the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO)
- G e n e r
a l S t a t e m e n t
§1- Aims of the competition
- The International
Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) is a chemistry competition for students at
secondary school level with the aim of promoting international contacts in
chemistry. It is intended to stimulate the activities of students
interested in chemistry by a way of independent and creative solving of
chemical problems. The IChO competitions help to enhance friendly
relations among young people from different countries; they encourage
cooperation and international understanding.
O r g a n i z a t i o n o f I C h O
- Organization and invitation
- (1) The IChO is
organized every year as a rule at the beginning of July in one of the
participating countries by the Education Ministry or another appropriate
institution of the organizing country (hereafter referred to as the
- (2) The organizer
is obliged to invite all countries partici-pating in the previous IChO
competition. The official invitation to participate in the forthcoming
IChO should be sent to countries by the November proceeding the
competition. The invited countries must confirm their participation in the
IChO according to requirements of the organizer.
(3) Moreover, other countries may apply for the participation in IChO but
the organizer has the right to invite the countries only on agreement with
the organizers of two forth-coming IChOs. Incoming countries must send
observers to two consecutive Olympiads before its pupils can participate
in IChO (see also § 3, section 5)..
§3 - Delegations
- (1) Each
participating country's delegation may consist of four competitors and two
accompanying persons (also known as mentors). Countries may include one
scientific observer in their delegation.
- (2) The
competitors must not be university students. They can only be students of
secondary schools which are not specialized in chemistry and, if they are
already graduated befoire May 1st in the year of the competition, the
organizer must be informed about the month and year of their graduation.
Moreover, they must be under the age of 20 at the 1st of July in the year
of the competition. The competitors must be pass-port holders of the
country they represent or they had to take part in the secondary school
educational system of this country for more than one academic year. All
members of a delegation must provide themselves with medical insurance for
the journey to/from the organizing country and the stay in the country.
- (3) The mentors
act as members of the International Jury (see § 6) and one of them is
designated as the head of delegation.
- (4) The mentors:
a) must guarantee the fulfilment of those conditions
given in section 2 of this paragraph,
b) must be capable of translating the text of
competition tasks from English into the mother tongue of their students
and be able to judge the set of tasks and correct the work of the
c) have the right to enter a protest which should be
addressed to the Chair of the International Jury and, when necessary, ask
for solving the problem at the next meeting of the International Jury.
- (5) Incoming
countries that are invited by the organizer, and intend to take part in
future IChOs, may send one scientific observer..
§4 - Obligations of the Organizer
- (1) The organizer
a) the itinerary of the IChO,
b) transportation from/to an airport/station
decided by the host country on the day of arrival and departure,
c) the organization of the competition following
d) accident insurance for all participants in
connection with the organized programme,
e) the opportunity for the mentors to inspect the
working room and practical apparatus to be used for the practical tasks
before the competition takes place,
f) arrangement for the observance of the safety
g) the medals, certificates and prizes, which are
presented at the official closing ceremony,
h) a printed report on the competition to be
distributed not later than six months after the competition.
- (1) The
participating country covers the return travel costs of the students and
the accompanying persons to the designed airport/station or to the place
where the competition is held.
- (2) The
participating country must pay for the participation fee the amount of
which must be approved by the International Jury.
- (3) All other
costs in connection with the organized programme, including the costs of
accommodation for all competitors and members of the International Jury,
are covered by the organizer.
- (4) The organizer
of the next Olympiad may send two observers to the current IChO with their
expenses covered by the host as mentioned in the preceding section 3..
I n s t i t u t i o n s o f I C h O
§6 - International Jury
- (1) The
International Jury consists of its chair and members. The chair of the
International Jury is nominated by the organizer. The members of the
International Jury are the two mentors from the individual delegations and
the chair of the Steering Committee (see § 8).
- (2) The chair of
the International Jury or his/her delegate calls and chairs all the
meetings of the International Jury concerning the current competition.
- (3) Resolutions of
common International Jury sessions or its split sessions are passed by the
International Jury when they are agreed by a simple majority of votes in
the presence of at least 75% of the delegations. Each participating
country has one vote. Changes in the regulations can only be done at the
common sessions of the International Jury and require a qualified majority
of two thirds of the votes. The chair has a casting vote in the event of a
tie. The decisions of the International Jury are binding for both
organizer and participants.
- (4) The working
language of the International Jury is English.
