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International Biology Olympiad (IBO)



Portugal2021 IBO Challenge Lisbon, Portugal July 19 to 22. More information to follow.


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 Biolympiad (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 at the IBO. Students will be awarded medals as individuals, not as a team. Further information about academic Olympiads can be found by visiting International Science Olympiad.


The Center for Excellence in Education announces the


2020 USABO National Finals Gold Medalists: USA Olympiad Team
Top Left: Derrick Liang, Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology, Alexandria, VA
Top Right: Judson Lam, Naperville North High School, Naperville, IL
Lower Left: Nithin Parson, Clements High School, Sugar Land, TX
Lower Right: Albert Zhang, North Hollywood Senior High School, North Hollywood, CA


Judson Lam 2020 USABO National Gold Medalist, 2020 Virtual IBO Challenge Gold Medalist

The USABO has had a profound impact on my life. Ever since I took my first open exam in my freshman year of high school, I have continued to nurture my passion for biology through this program. I find the concepts of biology, from the molecular to the ecological level, all to be very fascinating. At the National Finals this year, although it was online, I was still able to learn a lot more and connect with other amazing individuals who, like me, shared a strong sense of passion for biology. From this experience, I hope to continue along the path of biology in the future, maybe becoming a doctor, or pursuing research in the biological sciences. Whatever it may be, USABO has helped me find this passion for biology.

Derrick Liang 2020 USABO National Gold Medalist, 2020 Virtual IBO Challenge Silver Medalist

I have been an active member of my school’s Biology Olympiad club for the past 4 years, and through my experiences, I’ve learned a great deal about making biology interesting to a wide variety of students as well as how to promote a strong community bond for the sake of learning. Becoming involved in biology has taught me how to explore science with a curious perspective rather than one that only emphasizes scores and rote memorization. The USABO National Finals allowed me to meet some of the most brilliant biology students in the world and fostered growth in my own problem-solving capabilities through discussing problem sets with peers and TA’s. Although I will likely be studying computer science instead of biology in the future, I believe that my unique experiences have taught me important skills in terms of becoming passionate for a subject and learning how to study effectively and to learn from others.


Nithin Parsan, Clements High School, Katy, TX. 2020 USABO National Gold Medalist, 2020 Virtual IBO Challenge CGold Medalist

As a three-time National Finalist, I can confidently say that the rigor of the USABO Finals program is unmatched. Surrounded by world class mentors, expert researchers, and passionate peers, I’ve learned more in the cumulative weeks of Finals than I have in my four years in high school. There’s an endless list of opportunities and experiences unique to the Finals program – We spoke directly to Nobel laureates and several world class researchers; We discussed the deepest levels of biology for hours on end; We had the chance to form a community of passionate individuals and make lifelong friendships. None of this would be possible without the doors that USABO and the Finals program unlocked.

Albert Zhang 2020 USABO National Gold Medalist, 2020 Virtual IBO Challenge Gold Medalist

USABO has had a great impact on me personally, from introducing me to the wonders of biology, to the National Finals experience where I was given a glimpse of the depth and breadth of biology and biological research and also had the great pleasure to meet so many bright, like-minded fellow students, as well as numerous outstanding experts in their various biological fields. From virtually meeting with Nobel Laureate Dr. James Allison, to learning about cutting-edge research in CRISPR-Cas9 technology or the neurological foundations of hearing, to late nights studying case studies and histological samples with fellow finalists, the USABO National Finals was truly inspiring.


From left to right Top Row
Gold Medalist: Judson Lam (Naperville North High School, Naperville, IL)
Gold Medalist: Nithin Parsan (Clements High School, Sugar Land, TX)
From left to right Bottom Row
Silver Medalist: Derick Liang (Thomas Jefferson School for Science & Technology,
Alexandria, VA)
Gold Medalist: Albert Zhang (North Hollywood Senior High School, North Hollywood, CA)


                  2015 Denmark                         2016 Vietnam                         2017 United Kingdom                       2019 Hungary



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.