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Olympiad 2021 – All You Need to Know

Olympiad exams or Olympiads are the means for students to compete with other students on a similar educational level. Such exams promote the learning of skills in subjects like mathematics, science, computer technology or English language among students. An Olympiad helps students analyse their strengths and weaknesses based on their performance in the nationwide or international level examination. These exams provide an absolute assessment of students’ knowledge and motivate them towards academic improvement. The participating students are judged based on their scientific-reasoning and logical-ability.

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Olympiad exams are conducted by the Science Olympiad Foundation (SOF), a non-profit organisation that works to promote scientific temperament among students. SOF organises a number of Olympiads including:

  • National Science Olympiad (NSO)
  • National Cyber Olympiad (NCO)
  • International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO)
  • International English Olympiad (IEO)
  • International Company Secretaries Olympiad (ICSO)
  • International General Knowledge Olympiad (IGKO)

For over two decades, the organisation has been striving to promote scientific attitude through innovative activities involving students from across the country.

Olympiad – Benefits

Olympiad exams prove extremely beneficial for students. Open to class 1 to 12 students, these national or international level exams help students in a number of ways. The following are the benefits offered by Olympiads:

  • Olympiads give a boost to students’ reasoning abilities.
  • They help students assess their capabilities and have a better idea of their potential.
  • They help students understand their weaknesses which can then be worked upon.
  • Olympiads challenge students’ intellect in such a way that it promotes a deeper understanding of scientific facts.
  • They sharpen the students’ analytical skills.
  • Competing at the national or international level provides students a different level of exposure.
  • The questions asked in the Olympiad exams help students better understand the concepts that they are taught in class.

SOF Olympiads – Objective

The Olympiads conducted by SOF are designed to test students on various skills. The general objective of SOF is to use these Olympiads to identify and nurture future scientists, technologists and IT talent at the school level. Moreover, all six Olympiads conducted by SOF have specific objectives. The table below talks in detail about the objectives of SOF Olympiads.

Objectives of Olympiad exams

Sr. No. SOF Olympiad Objective
1 NSO To cultivate scientific reasoning and logical ability among students
2 NCO To help students assess their knowledge of cyber concepts
3 IMO To help students test their mathematics skills and mathematics-based knowledge
4 IEO To help students assess their English knowledge and usage of English language
5 ICSO To prepare students for higher examination by testing their knowledge in Economics, Business Studies, Accountancy and Quantitative analysis reasoning
6 IGKO To develop an interest in General Knowledge and current affairs so as to help a student’s all-round development

Olympiad – Eligibility

Each SOF Olympiad caters to a particular group of students. The table below discusses the eligibility criteria for participating in different Olympiads.

Eligibility for Olympiad exams

Sr. No. Olympiad Eligibility
1 NSO Class 1 to 12 students
2 NCO Class 1 to 12 students
3 IMO Class 1 to 12 students
4 IEO Class 1 to 12 students
5 ICSO Class 11 and 12 students
6 IGKO Class 1 to 10 students

Olympiad – Exam Sections

Awareness about the contents of the Olympiad exam will help participating candidates in their preparations. The question papers are divided into various sections. The table below describes the exam sections for various Olympiads.

Exam Sections

Sr. No. Olympiad Exam Sections
1 NSO For Class 1 to Class 10


Section-1: Logical Reasoning

Section-2: Science

Section-3: Achievers Section


For Class 11 and Class 12


Section-1: Physics/Chemistry

Section-2: Achievers Section

Section-3: Mathematics/Biology



Section-1: Logical Reasoning

Section-2: Computers and Information Technology

Section-3: Achievers Section



Section-1: Logical Reasoning

Section-2: Mathematical Reasoning

Section-3: Everyday Mathematics

Section-4: Achievers Section



Section-1: Word & Structure Knowledge

Section-2: Reading

Section-3: Spoken & Written Expression

Section-4: Achievers Section



Section-1: Quantitative Analysis Reasoning

Section-2: Economics

Section-3: Business Studies

Section-4: Accountancy

Section-5: Achievers Section



Section-1: General Awareness

Section-2: Current Affairs

Section-3: Like Skills

Section-4: Achievers Section


Olympiad – Key dates

SOF organises its Olympiads around the same time each year. Candidates interested in taking part in any of the Olympiad should be aware of the key dates so as to avoid missing the deadlines. The table below highlights the key dates for various Olympiad exams.

