UK Chemistry Olympiad

Take part in the leading chemistry competition for secondary students across the British Isles

Designed to challenge and inspire, the UK Chemistry Olympiad (UKChO) is a unique opportunity for students to push themselves further and excel in the chemistry field.

Budding chemists will develop critical problem-solving skills, learn to think more creatively and get a chance to test their knowledge in new, real-world situations. They could even find themselves representing the UK at the prestigious International Chemistry Olympiad.

Registration is currently closed

Thank you for your interest in the 2024 Chemistry Olympiad. 

Who can enter the Olympiad?

The UK Chemistry Olympiad is open to all secondary schools and colleges in the British Isles. However, the questions are aimed at students in their last year of study before higher education so we recommend that entrants should be at least 16.

The competition is designed to challenge, so will not be easy. Students should see it as an opportunity to develop their thinking and problem solving skills, and to test their existing knowledge of chemistry in real-world situations.

How the Olympiad works

Run annually, the competition is made up of three stages that start with a written test and end with four students representing the UK at the prestigious International Chemistry Olympiad.

Registration

Wednesday 20 September 2023 – Sunday 7 January 2024

The first thing to do is register your school or college. Schools and colleges don’t need the names of the students taking part in order to register. Students wanting to register must do so through their school or college (see the FAQs section for more details).

If you are an accredited British international school overseas, the first thing to do is email us.

Round one written test

Thursday 25 January 2024

The first challenge for students is designed to test chemical knowledge through a written test with real-world chemistry problems. This round takes place at your school. We’ll email the test to teachers at the beginning of the test period with the mark scheme following later.

This stage often stimulates a lot of debate and conversation around what chemistry is all about, so it’s a great opportunity for your students to develop and showcase some of the skills they’ll need at university and beyond. It’s open to every institution teaching students aged 16–19 years in the British Isles. (Please note that we are only able to issue certificates to students aged 19 and younger.)

Round one marking

Friday 26 January – Friday 9 February 2024

We’ll release the mark scheme to schools after the round one written test. Teachers mark all papers in school and then submit the scores to us. We’ll ask that you post us physical copies of all papers that scored particularly highly. We recommend making copies of any papers you post and keeping all papers until you have received the results as we may ask for others in spot-checks.

After receiving all your scores and papers, the exam moderators meet to spot-check the marks and select 25–30 students from all entries to move on to round two.

Round two

Thursday 4 – Sunday 7 April 2024, University of Nottingham

Round two is a stimulating long weekend of training and assessments. Up to 30 of the highest-scoring students from round one will take part in lessons and demonstrations on new topics from respected academics, teachers and technicians, followed by theoretical and practical assessments. Download our guide to find out more about how round two works.

Four students from round two will be chosen to represent the United Kingdom at the International Chemistry Olympiad.

UK training camp and the International Olympiad

Training between May and July 2024 | Finals from Sunday 21 – Tuesday 30 July 2024

After intensive training to prepare our competitors, we will take part in the International Chemistry Olympiad 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – and hopefully come back with gold!

What teachers and students say about the Olympiad

‘This really enhances a love for the subject and I have several students now seriously considering a career and degree in chemistry, which would not be the case without this competition.’

Teacher, 2018 Olympiad

‘Not only was it a great experience, I feel like it will be a huge asset to my UCAS application.’

Student, 2018 Olympiad

‘It is an enjoyable challenge to my chemistry knowledge.’

Student, 2018 Olympiad

‘It can help make difficult A-level questions easier, as you get used to different, harder ways of asking questions, and so would be good preparation for the chemistry A-level exam.’

Student, 2018 Olympiad

Supporting resources

Find out how to prepare for the Olympiad, and explore our supporting resources for teachers and students to make sure everyone involved feels ready to take on the challenge.

Getting started

Practising for the competition

Work through some examples or try a past paper.

A female student wearing a hijab studies at home, using a notebook, pen and laptop

Chemistry Olympiad worked answers

Use these worked answers with video walkthroughs to challenge and support students learning to tackle Olympiad-style questions independently.

A student's hands holding a pen and writing on an exam paper on a desk; a notebook, mug and laptop are visible in the background

Chemistry Olympiad past papers

Download past papers from the UK Chemistry Olympiad, including questions and mark schemes with answers from 2003 onwards.

