International Physics Olympiad

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The International Physics Olympiad is the highest level competition for high school physics students. Every year, up to 5 students, selected at the national level compete.


The competition is in 2 parts. The 5 hour theoretical competition, which consists of 3 questions that typically have multiple parts. The practical exam where the competitors complete a one or two experimental problems in a laboratory. This exam typically is 5 hours long, and administered a day after the theoretical. Since the competitors come from many different countries, the problems are given in whatever language that they are most comfortable.


The theoretical exam is worth 30 points, and the practical is worth 20. These scores are added up to produce an individual score. Note: IPhO is an individual competition so there is no team score.


  • Gold medals are awarded to the top 8% of contestants.
  • Silver medals are awarded to the top 9-25% of contestants.
  • Bronze medal are awarded to the top 26-50% of contestants.
  • Honorable mentions are awarded to the top 51-67% of contestants.
  • Those who score 68-100% are awarded a certification of participation.
  • Special prizes are awarded to the contestant with the most innovative solution.
  • The contestant with the highest combined score receives a special prize as well.
  • Other prizes may be awarded.


The IPhO was first held in 1967 in Warsaw, Poland.

Sample Problems

Sample problems are on the IPhO website [1]