How to apply for the National Olympiad Programme(2020-2021) in Science subjects

Passionate about studying science? Desirous of appearing for the National Olympiads in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy or Junior Science? Learn here in this article about the eligibility criteria, application procedure, test details and the important dates regarding the National Olympiad Programme 2020-2021 in Science subjects.

What is the National Olympiad Programme

The National Olympiads in science subjects are competitive exams that are appeared by thousands of school students every year in India. The Olympiads are held for the subjects Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy and Junior Science. The top qualifiers from these Olympiads are selected to represent the country at the international Olympiads. The National Olympiad Programme is a multi-stage selection process, where participants are screened at every level and only the top few are able to qualify for final selection to represent India at the international Olympiads. As of last year, it was a three-stage process. However, for the year 2020-21, due to the pandemic situation in the country, as a onetime measure, the number of stages has been reduced from three to two. As a result, the first two stages have been condensed into one.

The two stages that will be conducted as part of the National Olympiad Programme 2020-21 for each one of the subjects is as follows:

  1. Indian Olympiad Qualifier (IOQ) is the first stage of the National Olympiad Programme. It is a three-hour test that will be conducted in two parts. The test will be jointly conducted by the Indian Association of Physics Teachers (IAPT) and the HBCSE (TIFR) that stands for Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research).

  2. Orientation cum Selection Camp (OCSC) is the second stage of the Olympiads. The camp is conducted by HBCSE. Top 35 students from each subject who qualify the first stage will be attending the camp for orientation and further selection for the Indian team. The camp will be held for two weeks at the HBCSE centre in Mumbai.

Indian Olympiad Qualifier (IOQ)

It is a two-part test that will be conducted in a single sitting of 3 hours.

Part 1 of the test is the same as the National Standard Examination (NSE) that used to be the first stage of the screening process in previous years. It will be a one-hour session with multiple choice questions, as was earlier. This part of the test will be conducted by the IAPT. Part 1 of IOQ is qualifying in nature and won't bear any effect in the final selections. Depending upon the subject, whether Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy or Junior Science, Part 1 of the tests will be known as NSEP, NSEC, NSEB, NSEA and NSEJS respectively.

The Part 2 of Indian Olympiad Qualifier was in fact, earlier the second stage of the screening process that went by the name Indian National Olympiad (INO). It is of two hours duration and will have questions with descriptive answers. This part of the test will be evaluated only for those students who qualify the Part 1. It is also to be noted that the selection for the camp (OCSC) will be done solely based on the performance of the students in Part 2. This part of the qualifier that will go by the name INO and subsequent stages will be managed by HBCSE.

Schedule of examinations for 2020-21

Following is the subject wise schedule for the IOQ examinations, first stage:
  1. IOQJS for Junior Science Olympiad - January 17, 2021 (Sunday) 2.30 pm – 5.30 pm

  2. IOQA for Astronomy Olympiad - February 6, 2021 (Saturday) 9 am -12 pm

  3. IOQC for Chemistry Olympiad - February 6, 2021 (Saturday) 2.30 pm – 5.30 pm

  4. IOQP for Physics Olympiad - February 7, 2021 (Sunday) 9 am -12 pm

  5. IOQB for Biology Olympiad - February 7, 2021 (Sunday) 2.30 pm – 5.30 pm

The above exam schedule is tentative and the dates, subject to the pandemic situation in the country, might get rescheduled.

Nature of the tests

The part 1 of the IOQ has the following pattern:

  • 24 multiple choice questions with a single correct answer. +3 marks for the correct answer and -1 for the wrong answer.

  • 8 multiple choice questions with one or more than one correct answers. All correct answers to be marked.

  • Total marks for the Part 1 of the test is 120.

Test Centres

The centres for the test will be displayed on the IAPT website by 15 December 2020. The test will be held at various centres across the country and during the application stage, the students will have the option to select three centres as per their preference.

Important dates pertaining to registration for IOQ

  • Registration started on - November 01, 2020

  • Last date for registration - November 27, 2020

Eligibility criteria

For Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Astronomy Olympiads, the candidates
  • Should be eligible for holding an Indian passport

  • Should be residing and studying in India from not later than 30 November 2018. Otherwise, should be studying in an Indian school system from the above date or earlier.

  • Should be born between 01 July 2000 to 30 June 2006, both dates included.

  • Should not have passed or scheduled to clear class XII earlier than 30 November 2020.

  • Should not be commencing university studies before 01 June 2021.

