logo chemieolympiade en transThe International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) is a worldwide competition for secondary school students designed to motivate them to learn more about Chemistry and foster their excitement for the chemical sciences as well as building new international and intercultural friendships and networks. It is under the patronage of UNESCO.

The competition is hosted annually since 1967. Teams of four students per country compete in theoretical as well as practical challenges. Currently, over 70 countries from all over the world have joined! Germany has been participating continuously since 1970 (East Germany) and 1975 (West Germany), respectively.

The German Selection Process

Every country has their own mechanism of the selecting the four students that will represent them at the international level. In Germany, the selection process is supervised by the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathmatics Education. In a total of four selection rounds, students solve theoretical problems and, in the last round, also practical problems in an actual university laboratory.

Students will develop the capacity, to independently search scientific literature, broaden their knowledge and attack challenging questions from all fields of Chemistry. Starting with the third selection round, nationwide meetings are organized, which gives the students the opportunity to get to know other interested and motivated students.

See also: Collection of the problems from the past years

Who can participate?

The competition is open to students of all general-education secondary schools who are under 20 years of age on July 1st the year of the international round.

The problems may seem a bit more challenging and, thus, mostly suitable for students in their last years of high school. However, more often than not, also younger students have participated sucessfully. An early participation in the selection process can enable chemistry-savvy students to gain an overview of the field at a young age, build a reliable network with other students, and potentially be more successful the next time they participate.

The International Round

The international round of the olympiad is hosted by a different country every year. The competition lasts ten days, but only on two of those, practical and theoretical exams are taken. The remainder of the time is dedicated to discussions and evaluation of the results. Meanwhile, the participants have the opportunity to thoroughly get to know the hosting country, its culture, and its people in a number of excursions and workshops. Furthermore, they can get to know the teams from all participating countries and build intercultural networks with friends from the entire world.

On the last day, the award ceremony takes place. Every student can be awarded medals according to their merit. Gold medals are awarded to the 8-12% best students, silver medals to the next 18-22%, and bronze medals to the  next 28-32%.


Participating in the German national selection process can be very rewarding. Book prizes, internships in academia and industry in Germany and abroad, state-wide seminars, and of course the main achievement: becoming a member of the national team and representing Germany at the international level. Furthermore, starting with the third round, students can get to know other motivated stduents who are just as fascinated by their Chemistry.

List of all Prizes

Friends of the Chemistry Olympiad (FChO)

The International Chemistry Olympiad itself is not organized by the FChO. Nonetheless, this association has been closely tied to the Olympiad since its very beginning. Many of the founding members were former National Team members and also today, most of the members join the association FChO through their participation in the German national selection rounds.

The involvement of the FChO is manyfold. Starting from simple administrative support, many of its members are also mentors during the selection rounds, teach students during seminars, offer internships in their research groups, and many more.

All Projects of the FChO

Link list