Saturday, September 29, 2018

Pathway to Bangladesh Physics Olympiad (Updated)

Hello readers! My name is Munirul Alam, and I was a national champion of the Bangladesh Physics Olympiad in 2018 and regional champion in 2016, 2017 and 2018. I’m writing this blog post in order to share my experience, which I hope will be helpful to guide you in your preparation.

So let’s come to the main point. In order to win a medal at the Physics Olympiad, you don’t have to be a superhuman or something. People who participate in PhO and win there are all normal people just like you. So, how do they manage to triumph over the battle? In this post, I will try to answer your question. First of all, there are three categories in BDPhO, and I will divide my post in three segments based on each category. 

Three categories in the Bangladesh Physics Olympiad are Category A (Class 7-8), Category B (Class 9-10) and Category C (Class 11-12).

Category A

It’s very nice to know that you are fascinated about physics at such an early age! Usually people who start early end up as one of the most successful ones. পদার্থবিজ্ঞান প্রথম পাঠ by Dr. Muhammamad Zafar Iqbal will be a nice and easy book to start off. It contains a lot of good problems, and the text is more accessible to beginners. You can also going through the class 9-10 physics textbook. But I personally prefer the first book. 

As a beginner, you can also start with non-calculus physics textbooks like "College Physics by Alan Giambattista, Betty McCarthy Richardson, and Robert C. Richardson” or "Physics by John D. Cutnell, Kenneth W. Johnson”.

Category B

If you are in Category B, your first and foremost task will be finishing the class 9-10 Physics textbook properly. You can also have a look at the older version of the textbook, which used to be little more comprehensive. When you’re done with 9-10 textbook, you can move on to building up good problem solving skills. You can find previous problems here (Click Here). Pause.

Now that you’re done with your physics textbook, you should aim higher and start reading either “Physics by Halliday, Resnick, Krane (HRK)” or “University Physics by Young and Freedman”.  Keep in mind that these books are calculus-based physics texts, and a prior knowledge of Calculus will give you an upper hand. This note by Emroz Khan (one of the past problem setters of Physics Olympiad) will be helpful in this regard (Click Here). Or, you can read any good Calculus textbook or take online course to solidify your mathematical knowledge. 

You can use MIT OCW Single Variable calculus course taught by Prof. David Jerison( Watch the first 20 lectures and you will know most of the basic stuff you need.

Category C

Now it’s time for Category C. Well, if you are in category C and wish to do well in BDPhO, you should have finished HRK or University Physics by now. You should start studying An Introduction to Mechanics (Kleppner and Kolenkow), Electricity and Magnetism Third Edition (E.M Purcell and David Morin), and Thermal Physics (Schroeder) to strengthen your understanding on particular topics.

While books are essential lecture series might be more helpful to master stuff. Walter Lewin’s video series is a gem of any physics lover. My most favorite physics teacher and favorite of most physics students. 

Here are Walter Lewin's Lecture Series 8.01(Mechanics)[Link], 8.02(Electromagnetism)[Link], 8.03(Vibrations and Waves)[LinkRamamuri  Shankar’s lectures are very handy to master topics. His lecturer series Mechanics [Link], Electromagnetism and Quantum Mechanics[Link].

Also, you should start solving the past IPhO Problems , which can be found here (Click Here). A lot of other stuffs can be found at the BdPhO website (Website) and Science Olympiad Blog's server (Click Here). Quora (Link) has a lot of nice answers on Physics Olympiads ranging from national to IPhO. You may want to check those.

If you want to ask any questions you can reach me at my mail( or Facebook(

Hope that you’ll rock on the Physics Olympiad! All the very best.

Written by Munirul Alam.
Edited by Shahreer Zahan.

Monday, April 16, 2018

IESO Preparation with Lilian Schleret (Set 1)

Hello Everyone! My name is Lilian Schleret, and I participated int the IESO 2016 Mie (Japan) as  a student where I won a Bronze Medal. To help you preparing for the IESO,  I have prepared a set of questions comprised of 100 questions. For the first 50 question, there will be only ONE answer. Then, there will always be at least one good answer and one wrong. Try not to cheat by the way. In Set 1, I will be providing 30 questions. Rest of the questions will be provided very soon. Good luck!

