Biology vs Chemistry Olympiad?


Which one is easier? Which one should I concentrate on? How are they different?


It’s quite hard to say which one is easier for you as it would depend on your academic strengths, but I can tell you some of the key differences.

  1. ICHO has been around longer than IBO and the exam structure is established. The general consensus in the international community is that ICHO is much more competitive and rigorous than the IBO. This is also reflected by the fact that many more countries participate in the ICHO than the IBO.
  2. While the European and Asian countries dominate ICHO, western countries such as NZ, USA, AUS dominate IBO. This reflects the history of both chemistry and biology, whereas chemistry was founded and developed in Europe, recent academic progress in biology has been mostly dominated by the US, NZ, Aus, etc
  3. NZIBO is run better than NZICHO. NZIBO has a more structured, centralised and consistent faculty/professors which run the national competition in a more efficient and organised way, while NZCHO is more decentralised and messy as the organisers come from all around NZ and there’s been a lack of leadership.
  4. Chemistry usually attracts smarter students in NZ than Biology generally. Due to the very memorisation-focused nature of Biology in high school curriculums.
  5. When you finish biology camp, you basically have all the knowledge required for the international round. When you finish chemistry camp, you’re not even close to the level of knowledge required on the international level. The NZ chemistry team usually gets consistent Bronze Medals with very few exceptions but the NZ biology team has had a fair share of Silvers and Bronzes with even one Gold Medal in the last 10 years.
  6. Biology is more memorisation/practical orientated while Chemistry is more mathematical/problem-solving orientated.

Until I know what your academic strengths and weaknesses are, I can’t really recommend which one you should concentrate on. More importantly, though, it is very important you do concentrate on one only olympiad as you really need to dedicate your time to one subject in order to maximise your chances at doing well.