The Royal Society of Chemistry reveals the grade boundaries for the first round of the 55th Chemistry Olympiad

A bell shaped bar graph showing marks for the UK Chemistry Olympiad 2023 with 0 to 13 had no award, 14 to 23 received bronze, 24 to 37 received silver and 38 to 86 received gold

Source: Royal Society of Chemistry

Students had to achieve 14–23 marks for the Bronze award, 24–37 marks for the Silver award and 38+ for the Gold award

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has released the 2023 grade boundaries for the first round of the UK Chemistry Olympiad. Round one took place on 26 January, with 11,838 students from 950 schools taking part – a new record for both. Bronze, Silver and Gold awards were up for grabs and 72% of the students who took part received awards, again outperforming last year’s results.

This year’s paper was more accessible than last year’s, which meant students needed to achieve higher marks to secure each award compared to last year. Students had to score 14–23 marks for the Bronze award, 24–37 marks for the Silver award and 38 or more for the Gold award. Students can request their scores from their teachers, and certificates will be distributed in pdf form in March.

The topics covered in the 2023 paper included rocket fuels, electronegativity, amino acid complexes, vaping and cheese. Electronegativity is a timely topic as it was the 90th anniversary of Linus Pauling’s proposing the concept of electronegativity in 2022. With the 2023 International Chemistry Olympiad being held in Switzerland, a question on cheese was obligatory, and quizzed students on the conversion of lactose to lactic acid during fermentation in cheese manufacturing.

RSC Education executive and competition organiser, Rebecca Plant, congratulates and thanks the teachers and students for their participation: ‘We’re delighted to see record participation numbers for this year’s Olympiad and extend our thanks to all the teachers who facilitated this opportunity for their students. Congratulations to all the students who took part!’

A total of 33 students have been selected for the second round of the competition, which will take take place at the University of Nottingham from 1–4 April. Four of these students will then go on to represent the UK in the highly prestigious final international round. The international final will take place in Zurich from 16–25th July.

Past papers

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