBO. All four members of the USA Biolympiad Team in years 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2017 were awarded gold medals. The USA Biolympiad Team achieved the coveted Number 1 position in the world in 2011 and 2013. The USA Biolympiad Team received 2 gold medals and 2 silver medals at the 2021 International Biology Olympiad Challenge II, Lisbon, Portugal.
Round 1: USABO Online Open Exam
- Is a 50-minute, online nationwide multiple-choice exam available to any high school biology student (Grades 9 to 12) who is registered by a school or one of the select authorized USABO Centers. US Citizenship and green card are not required for the Open Exam, but are required for students to progress to the Semifinal Exam.
- Administered/proctored at a registered school or authorized USABO Test Center (classroom or location designated by the teacher/test administrator) within the online date and time period designated by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE).
- Structured with multiple choice questions with one response.
- NO Penalty for guessing.
Round 2: USABO Online Semifinal Exam
- Is a 120-minute online exam containing three parts available only to high school students (Grades 9 to 12) who are US citizens or are legal permanent US residents (green cards):
- Part A is primarily multiple choice questions with one answer.
- Part B has more complex, sequenced multiple choice questions that may have several correct answers and may require calculations or extensive interpretation of graphs.
- Part C may be short answer or essay and multiple true/false choice questions. .
- Proctored at a registered school or authorized USABO Test Center (classroom or location designated by the teacher/test administrator) over a 120-minute period on the designated date and during the online time period identified by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) on the USABO Calendar.
- Taken by students who score in the top 10% of the Open Exam and who are US Citizens or a legal US residents (green cards).
- NO Penalty for guessing. For Part B multiple choice questions with more than one answer, the question value will be 2 points if all correct responses are selected.
- Part C contains Short Answer and Multiple/True False (MTF) Questions. MTF questions will be scored as follows: 4 correct responses = 1 point; 3 = .6; 2 = .2; and 1 or 0 = 0.
The Open exam takes place in February every year. The semifinals usually take place in March.
Singapore Biology Olympiad (SBO)
Official website: https://sibiol.org.sg/
About the Competition:
The Singapore Institute of Biology (SIBiol), which is the professional society for biologists and biology educators, is the main organizer of the Singapore Biology Olympiad (SBO). The SBO is co-organized with the Singapore Ministry of Education. The organisation, training and selection of team members to represent Singapore in the IBO is led by representatives of SIBiol, undertaken in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education.
There are two rounds involved in the SBO: Theory Tests and Practical Tests.
Each year during November, national schools comprising junior colleges and through-train schools (Years 7 – 12) are invited to send their top Biology pupils (totaling 250 – 350 pupils in the 11th year or age 17) for the SBO. The total number of 250 to 350 pupils comprise the best 10% of pupils taking Biology in their respective schools.
The first round comprises the Theory Tests. There are two Theory tests: A and B, each with 40 multiple choice questions. Pupils are given 1.5h to complete Part A, followed by a short break of about 30 mins. Pupils are then given another 1.5h to answer the 40 questions of Part B. The distribution of topics in the questions follow the recommended percentages in the IBO syllabus.
The top scoring pupils (approximately 10%) who sat for the Theory tests will be selected for the next round of the SBO, which comprise the Practical Tests. The format of the Practical Tests follow that of the IBO with a total of 32- 44 pupils divided into 4 groups. These groups are rotated to different labs to complete four Practical tests, each of a 1h duration. The Practical test round usually lasts the entire day. The academics who set the practical tasks administer the tasks and observe the pupils while they are doing the tasks and administer the tasks.
Changes annually. In 2020 it was a week in September and qualifying teams were invited to register in from June – August.
Korean Biology Olympiad (KBO)
Official website: https://kbo.bioedu.kr/
About the competition:
Korea Biology Olympiad(KBO) is the organizer of 3 rounds of Korea Biology Olympiad competition. Only students enrolled in regular high schools are eligible to participate the competition. In February and March, official letters are sent to schools across the country to guide students to participate it. KBO conducts education and evaluation at the same time. Participants must complete four distance education sessions in April to May, June to July, August, and September to November. Distance education is conducted online. Students listen to college-level biology in a video and solve the given problems and submit them as an assignment. Students who do not faithfully submit assignments for each distance education session are left out. There are 3 rounds of selection tests: in August, December, and February of the following year. Students solve multiple-choice problems each time. Experimental evaluation is added to the 3rd selection test.
The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounds are all evaluated as multiple choice questions. The 3rd round also contains practical test.
New Zealand Biology Olympiad
Official website: https://www.nzibo.org/nzibo-programme/
About the Competition:
NZIBO fosters interest, participation, and excellence in biology through participation of secondary school students in the New Zealand Biology Olympiad Programme. The programme provides University level education in Biology to those students selected to participate in the online tutorial programme.
