Chemistry Olympiad Support Booklet


This booklet is designed with two purposes in mind: to help and encourage ambitious post-16 chemistry students to do well in future competitions; and as a valuable teaching resource for schools to stretch and challenge gifted students.



The UK selection process is open to UK Sixth Form students, with Lower Sixth as well as Upper Sixth students encouraged to take part. Students entering the competition compete in two rounds. The first round is a written paper taken at the students’ own institution, and the second is a two day event held at a university. The students most successful in the second round will compose the team that will travel to the international final.

The Round 1 paper is a written test of chemical knowledge and understanding. A small committee of teachers from schools and universities spends a great deal of time and effort coming up with what we think are interesting and challenging questions on real and relevant chemistry, raising awareness of what the subject is all about. Tackling the Round 1 paper also provides a good opportunity to develop some of the skills required for study at university and beyond. There is no doubt that these questions are demanding: they do not rely on the relatively easy recall of information which students will have met before, but instead on thinking and trying to work out answers to unfamiliar questions – this is much more difficult.

The recent Round 1 questions, which are contained in this booklet, are typical; they may seem ‘impossible’ at first sight, but the authors have tried to show how it is possible to work out the answers, sometimes by seeing analogies to what they have done, sometimes piecing data together rather like a jigsaw puzzle.