Practise answering Olympiad-style questions with these past papers and mark schemes with answers

For students planning to take part in the Chemistry Olympiad, trying out past papers gives them the opportunity to hone key skills and boost their confidence ahead of the competition. This collection brings together past papers from 2003 to 2021, each accompanied by a summary of the topics covered as well as a mark scheme with answers.

Some papers also include the original student answer booklet and the examiners’ report.

How to use Chemistry Olympiad past papers

Past papers can be used flexibly by teachers and students, with varying degrees of independence. Browse the summary of papers and topics below to find a particular question, or select a paper to work through from beginning to end.

Chemistry Olympiad papers focus on problem-solving and reward resilience, so students should attempt as many parts of each question as they can, and try not to be put off if there are parts they can’t answer. Even a seemingly ‘low’ mark can earn a medal in the competition.

Questions often get more difficult as a paper progresses, but students studying A-level or equivalent qualifications should be able to attempt most parts.

Additional support and resources

  • Check out our Chemistry Olympiad support booklet for further guidance on the types of questions used in the competition, as well as example questions with commentary and analysis.
  • Build up to tackling a whole past paper using our series of worked answers, designed to help students less familiar with Olympiad-style questions develop the skills and confidence they need, one step at a time.

Browse and download resources by year

2021

Topics include reactions that produce phosphine; carbon capture by calcium looping; synthesis and reactions of levulinic acid; Newman projections; synthesis of hydroxychloroquine; and kinetics of the formation of xenon difluoride.

Past paper | Answer booklet | Mark scheme

2020

Topics include the reactions and structure of calcium carbide; the thermodynamics of hydrogen as a fuel; the structure of UV-absorbing chemicals; structures of silicon oxides; kinetics in colourful compounds; and synthesising [5]-ladderanoic acid.

Past paper | Answer booklet | Mark scheme

2019

Topics include carbon dioxide in fizzy drinks; electrolysis of precious metals and NMR spectra of platinum complexes; the kinetics of nerve agent treatments; synthesising pesticides; and calculations on biodegradable polymers.

Past paper | Answer booklet | Mark scheme

2018

Topics include reactions within lithium-ion batteries; sustainable methods of producing ammonia; isotopes and reactions of Uranium; the synthesis of dextromethorphan; and compounds of helium and sodium.

Past paper | Mark scheme | Examiners’ report

2017

Topics include the properties of sodium hypochlorite; reactions and kinetics of atmospheric gases; alloys of titanium; the structure and synthesis of twistane; and reactions of superbases.

Past paper | Mark scheme | Examiners’ report

2016

Topics include thermodynamics of the sulfur–iodine cycle; reactions of tungsten; NMR of unsaturated molecules; the synthesis of Flibanserin; and analysing ancient bones.

Past paper | Mark scheme | Examiners’ report

2015

Topics include calculations based on indium tin oxide; properties of 2-methylpropanenitrile; the synthesis of Ritalin; rates of metabolism of ethanol; and reactions and thermodynamics of ‘green’ jet fuel.

Past paper | Mark scheme | Examiners’ report

2014

Topics include the reactions of lanthanum carbonate; ionisation energies of sodium; the synthesis of tazarotene; analysis of chemicals that bombardier beetles use to defend themselves; and the structure and reactions of methane hydrates.

Past paper | Mark scheme | Examiners’ report

2013

Topics include reactions and thermodynamics of hydrazine; copper in Olympic medals; colours of compounds; synthesis of benzodiazepines; and the structure of creatine.

Past paper | Mark scheme | Examiners’ report

2012

Topics include cyclic allotropes of sulfur; reactions of amino acids in keratin; chemistry general knowledge; the synthesis of Liptor; and structure of the world’s smallest car.

Past paper | Mark scheme

2011

Topics include analysing ingredients of snack food; calcium carbide; using explosives in civil engineering; NMR of organic compounds; and the synthesis of phenobarbital.

Past paper | Mark scheme

2010

Topics include synthesising Ambrox; analysing a copper complex using titrations; thermodynamics of halogen fluorides; calculations on salty solutions; using osmium compounds in organic reactions; and the structure of gold.

Past paper | Mark scheme

2009

Topics include nitrogenated fuels; burning methane; reactions and structure of phosphorus sulfides; the synthesis of loperamide; and detecting arsenic.

Past paper | Mark scheme

2008

Topics include methods of producing pure silicon; the kinetics of vitamin D production in mushrooms; thermodynamics and structure of mercury fulminate; reactions and analysis of aluminium compounds; mass spectrometry of polypeptides; and the synthesis of fexofenadine.

Past paper | Mark scheme

2007

Topics include the reactions and thermodynamics of rocket fuels; structures of phosphorus allotropes; analysing phosphate levels in blood; spectroscopic analysis of flame retardants; the synthesis of Tamiflu; and reactions of chlorine dioxide.

Past paper | Mark scheme

2006

Topics include reactions of the ingredients in sherbet lemons; reactions in vehicle exhausts; structures of acyl chloride compounds; thermal decomposition of copper(II) sulfate; producing oxygen in emergencies; the synthesis of sildenafil; and mass spectrometry and NMR of haloalkanes.

Past paper | Mark scheme

2005

Topics include the properties of carbon oxides; reactions of diiodine pentoxide; calculations with methanoic acid; NMR spectra of NanoPutians; estimating blood alcohol levels; and the synthesis of rimonabant.

Past paper | Mark scheme

2004

Topics include redox reactions; reactions of pollutants that erode monuments; calculating dissolved oxygen in water; the structure of agent orange; the thermodynamics of white and grey tin; electronic transitions in hydrogen; and structures of sulfur-containing compounds.

Past paper | Mark scheme

2003

Topics include heating a can of coffee; the structure of Reinecke’s salt; calculating atom economy; writing redox equations; calculations based on historical experiments; hydroxylamine and its reaction with iron(III) ions; the synthesis of flunitrazepam; and the properties of polonium.

Past paper | Mark scheme

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