Explainers

Get help with less familiar concepts.

A model of the structure of acetaldehyde made using a plastic molecular modelling kit

What is organic synthesis? | Chemistry Olympiad explainers

Use this explainer to help familiarise students with organic synthesis, including carbonyl chemistry, as part of their preparation for the Chemistry Olympiad.

A 3D illustration of a crystal unit cell, with spheres representing ions in a cubic arrangement

What are unit cells? | Chemistry Olympiad explainers

Try this explainer to help students get to grips with unit cells and the structure of crystals as part of their preparation for the Chemistry Olympiad.

Frequently asked questions

I missed the deadline to register my school – will it still be possible to enter?

Unfortunately not. We have to move on to processing entries as soon as the deadline passes, so it’s not possible for us to accept late registrations.

Do I need to have the names of my students ready before I register?

No, we won’t ask for the complete list until you upload your scores.

Can I register as an individual student?

If you would like to take part in the Chemistry Olympiad, you must let your school or college know so that they can register on your behalf. We can’t accept registrations from students directly.

May I register a school from outside the UK?

The competition is free to schools in the British Isles. International schools in China can also enter, and should register through ASDAN China. Accredited British international schools overseas are eligible to enter and for these schools a fee is payable. Please email us if you think you are eligible to enter.

Are younger pupils allowed to enter?

Yes, however please bear in mind that the questions focus on topics typically covered in a student’s final year of study. Because of this, Year 12s who are confident in their knowledge could take part, but GCSE students may find the subject matter too advanced.

Is a professional invigilator required?

No – the class teacher or other member of staff can invigilate the exam.

Can you provide the exam paper in accessible formats?

Yes – if significant accessibility changes are needed or if your students require the round one exam materials in braille, please inform us by email by 15 November. Should you require the exam paper in large print, you will be able to enlarge the text in the electronic copy we send you.

Contact us

If you have any questions, send us an email.

Results archive

Explore news articles covering results from the UK and International Chemistry Olympiad competitions.

A group of four students wearing medals and holding a Union Jack flag

UK students win gold and silver at 2023 International Chemistry Olympiad

2023-07-27T10:30:00+01:00

Outstanding achievement for four A-level students at the 55th International Chemistry Olympiad competition

High School students discussing classwork

Round one results of 2023 Chemistry Olympiad

2023-03-03T09:34:00+00:00

Grade boundaries revealed for annual Royal Society of Chemistry Olympiad competition

A dart in a target with lab equipment

UK students shine at International Chemistry Olympiad

2022-07-21T09:41:00+01:00

Four UK students win silver awards at the 54th International Chemistry Olympiad competition

A female student carrying a laptop stands at the front of a class laughing with fellow students, with a model wind turbine and a whiteboard with a circuit diagram behind her

Chemistry Olympiad 2022 round one results

2022-02-24T12:30:00+00:00

Grade boundaries revealed for annual Royal Society of Chemistry Olympiad competition

Photo of four sixth form students smiling and pointing at a laptop

Excellent result at the International Chemistry Olympiad

2021-08-03T15:44:00+01:00

UK students win silver and two golds at the 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad competition

A graph showing Olympiad Round 1 Scores 2021

Round one results of Chemistry Olympiad 2021 released

2021-02-26T12:17:00+00:00

Grade boundaries revealed for annual Olympiad competition

An image of the desk of Olympiad 2020 finalist Rtvik Patel with his preparation materials

Success for UK team at the International Chemistry Olympiad

2020-07-30T08:20:00+01:00

A team of four A-level students from the United Kingdom won one gold medal and three silver medals at the 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad competition, held virtually for the first time in the competition’s history

A graph showing the grade boundaries for the UK Chemistry Olympiad 2020

UK Chemistry Olympiad 2020: Round 1 results released

2020-02-26T16:12:00+00:00

Record-breaking number of students receive grade boundaries

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From Cambridge to Hanoi: the journey to the International Chemistry Olympiad

2014-11-25T09:50:00+00:00

Andy Taylor follows the journey of the UK team for the 46th International Chemistry Olympiad

Medals

Success for UK Olympiad team

2012-07-01T00:00:00+01:00

The UK Chemistry Olympiad team has returned triumphant from the International Chemistry Olympiad in the US