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International Biology Olympiad (IBO)



To learn about the 2019 International Biology Olympiad in Szeged, Hungary from July 14 to 21, 2019, 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 2019 Team USA to submit in Hungary, please click here.


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.

WHO IS the 2018 TEAM USA?

The Center for Excellence in Education announces

From left to right: Allen Huang (Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, CA), Lucy Chen, (Mounds View High School, Arden, MN). Alexander Tsao  (Troy High School, Fullerton, CA), and Jason Yang (West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, Plainsboro Township, NJ), 


 "The USABO finals were intense and exciting. I spent my days learning biology at a pace I hardly believed was possible. The lectures were engaging and pushed me to think critically about what I had learned. However, it wasn't all studying. All of the kind and funny students there managed to make the finals a fun, instead of grueling, experience. I will definitely look back on the USABO finals with a smile" Lucy Chen, 2018 USABO  National Finals Gold Medalist

 "I truly had the time of my life at the USABO National Finals. Attending lectures by renowned scientists, going hands-on in exciting field labs, and all the other experiences the Finalists underwent really showed me the infinite possibilities that biology has to offer students and researchers, and cemented my decision to study it in the future. I made lifelong friends in other people who shared the same passions, desires, and goals as me, and I look forward to hopefully working with them in the future in the STEM field.” Allen Huang, 2018 USABO Gold Medalist

 “...Two weeks of intense, non-stop lectures, lab time, and studying are both exhausting and exhilarating. Over my 3 years attending the Finals I’ve been exposed to an incredible range of experiences that greatly expanded the breadth and depth of my biological knowledge. Meeting a multitude of brilliant professors and finalists helped show me the broad spectrum of career choices available in biology... I will always appreciate what USABO has become over the years, and am forever grateful for its influence on my life.” Alexander Tsao, 2017 & 2018 USABO Gold Medalist and 2017 IBO Gold Medalist

 “...Between lectures and labs, we gained experience in almost every aspect of biology, from biosystematics to game theory. Beyond learning about biology, being surrounded by 19 other brilliant finalists, hearing experiences and advice from current researchers in biology, and just having the opportunity to visit the shores of La Jolla made Finals an extremely memorable couple of weeks. The USABO Finals was truly a unique and unforgettable experience.” Jason Yang,  2018 USABO  National Finals Gold Medalist

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)


                  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.

 2019 IBO Szeged, Hungary