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International Biology Olympiad (IBO)



To learn about the 2018 International Biology Olympiad in Tehran, Iran from July 15 to 22, 2018, please click on the logo to the left of the image of Tarbiat Modares University.


Since 2010, the IBO has organized a video competition. If you are interested in producing a video for 2018 Team USA to submit in Iran, please visit 2018 IBO Video Competition. The theme is TBD.


The International Biology Olympiad (IBO) is the annual World Championship Biology Competition for high school students. The first academic international Olympiads were launched under the auspices of the United Nations in the 1960’s. The programs have expanded gradually to include over 70 countries across five continents. Currently, international academic Olympiads are held annually in mathematics, physics, chemistry, informatics, linguistics, astronomy, and biology. The USA Biology Olympiad (USABO) and the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) award individual achievement in theoretical and laboratory biology knowledge. IBO delegations consist of four students and two academic advisors. Although everyone who is ultimately chosen to travel abroad represents the U.S., each student will receive an individual score. Students will be awarded medals as individuals, not as a team. Further information about academic Olympiads can be found by visiting International Science Olympiad.

IN MEMORY OF  Tomáš Soukup 

Sadly missed! A treasure to the International Biology Olympiad and its spirit.

WHO IS the 2017 TEAM USA?

The Center for Excellence in Education announces

From left to right: Alexander Tsao  (Troy High School, Fullerton, CA), Catherine Wang (Lexington High School, Lexington, MA), Edward Lee (LASA High School, Austin, TX), and Thomas Xiong (Seven Lakes High School, Katy, TX)

2017 TEAM USA RECEIVES 4 GOLD MEDALS AT THE 28TH IBO at the University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom
From left to right
Thirteenth Place: Thomas Xiong (Seven Lakes High School, Katy, TX)
Tenth Place: Edward Lee (LASA High School, Austin, TX)
Twenty-third Place: Catherine Wang (Lexington High School, Lexington, MA)
Second Place: Alexander Tsao (Troy High School, Fullerton, CA)




 I joined USABO on a whim, yet it developed into an incredible series of experience. The competition forced me to grapple with topics far from my original interests and allowed me to discover my passion for them. USABO Finals was the first time I had ever stepped inside a biology lab. Though challenging, the practical skills proved to be an engaging and enriching exposure to actual biology. Outside of lab, I met extraordinary people and developed many connections at USABO Finals and at the IBO. My life would be poorer without them.Edward Lee, 2017 USABO Gold Medalist and 2017 IBO Gold Medalist

 To me, the Biology Olympiad at both International and US levels was more than a competition. It was a community. Others may emphasize the lab skills learned or the knowledge obtained, but I place more importance on the bonds and friendships formed over the weeks of living together. The USABO brings together a group of similarly interested individuals who I’m sure to meet in the future. In fact, I’ve met quite a few Finalists at other national events, and I'll see them in college as well. Through these connections, USABO has helped me gain confidence in both my ability to communicate and collaborate, as well as improve my knowledge of biology. I started three years ago in the USABO, and I’ve gradually moved up with the help of my teachers and friends, both of whom are sometimes past finalists. My journey through this competition has formed who I am today, and I am grateful to have had this opportunity. Alexander Tsao, 2017 USABO Gold Medalist and 2017 IBO Gold Medalist

When I first started participating in USABO, I saw it as a purely intellectual experience and allowed it to motivate me to learn more biology than I even knew existed. When I found myself at camp—where everyone studied for 12 hours a day and spent lunch break discussing photosynthetic sea slugs and the like—I felt like I’d joined this giant family of people who were all so acutely inspiring and passionate that I couldn’t quite believe they were real, and it was here that I learned the most and made some of my closest friends. It was an incredible honor to compete alongside some of them at IBO this year. In effect, USABO humanized the field of biology for me and gave me the tools to pursue it as far as possible in high school. I plan to study biology in college (yay!), and I am so grateful to be doing so with both the knowledge and friendships from this competition under my belt. Catherine Wang, 2017 USABO Gold Finalist and 2017 IBO Gold Medalist

For the past three years, I have poured hours upon hours into reading textbooks upon textbooks, and though this seems hopelessly tedious, the purpose, succeeding in the USA Biology Olympiad, has made it more than fulfilling. Yet USABO means more to me than a series of tests and rewards. USABO has allowed me to construct and rediscover my love for biology. USABO has given me the chance to meet hundreds of exceptionally talented, driven, and simply amazing individuals. For these past three years, USABO has been very much so a grand part of my life. And I am ever much so a better person because of it. Thomas Xiong, 2016 & 2017 USABO Gold Medalist and 2016  2017 IBO Gold Medalist


                  2015 Denmark                         2016 Vietnam              2017 United Kingdom



The IBO occurs over a six-day period. Two days are devoted to testing, one day to the Opening Ceremony, and one day to Closing Ceremony. The other days are filled with cultural activities and excursions in the host country and independent study. Students compete in both the theoretical and practical exams. Each exam lasts an average of four to six hours each day. Exams are given in the students’ native language (United States: English).

The Organizing Committee, which consists of the academic advisors from all participating countries, creates the two sets of exams – the theoretical, knowledge-based exam and the four practical, laboratory-based exams. All exams are related to the official text book, Biology by Campbell and Reese.

The practical and theoretical scores are aggregated. Participants in the top ten percent are awarded gold medals, the following twenty percent are awarded silver medals, and the next thirty percent are awarded bronze medals. Approximately, sixty percent of the IBO participants receive a medal. Please see the IBO guidelines here.

Officially, there are no team scores at the IBO. However, the total number of medals awarded to each country is tallied, announced, and publicized.

IBO medal winners do not receive any monetary awards or scholarships from the host country. The USA does not offer monetary awards or scholarships to Team USA.


  • Students are selected for the IBO based on their USABO National Finals performance.
  • Students may be asked to participate in media appearances.
  • Students competing in the IBO are expected to study biology independently during the period between the USA Biology Olympiad National Finals and the IBO.

                                                                              Tabiat Bridge, Iran