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It was in the year 1990 that the first International Biology Olympiad (IBO) was conducted. It was in the Czech Republic and six countries had participated in it. Since then it has been conducted every year and with each passing year, the number of participating countries increased. Last year, more than 60 countries were a part of IBO.

About The International Biology Olympiad

The IBO is a competition set for secondary school students. Every participating nation sends 4 students to compete. These 4 students would have won their respective national biology Olympiads. Along with these students, 2 team leaders attend the Olympiad. They are representatives of their country.

In order to participate and do well in the IBO, students need to have great interest in biology. Their creativity, perseverance, innovation, and problem-solving abilities are tested along with their aptitude to conduct various biological experiments.

The main aim behind conducting this competition every year is to identify gifted students in biology and to bring them together in one place. It promotes communication among students. They generally compare their syllabi and exchange their experiences and ideas with each other. Thus, each student gains immense knowledge and takes a step closer towards being a scientist.

The Syllabus

The Olympiad consists of theoretical and practical parts. The theoretical part must contain questions that test the students’ application and processing skills in the subject. The host country assigns the theoretical tasks and it is mandatory to make an effort to deliver tasks that require biological knowledge and understanding. They should not be based upon high-end knowledge of the subject. Also, the question paper must clearly contain details about the maximum obtainable marks for every correct answer. All participating countries may give example questions to the country that is hosting the IBO so that the overall quality of the paper is better. Brief theoretical syllabus is mentioned below:

  1. Cell Biology: 20%
  2. Plant Anatomy and Physiology: 15%
  3. Animal Anatomy and Physiology: 25%
  4. Ethology: 5%
  5. Genetics and Evolution: 20%
  6. Ecology: 10%
  7. Biosystematics: 5%

In the practical examination, biological problems must be solved using a variety of skills:

  1. Science Process Skills
  2. Basic Biological Skills
  3. Biological Methods
  4. Physical and Chemical Methods
  5. Microbiological Methods
  6. Statistical Methods
  7. Handling Equipment

The practical tests may be conducted over a period of two days. This depends on the host country.

Eligibility for IBO

The 4 students selected from every country must be the winners of the National Biology Olympiad (NBO) conducted in the current year. Only secondary school students can participate in NBO and IBO.


The IBO’s official language is English but to facilitate justice and to provide convenience to all students, the tests are translated into different languages. The team leaders of each participating country do the translation along with the jurors. Since they find out everything about the tests beforehand, they are lodged separately from the students during the tests.

Tips For Participating Students

  1. Students must not carry any bag to the facilities where tests are conducted. All papers and other items must be left behind.
  2. Students will be provided with functioning equipment and fresh material for the practical tasks.
  3. Students may complain about specimen or the equipment given to them in case of an issue. They may do so by raising the issue on a paper and having it signed by the lab assistant. If the complaint is found to be unjustified, the student risks losing all his/her points for the particular task/experiment.
  4. If you are suspected of cheating during the exams and proven guilty you will be disqualified immediately.

All the best!

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