Chemistry Olympiad

    The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), one of the International Science Olympiads, is an annual academic competition for high school students. To demonstrate their expertise, participating students take a series of written and laboratory exams at regional, national, and international levels. Ultimately the top ~200 students in the world are identified, ranked, and awarded gold, silver, and bronze medal status. Click here for the results of the 2019 international competition held inParis, France. The 2020 International Chemistry Olympiad will be held in Istanbul, Turkey.

    Statement on Accommodations from the national office

    The USNCO is a contest. However, the USNCO will consider providing competitors with disabilities with accommodation to enable them to compete within the rules of the USNCO to which all competitors are subject.  Accommodations that fundamentally alter the highly competitive nature of the USNCO contest and/or create undue hardship cannot be granted.  For example, in nearly all cases time extensions cannot be accommodated because they fundamentally alter the competitive nature of the exam and create an undue hardship on volunteers. Competitors must request accommodation as soon as possible to enable the USNCO to consider the request.  

    Competitors requesting accommodation must submit documentation from a school official establishing that the accommodation the competitor has requested is being provided by the secondary school.  USNCO cannot proceed with considering a competitor’s request until he or she provides this documentation.  Upon reviewing the documentation, a designated representative of the USNCO will contact the competitor and/or his or her parent(s) or legal guardian to discuss the need for the accommodation, its impact on the uniformly applied rules of competition for the USNCO and any alternative, effective accommodations.  The USNCO may require the competitor to provide additional medical information and/or to authorize his or her health care provider to share relevant information with representatives of USNCO in connection with a request for accommodation.

    All medical information received by the USNCO will be maintained as a confidential medical record and will only be shared with USNCO officials and representatives who need to know this information because they are, for example, addressing and/or implementing the competitor’s request for accommodation.  Competitors who have questions should email us at [email protected].

    Competition levels

    • Local: (March) All high schools within the Chicago Section may nominate up to eight students for the regional Chemistry Olympiad exam. This exam is administered and coordinated by the Chicago ACS.

    • National: (April) The students with the TOP 19 scores on the Regional exam may proceed to he National exam level with no more than two from any one school. The Chicago ACS also administers this exam, which has both written and laboratory components.

    • International Team: (June) The students with the TOP 20 scores in the nation may proceed to a special "boot camp" at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. For one month, these students study intensively for international competition.

    • International Competition: (July) The TOP FOUR students from the boot camp proceed to international competition, where they take exams with four-person teams from countries all around the world. 

    Nomination invitation letter:  Nominations are closed.

    Digital National Exam – Part II

    • Only the top 150 nationally from Part I will be invited to take Part II this year
    • Students will sign an honor code and a parent/guardian will sign to consent to an electronic exam.
    • Like the Local Section Exam, fifteen extra minutes will be provided to allow for technology delays.
    • Instead of answering more multiple choice questions, students will be asked to write their responses on pieces of paper, then take photos or scans of these papers using their cell phones, then submit them electronically
    • When: Sunday, May 3 15:00 ET – 17:00 ET. No exceptions will be made this year.


    The Chicago section is delighted to share that seven students have qualified to take the national exam, part II of the Chemistry Olympiad, which will occur on Sunday May 3 at 2 pm CDT.  Only 150 qualify nationally.  They are Justin Chen and Rick Wang of Stevenson (Cristina Higgins teacher), Judson Lam and Geoffrey Wu of Naperville North (Elizabeth Brucker teacher), Jonathan Lei of Neuqua Valley (Patti Smykal teacher), Eric Liu of New Trier (William Loris teacher), and Andy Tang of Illinois Math and Science Academy (John Thurmond teacher).  Congratulations to those students, their parents, their teachers, and their schools!

    We are delighted to announce that Allen Ding of Stevenson High School qualified to attend the International Chemistry Olympiad training camp for 2019. Congratulations to Allen and his teachers!