NZIBO ensures that the students who participate have the necessary knowledge to compete successfully at the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) should they be selected to represent New Zealand at this prestigious international competition.
NZIBO is a charitable organisation run by a volunteer committee of secondary school teachers.
There are three rounds to the NZIBO programme which begins with an Entrance Exam. The top 200 students from the Entrance exam are encouraged to participate in study of the IBO curriculum via online tutorials. They complete a series of directed questions based on the IBO curriculum and then receive feedback on their work. They are encouraged to discuss their understanding of the topics with each other and the tutorial coordinator via a Facebook group. They also complete MasteringBiology assignments from Pearson.
Based on the Selection exam, the top 20-25 students (numbers are financially constrained) are invited to attend a residential training and selection camp for 8 – 10 days. They are hosted by a number of tertiary education providers and complete a variety of practical tasks, fieldwork, and seminars.
At the end of this camp, the students sit the team selection exams and the top 4 students are selected to represent NZ at the annual IBO competition.
Students representing NZ are supported to continue their study until the IBO competition itself and can email NZIBO committee members for help. They are also provided with previous IBO exam questions to direct their study. As these students are spread throughout NZ no further group training occurs and the top 4 students are selected to represent NZ at the annual IBO competition.
All students receive a Participation Certificate. Students who complete the tutorial programme receive a Bronze Certificate. Students selected to attend the Practical Training and Selection Camp receive a Silver Certificate and those selected to represent NZ at the IBO receive a Gold Certificate. The top student at the IBO receives a Platinum Certificate. On occasions students receive textbooks or lab coats from sponsoring organisations.
The Entrance exam is a written multi-choice exam that tests thinking skills rather than specific biological knowledge. This exam is supervised by the students own teachers at their secondary school. At the end of the tutorial programme the students sit a multi-choice camp selection exam delivered online but supervised in the students secondary school. At the practical training camp held at various universities, the students sit a 3 hour multi-choice theory exam and a 3 hour practical exam.
Registration is open from July through August. Specific dates change every year.
Australian Biology Olympiad
Official website: https://www.asi.edu.au/programs/australian-science-olympiads/
About the competition:
Australian Science Innovations hosts the the Australian Science Olympiad Exams for students to sit in their school during late July and early August of each year. Schools are required to register their students. The top 24 eligible students are invited to a residential program – the Australian Science Olympiad summer school, held in the following January.
Australian Science Innovations has a website Olympiads Online https://asoeonline.edu.au/
Students can take themselves through guided quizzes.
Individual schools may run training programs withing their school, but this is done completely independent of Australian Science Innovations.
Round 1. Students sit one, multiple choice answer exam in their school.
Round 2. The four International Biology Olympiad team members to represent Australia is selected from a cohort of (up to) 24 students who attend the Australian Science Olympiad summer school.
Varies every year
China National Biology Olympiad (CNBO)
Official website: https://www.cyscc.org/#/
About the competition:
The Committee for China National Biology Olympiad (CCNBO) is the main organizer. We have two or three rounds of contests, depending on different provinces. Chongqing Bashu Middle School was the host supervised by CCNBO of the final round last year.
In preparing for NBO, on extra training was provided officially, but the students may study at home or a university. In preparing IBO, students usually receive 7-day training officially provided by a university coordinated by CCNBO.
Three classes of award were offered to NBO winners, which were gold, silver and bronze medals and certificates. But no money was offered from CCNBO. Fifty gold winners were offered with admission into top universities.
Theoretical tests were provided in rounds 1 and 2, including single and multiple choice tests. Both theoretical and practical tests were provided in round 3. The provincial committee of Biology Olympiad produced the tests for round 1, while CCNBO produced the tests for rounds 2 and 3.
September and January
Canadian Biology Olympiad
Official website: http://www.canadianbiologyolympiad.ca/
About the competition:
The students, selected for the IBO, attend a 5-day camp taking place before the IBO where they will review/learn proper use of equipment found in biology labs as well as performing experiments, analyzing results, etc. The workshops are taught by professional in a variety of biology fields and take place in a university.
The Canadian Biology Olympiad / Les Olympiades Canadiennes de Biologie (CBO / OCB) is a
nation-wide organization involved in the selection of four secondary school students, talented in the field
of biological sciences, to represent Canada at the International Biology Olympiad (IBO).
A)Who can participate in the CBO / OCB competition?
● Competitors must be residents of Canada and be Canadian Citizens or Landed Immigrants.
● Competitors are students of a regular secondary school for general education in Canada. In
Quebec, first year CGEP students are also eligible to participate.
● Competitors have not obtained a diploma allowing them to study at a university or equivalent
institution, before the 1st of January 2022.
● Competitors have not yet started study at a university or equivalent institution as part-time or
● Competitors must be under the age of 20 as of July 1st, 2022.