Question 1 :

Which of these minerals is the hardest ? (using Mohs’ scale)
            A : Aragonite
            B : Apatite
            C : Quartz
            D : feldspar

Question 2 : (Please Refer to this Map)

Where is the biggest depression ?
            A : near Belarus
            B : near Serbia
            C : near Estonia
            D : near London

Question 3 :

What does a regular ophiolite look like ? (an ophiolite is a part of oceanic crust on a continent)
            A : sedimentary rocks, basalts, diorite, peridotite
            B : basalt, granulite, peridotite
            C : limestone, pillow lava, gabbros, peridotite
            D : sedimentary rocks, pillow lava, gabbros, peridotite

Question 4 :

Which of these rocks is NOT an igneous one ?
            A : Diorite
            B : pegmatite
            C : Rhyolite
            D : claystone

Question 5 :

Which stone is the most frequent in earth ? (take care, frequent doesn’t mean you see it easily…)
            A : Sandstone
            B : Peridotite
            C : Granite
            D : Basalt

Sunday, April 15, 2018

How to Prepare for the International Linguistics Olympiad

Hello readers! I’m Liam McKnight from the UK, and I’ve taken part in the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) for the past three years. In this post, I’ll share some of the ways I’ve found useful for preparing for a linguistics olympiad at any level, which hopefully will, in turn, be useful to you!

Linguistics Olympiads don’t require any knowledge of linguistic theory, nor are they about how many languages or know, or how well you know them. Most of the time, you’ll be given data such as phrases or sentences in a language you don’t know and probably have never heard of, and then you’ll be asked to translate more sentences using that data or to explain some feature or structure in the language. Other types of questions include working out the number system in a different language or decoding an orthography which could work entirely differently to your own language’s writing system.

1. Practice

Generally, participants who do well are those who have either participated in olympiads before or have practiced different questions from previous Olympiads. That’s not to say you can’t do well without prior experience - it’s more than knowing what types of questions can come up, as well as how languages tend to “work,” can be really useful.

Some linguistics problems may also require you to write a formal explanation of how the grammar of the language in the question works - in these cases, it’s (almost) never necessary to write down how you actually worked out your conclusions, but you will need to lay out clearly and concisely a set of rules which should allow you to explain any of the sentences or phrases in the question. Even if you’re not required to submit an explanation, writing down the structure you’ve worked out in rough can be a helpful way of working out any more translations you need to do or catching any mistakes you’ve made.

2. Keeping an Open Mind

The way your native language (or languages) structure themselves and view the world is not necessarily the same as the way any other language works - in linguistics problems, it’s very likely that some aspect or aspects will be entirely different. For example, some languages require that each time you state something, you must also state how you know it - whether it’s something you’ve seen yourself, or heard from someone else, or only inferred from evidence (this is known as evidentiality). Other languages distinguish different types of possession - whether it’s an “inalienable” possession, like a part of the body, or an “alienable” object that you own, like a car. When solving questions, try to consider all the different information that a phrase or sentence might encode, and then make sure you include it all in your answers.

3. How Languages Work

This ties into both points above - with practice, you’ll be able to recognize roughly what kinds of features languages are likely to have. For example, this might be things like which bases are more common than others in number questions (5, 10, 12 and 20 are more common; bases like 7 and 13 are unheard of). This can be done through practice or through reading about linguistics generally - no knowledge of linguistics is ever required, but knowing about certain features or terminology can help you organize your thoughts more clearly. There’s a great list of resources for this at, and WALS (World Atlas of Language Structures) is a database of language features found at

However, more important than all this is that you just have a go at some questions! Even just trying two or three questions to get an idea of what the competition involves will be a huge advantage.

Other Resources:

Team UK at IOL 2016: Samuel, Liam, and Isobel
IOL website with past problems (very hard):
The IOL website also has links to every country’s national Olympiad if you want to try some in different languages.

National Olympiads

Tips for linguistics problems by UK competitor Ellie Warner that go into a lot more detail (the last three are more specific to IOL)

About the Author

Liam McKnight is from Magdalene College School, Oxford. Here's a history Liam's participation in IOL: Blageovgrad 2015 (6th position, Gold), Mysore 2016 (3rd position, Gold), Dublin 2017 (3rd position, Gold).

Saturday, April 7, 2018

French Earth Science Olympiad / IESO Preparation 2018

Good morning/afternoon/evening/night/whatever everybody!

My name is Lilian Schleret, and I participated to IESO 2016 in Mie (Japan) as student where I won a Bronze Medal, and then to IESO 2017 in Nice (France) as volunteer. But I guess you’re not reading this post for the second part. Oh, by the way, thanks for reading!

