Chemistry Olympiad Committee

Chair: Elaine Gannon

 "Chemistry Competition for High School Students"




The Chemistry Olympiad is a multi-tiered competition designed to stimulate and promote achievement in high school chemistry. The local and U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad competitions are sponsored by the American Chemical Society. Each year, four students are chosen to represent the U.S. team at the International Chemistry Olympiad competition, which is hosted by a different country each year.


Goals of the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad are set by a subcommittee of the Society Committee on Education. The Chemistry Olympiad program aims to:

  • Stimulate all young people to achieve excellence in chemistry
  • Recognize outstanding chemistry students and, in doing so, encourage additional learning at a formative time in their intellectual development
  • Recognize the excellent achievement of teachers and the importance of the school environment
  • Provide contact between ACS local sections and area schools, and foster interest among professional chemists in teaching chemistry
  • Challenge the chemical knowledge and skills of young students in an international arena
  • Foster cross-cultural experiences and acquaint students with similarities and differences between themselves and their counterparts from other nations


Since 1984, the ACS Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Chemistry Olympiad Endowment has been the primary sponsor of the U.S. Chemistry Olympiad, with additional support from the:

  • U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Advanced Chemistry Development
  • Carolina Biological Supply Company
  • Fisher Science Education
  • Flinn Scientific, Inc.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • McGraw Hill
  • Prentice Hall Publishers
  • Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Sigma-Aldrich Co.
  • Texas Instruments, Inc.
  • University Science Books


2014 USNCO Schedule
  • Oct. 17, 2013–Feb. 28, 2014
    Registration open

  • March 1–31, 2014
    Local Exam
    administered by ACS Local Sections

  • April 7, 2014
    Local Exam answers available

  • May 9, 2014
    National Exam Part I available

  • May 15, 2014
    Top 150 national finalists announced

  • June 3–18, 2014
    Study Camp
    at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado

  • June 20, 2014
    2014 US team (Alpha Eta) announced


Become a High School Mentor!

High school chemistry teachers are invited to apply for a position of a USNCO mentor for the 2015-2017 term. Learn more


Mentor Duties and Responsibilities

Mentors play a vital role in preparing the nation’s brightest high school students to compete in the International Chemistry Olympiad. Each year, they guide the top 20 students from the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad at a study camp through a series of practice problems to test student skills and ultimately select the U.S. team for the International competition.

Mentors are high school teachers and college faculty who serve a 3-year term and receive an honorarium. ACS will provide mentors with a handbook containing detailed guidelines on duties and responsibilities. Most expenses associated with the study camp and the International Chemistry Olympiad are paid by ACS.

Mentors might be required to attend a pre-camp meeting in Colorado Springs to develop practice tests for the June study camp, and might be asked to attend the annual U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Subcommittee meeting.

A mentor’s first summer is spent at the study camp. For the second and third summer, mentors accompany competitors of the International Chemistry Olympiad, where they also serve as a member of the International Jury.