IAO Exam Syllabus

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Astronomy Olympiad Syllabus

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The International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) was founded in 1996 by the Eurasian Astronomical Society. It is an intellectual competition based on scientific events between students aged between 14 to 18, belonging to high school. Recognized internationally, it is one of the International Science Olympiads and an annual astronomy scientific-educational event. 

Carried out in the true spirit based on friendship and tolerance, the International Astronomy Olympiad primarily focuses on how contacts are made and ideas are exchanged between organizers and participants from the various participating countries.  The competition is a mere stimulus. The Astronomy Olympiad syllabus has been discussed below.

What is The Paradigm of The IAO Syllabus?

It is vital to know the paradigm of the Astronomy Olympiad syllabus, which generally enlists the following points:

  1. Basic knowledge and concept of Mathematics and Physics at the high school level will be quintessential for solving the problems.

  2. You’ll not require integral calculus, complex numbers or spherical trigonometry to solve the standard solutions.

  3. You’ll be provided with supplementary data to solve your problems.

  4.  You are expected to use appropriate units in your answers (and not only the SI system).

  5. You are required to use correct rounding off. You must also express the final results with the right number of significant digits.

Specific terms or designations have more than one international definition (e.g., zero points for azimuths, limit degrees for civil twilight, a sign of equation of time dot or comma digit separators, etc.). These will be considered correct for all definitions (if the actual designation was not postulated in the problem’s situation).

The same is applied to problems with disputed parameters (like Hubble constant, etc.). You will be expected to know about the possible differences in the formal definitions. You must also know how to use given data correctly e.g., knowing numerical expressing forms. You’re required to know dot and comma separators of integer and fractional digits. 

You will have to know how to use the sign of values from the graph of the equation of time correctly). This will ensure that the nature of the effects would not be corrupted.

A Few Important Features About The Eligibility For in Appearing For NSEA

You must keep in mind that NSEA is the first stage of selection of students in the physics Olympiad Programme in India. This is organized by the Indian Association of Astronomy Teachers (IAPT) in our country, at various centres. Enrolment in the NSEA is mandatory if you aspire to go through the successive stages of the program. 

It is, therefore, essential to know the syllabus prescribed by the NSEA. Here is a chart that might be helpful to give you an overview of the program.

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 option correct. All correct option(s) and no incorrect option(s) should be marked to get credit.

Part B (60 Marks)

5 (or 6) questions, which are problems or short-answer type. All items 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.)

While you’re looking up the NSEA syllabus, it is also important to remember the eligibility criteria for the NSEA:

  • Candidates have to be a citizen of India.

  •  He/she must be born on or after July 1, 1999.

  • You are eligible to appear for NSEA 2018 – 2019. You have to be in Class XII or lower till November 30, 2018. 

  • You may appear for more than one subject provided the examination schedule allows you. 

  • Failing to maintain the eligibility criteria may result in the student’s disqualification from the exam. Hence students must ensure that the eligibility criteria are satisfied.

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An Important Announcement for the IAO 2021 Dates

As the National Olympiad program of 2021 in Science subjects including Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Junior Science and Physics has been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the program has been postponed for a few months. However, it will soon be carried out when the situation allows the organizing bodies. They may take some time to finalize the exact schedule of enrolment and examinations. However, it has been decided by the authorities that no examination for the Olympiad 201 will be held in November 2021. 

Check the IAPT official website frequently.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Books to Study for the IAO Olympiad Syllabus?

If you are an aspiring student of the International Astronomy Olympiad, you may find the following books helpful in your preparation:

  1. An extremely well-written textbook on astronomy is the Universe, authored by Roger Freedman, Robert Geller, and William J. Kaufmann.

  2. In case you’re looking for an introduction to astronomy, go for Astronomy: Principles and Practice, Fourth Edition (PBK): A.E. Roy, D. Clarke.

2. How to Start Preparing for NSEA and INAO?

In case you already are aware of the IAO syllabus, it is wise to start ahead of time and prepare yourself way before NSEJS —at least 6 months before your exams. This is because the syllabus is incredibly vast. Student of IAO, NSEA, and INAO often do not get proper guidance. The more you effectively you plan your preparations, the better your chances are to score effectively. Solve previous year question papers for the real knowledge of the paper. Emphasize on the major constellations and the main stars as it is the most recurring topic in INAO. 

The National Standard Examination in Astronomy NSEA is all about the combination of Physics, Maths and popular astronomy. These are a few thumb rules you ought to remember in case you’re already going through the International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) syllabus.