The IOAA or the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics is an international competition for high school students below the age of 20 years. Its primary aim is to encourage and inspire more young minds to pursue Astronomy and Astrophysics. The participants must pass 4 stages before being selected for the 5th and final stage i.e. IOAA. The IOAA 2020 Results have not been declared due to the exam being cancelled this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this same competition will be held next year in 2021, which will be hosted by Columbia.
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In case you were wondering about how to apply next year, keep reading.
The IOAA has 5 stages in total
Stage 1: The National Standard Examination in Astronomy (NSEA)
Stage 2: Indian National Astronomy Olympiad (INAO)
Stage 3: Orientation Cum Selection Camp (OCSC)
Stage 4: Pre-Departure Training Camp (PDT)
Stage 5 (Finals): International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA)
The NSEA, or the National Standard Examination in Astronomy, is the entryway to the IOAA. To register for the NSEA you need to:
Step 1: Find a Registered centre near you (the IAPT puts up a list of registered centres on their website’s home page), which generally consists of either schools, colleges or coaching institutes.
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Step 2: Contact the Head of the Institution (the Principal or the Head of Department of the particular exam subject) for the Registration slip, where you will fill in your registration details and submit it to them.
Step 3: Keep an eye on the official websites to know when the admit cards have been released. It is best recommended to ask the respective Head of Institution to notify you when the admit cards have been sent to that centre.
Students who have qualified in each stage are selected for the next stage of examinations.
In the NSEA exam, candidates will have to face a total of 80 questions carrying 3 marks each. 1 mark will be deducted for each wrong answer, and for every unanswered question, there will be no change in the total obtained marks. However, the main eligibility criterion is that the student must be under 20 years of age.
Selected students from the NSEA exam will be invited to the next stage organized by the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, where they will give exams at 18 centres spread throughout the country. The questions will be based on Theoretical knowledge of Astronomy, Physics and Mathematics, containing both objective and long questions. 300-500 students are selected for this stage.
The students that manage to qualify in the INAO stage proceed to the Orientation Cum Selection Camp, which takes place in the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE). There they undergo Theoretical and Experimental sessions in the field of Astronomy. 35-50 students are selected in this stage, out of which only 4-6 students are chosen for the Pre-Departure Camp and the final round.
A team of the final 4-6 students in addition to 2 adult guides is sent to represent the country in the final stage- IOAA. They travel to the host country with all expenses paid for by the host country. The syllabus for IOAA for selected candidates consists of the following:
Extensive knowledge of basic Astronomical concepts.
Standard concepts in High School level Physics and Mathematics, excluding calculus, complex numbers and differential equations.
Knowledge of certain Astronomical Software Packages of which the participants will be informed beforehand.
A more detailed Syllabus which lists out all the topics required can be found on the IOAA website.
The IOAA results of the different exam stages can be found on the following sites
However, as you progress through the stages, you will be notified if you are selected by the exam organizers, so you don’t have to worry about not being told!
1. When Does the Application for NSEA Exam Start?
The application for the NSEA examination for this year was supposed to have started on 1st August 2020 and had ended on 20th August 2020. However, due to the Global Pandemic, most of the exams this year had to be either postponed or cancelled. On the official website, the authorities have mentioned that the new schedules will be released in September 2020. Generally, the applications for all the National Standard Examinations (including NSEA) start on the 1st of August for every year. The exams are usually held in November.
2. How Can I Prepare for the IOAA?
While the syllabus is fully given on the IOAA website for the main IOAA Finals, the preceding selection rounds are mainly based on a good grasp of Physics concepts at a high school level, as well as a thorough knowledge of Mathematics and a good grasp of basic Astronomy concepts. There is no set syllabus for the NSEA exam, though students will find it similar to the syllabi set for Physics and Mathematics Olympiads. Previous Years' question papers can be found on the respective websites of the exams. There are plenty of books and study materials available with solved questions and numerical from previous years question papers as well as books on basic Astronomy. Therefore obtaining study material won't be a big issue. As there will be negative marking, ensure that your understanding of the question is clear and that you are certain about your response before submitting your answers.