Saturday, July 05, 2008

International Physics Olympiad

The IPhO is an annual competition held by countries around the world. About 80 countries are participating in this competition currently. Each country are allowed maximum 5 candidates to enter. Each candidate must be below 20 years old and never reveiced a University/College training. In addition, 2 leaders who's job is to translate the questions, mark the papers of the candidates and participate in the discussion process are required for each country. About 2 observers are allowed too and they function as helper for the leaders in translation, trying out the experimental sets and listening in the discussion but aren't allowed to vote. Besides that visitors can tag along but are not allowed in any of the activities listed above. Visitors can only enjoy the sightseeing in the host country. Malaysia's team has no visitors, 2 observers, 2 leaders, and 5 candidates.

The IPhO usually last around 10 days and is always held around July, summer time. The 1st day of arrival is empty of activities to allow all countries to arrive at different times. the morning of the 2nd day helds the opening ceremony. The next day sees the Teoretical Examinations. After that, we are allowed 1 day of rest before the Experimental Examination on the 5th day. After that, we are free to follow the sightseeing activities of the host country and making international friends. The closing ceremony is held on the day before we go back. In the closing ceremony, medals, honourable mention, and special prizes are given out.

Now as for the core part, you must know know that there is an Teory exam. It last for 5 hours straight. Normally 3 questions of 10 marks each and of course lots of subsections with marks allocated to be as small as 0.1! So the total marks is 30.0! The experiment exam is totaled 20.0 marks and usually contains 1 or 2 questions. The apparatus are prepared for each candidate individually and you can be sure that there are many data points to be gathered and many graphs to be plotted. But the most time consuming part might be error analysis. Oh ya you guess right, it's an 5 hour exam too. The IPhO is an individual competition. So it doesn't matter how your teammates perform, what matters is that each person do his best.Total Score is 50.0 marks.

Gold medal is arwarded to the top 6% of the total candidates. Silver for the top 18%, Bronze for the top 36% and Honourable Mention to the top 60%. The 5 Special Prizes are the One and only Absolute winner: the highest scorer! The best score in Teory, the best score in Exam and the best Female are also considered in the Special prizes. 1 more is unfixed, it can be the most original solution, the best performer among the newly entered countries, or anything else.

The candidates are separated from their leaders and observers for the duration of the IPhO. They are teamed up with a team guide who acts as an translator and well, guide. The team guide is from the host country and usually knows how to speak the native language of the country they guide. English is used in both Opening and Closing ceremony and it is the main language of communication used. One trivia fact is that female candidates are usually very little, less that 10 % of the candidates are female. As far as I know Malaysia has never had a female candidate in IPhO. The total candidates are about 300-400 as not all countries sent 5 each.And each day there's a new newsletter with pictures of the IPhO inside. It's one of the things we look forward to each day as we might just see our faces in it!


Rocky* said...

hey...found ur blog on the google search history. :D what'd u think of the lab exam? talk to u on msn later :p

Anonymous said...

Hi,I am 16 years old this year(From Malaysia). I am preparing the IPHO by studying stpm physic now. Do u have some books that can suggest me to study for the competition? Thanks for ur help

Ng Xin Zhao said...

Hey Anonymous, if you don't leave your contacts, I can't help you! Anyway it is better to email me personally. And I've answered this question somewhere else in the blog, look for IPhO or Academic advices. Thanks!