The Royal Society of Chemistry reveals the 2022 grade boundaries for round one of its annual Olympiad competition

Graph showing the distribution of scores in round one of the 2022 UK Chemistry Olympiad competition

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Students needed 9–15 marks for the Bronze award, 16–25 marks for the Silver award and 26+ for the Gold award of the 2022 Chemistry Olympiad

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has released the 2022 grade boundaries for the first round of the UK Chemistry Olympiad. This year’s competition took place on 20 January, with 8668 students from 750 schools sitting the paper – an increase on last year. There were Bronze, Silver and Gold awards up for grabs and 64% of the students who took part received awards.

RSC Education executive, Chloe Francis, who organises the competition extends her congratulations and thanks to both teachers and students for their participation: ‘Congratulations to all students who took part in this year’s Olympiad. We are encouraged that so many students and schools were able to take part despite ongoing disruption from Covid-19, and want to thank all the teachers who took the time to facilitate this opportunity for their students.’

Designed to challenge

The 2022 paper was particularly challenging and this is reflected in the grade boundaries. There has been a decrease in the marks required to secure each award compared to last year, with students needing to score 9–15 marks for the Bronze award, 16–25 marks for the Silver award and 26 or more for the Gold award. Students can request their scores from their teachers, and certificates will be distributed in pdf form in March.

Many interesting and timely scientific contexts were covered in the 2022 paper. The first question was based on E10 petrol, a grade of petrol which contains up to 10% renewable ethanol (a biofuel). Retailers transferred their stocks to E10 petrol during the petrol shortage in October 2021, so this is a current topic. Other questions covered the quantitative chemistry in lateral flow tests, and explored a technique which allows vaccines to be stored at room temperature. Students also answered questions about the world’s smallest Chinese knot, cubane and nitrous oxide. 

Round two

A total of 34 students have been selected for the second round of the Olympiad, which will be run remotely at the start of April. Four of these students will then go on to represent the UK in the highly prestigious final international round – hosted by China from 10 to 20 July.

The 2022 question paper, student answer booklet, mark scheme and examiners’ report are now available.

Find out more