● Competitors have not already participated in the IBO competition (can only participate once).
B) Selection of the national team and participation in the IBO
In addition to the criteria stated above:
● In accordance with the IBO rules, competitors cannot train for more than one week in an
Olympiad school or specialized school or study group of less than 50 students.
● Competitors cannot compete in another International Olympiad in the same year they are
participating in the IBO.
● No school can have more than 2 members on the CBO team.
● At least 2 Canadian provinces should be represented.
The two rounds take place in April of each year. For the first round, the students have to take the National Biology Exam from the University of Toronto. The second round is the submission to the CBO of practicum portfolios.
There are two rounds:
1- The National Biology exam hosted by the University of Toronto (http://biocomp.utoronto.ca/): 4,000 participants from Canadian schools. The multiple-choice exam is delivered in the schools the students attend.
2- The practical portfolios. The portfolios are done by the students in their high school : 30 participants. They typically submit three portfolios for three different experiments. The portfolios are designed and corrected by members of the CBO committee.
Chinese Taipei Biology Olympiad
Official website: https://www.ctbo.org.tw/
About the competition:
Chinese Taipei Biology Olympiad Committee: Categorized into five groups of 20 professors from universities nationwide according to the content of questions: (A) Cytology (B) Zoology (C) Botany (D) Genetics (E) Ecology.
Four rounds of tests: Initial round (about 6000 students), Second round (about 200 students), Semi-finals (about 40 students), and final exam (about 8 students)
The initial round is on December; the Second round is on January of next year; Semi-finals and final exam both are on April of next year.
Each round will have a theoretical question test; in addition, there will be a practical test on Semi-finals and final exam.
1. Initial rounds (theoretical): multi-choices
Location: regional senior high schools
2.Second round (theoretical): single and multi-choices, fill-in-the-blank question.
Location: Taipei city and Kaohsiung city
3.Semi-finals ( First Selection camp)：multiple choices、short-answer question、practical exam.
4. Final exam: Including practical, theoretical and oral test.
German Biology Olympiad (Internationale Biologie Olympiade – Deutschland)
Official website: https://www.scienceolympiaden.de/ibo
About the competition:
Leibniz-Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) in Kiel
The selection consists of four rounds:
Round 1: April – September in the year prior to the IBO in the schools of the federal countries. Actually 1.400 – 1.800 students are participating.
Round 2: Oktober – November in the year prior to the IBO in the schools of the federal countries. Up to 650 students selected from round 1 are participating.
Round 3: Five days in the end of February in the year of the IBO. 45 students selected from round 2 are participating in this national round at the IPN in Kiel.
Round 4: Five days in the end of May in the year of the IBO. Up to 12 students selected from round 3 are participating in this national round at the IPN in Kiel. The four best students are selected as the “German Team of IBO”.
A training is organized from the coordinators and former competitors directly or short before the IBO. The training camp takes place in different locations i.e. in Zürich (ETH Zürich, 2014), Kiel (IPN, 2015), Singapur (CSI Singapur, 2016), Mainz (IMB Mainz, 2017), Bern (2018), Dresden (2019), Bern (2022). The duration is not longer then 5 days.
Round 1: Four complex tasks from different subjects in biology, open to every school student, published on flyers, posters and in the internet. The students can make the tests at home as homework. The school teachers are marking the tests.
Round 2: Theoretical test of 120 min duration at the local school consisting of 30 multiple choice questions (A-Type) and 8 complex questions (B-Type) from all subjects in biology. The deputies of the countries are marking the tests.
Round 3: One theoretical test day of 240 min duration consisting of 80 multiple choice questions (A-Type) and 20 complex questions (B-Type) as well as a practical test day (3 labs of 75 min duration). The tests take place at the IPN in Kiel and the coordinators are marking them together with former competitors.
Round 4: One theoretical test (240 min duration) similar to round 3. Three practical lab-tests. Two of them of 90 min duration. One lab (physiology) of 240 min duration.
Hong Kong Biology Olympiad Contest
Official website: https://www.hkage.edu.hk/article/ibo2021
About the competition:
International Biology Olympiad – Hong Kong Contest Steering Committee comprises a Chairperson, two Vice Chairpersons and six members.
International Biology Olympiad – Hong Kong Contest 2021 (IBO-HKC). The IBO-HKC is co-organised by the Education Bureau and the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE) since 2018. It aims at promoting biology education in Hong Kong and providing challenging enrichment learning opportunities for students with high potential in biology.
A series of enrichment programmes arranged by the HKAGE will be provided for the high-achieving students in the IBO-HKC 2021. Those students with outstanding performance in the enrichment programmes might be selected to represent Hong Kong to take part in the International Biology Olympiad.
