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USABO: About the Exams

Round 1: USABO Open Exam


  • Is a 50-minute, nationwide multiple-choice exam available to any high school biology student (grades 9 to 12) who is registered by a school or authorized USABO Center.
  • Administered at a registered school or authorized USABO Center (classroom or location designated by the teacher/test administrator) within the time period designated by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE).
  • Structured in part like the multiple true/fase choice portion of the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) Theoretical Exam.
  • Has NO Penalty for guessing.

Round 2: USABO Semifinal Exam


  • Is a 120-minute exam containing three parts:
    1. Part A is primarily multiple choice questions with one answer.
    2. Part B has more complex, sequenced multiple choice and multiple true/false choice questions that may have several correct answers and may require calculations or extensive interpretation of graphs (see posted example).
    3. Part C may be short answer or essay.
  • Administered at a registered school or authorized USABO Center (classroom or location designated by the teacher/test administrator) over a 120-minute period within the time period designated by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE).
  • Taken by students who score in the top 10% of the Open Exam.
  • Has NO Penalty for guessing. For multiple choice questions with more than one answer, the question value will be the number of wrong responses subtracted from the number of right responses with no question value below zero.

Round 3: USABO National Finals


  • Conducted at a host university over a 12-day period with 10 days of instruction and two days of testing.
  • Attended by students with the top 20 scores on the Semifinal Exam.
  • CEE recognizes that the National Finals’ dates may conflict with high school graduation. CEE does not discourage students from attending their graduation. Special arrangements may be made by the student for a 24-hour (maximum) return to home. The student is asked to be cognizant of the fact that experience has shown missing one full day of training may be extremely detrimental to the student’s scores on the National Finals Exam and Practicals.
  • Team USA will stay an additional two to three days for more training and preparation with personal instruction for the IBO Competition.
  • Instruction focuses on the laboratory and conceptual understanding for all 20 Finalists.
  • Activities led by university professors and experts with experience in research and undergraduate and graduate teaching assisted by former USABO Finalists.
  • Evenings will be free for study with tutorials from the Teaching Assistants (all former USABO medalists or Finalists) and other activities.
  • Practical is approximately 6 hours in duration and the Theoretical Exam is approximately three hours.
    • Practical: laboratory-based skills, techniques, data interpretation, and real-time laboratory competency exam involving conceptual understanding and problem solving.
    • Theoretical: multiple true/false choice questions and multiple choice involving interpretation of diagrams and graphs, integration of information, and data analysis.
    • Practical and Theoretical Exams MUST be taken on the scheduled day. No exceptions can be made.
  • Room and board are provided.
  • Students are responsible for transportation to and from the USABO National Finals. Students with financial need should contact CEE should assistance be required.
  • Each Finalist and his/her guardian is asked to sign an agreement to indicate support for the Finalist's advancement in the USABO competition to include full participation in Finals and the IBO competition. In addition, each Finalist and guardian signs an agreement that prohibits participation in any other national academic Olympiad or summer program, such as the Research Science Institute. In the spirit of the Olympiad, a student and his/her parent/guardian are expected to honor the commitment when they sign this agreement.
  • At Finals, each student signs an agreement to obey the USABO rules. If a student breaks any one of the rules made in the USABO agreement, the student will not receive a certificate of participation or a medal. Finalists will be re-ranked accordingly.

Anticipated National Finals Schedule


NOTE: Order of laboratories may change.

DayActivity
1Students Arrive - Orientation
2Topic - Lab equipment, skills. Morning: Opening Ceremony
3Topic – Cell & Molecular Biology
4Topic – Plant Anatomy & Physiology
5Topic – Animal Anatomy & Physiology
6Topic - Ecology
7Topic – Genetics & Evolution I
8Topic - Biosystematics
9Topic – Genetics & Evolution II
10Topic – Statistics, Modeling, and Computational Biology
11Practical Examination (~6 hours)
12Theoretical Examination (~ 4 hours). Evening Awards Ceremony.
13Team Day - Individual tutoring, review, labs
14Team Day - Individual tutoring, review, labs
15Team Day - Individual tutoring, review, labs . Students Depart

 

Distinguished Speakers


CEE is proud to provide the USABO students with the opportunity to meet and speak with national leaders. The 2016 Nationals Banquet speaker was 

Jonathan Gootenberg, PhD Candidate, Broad Institute; The Honorable Clarine Nardi Riddle, Counsel, Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP; Marion Lobstein, Professor Emeritus of Biology at Northern Virginia Community College

Round 4: International Biology Olympiad


July 15 to 22, 2018

                          

  


To view the USA Biology Olympiad National Finals 2017 video, click here.