When should/can I get involved in chemistry olympiad?


When can I start involving myself in chemistry olympiad (e.g what year level) and what pre-requisite knowledge is required? (e.g year 11 chemistry?)

Thank you again in advance!


Hi there,

Good question!

Chemistry Olympiad in NZ is seperated into 3 rounds.

  1. Take the first exam around November and place in the top 100 in NZ to be selected in the training group.
  2. As part of the training group, you’ll be given a resource booklet and assignments which will prepare you for the next camp qualifying exam held in March. If you place in the top ~30 in NZ, you’ll be selected to attend camp.
  3. At camp, if you place in the top 4, you’ll be selected to represent New Zealand at the international competition.

As you can tell, it’s a very competitive process, but it’s also a very rewarding journey as you’ll not only have a great experience learning challenging and novel chemical concepts, you’ll also make many like-minded and intelligent friends in the process.

Usually the exam is taken in the end of year 12 (exam is around november so around final exams time) and the only pre-requisite knowledge needed is NCEA Level 2 Chemistry or AS Chemistry or any other equivalent knowledge.

However, many students in NZ, including 2 people in the national team last year, participated in the olympiad a year earlier as they were accelerated in Chemistry at their school. If you’ve been accelerated in school, I would defenitely recommend you participate earlier as that gives you a competitive advantage over other students as if you don’t do well in your first year, you have an experience to learn from when you try again in year 13.

Another thing that is becoming more common now are intense students who are self-studying NCEA Level 2 Chemistry at a very young age and participating in the chemistry olympiad (which has no age limit). I would defenitely recommend this if you’re currently a junior as starting early is very important for any science olympiad.

Science olympiad defenitely pays off and even making it into the training group or camp is very useful on your CV or on your university application both to US (very respected and shows academic rigour) and UK (if you’re applying for science)