For the first time, Hong Kong representatives participated in the IBO held in Szeged, Hungary in 2019, the team, comprising four student members, achieved outstanding results, winning 1 gold medal, 2 silver medals and 1 bronze medal.
Participants who demonstrate outstanding performance in International Biology Olympiad – Hong Kong Contest are shortlisted for the Student Training Course for International Biology Olympiad (Phase I and II). Participants who excel in the training course will be selected to represent Hong Kong and take part in the International Biology Olympiad.
Spanish Biology Olympiad
Official website: http://olimpiadadebiologia.edu.es/
About the competition:
The Olympiad is organized by the Asociación Olimpiada Española de Biología, under the support of the Ministry of education.
We have a regional round and a national round. The first round is held separately in each of the Spanish regions (Comunidades Autónomas). Altogether the number of students that participate is estimated around 20000.
The 8 winners get a 5 days preparatory course at some Spanish university.
There is a theoretical test of around 50 to 100 questions, and in some regions like Madrid, Cataluña or Valencia, there is also a practical one.
In the national round there are 2 theory papers and 4 practical.
USA-China Bio Olympiad Initiative
Official website: http://www.seedasdan.org/en/bio-en/
About the competition:
The Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) was founded in 1983. Nurturing careers of excellence and leadership in science and technology in young scholars was an essential investment into America’s global future. CEE’s programs help keep the US competitive in science and technology, furthering international collaboration among leaders of the world. CEE challenges students and assists them on a long-term basis to become the creators, inventors, scientists, and leaders of the 21st century.
As the premiere biology competition for high school students in the US, the USA Biology Olympiad (USABO) enriches the life science education of nearly 10,000 talented students annually. It provides the motivation, curricular resources, and skills training to take them beyond their classroom experience to a level of international competitiveness.
ASDAN China and CEE are working together in bringing the USABO Open Exam for the first time to China. This exam will be named “BioOlympiad Initiative USA-China” in China. We will be using the same papers and judging standards as USABO to help Chinese students improve their biology skills and understand their level. Outstanding students will have the chance to attend top science programs.
International Biology Olympiad
Official website: https://www.ibo-info.org/en/
About the competition:
The “International Biology Olympiad e.V.” (IBO) is the association that organizes the world’s premier biology competition for secondary school students.
In bringing together gifted students, the IBO competition challenges and stimulates these students to expand their talents and to promote their future careers as scientists.
Who can participate in an IBO?
Students who want to participate in an IBO must first become one of the top four students in their National Biology Olympiad (NBO). NBOs select the contestants for IBO in typically 3-5 consecutively more difficult national competition rounds. The contacts to all National Biology Olympiads can be found here.
If you are from a country which is not yet among the shown IBO members, you may be interested in this section here.
What happens in an IBO?
During IBO, students have to participate in Theoretical and Practical Exams. The Theoretical Exams encompass ca. 100 tasks in largely closed-ended format (e.g., multiple true-false). These tasks cover all domains of biology and require students to apply their science knowledge in analyzing advanced biological phenomena. The Practicals typically fall into 3-4 laboratories. The content domains for each Practical are announced ca. 6-12 months before an IBO. In the lab, students showcase biological skills by conducting investigations and analyzing data.
How do students prepare for an IBO?
Unlike what many people would think, there is currently no syllabus or curriculum for IBO. This means: There is no list of pre-defined topics that students can simply learn by heart and then score highly on IBO exams. However, some binding regulations on what IBO exams have to cover in terms of contents and practical skills are documented in IBO’s Operational Guidelines.
These guidelines make sure that there is a decent level of similarity between the IBOs of different years, while still allowing individual host countries room for innovations and developments in IBO’s exam culture.
In the early days of IBO, exam questions were largely concerned with knowledge reproduction (i.e., students exhibited what they had learnt by heart). With the much expanded body of knowledge in biology, the much easier access to content information via digital media, and the changed focus of international science curricula, the focus of IBO exams has also developed substantially: Today, the vast majority of IBO exam questions concern the application of biological knowledge in contexts that have been taken from recent biological research. In many of these tasks, students analyse – for example – data from biological experiments and then have to think about what conclusions can be drawn from these data.
Of course, the exam questions in IBO require a deep conceptual understanding of biology, typically much beyond what regular biology school books cover at upper secondary level. Therefore, IBO contestants usually prepare their background knowledge using general biology textbooks such as Campbell Biology (Urry et al.). However – it is very important to understand that learning this or similar text books by heart will not at all guarantee a high score in IBO exams! For example, students in IBO also require a robust experience with biological (and general science) practices, methods and laboratory skills. Depending on the students’ educational background in their country / region, the best way to prepare is – despite all studying – a close collaboration with the coordinators of National Biology Competitions (NBOs). With their detailed experience with IBO exams, the NBO coordinators provide specific recommendations for studying and preparations to their students as they progress through national competition rounds.