International Biology Olympiad

The premier, worldwide high school biology competition.

Success at the International Biology Olympiad

The International Biology Olympiad (IBO) is a competition for pre-university students which tests their practical and theoretical biology skills. 

The competition brings together students from all around the world and tries to both challenge and stimulate their curiosity in the biosciences. It is an opportunity for students to expand their talents.

The United Kingdom has taken part in every International Biology Olympiad since 1998. Every team member, except one, has won a medal.

In 2017, we hosted a hugely successful IBO at the University of Warwick.

UKBC holds the United Kingdom’s seat in the IBO’s governing body. Any British students wishing to participate at the IBO must compete in the British Biology Olympiad.

Countries participating in the International Biology Olympiad (dark green = members, bright green = pending members).
* Team consisted of 3 students
IBO challenge: Online substitute of the IBO


students competed last year


countries took part last year

What are the eligibility requirements?

Details of eligibility for 2024 selection have been provided directly to schools. These include the requirements that students…
  • must have studied in the UK for at least the past two years
  • must not have previously participated in UK Team Selection
  • must not have previously attended an International Biology Olympiad
  • must be pre-university
  • must be under the age of twenty

What happens at a typical IBO?

The notable days of the programme are the following:

  • Opening ceremony: introduction of the host country and participating teams
  • Theory exam day: two 180-minute exams
  • Practical exam day: three or four ninety-minute exams
  • Closing ceremony: medal awarding ceremony

Sight-seeing and cultural activities may happen in-between the exam days and ceremonies.

Who is the IBO jury?

Each country’s team is made up of competing students, and juries. The jury are the people who will accompany the students to the host country, they will help register the students, discuss the exam questions and check the marking of the exam questions.

Who are the team guides?

The team guides are volunteers, who will be looking after the students. This includes waking them up, accompanying them on any trips. They will forward any information, and will update the hosts or jury in the case of emergencies.

If the jury sees the exams before the students, how is cheating prevented?

Students and jury stay at separate accommodations and they communicate through the hosts/team guides in case of emergencies.

What happens to the electronics?

Per Appendix 1 of the IBO Operational Guidelines, any electronics that can connect to wifi, including phones, laptops, tablets, smart phones are taken away from the students before the jury starts discussing the exams. Students will also be asked to sign a Declaration form for competitors, acknowledging these rules.

How will the jury be contacted then?

The team guide and hosts have the contact information of the jury and will contact them in case of emergencies.

What is provided?

The hosts and UKBC provide all accommodation, food and transport.

Spending money for souvenirs or snacks outside the meals described above are not provided.