New Zealand

„New Zealand International Biology Olympiad“

New Zealand

Contact data

Country coordinator

Dr. Angela Sharples

Hosting institution

NZ International Biology Olympiad (NZIBO)
896A State Highway 5
RD2, Hamurana
Rotorua, 3072
New Zealand


Appointing institution

NZ International Biology Olympiad (NZIBO)

896A State Highway 5

RD2, Hamurana

Rotorua, 3072

New Zealand

Organization & structure

NZIBO fosters interest, participation, and excellence in biology through participation of secondary school students in the New Zealand Biology Olympiad Programme. The programme provides University level education in Biology to those students selected to participate in the online tutorial programme.

NZIBO ensures that the students who participate have the necessary knowledge to compete successfully at the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) should they be selected to represent New Zealand at this prestigious international competition.

NZIBO is a charitable organisation run by a volunteer committee of secondary school teachers.

There are three rounds to the NZIBO programme which begins with an Entrance Exam. The top 200 students from the Entrance exam are encouraged to participate in study of the IBO curriculum via online tutorials. They complete a series of directed questions based on the IBO curriculum and then receive feedback on their work. They are encouraged to discuss their understanding of the topics with each other and the tutorial coordinator via a Facebook group. They also complete MasteringBiology assignments from Pearson.

Based on the Selection exam, the top 20-25 students (numbers are financially constrained) are invited to attend a residential training and selection camp for 8 - 10 days. They are hosted by a number of tertiary education providers and complete a variety of practical tasks, fieldwork, and seminars.

At the end of this camp, the students sit the team selection exams and the top 4 students are selected to represent NZ at the annual IBO competition.

Students representing NZ are supported to continue their study until the IBO competition itself and can email NZIBO committee members for help. They are also provided with previous IBO exam questions to direct their study. As these students are spread throughout NZ no further group training occurs and the top 4 students are selected to represent NZ at the annual IBO competition.

Number of students in first round

The number of students participating in the NZIBO programme has continued to grow since 2004. In 2019-20 there were 386 participants.


The Entrance exam is a written multi-choice exam that tests thinking skills rather than specific biological knowledge. This exam is supervised by the students own teachers at their secondary school. At the end of the tutorial programme the students sit a multi-choice camp selection exam delivered online but supervised in the students secondary school. At the practical training camp held at various universities, the students sit a 3 hour multi-choice theory exam and a 3 hour practical exam.


Approximately 30 days extra over a year. There are 8 - 10 days of face to face training and the practical training camp for the top 20-25 students.

Study materials

Campbell Biology: Australian and New Zealand edition, 11th Edition. By Lisa A. Urry, Noel Meyers, Michael L. Cain, Steven A. Wasserman, Peter V. Minorsky, Jane B. Reece.

Awards & prizes

All students receive a Participation Certificate. Students who complete the tutorial programme receive a Bronze Certificate. Students selected to attend the Practical Training and Selection Camp receive a Silver Certificate and those selected to represent NZ at the IBO receive a Gold Certificate. The top student at the IBO receives a Platinum Certificate. On occasions students receive textbooks or lab coats from sponsoring organisations.


Type of students

By the time of the IBO in July of the following year students participating in the NZIBO programme must:

(1) be born by the 1st of July or later of the actual IBO year minus twenty.

(2) be in full-time attendance at a secondary school in NZ.

(3) have attended school in NZ for at least 2 years.

(4) have not already participated twice in the IBO.

(4) have not obtained a diploma allowing study at a university or equivalent institution before the 1st of January of the actual competition year.

(5) have not yet started study at a university or equivalent institution as regular or full-time students.

Most students who participate are in Year 12, the second to last year of their secondary school education.

School year

January - December

Biology hours/week

3 - 5 hours per week

Hours of Classes/week

15 hours per week

Public Relations


National newsletter, emails via the Royal Society of New Zealand, promotion through the relevant teachers association Biology Educators of New Zealand (BEANZ), mail outs to all schools and all science teachers in New Zealand, presentations at teachers conferences (SCICON, BIOLIVE and BioED),

Facebook: and website:

Promotion contact

NZIBO executive committee, Chairperson: Dr Angela Sharples

Statistics over the years
  • 2020: 444 students from 81 schools (21.6% of eligible schools)
  • 2019: 386 students from 60 schools (16% of eligible schools)
  • 2018: 326 students from 66 schools (17.6% of eligible schools)
  • 2017: 357 students from 60 schools (16% of eligible schools)
  • 2016: 347 students from 69 schools (18.7% of eligible schools)
  • 2015: 349 students from 75 schools (20.4% of eligible schools)
  • 2014: 374 students from 75 schools (20.4% of eligible schools)
  • 2013: 344 students from 75 schools (20.8% of eligible schools)
  • 2012: 389 students from 70 schools (19.4% of eligible schools)
  • 2011: 242 students from 65 schools (18% of eligible schools)
  • 2010: 276 students from 61 schools (16.9% of eligible schools)
  • 2009: 242 students from 52 schools (14.4% of eligible schools)
  • 2008: 215 students from 45 schools (15.3% of eligible schools)
  • 2007: 137 students from 35 schools (11.9% of eligible schools)
  • 2006: 145 students from 25 schools (8.5% of eligible schools)
  • 2005: 156 students from 35 schools (11.9% of eligible schools)
  • 2004: 60 students from 16 schools (5.4% of eligible schools)

The number of students and schools participating has continued to grow since the NZIBO was established in 2004. Smaller schools may enter a student only now and then and so the total number of schools who have entered students is actually 198 which is 52.8% of secondary schools in NZ.

Media coverage

Nil, occasionally local newspapers will run a story about a particular student and we have had a national newspaper story about NZIBO only once.


Logo of New Zealand International Biology Olympiad [JPG, 133.7 KB] Download
Description of attached files:

We have attached our logo, we use different posters etc each year. We use our website and facebook page to promote the NBO rather than sending out paper leaflets etc