IAO Exam Pattern

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Exam Pattern of IAO

Since 1996, the International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) has been a yearly science-education programme. This primarily consists of an intellectual competition among the participants. The goal of the competition is to increase ingenuity, imagination, and interest in astronomy and science. The Olympiad is held in a spirit of friendship and tolerance, with the competition serving as a catalyst for participants to demonstrate their talents, but interactions, exchange of ideas, and cooperation among students, teachers, and scientists from various countries take precedence.


The competition at the International Astronomy Olympiad is not the most important part of the programme; in other words, the competition, with its points, positions, and diploma, is just a method, not the goal of the Olympiad; the Olympiad is not a "collection of the best students" or "examinations."


Exam Pattern 2021-22 - Details

The Olympic Coordinating Council must be in charge of the scientific and methodical aspects of the Olympiad, which must be supervised by competent international astronomy organisations.


The Coordinating Council's Methodical Commission, in collaboration with the Commission of the Astronomical Centre, selects and prepares problems for the Olympiad:

  1. Theoretical Round: According to the Olympic Coordinating Council's Methodical Commission, the number of theoretical problems should range from four to six. At least four different fields of astronomy should be represented in the theoretical problems. Students in secondary school should be able to solve the Olympic problems using normal high school mathematics and without the use of complex numerical equations.

  1. Practical Round: According to the Olympic Coordinating Council and the Common Commission of the host Astronomical Centre, there should only be one or two practical issues. The practical rounds should be focused on actual research from the host Astronomical Centre.

  2. Observational Round: According to the Olympic Coordinating Council's Common Commission and the host Astronomical Centre, the number of observational problems should be between one and three (each problem may consist of a set of questions).

The complexity of the problems is determined by the participants' different levels of competence. It's best to choose problems that need a high degree of creativity and intelligence to solve.


If any of the initially proposed problems are dismissed, the Commission of the host observatory (scientific centre) must prepare spare problems for the realistic round and one spare problem for the observational round, which will be submitted to the Methodical Commission of the Olympic Coordinating Council. The issue that was rejected cannot be considered again.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What is ANRAO?

Ans. According to the IAO's Statutes, every participating state should have an Approved National Representative (Astronomical) Organization (ANRAO): a national astronomical society, a state's department (section) of the EAAS, a leading observatory, a leading university's astronomical department, a ministry of education, or another appropriate competent institution. 

Q2. How are the Students Selected?

Ans. It is highly desirable that the five (or three) students chosen to compete in the IAO are winners of the final round of the National Astronomy Olympiad (NAO), which is held in each country each year and in which only students from secondary schools (in the current school year) for general education can compete. As a result, each country is required to give the Olympic Coordinating Council a brief report on their National Astronomy Olympiad.


It is highly desirable that the Olympiad's main objective be education and popularisation of astronomy and science in their style, rather than selection.

Q3. What are the Procedures to Select an ANRAO?

Ans. ANRAO cannot be "selected." ANRAO appeared as the institution in charge of the National Astronomy Olympiads. It was meant to form the country's team to compete in IAO and other AO under IAO jurisdiction, finding financial help for the teams, and so on.

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