Students who want to participate in IBO must first become one of the top four students in their respective National Biology Olympiads (NBO). NBOs select the contestants for IBO in typically 3-5 consecutively more difficult national competition rounds. The contacts to all National Biology Olympiads can be found here.

If you are from a country which is not yet amongst the shown IBO members, you may be interested in this section here.

During IBO, students have to participate in Theoretical and Practical Exams. The Theoretical Exams encompass ca. 100 tasks in largely closed-ended format (e.g., multiple true-false). These tasks cover all domains of biology and require students to apply their science knowledge in analyzing advanced biological phenomena. The Practicals typically fall into 3-4 laboratories. The content domains for each Practical are announced ca. 6-12 months before an IBO. In the lab, students showcase biological skills by conducting investigations and analyzing data.

There is currently no published syllabus / curriculum for IBO. However, some binding regulations on what IBO exams have to cover in terms of contents and practicals skills are documented in IBO's Operational Guidelines.

All IBO years change slightly with the foci set by each host country. A typical IBO week is structured like this:

Activities for the students

Activities for the international Jury

Day 1

During the day: Arrivals

Evening: welcome ceremony

Day 2

Social program, excursions, laboratory safety instructions

Translation & discussion of practical exams
Day 3

Practical exams (typically 4x1.5 hours)

Translation & discussion of theoretical exams
Day 4 Social program, excursions

Translation & discussion of theoretical exams

Day 5

Theoretical exams (typically 2x3 hours)

Evening: Cultural night, together with jury members

Excursion day

Evening: Cultural night, together with students

Day 6

Social program, excursions

Morning: Annual General Meeting of IBO members

Afternoon: Discussion and approval of results

Day 7

Morning: Social program, excursions

Afternoon: Awards ceremony, gala dinner, closing party

Morning: IBO Educational Session

Afternoon: Awards ceremony, gala dinner, closing party

Day 8