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Belgium (French-speaking)

Olympiade de Biologie

1991   (in French)

  • Paper

The organizers send an information package (folder, poster, instructions…) to every secondary school and to a wide selection of science teachers.

Selected journalists get it, too.

  • Internet

Teachers receive an e-mail message, stating applications are open.

A press release is widely sent to journalists by e-mail.

The same information is available on the website

Our Facebook account and our Twitter page are extra promotion devices.

  • General

The Biology Olympiad promotion is carried out in co-operation with the Chemistry and Physics Olympiads (information mailing, sponsor hunting, website…).

The competition itself is organized on 2 levels: 6th year (last year of secondary education), and 5th year (the year before). In 5th year there are 2 rounds, in 6th year 3 rounds. Participation is individual, on a voluntary basis.

Biology teachers are responsible for their students application. They apply directly in a web database. An application fee is due (3 € / student).

  • January. The first round is held simultaneously in schools: teachers get the questions and the answers. Teachers mark the tests and send the results back to the organizers.
  • February. Some 90-100 students are selected (30-40 5th year, 50-60 6th year) and pass the second round. This test is carried out in 4-5 universities around the country. The organizers mark the tests. About 10 laureates are selected this way in 5th year (the competition stops at this level in 5th year: those laureates are automatically selected for the 2nd round next year); about 15 laureates are selected in 6th year.
  • March / April / May. Those students (6th year) get a limited training programme (see below: Student training).
  • May. The third round allows to determine the final ranking.
    The best 2 students will go to the IBO.
    The 2 other Belgian students are selected through the Flemish Biology Olympiad.


First round

     Theory only; multiple choice questions

Second round

     Theory only; mix of multiple choice and open questions

Third round

     Theory; mostly open questions

     Practical work: some simple activities


For 10-15 finalists (6th year) two special training camps are held:

  • 3 days camp in March, in Universities / Natural Sciences Museum
  • 3 days camp in April, in Universities / Natural Sciences Museum

     This training covers topics, which are not or poorly covered by standard school curricula.
     It aims at preparing both the final exam and the IBO.

For the 2 finalists who will go for IBO:

  • 2-3 days camp in July, just before departing to IBO

A specific syllabus is published concerning the first round (we need a common standard because 3 educational systems co-exist, each one having its own curriculum).
See (in French).

Teachers can buy a CD-ROM with questions of the previous National Olympiads (starting 1991)

Recommended study material is:

  • "Content of the Theoretical Part of IBO";
  • "Content of the Practical Part of IBO";
  • and previous IBO theoretical questions.

The Olympiad competition selects some 7 to 10 laureates in 5th year, some 12 to 15 in 6th year.

The awarded prizes are diplomas and some science (text)books.
Almost no money (one 150 € grant is awarded to the first 6th year laureate); medals are awarded at each level (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze, participation medal to all other laureates).

No specific access to anything (University or so) is linked to NBO awards (so far).


  • Media coverage is - unfortunately - very limited.
  • Sporadic publications appear in newspapers and news websites.
  • Some radio interviews.
  • A science TV programme "Matière grise" ("gray matter") followed some students throughout the whole Olympic process… (2015-2016; resulting in a 5 minutes broadcast in May 2017)


The most important support comes from:

Extra money comes from:

  • the Brussels Regional Government,
  • the Walloon Regional Government,
  • the German Community Government.

Some private sponsoring is received, through a big chemical company (Solvay) and a major healthcare firm (GSK).

Universities provide scientific support (training...)

The Museum of Natural Sciences helps organizing the NBO.


The Ministry of Education grants money for running the Olympiad, at both national and international level.

Rules are published (in French) on the website:

Basically they define:

  • who is allowed to participate (class, age);
  • the application fee;
  • how the Olympiad is set up and organized;
  • which national laureates are applicable for international competitions (compliance with IBO and EUSO rules).

The participation figures are quite constant throughout the years.
  • First round: ± 650-750 applicants.
  • Second round: ± 40 students selected in 5th year (1st ranked is part of the Belgian EUSO team)
    ± 60 students selected in 6th year
  • Third round for 6th year students (10-15 finalists); 2 best students take part in IBO (along with the 2 best students from the Flemish Biology Olympiad)
Year Applicants 5th y
6th y
5th y
6th y
2017 661 291 371
1 bronze, 1 merit
2016 581 254 327
1 merit
395 8 15


2 merits

1 bronze

1 bronze



1 bronze


1 bronze
from September to June.
minimum 1, maximum 2.

Gérard Cobut

c/o Museum of Natural Sciences, Exhibition Development - rue Vautier 29 - 1000 Brussels - Belgium
Ministry of Education of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Place Surlet de Chokier 15-17, 1000 Bruxelles - Belgium

Images and files:

Our logo suggests the Olympic spirit, with a smiling evocation of "male" and "female" symbols.

The poster and 4-pages brochure are sent yearly to every secondary school and to most science teachers.

Belgium (French-speaking)
Image for the logo PNG image — 5 KB

Image for the poster JPEG image — 661 KB
File for the poster PDF document — 724 KB

File for the leaflet PDF document — 1648 KB
by Gérard Cobut last modified Sep 02, 2017 07:03 PM