IBO Exam Pattern

The International Biology Olympiad is a competitive exam that is held annually for high school students. It is one of the most well-known International Science Olympiads. The first IBO exam was held in Czechoslovakia in 1990, and since then, it has been held every year. Students from 75 nations and five continents participate in the competition. The four winners of each participating country’s National Biology Olympiad are sent to the IBO exam. For the examination, these students are accompanied by two adults who are members of the international jury.

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Purpose of the Exam

The major goal of this olympiad exam is to inspire and empower the next generation of students in the field of life science, as well as to demonstrate their potential on a global stage. The IBO examination has a few goals, which are listed below.

  • The basic principle is to recognise the candidate’s curiosity and zeal in the field of biological sciences.
  • To encourage young biologists and scientists to pursue careers in this field.
  • To build a global network of scientists, their talent, and future biologists by bringing them closer together.
  • In the long run, it is more important to recognise and develop exceptionally skilled biology students.
  • To bring biology students from all around the world together, form strong relationships between the candidates, and foster intercultural conversations and nations.

Examination Pattern

The IBO test consists of both a theoretical and practical component. Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Plant Anatomy and Physiology, Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Ethology, Genetics and Evolution, Ecology, and Biosystematics are the topics covered in the theoretical exams. The marks are allotted in such a way that each theory and practical topic receives around 50% of the total. One can refer to the prescribed IBO book for detailed examination patterns.

Key Points

  • Students must take both theoretical and practical exams at IBO.
  • The theoretical exams consist of approximately 100 tasks that are mostly closed-ended (e.g., multiple true-false).
  • Students must utilise their science skills to analyse advanced biological phenomena in order to complete these projects, which cover all topics of biology.
  • Practicals are usually divided into three or four labs.
  • Approximately 6-12 months prior to the IBO, the content categories for every practical examination are revealed.
  • Students demonstrate their knowledge in the lab by performing experiments, research and analysing data.

All contestants are ranked based on their individual scores. Gold medals are given to the top ten per cent of students, silver medals are given to the next twenty per cent, and bronze medals are given to the next thirty per cent.

Syllabus Distribution as per the Pattern

The questions in the theory test are divided into domains, each with a particular preference and marks allotment for the topics based on the concepts.

  • Cell Biology accounts for about 20% of the exam’s total marks.
  • Animal Anatomy and Physiology account for around a quarter of the exam’s marks.
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Plants has a weightage of about 15% in the exam.
  • In the examination, Ethology is given about 5% of the total marks.
  • Genetics and Evolution account for about 20% of the exam’s marks.
  • The weightage of Ecology in the examination is roughly 10%.

This exam helps to develop an international network of biology experts and future leaders in the field of life sciences. It also establishes new benchmarks for highly gifted biology students’ education and assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions on IBO Exam Pattern


What is the full form of IBO?

The full form of IBO is the International Biology Olympiad.

Why should one write the IBO exam?

The IBO exam helps to develop a friendly relationship with biology students across the globe and develop strong bonds between the countries.

Describe the IBO examination pattern.

The IBO exam has two sections. They are theoretical and practical. First, the candidate must write the theoretical examination and then face the practical examination. Scores will be given based on their performance in both exams.

When is the IBO examination conducted?

The IBO examination is conducted in the month of July every year.


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