The International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) is a competition open to anyone under the age of 20. The IPhO has been organised since 1967. More than 80 nations with a total of about 400 young physicists participate each year. The participants are given the unique chance to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in both experimental and theoretical physics. It is further an excellent opportunity to meet people from all around the world, who are equally enthusiastic about physics.
The IPhO lasts about ten days and is held in a different country each year. The actual competition consists of both a five hour theoretical exam and an equally long practical exam, usually comprising two fascinating experiments. The exams often go beyond the syllabus that is taught in Swiss schools. However this should not deter participants. An important part of the IPhO is the cultural program offered by the host country after and between the exams. The participants thus get to see the country and can socialise with other students in a relaxed environment.
Switzerland has participated in the IPhO since 1995. We can be proud of a total of 73 awards, including 2 gold, 5 silver, 20 bronze medals and 46 honourable mentions that have been won at the IPhO so far. (Note that more than three people are awarded medals the IPhO.)
The IPhO 2017 will be held in July in Yogyakarta (Indonesia). The year after, Portugal will be the organizer of the event.
The SwissPhO association is one of the seven members of the Association of Swiss Scientific Olympiads ASSO . Besides Physics, the following disciplines are also represented:
Each year, five students from Switzerland get the chance to go to the IPhO. They are selected at the national competition consisting of two rounds. The preliminary round is open to anyone and the difficulty level is chosen to make the exam accessible to younger students as well. The best 20 to 25 students qualify for the next round, the SwissPhO. They have to complete another set of exams, this time including an experimental part as well. The top five students are awarded a gold medal, making them part of the team to participate at the IPhO.
If you are considering to participate, you are encouraged to have a look at the mock exams under exams. These exams are not compulsory and are intended to give you an idea of what an actual exam might look like. The complete syllabus for the IPhO is available in the same section.