top of page

International Physics Olympiad (IPhO)


An international competition in Physics for high school students.The first Physics Olympiad was held in 1967, with the participation of delegations from 5 countries (Israel began its participation in this Olympiad in 1994). In 2018, about 85 delegations, and over 400 students, are expected to take part. The competition is held each year in a different host country. The training program for the Israeli team in physics is run by the Jusidman Science Center for Youth at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.The International Physics Olympiad for 2023 will take place in Japan, on Japan 3-17 July.


The aim of the Physics Olympiad is to arouse interest in the study of physics, to increase the number of participants in scientific activity at the highest level of physics, and to encourage young people to choose physics as a major occupation for the future. The means – creative, independent solution of problems; study at a high academic level; development of personal and group motivation; and imparting the right knowledge, experience and tools to be able to succeed.

The delegation comprises 5 students.
During the competition, one day is devoted to theoretical questions in physics, and another is devoted to experimental questions.

Between the two days of competition, there is at least one day of rest, devoted to touring and to getting to know the culture of the host country.

Selection Stages:

Stage 1

This stage is a written test, which takes place in school. Most of the questions do not require in-depth knowledge, but are based on simple principles, intuition, and thinking ability.


Stage 2

This stage is a test that is administered at three academic centers, in the north, center and south of the country.The test checks quick thinking ability and knowledge in physics, and includes multiple-choice questions and open ended questions that require knowledge in the areas of mechanics and optics. In 11th grade the test also requires knowledge of hydrostatics and thermal phenomena.


Stage 3

A summer camp that runs for two weeks and is held at Ben-Gurion University. About 30 students from 10th grade and 35 students from 11th grade are invited to the camp.

The areas that are covered during the camp encompass most of the physics content taught in high school – mechanics of a single-point object and of a rigid body, electricity, optics, waves, thermodynamics and relativity theory. The students are given, in advance, a list of the topics that will be learned at the camp.


The activities at the camp include research experiments in the laboratory, lectures, a daily test, and discussion of problems in photograph that require original thinking. During the evening there are social activities.

Team Activities:

The team’s activities include a weekly study and problem solving assignment. Each student is assigned a mentor, whose task is to assist and monitor the student’s work and progress. In addition, there are individual training days and training camps during the year.
The aim of the camps is to increase the students’ knowledge from the high school level to the level required at the international Olympiad. The camps are devoted to acquiring knowledge of various areas in physics, and coping with theoretical and experimental problems. Most of the problems relate to natural phenomena, and require the ability to develop a suitable physical model.
A large portion of the time is devoted to developing laboratory work skills and research experiments.

Preliminary Competition:

As preparation for competition on the highest international level, students in the team take part in preliminary competitions – international competitions with the participation of many countries.

Participation in these competitions allows the students in the team to test their knowledge and abilities in comparison with students from other countries; to practice being tested under competitive conditions; and to feel the special atmosphere of international competition in physics.

Asian Physics Olympiad – APhO:

A competition in physics for high school students, held annually in one of the countries of Asia or Oceania. The competition takes the same format as the international Olympiad, and includes a theoretical portion and an experimental portion.
The competition was first held in 2000, with one country, and now 27 countries participate.
Eight competitors are invited from each country, and they are required to answer 8 questions in the theoretical and experimental fields (by comparison, in the international Olympiad, the competitors answer 5 questions).
The Asian Physics Olympiad for 2018 was held on 6-15 May, in Vietnam.

IPhO – the International Competition:

The international competition takes place annually, in the summer, in a different host country, and includes two tests, each 5 hours in length. One is a theoretical test (generally with 3 questions), and the other is a laboratory test (which includes one or two experiments). The questions are written and selected by the host country, and have to be approved by an international committee, composed of representatives of all the participating countries.

During the competition itself, each participant competes individually, but the countries are ranked on the basis of the cumulative scores of their delegations.

bottom of page