Key dates for Olympiad exams

Sr. No. Olympiad Exam Dates*
1 NSO October – November
2 NCO November – December
3 IMO November – December
4 IEO October – November
5 ICSO December – January
6 IGKO September – October

*These dates are tentative and are subject to change based on the discretion of SOF.

Olympiad – How to apply

The eligible students interested in applying for the SOF Olympiads can do so through the following steps-

  1. Prospectus containing the registration forms will be sent to the schools registered with SOF. Students can receive the registration forms from their respective schools.
  2. In case the school is not registered with SOF, it can still request the prospectus by contacting SOF through phone (0124-4951200) or email (info@sofworld.org).
  3. Students must fill the registration forms with the required details and submit it to their respective schools.
  4. The schools must then return the duly filled registration forms to SOF before the due date.

It must be noted that the applicants will also need to pay a registration fee in the following manner-

  • A registration fee of INR 125 (including GST) per student for schools in India
  • A registration fee of USD 9 per student for international schools

Schools may collect an additional amount of INR 25 (USD 1 for International schools) per student towards honorarium of incharge, remuneration to teachers to teach, guide using study material supplied by SOF and other miscellaneous expenses.

Olympiad – Awards

Students, as well as schools participating in the Olympiads, are felicitated with various awards depending on the rank they achieve. The award details for various SOF Olympiads are shown in the table below.

Awards for Olympiad exams

Sr. No. Olympiad Awards
1 NSO Up to INR 50,000 + Gold medal + Certificate of Outstanding Performance
2 NCO Up to INR 50,000 + Gold medal + Certificate of Outstanding Performance
3 IMO Up to INR 50,000 + Gold medal + Certificate of Outstanding Performance
4 IEO Up to INR 50,000 + Gold medal + Certificate of Outstanding Performance
5 ICSO Up to INR 1,00,000 + Gold medal + Certificate of Outstanding Performance
6 IGKO Up to INR 50,000 + Gold medal + Certificate of Outstanding Performance

Olympiad – FAQs

Check out the following frequently asked questions (FAQs) in case, any doubts still remain.

Q. How are the students ranked in the Olympiad exams?
The ranking of all the participants in done on the basis of marks obtained by them in the exam and their respective performances. On the declaration of results, students are given a Student Performance Report (SPR) which provides a detailed analysis of the student’s performance.

Q. If a college student is pursuing graduation, is he/she eligible for Olympiad exams?
No. The SOF Olympiad exams are only for school students. Only those students enrolled in Class 1 to 12 can enter the Olympiad. Moreover, it must be noted that there is no requirement for minimum marks or any other such criterion.

Q. How will a student come to know about the Olympiad details or important dates?
Students can gather the relevant information from their respective schools which are registered with SOF. Additionally, students can visit the official website of SOF or the Facebook page of SOF.

Q. What is the syllabus for Olympiads?
Olympiads are designed on the basis of the syllabus prescribed by the CBSE, ICSE and various state boards. The exact details of the syllabus can also be found on the website of SOF.

Q. Should the participants refer to any particular books for NSO preparation?
NCERT books/course books prescribed by the CBSE/ICSE/state boards can be referred for preparation. Also, the following can be consulted:

  • MTG class wise workbooks (For Class 1 to 12)
  • ‘SOF Olympiad Trainer’ mobile apps
  • Olympiad Skill Development System (OSDS)
  • Previous years’ papers
  • Olympiads’ books of reasoning (for preparation for the reasoning section of Olympiads)
  • The 100 percent real test papers
  • E-Quiz
  • Various magazines like Chemistry Today, Biology Today, Mathematics Today and Physics For You

Q. If a student has already appeared for the Olympiads while he/she was in a lower class? Can he/she appear again?
Yes. Students can re-appear for the Olympiad to improve their previous rankings.

Q. If a student is going to write the Olympiads for the first time, can he/she get sample papers?
SOF sends sample papers to all the registered schools. In case, the school couldn’t provide the papers to students, they can also access the same on the website of SOF.

Q. When are the results of Olympiads declared?
The results are usually declared within 8 weeks of the examination. The same can be found on the SOF website or can be accessed through the respective schools.

Q. Is the NSO conducted in English only?
Yes. English is the only medium of NSO.

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Shikhil Vyas

A biotechnologist by education, a copywriter by profession and a dreamer by heart.

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