§7 - Responsibilities of the International Jury
- (1) The
a) is in charge of the actual competition and its
supervision according to the regulations,
b) discusses in advance the competition tasks
presented by the organizer, their solutions and the marking guidelines,
gives com-ments and decides in case of changes,
c) supervises the marking of the examination
papers and guarantees that all participants are judged by equal criteria,
d) determines the winners and decides on prizes
and documents for the competitors,
e) monitors the competition and suggests changes
to the regulations, organization and contents for future IChOs,
f) takes decisions on excluding of a participant
or a whole team from the.competition (see also § 11, section 7),
g) elects members of the Steering Committee of
h) may form working groups to solve specific
chemistry related problems of the IChO.
- (2) The members of
the International Jury:
a) are obliged to maintain a professional
discretion about any relevant information they receive during the IChO and
must not assist any participants,
b) keep the marking and results secret until
proclaimed by the International Jury.
- (3) The working
groups of the International Jury should draw its membership from IChO
participating countries and those interested in IChO competitions. The
working groups meet for working sessions and submit the results of the
deliberations to the Steering Committee.
§8 - Steering Committee
- (1) The long term
work involved in organizing the International Chemistry Olympiads is
coordinated by the Steering Committee.
- (2) Members of the
Committee are elected by the International Jury. They are representatives
from various geographical areas (3 from Europe, 1 from
Americas, 1 from Pacific Rim), to serve a two year term. Members are
elected for no more than two consecutive terms. Moreover, 1 - 3 members
may be selected by the Steering Com-mittee for their particular expertise
for periods of one year.
- (3) There are
three ex-officio members of the Steering Committee: a) chair of the
current IChO, b) chair of the immediate past IChO, c) chair of the
immediate future IChO.
- (4) The Steering
Committee elects its own Chair. The Chair:
a) calls and chairs the meetings of the Steering
b) calls and chairs the business meetings of the
International Jury dealing with general problems of future International
c) has the right to call a special meeting of the
International Jury when necessary for some exceptional reasons..
- (5) The Steering
a) provides organizational oversight for the
International Chemistry Olympiad,
b) proposes items for consideration at the
International Jury sessions.
- (6) The Steering
Committee has no right to make any decisions about the International
Chemistry Olympiad that would interfere with the responsibilities of the
International Jury (see § 7 and 8).
§9 - International Information Center
- There is an
International Information Center of the International Chemistry Olympiads
gathering and providing (when necessary) all the documentation of
the IChOs from the very beginning of the Olympiad to the present. The seat
of the Office is in Bratislava, Slovakia.
C o m p e t i t i o n
§10 - Preparation for the IChO competition
- (1) By the
November of the proceeding competition the organizer distributes to all
participating countries a set of preparatory tasks written in English. The
preparatory tasks must be devised so that students can get a good idea of
the type and difficulty of the competition tasks, including safety aspects
(see §12 and Appendix "B"). According to Appendix "C"
topics of group 3 must be covered in the preparatory problems. SI units
must be used throughout the preparatory tasks.
- (2) The total
number of theoretical and experimental tasks in the set of preparatory
problems cannot be lower than 25 and 5, respectively.
- (3) The organizer
cannot give theoretical problems of level 3 (Appendix C) from more than 3
fields and a minimum of 6 tasks should be presented in the
set of preparatory problems from each field. Subjects assigned to level 3
can be classified as level 2 if sufficient background is included in the
formulation of the problem (e. g. formulas, graphs, structures,
equations)..(4) The organizer cannot set an experimental competition task
with an experimental technique of level 3 (Appendix D) without mentioning
it at least in one of experimental preparatory tasks.
- (5) Training or
any other special instruction, that is carried out for a selected group of
50 or fewer students, containing the IChO team, must be no longer than two
- Organization of the IChO Competition
- (1) The
competition consists of two parts: a) part one, the practical
(experimental) competition, b) part two, the theoretical competition.
- (2) A working time
of four to five hours is allotted for each part. There is at least one day
of rest between the two parts.
- (3) Competitors
receive all the relevant information in the language of their choice and
are allowed to write the solutions in that language.
- (4) There must be
no contact between mentors and competitors once the mentors received the
competition tasks for consideration. No information about the competition
tasks must be passed to the competitors directly or indirectly prior and
during the competition.
- (5) Only
non-programmable pocket calculators may be used for the solving of the
- (6) The safety
regulations announced by the organizer are binding for all participants.
- (7) Breaking of
any rules given in the preceding paragraphs (§ 3. section 2, § 10,
section 4, § 11, sections 4, 5, and 6) has as its consequence excluding
from the whole or a part of the competition..
§12 - Safety
- (1) During the
experimental part, the competitors must wear laboratory coats and eye
protection. The competitors are expected to bring their own laboratory
coats. Other means of protection for laboratory work are provided by the
- (2) When handling
with liquids, each student must be provided with a pipette ball or filler.
