International Physics Olympiad

International Olympiad in Astronomy & Astrophysics

The National Astronomy Olympiad Program is designed to encourage students with good foundations in Physics and Mathematics and an interest in Astronomy to pursue further studies in this field. It involves a five stage process leading to participation of Indian team in International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA).

The astronomy Olympiad program follows the following 5 stages:

  • Stage I: National Standard Examination in Astronomy (NSEA),
  • Stage II: Indian National Astronomy Olympiad (INAO),
  • Stage III: Orientation cum Selection Camp (OCSC) in astronomy,
  • Stage IV: Pre-departure Training Camp (PDT) for IOAA,
  • Stage V: International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA).

The detailed information about eligibility and structure of the stages is given below:

Stage I: National Standard Examination in Astronomy (NSEA)

NSEA is the first stage of selection of students in the physics Olympiad Programme which is organised by the Indian Association of Astronomy Teachers (IAPT). Every student aspiring to go through successive stages of the programme must enroll for NSEA. NSEA is held at a large number of centers in the country.

Eligibility :

All Indian students who are born on or after July 1, 2000 and, in addition, are in Class XII or lower as of November 30, 2020, are eligible to appear for NSEA 2020 – 2021. A student may appear for more than one subject provided the examination schedule allows it. See information about the examination schedule under various subjects. Students who have passed Class XII are not eligible to enroll for NSEA.

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the eligibility criteria are satisfied. In case at any stage of the programme it is found that the student does not satisfy the eligibility criteria, he/she may be disqualified from the programme.

Syllabus :

The syllabus for NSEA is broadly equivalent to the senior secondary level (Class XI and Class XII) of CBSE Physics. This is only a rough guideline, and there is no detailed syllabus given for NSEA.

Question Paper :

NSEA emphasizes comprehension of the subject, not rote memory. Its format is as follows:

Part A (180 marks):

50 multiple choice questions consisting of:


40 questions, each with only one of the four options correct


10 questions, each with one or more than one options correct. To get credit, all correct option(s) and no incorrect option(s) should be marked.

Part B (60 marks):

5 (or 6) questions which are problems or short-answer type. All questions carry equal marks.


English. (However, NSEA question papers may be available in Hindi, and some other regional languages provided there are more than 300 students for that language. Please check with IAPT.)

Qualifying for the Second Stage :

The aim of the first stage examination is to have a wide reach, to progressively increase this reach and to attain nationwide representation for stage II without overly compromising on merit. Hence the selection to the stage II examinations i.e. Indian National Olympiad Examinations (INOs) is based on the following scheme.

a. Eligibility Clause: A candidate must secure a score equal to or greater than a Minimum Admissible Score (MAS) to be eligible for the Stage II INO exam leading to the International Olympiad . The MAS for a given subject will be 40% of the maximum score in that subject.

b.Proportional Representation Clause: The number of students selected for Stage II (INO) in each subject is around 300. The number of candidates who appeared for NSE in 2020-21 in a subject from centers in each State or Union Territory (UT) will be considered the baseline for calculating the number qualifying from centers in that State or UT for that subject. Suppose this number in 2020-21 for centers in a given State in a given subject is S, and the total number that appeared in 2011-12 in that subject for the country is T, then the number selected to Stage II in that subject from that State would be S/T times 300, rounded off to the nearest higher integer. In the event of a tie at the last position in the list all students with the same marks at this position will qualify to appear for the Stage II examination. The selected students must nevertheless satisfy the eligibility clause laid out above. The total number to be selected from centers in each State for each subject will be displayed on the IAPT and HBCSE websites.

c. Minimum Representation Clause: Notwithstanding the proportional representation clause the number of students selected for INO from each State and UT must be at least one, provided that the eligibility clause is satisfied.

d. Merit Clause: Given the eligibility clause, it is conceivable that 300 students may not qualify for Stage II in a subject. Should this occur, the shortfall (from 300) will be selected based purely on merit without further consideration to proportional representation and minimum representation clauses. In the event of a tie at the last position in the list all students with the same marks at this position will qualify to appear for the Stage II examination.

There will be no other criterion or provision for selection to the Indian National Olympiad Examinations (INOs).

All students who qualify to appear for the INPhO get a certificate of merit from IAPT.

Stage II: Indian National Physics Olympiad (INPhO)

INPhO is organized by HBCSE at about 15 centres in the country.

Eligibility: Students selected from Stage I examination (NSEA) are eligible to appear for INPhO. In addition, those students, who have been exempted from NSEA as described in the Enrollment page, are also eligible to appear for INPhO. Besides these two, there is no other way by which a student becomes eligible to appear for INPhO.

The tentative date and time of INPhO 2013 examination are as follows

May 2021

The camps include several theoretical and experimental tests. Orientation is provided to students especially in experiments. The camps conclude with a valedictory function where distinguished scientists are invited to speak to the students.

Syllabus: The merit list of OCSC is prepared on the basis of the combined theoretical and experimental score aggregated over all the tests in the camp, with 60% weightage for theory and 40% weightage for experiment. Performance in previous stages (NSEA and INPhO) will not be a consideration for the merit list and awards of the OCSC.

The top 5 students in the OCSC physics merit list are declared to be special merit awardees. These special merit awardees are given Rs. 5,000/- each in the form of books and cash. In addition there are special prizes to recognize meritorious performance in theory and experiments.

The 5 special merit awardees in physics selected at the end of the OCSC constitute the 5 member student team for the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), provided they satisfy required criteria such as age limit, holding valid Indian passport, medical fitness, parental consent, etc.

Stage III: Orientation Cum Selection Camp (OCSC) in Physics

OCSC in physics will be organized by HBCSE sometime in April to June 2013 for 2-3 weeks. The precise dates will be announced prior to or along with the announcement of the selection list for the OCSC.

Eligibility: Only the students selected from the merit list of Stage II (INPhO) are eligible. There will be no other criterion or provision.

The tentative dates of OCSC 2013 are as follows:

February 7, 2021 (Sunday) : 09:00 am — 12:00 noon (3 hours)

The confirmed date and schedule will be announced in the first week of January 2013 on this website and communicated by post to the eligible students. Students appearing for INPhO are eligible for TA/DA as per norms of the programme.

Syllabus: The syllabus for INPhO is broadly similar to NSEA.The syllabus, however, is only a broad guideline. Questions and problems in National Olympiads are usually non-conventional and of high difficulty level, comparable to International Olympiads.

On the basis of performance in INPhO, the top 35 students in the merit list will be selected for Stage III: Orientation Cum Selection Camp (OCSC) in physics.In the event, there is a tie at the last position, all students with the same marks at this last position will qualify for OCSC.There will be no other criterion or provision for selection to OCSC.

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

The selected 5 member Indian team undergoes a rigorous training programme at HBCSE in theory and experiments. Special laboratories have been developed at HBCSE for the purpose of experimental training. Resource persons from HBCSE and different institutions across the country train the students.

Stage V: Participation in International Physics Olympiad (IPhO)

The 5 member student team, 2 teacher leaders and 1 scientific observer constitute the delegation to represent India at the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO). The 44th IPhO will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, tentatively in July 2013.

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