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Physics Olympiad

The Physics Olympiad program follows the following 5 stages
  • Stage I: National Standard Examination in Physics (NSEP).

  • Stage II: Indian National Physics Olympiad (INPhO).

  • Stage III: The Orientation cum Selection Camp in Physics (OCSC).

  • Stage IV: Pre-departure Training Camp for IPhO (PDT).

  • Stage V: Participation in International Physics Olympiad(IPhO).

Exam Schedule
Events Dates
Stage I: NSEC Last/second Last Sunday of November.
Stage II: INPhO Last week of January
Stage III: OCSC April – June
Stage IV: PDT July - November
Stage V: IPhO July – December
Stage I: National Standard Examination in Physics (NSEP)

The examination is intended for students in 9th,10th and primarily, the 11th and 12th standard. Students who have passed Class 12 are not eligible to enrol for NSEP. Besides, they must satisfy the age criteria for IPhO ( Less than 20 years of age on June 30th of the year of the respective IPhO). At any stage if the student is found to be not eligible for the exam, he/she may be disqualified from the program. During registration, a one time fee of ₹100, or $15 for overseas candidates must be paid. No TA/DA is provided. It is more useful for graduates.

Syllabus and Format

The NSEP is an examination in physics for higher secondary school students, usually conducted on the last/second last Sunday of November. Organized by the Indian Association of Physics Teachers, NSEP is the first stage of selection of students in the International Physics Olympiad.Before 2014-15, The NSEP comprised both multiple choice questions and subjective questions. Due to the large volume of participating students, all questions were not checked for all candidates; subjective questions were checked for only those candidates scoring above a certain minimum in the multiple choice questions. Multiple choice questions carried about 60% of the total weightage and were the crucial determinant for selection to the next stage. The present format (from 2014-15 onwards) is composed entirely of 70 multiple-choice questions. 60 of these have only one option correct and, 10, more than one. 3 marks are awarded for the solving each of the first 60 correctly and 1 mark deducted for each mistake there. For the last 10 (more than one option correct), 6 marks are awarded for each correct answer. However, there is no negative marking in this case. The top few (300-450) students from this examination are selected to sit for the Indian National Physics Olympiad. The NSEP is carried out every year since 1987 in English, Hindi & a few other Indian languages.[3] The syllabus is not fixed, but roughly equivalent to CBSE class 11 and 12 physics syllabus.

Stage II: Indian National Physics Olympiad (INPhO)

Students must satisfy appropriate eligibility criteria in NSEP.They must score more than 50% of the average of the top ten scores. This is the Minimum Admissible Score (MAS in short). If they score more than 80% of the above-mentioned average, they're selected for INPhO.This score is the Merit Index (MI). After selection of these students, more are selected from below the MI, but above the MAS, till the quota of seats allowed to their respective state is filled, completely, or to as large an extent as possible.
The Indian National Physics Olympiad (INPhO) is the second stage of the five-stage Olympiad programme for Physics in India. It ultimately leads to the selection in the International Physics Olympiad.
INPhO is conducted on the last Sunday of January (or on the first Sunday of February), every year, by the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education. School students (usually of standards 11 and 12) first need to qualify the National Standard Examination in Physics (NSEP) held on the last(or second last) Sunday of November of the preceding year. Among over 40,000 students appearing for the examination at almost 1400 centres across India, around 300 to 400 students are selected for INPhO based on their scores and also based on regional quotas for the states from which they appear. Different state-wise cut-offs exist for selection to INPhO. INPhO serves as a means to select students for OCSC (Orientation Cum Selection Camp) in Physics, as well as to represent India in the Asian Physics Olympiad (APhO).
Most of the students qualifying the INPhO are those completing their twelfth standard. However, there have been some instances of students qualifying INPhO at the end of eleventh and very rarely, in the tenth standard itself.

Syllabus and Format

INPhO consists of, usually, about 6 subjective problems, which the students must solve in 3 hours.Use of a non-programmable scientific calculator is usually allowed, as long as it has less than 4 lines in its display, no graphing feature and no CAS-like functionality.The total marks vary each year.Earlier, the syllabus matched that of IPhO, but now, it is broadly equivalent to the syllabus of NSEP.It was changed for the convenience of students studying for the IIT JEE and the physics olympiad, at the same time.

Stage III: Orientation cum Selection camp (OCSC) Physics

The top 35 students, based solely on their INPhO scores are selected to attend the Orientation cum Selection camp (OCSC).

Syllabus and Format

The top 35 students, based solely on their INPhO scores are selected to attend the Orientation cum Selection camp (OCSC), a 14-day long camp held at HBCSE,Mumbai. However, in 2014-15, HBCSE being busy in the organisation of IPhO 2015, India, OCSC was organised by IAPT, and held in New Delhi.Dates are usually from the end of May to the start of June. The team for the International Physics Olympiad is selected based on a rigorous procedure of theory and practical examinations (Normally, 3 each) at OCSC Physics.60% (240 marks) weightage is given to the theory exam, and 40% (160 marks) to the practical one, akin to that at the International Physics Olympiad.The difficulty level is similar to that found in the international olympiad.Topics such as relativity and thermodynamics, absent/not stressed upon in most Indian schools are covered.Syllabus is equivalent to that of IPhO.

Stage IV: Pre-Departure Training (PDT)

The student must clear OCSC Physics, i.e., be amongst the 5 who have scored the highest total marks in OCSC.

Syllabus and Format

A PDT (Pre-Departure training camp for physics) is held to (rigorously) train the five-student team, for 10–14 days, prior to IPhO, in experiment and theory. Students are made to solve past year IPhO problems.

Stage V: International Physics Olympiad (IPhO)

The International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) is an annual physics competition for high school students. It is one of the International Science Olympiads. The first IPhO was held in Warsaw, Poland in 1967.
Each national delegation is made up of at most five student competitors plus two leaders, selected on a national level. Observers may also accompany a national team. The students compete as individuals, and must sit for intensive theoretical and laboratory examinations. For their efforts the students can be awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals or an honourable mention.
The theoretical examination lasts 5 hours and consists of three questions. Usually these questions involve more than one part. The practical examination may consist of one laboratory examination of five hours, or two, which together take up the full five hours.

Structure of the competition

The competition lasts for two days. One day is devoted to theoretical problems (three problems involving at least four areas of physics taught in secondary schools, total number of marks is 30). Another day is devoted to experimental problems (one or two problems, total number of marks 20). These two days are separated by at least one day of rest. On both occasions the time allotted for solving the problems is five hours. Each team consists of students from general or technical secondary schools (not colleges or universities) or have graduated but are yet to enter university, and must be under the age of 20. Typically each team consists of five students (pupils) and two supervisors. Smaller teams may also participate(consisting 4 or less students with 1 supervisors).

Distribution of medals & Awsrds

A gold medal should be awarded to the top 8% of the participants. A silver medal or better should be awarded to the top 25%. A bronze medal or better should be awarded to the top 50%. An honourable mention or better should be awarded to the top 67%. All other participants receive certificates of participation. The participant with the highest score (absolute winner) receives a special prize, in addition to a gold medal.

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