Pipetting by mouth is strictly forbidden.
- (3) The use of
very toxic substances (designation T+) is strictly forbidden. The use of
toxic substances (designation T) is not recommended, but may be allowed if
special precautions are taken. Substances belonging to the categories R
45, R 46, R 47 must not be used under any circumstances (see
Appendix B for definitions of these categories).
- (4) The organizer
provides a list of chemicals from which the chemicals used in practical
preparatory and competition tasks are drawn. The list of chemicals must
include information of the maximum amounts of materials needed or in the
case of solutions their maximum concentrations. Any hazardous materials on
the list must be accompanied by detailed instructions for safe handling.
The list must be provided together with the preparatory tasks (see § 10).
Each participating country has three months to file a substantiated
dissent concerning the use of a special chemical. Silence indicates
acceptance. The organizer should try to revise the list in order to
satisfy any objections. The final revision of the list will be distributed
to the delegation leaders at the start of the Olympiad.
- (5) Detailed
recommendations involving students´ safety and the handling and disposal
of chemicals can be found in Appendices A 1, A 2, and B.
a) Appendix A 1: Safety Rules for Students in the
b) Appendix A 2: Safety Rules and Recommendations
for the Host Country of the IChO.
c) Appendix B contains: B 1: Hazard Warning
Symbols and Hazard
Designations and their explanation. B 2: R-Ratings and
S-Provisions: Nature of special risks (R) and safety advice (S)..
§13 - Competition Tasks
- (1) The organizer
is responsible for the preparation of competition tasks by competent
experts/authors, who constitute the Scientific Board of the IChO.
They propose the methods of solution and the marking scheme.
- (2) The tasks,
their solutions and the marking schemes are submitted to the International
Jury for consideration and approval. The authors of the tasks
should be present during the discussion.
- (3) The Chair of
the International Jury may put the Chair of the Scientific Board in charge
of the proceedings when the tasks are considered.
- (4) The total
length of the theoretical or experimental tasks must not exceed 10,000
characters. SI units must be used throughout the competition tasks.
- (5) In the
experimental part of the competition the following conditions must be
a) The experimental part must contain at least
two independent tasks.
b) No part of the grade can subjectively be
evaluated by the staff.
c) Competitors must receive the same substances
when solving the tasks from qualitative analytical chemistry.
d) When solving tasks from quantitative
analytical chemistry competitors must receive the same substances but with
e) In evaluating the quantitative tasks the
master values must not be based on average results of the competitors.
f) The great majority of the grade in
quantitative tasks must be given to the mean value as reported by the
competitors while some marks may also be given to the corresponding
equations, calculations, or explanations directly related to the work.
Points must not be awarded for reproducibility.
§14 - Correcting and Marking
(1) A maximum of 60 points is allocated to the theoretical tasks and 40
points to the practical tasks, making a total of 100 points.
- (2) The
competition tasks are corrected independently by the authors and by the
mentors. Consequential marking should be used so that students are
not.punished twice for the same error. Both corrections are then compared,
however, the authors present their evaluation first. After a discussion
- (3) The
International Jury discusses the results and decides on the final scores.
- (4) In order to
eliminate any doubts about possible mistakes in the processing of the
results the organizer must provide the mentors with a list of their
students' total results before the closing awards' ceremony.
§15 - Results and Prizes
- (1) Official
results of the competition and the number of medals awarded are decided by
the International Jury.
- (2) The number of
gold medals awarded is in the range of 8% to 12%, silver 18% to 22%, and
bronze medals 28% to 32% of the total number of
competitors. The exact number of medals is decided on the basis of an
anonymous review of the results.
- (3) Every medalist
must receive the medal and a corresponding certificate from the organizer.
- (4) In addition to
the medals other prizes may be awarded.
- (5) An honourable
mention is awarded to competitots who do not receive a medal, but gain
full marks for at least one problem.
- (6) Each
competitor receives a certificate of participation.
- (7) In the
awarding ceremony, the non medalists are called in alphabetical order.
- (8) No team
classification takes place.
- (9) The organizer
must provide a complete list of results as a part of the final report..
§16 - Final Regulations
- (1) Those who take
part in the competition acknowledge these regulations through their very
- (2) This version
of regulations has been approved by the International Jury in Bangkok
(Thailand) in July 1999 and is issued to replace the former one
approved in Oslo (Norway) in 1994.
- (3) The
regulations are valid from September 1st, 1999. Changes in them can only
be made by the International Jury and require a qualified majority (two
third of the votes with regard to total number of participating