For Junior Science (NSEJS) Olympiad:
The first two criteria are the same as for the other Olympiads.
  • Candidates should be born between 01 January 2006 to 31 December 2007, both dates included.

  • Candidates should not have passed or scheduled to clear class X earlier than 30 November 2020.

How to apply

Registration for the test should be done online by visiting the website of IAPT from 01 - 30 November 2020. The students can apply for as many subjects as they desire, except for the fact that those eligible for NSEJS should not be applying for the other subject Olympiads and vice versa. For every subject opted, the students will have to pay a fee of Rs 200. For example, a student applying for all four subjects will have to pay a fee of Rs 800. The registration, as well as, payment of registration fee are to be done online only.

Syllabus for the test

The detailed syllabus for each subject is available at the IAPT website. Irrespective of the class the students are studying, the question paper for each subject will be the same. However, students of class 12 will be considered as a separate group while selecting them for the next stage.

Language of question paper

Except for the Physics qualifier, all other subjects will have questions in English and Hindi only. For Physics, the languages available are English, Hindi, Gujarati, Bangla and Tamil. The language options are to be selected by the students at the time of application itself.

Previous year question papers

Those students who are desirous of obtaining previous year question papers can get the last five year papers delivered to them. For this, the students will have to pay Rs 50 per subject. The papers will be delivered by the IAPT Kanpur office by registered post.

Bank account details for payment of money for previous year question papers:

Account Name: Indian Association of Physics Teachers
Account Number: 20768203191
Bank: Indian Bank, Branch: Kakadeo Kanpur (UP)
IFSC Code: ALLA0210490
Phone: 0512 2500075, 9935432990

The money is to be sent through NEFT or by other online means and the proof along with your address is to be sent by email to the address Also, mention the subjects for which you require the previous year papers.

Awards and Certificates

Based on their performance in the different stages of the National Olympiad, the students can receive the following awards and certificates:

  • Those scoring above the Minimum Admissible Score (MAS) in Part 1 of the qualifiers will receive a Report Card that can be downloaded from the IAPT website.

  • Top 10% of the students from each centre will be awarded Certificates.

  • Top 1% of students in each state will be awarded Merit Certificates.

  • For Physics, Astronomy and Junior Science, the National top 1% of students will be awarded Special Merit Certificates along with a book as a prize.

  • Those attending the Orientation cum Selection Camp (OCSC) for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy and Junior Science will be awarded Gold Medals.

For queries, if any

For any clarifications regarding the registration process, the students are requested to contact IAPT through the following means:

Email ID:
Phone: +91 9632221945, 9411530162, 8533993332 (Monday to Saturday - 9 am to 6 pm)
IAPT Examination Office: 15, Block II, Rispana Road, Dehradun - 248001

For any other queries regarding the exams:
Prof. BP Tyagi (Chief Coordinator) - 9837123716
Dr Anand Singh Rana – 9412954316 (NSE Coordinator)
Dr Vijay V. Soman – 9822107522 (NSEJS Coordinator)

Important websites

Article by Dhruv
Dhruv, an electrical engineer by training and profession, loves to dabble in writing during his free time. For the last seven years, he has been a content writer creating content for ISC on topics mostly related to school and college admissions.

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Author: Dhruv28 Jan 2021 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

Candidates going to appear for the Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Astronomy Olympiads may please note that the hall tickets for the exams are now available at the IAPT website The candidates will have to log in with their IOQ registration number in order to access the subject-wise hall tickets. The dates and time of the various Olympiads are as follows:

IOQ Astronomy- February 06, 2021, 9 am to 12:15 pm
IOQ Chemistry- February 06, 2021, 2:30 pm to 05:45 pm
IOQ Physics- February 07, 2021, 9 am to 12:15 pm
IOQ Biology- February 07, 2021, 2:30 pm to 05:45 pm

The exam centres will be printed on the hall tickets. The hall tickets need to be carried to the exam centre on the date of the exam. As for the IOQSJ or the qualifier for the Astronomy Olympiad, it has already been held on January 17, 2021. To appear for the exams, the candidates will have to follow the COVID-19 protocols very strictly. The thermal scan will be done before entry to the exam hall. Only those below 100 degrees Farhenheit and not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms will be allowed to the appear for the exams. In addition, the candidates will have to be in possession of masks and sanitiser. They will have to submit a self-declaration form in this respect. All those suspected of having such symptoms will get to take the exam in an isolated room.

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