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BPhO

British Physics Olympiad

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BAAO

British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad

The Olympiad encourages the study of Physics and recognition of the young people who take part in a series of competitions.

This includes challenges for students from Year 10 to Year 13. About 35,000 participants take part each year in the UK across almost a thousand schools.

In addition to the British Physics Olympiad (BPhO) there is also the British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad (BAAO).

Make sure you do have a look at the official BPhO website to see the latest dates and details of how to enter: BPhO.org.uk

 

Year 10 - The Junior Physics Challenge

The questions will be based on an assortment of topics. Some questions are done by a process of elimination, some are general knowledge and not classroom physics, and some from the school curriculum.

  • Takes place in the Summer Term around May

  • 2 x 25 minutes papers with 30 questions per paper

  • Sat within your school supervised by the teacher

  • Marked online and results returned to schools with the award boundaries

 

Year 11 - The Intermediate Physics Challenge

There are two different challenges for students in Year 11: either online or on paper.  It consists of an hour of questions which are largely about physics ideas, but also encouraging some wider reading and interest in the subject.

Intermediate Physics Challenge (Online)

  • Takes place in January

  • 2 x 30 minutes (can be sat on different days if required)

  • Sat within your school supervised by the teacher

  • Marked online and results returned to schools

Intermediate Physics Challenge

  • Takes place in March

  • Length - 1 hour

  • Sat within your school

  • Marked within schools

  • Papers are sent by email to a teacher’s school email address

 

Year 12 - The Senior Physics Challenge

There are two different challenges for students in Year 12: either online or on paper.  It is an opportunity for students to take part in a national physics competition and to develop their confidence in the subject. This is not merely for the very top students, but for all those who like to engage in problem solving questions and developing those skills.

Senior Physics Challenge (Online)

  • Takes place in January

  • 2 x 30 minutes (can be sat on different days if required)

  • Sat within your school supervised by the teacher

  • Marked online and results returned to schools

Senior Physics Challenge

  • Takes place in March

  • Length - 1 hour

  • Sat within your school

  • Marked within schools

  • Papers are sent by email to a teacher’s school email address

 

Year 13 - The Physics Challenge

The paper is based on the common curriculum for Year 13 students. It contains questions that relate to A level (or equivalent) topics, but it is not A level exam preparation. It is to stretch thinking into the applications and ideas rather than to keep to the narrow content of the syllabus, preparing students for further work, or for university interview practice. 

  • Length - 1 hour

  • Completed in school between September and November

  • Marked in school

Year 13 - The British Physics Olympiad - Round 1

This paper consists of a set of short answer (Section 1) and several long answer thematic questions (Section 2). Results determine if students will be invited to participate in the next round (Round 2 in late January), and ultimately onto the team for the International Physics Olympiad.

  • Paper sat in school in November

  • Length 2 hrs 40 min + 5 min reading for Section 2 (it can be sat as two half papers)

  • Sat within your school

  • Papers are returned to the BPhO office for marking

Certificates are awarded:

  • 50 Top Gold

  • 100 Gold

  • 200 Silver

  • 300 Bronze I

  • 300 Bronze II

  • 1000 Commendations

Year 13 - The British Physics Olympiad - Round 2

By invitation only - based on the results from Round 1 and certain eligibility requirements.

  • Paper sat in school in January

  • Length 3 hrs

  • Sat within your school

  • Papers are returned to the BPhO office for marking

Certificates are awarded:

  • 33% Gold

  • 33% Silver

  • 33% Bronze

Year 13 - The British Physics Olympiad - Round 3

Round 3 comprises of a five-day Easter residential at the University of Oxford. Students are sent study material prior to the Oxford Training Camp and during their visit they receive lectures, problem classes and sit a further theoretical paper and have the chance to practise practical physics problems similar to those encountered at the International Physics Olympiad.

Qualification for the British Physics Olympiad Team


At the end of the camp five students (and two reserves) are chosen to represent the UK at the International Physics Olympiad.

International Physics Olympiad


The five students and accompanying adults attend the exciting International Physics Olympiad (IPhO). This takes place in July in one of the 85 competing countries. The competition consists of two challenging papers; a theoretical paper and an experimental paper. Visits, social events and entertainment are also arranged. The Olympiad funds all the costs. Prior to the IPhO there is further training by correspondence and a final, four-day training camp at Trinity College, Cambridge.

 

Experimental Project and the BAAO

There are also Experimental and Computational Projects as well as competitions for the British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad.

Find out more about these at the official BPhO website to see the latest dates and details of how to enter: BPhO.org.uk

 

Past Papers

To prepare for the BPhO you should have a look at some of the past papers - these are quite different to the usual past exam papers you may be more familiar with.

 

Find them all here: BPhO.org.uk/past-papers