„Olympiade de Biologie“

shared membership & team with: Belgium dutch

Contact data

Country coordinator

Gérard Cobut

Hosting institution

Association des professeurs de biologie - PROBIO asbl
Rue Vautier 29
1000, Bruxelles


Appointing institution

Association des professeurs de biologie - PROBIO asbl (Biology Teachers Association in French-speaking and German-speaking Belgium)

Rue Vautier 29 – 1000 Bruxelles – Belgium

Organization & structure

The Biology Teachers association (PROBIO asbl) is the main organizer.It can count on support from various Teachers, Professors and Universities.

Biology teachers are in charge of their students application. Both apply in a web database. Participation is individual, on a voluntary basis. An application fee is due (5 € / student).

Our Olympiad includes 3 rounds of tests for grade 12 students (eligible for IBO), 2 rounds for grade 11 students.

Competition and rounds

  • January : first round. It's held simultaneously in participating schools. Teachers get the questions and the answer keys; they mark the tests and enter the results on-line. Some 100 to 200 students are selected (± 50% in grade 11, ± 50% in grade 12).
  • February : second round. This test is carried out in 5 regional locations (mostly universities) around the country. The organizers mark the tests. Some 10-12 laureates are selected this way in grade 11 (the competition stops at this level: those laureates are automatically selected for the 2nd round next year). Some 10-15 finalists are selected in grade 12.
  • March / April / May. Grade 12 finalists get a training programme (see below: Student training).
  • May. The third round detrmines the final ranking (grade 12). The top 2 students will go for the IBO. The 2 other Belgian students are selected through the Flemish Biology Olympiad.
Number of students in first round

Approximately 750


Test questions are written by a small group of volunteers brought together for this purpose (former teachers, professors, Olympiad managers...). This task is done in co-operation with the Luxembourg Biology Olympiad (combining physical meeting and video-conference).

Round 1 tests

  • For grade 11 + 12 participants
  • Theory only; multiple choice questions
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Carried out in schools

Round 2 tests

  • For grade 11 + 12 participants
  • Theory only; mix of multiple choice and open questions
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Carried out in 5 regional locations (mostly universities) around the country.

Round 3 tests

  • For grade 12 participants only
  • Theory: mostly open questions
  • Practical work: some simple activities
  • Duration: 5-6 hours
  • Carried out in Brussels University (ULB)

For 10-15 finalists (grade 12):

  • 2 training camps in March/April, 3 days each (Friday to Sunday)
  • 1 training camp in April (Easter holiday), 2 days, together with the Luxembourg finalists (in Luxembourg)

For the 2 finalists (grade 12) who will go for IBO (when applicable):

  • one camp in July, 2-3 days long, just before departing to IBO
Study materials

A specific study program is applicable for the 1st test (based on the current official common curriculum). See (in French).

Teachers can acquire the full set of questions asked in all previous National Olympiads (starting 1991) on for training purposes.

Students are stimulated to discover as much as possible by themselves.

N.B. We're currently (end of 2020) developing a web-based educational platform devoted to Bio Olympiad learning/training.

Awards & prizes

"National" level competition

The Biology Olympiad competition selects some 10 to 15 laureates at grade 11, and 10 to 15 at grade 12.

At each grade laureates are awarded:

  • medals (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze; participation medal for all other laureates);
  • diplomas;
  • science (text)books.

One €150 grant is awarded to the top grade 12 laureate by the Museum of Natural Sciences, Brussels.

IBO level

Since 2020, if a grade 12 laureate wins an IBO medal, he/she is then assigned a special recognition and medal by the Academy of Sciences, during its Public Session (usually: December).

Please note: we're currently trying and setting up an "Excellence Grant" system, which should provide some grant to IBO medalists.

No specific access to University (or so) is currently linked to NBO / IBO awards.


Type of students

Students applying for the Biology Olympiad are typically having lessons in grade 11 & 12. All schools may apply but participation in IBO and similar (European Union Science Olympiad) are restricted according to the prevailing Rules for those international competitions.

We organize separate competitions for 11th grade and for 12th grade (10th grade students may participate in grade 11 competition, basically to get acquainted with it).

Participation is individual, on a voluntary basis.

Biology Teachers are supposed to be the application driving force.

School year

Begins: September 1st

Ends: June 30

Biology hours/week

Minimum: 1 hour/week

Maximum: 2 hours/week

Some schools may add some extra biology lessons during the school year, but this only adds small fractions of biology hours/week (absolute maximum: ± 2.3 hours/week)

Hours of Classes/week

The rule is 32 hours/week (an "hour" being in fact a 50 minutes time period).

This can be increased to 34, 35 or 36 hours for pupils taking certain courses (languages and science in particular).

Public Relations


The Biology Olympiad promotion & communication is carried out in close co-operation with the Chemistry and Physics Olympiads (information mailing, website, fund-raising…).

In October, we send an information package (folder, poster, instructions…) to each & every secondary school, to a wide group of science teachers, and to Science journalists.

Information is also available on:

Promotion contact

The science Olympiad consortium (bio, chemistry, physics) ensures common promotion.

Statistics over the years

The participation figures are quite constant throughout the years: ± 700-750 applicants for the 1st round.

The statistics below are based on ± 500 eligible schools and an estimated 50 000 eligible students.

Year 2020: 128 schools, 757 students, 26 % school participation, 1,51 % students participation

Year 2019: 118 schools, 764 students, 24 % school participation, 1,53 % students participation

Year 2018: 105 schools, 725 students, 21 % school participation, 1,45 % students participation

Year 2017: 101 schools, 662 students, 20 % school participation, 1,32 % students participation

Year 2016: 81 schools, 584 students, 16 % school participation, 1,17 % students participation

Year 2015: 83 schools, 622 students, 17 % school participation, 1,24 % students participation

Media coverage

Media coverage is – unfortunately – very limited.

Sporadic publications appear in newspapers and news websites.

Comment: it seems that Science is not media-attractive...


Logo of Olympiade de Biologie [JPG, 54.0 KB] Download Poster of Olympiade de Biologie [JPG, 259.3 KB] Download Leaflet of Olympiade de Biologie [PDF, 4.7 MB] Download
Description of attached files:

Our poster and leaflet are sent to all secondary schools and to teachers whom we know (i.e. we have a postal address) in October every year.