So, I suppose you are here because you’re looking for advices. But I don’t really have books or movies to recommend. In my opinion, if you intend to win a medal, you will have to work on the syllabus and to work on yourself. My preparation for IESO was really simple. I just did something like 2 hours of work every week, and more if I was really willing to learn. So, that’s my first advice. It’s quite useless to learn too much. If you force yourself to study, it is more likely to get you bored. (Yeah, but we all agree that looking at stones is the most interesting thing in the world, right ? ;) )

But I learned a lot of interesting elements with « luck ». I really did win a few points with a subduction related question because 3 days before, I asked my science teacher 'how is this possible, and other points for a TV-broadcast that I watched for 5 minutes just 2 weeks ago. So here’s another advice: be curious. It’s clearly obvious but never hesitate to ask something, even if you think it won’t be such a help. Then, right after my selection for IESO (after the national olympiads), I gradually took it seriously. But I knew that I was used to recognize rocks (for example). But I had problems with astronomy (calculations in particular) and clouds. So I focused on my weaknesses. Why? Just imagine that you can rate your knowledge on a precise subject. You are able to tell the name of every star in the sky except 5 of them, so you have 19 points on astronomy (the best being 20, that’s the french rating system). But you never saw a sedimentary rock for real, so you have like 3 points on this subject.

Lilian and Ishraque, IESO 2016 Participant
You can win 1 point on astronomy, or at least 10 points on sedimentology. What’s better ? Yeah, you guessed it. Focus on your weaknesses first, and after that you can improve your strengths if you want. I gave astronomy and sedimentology as exemples, but maybe your weakness is completely different. Maybe you are shy, maybe you don’t enjoy talking in English. It’s the same solution : face these problems and Trust In Yourself. I know it’s easier said than done, but try.

Finally, I recommend to communicate with others (with friends doing IESO too, or with older/younger students) in order to get a different view, to discover a new method. You have to be as objecive as possible, and this last advice should help you. Wait, I forgot the most important ! Have fun ! I hope these advices were helpful, if they weren’t, well. I am open to any question ! See you soon !

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How to NOT Procrastinate for Olympiads

Okay, let’s just be frank—we ALL procrastinate. Every single one of us. No matter how exceptionally brilliant we might be or how frustratingly hard-working we are, we just love to put off work for the indefinite future instead of doing it right now. Now whether your goal is to nail the Biology Olympiad or simply to write a short blogpost about procrastination, procrastination can be a really debilitating disease keeping you from completing your objectives in time. What’s worse, excelling at Olympiads, national or international, can be a really tough job—you have to go through enormous volumes of textbooks, solve several past papers, and make sure you have a clear understanding of the subject. That’s a LOT of work. And having to tackle procrastination on top of that can be a major drawback as you watch an entire year go to waste only to binge study the night before the regional round. But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this battle against procrastination. And, hopefully, the following tips will help you beat this disease of the mind and be more efficient and productive.

Set smaller tasks with shorter deadlines

It is rather easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of a regular textbook and even thinking of getting started can frighten you. So instead of deciding to complete an entire textbook within a month or two, try finishing a chapter per week. The smaller the task the less stressed you’ll be which means you won’t be as much intimidated to start as you’d be otherwise. Now you’ll probably pile up work anyway but hey, isn’t it better to have only one chapter to complete before the weekly deadline rather than having the whole book on your shoulders just a week before the regional round? Also, people tend to procrastinate less when the deadline is closer.

Put up “motivational” posters

As stupid as it may look, this is a method I personally love using. If you ever get a chance of visiting my place, you’ll probably be shocked, if not in coma, by the sight of my room. At first sight, it might appear as if some criminal psychopath has scribbled hate messages all over my walls but look closer and you’ll realize that these are only desperate attempts made by a lazy teenager to force himself to work. Trust me, it actually works. When you wake up every day to see things like “You are a loser” or “Get to work, you lazy slob!” staring you in the face, you don’t really have much choice other than actually getting to work.

Visualize the future you want

A very effective source of motivation would be none other than your own imagination. Imagine that it’s the awarding ceremony of an International Olympiad and your name’s just been announced. Try to feel the joy, the glory, the pride as you walk up the podium with our flag wrapped around your shoulders. A medal gleaming above your chest. Isn’t that just wonderful? I believe that’s enough motivation to keep you pumped up for days!

Remind yourself that the future you is you too

It may sound weird but yes, it is true. The people most prone to suffer from procrastination are those who feel “detached” from their future selves. You can realize this by trying to imagine yourself ten years from now. I, for one, imagine myself as an accomplished physicist working as a researcher at a reputable organization. And yes, that does seem like a different person entirely from who I am right now. But what I fail to see is that it is me who has to do all that hard work, it is me who has to work his way to the top. We procrastinate to avoid the stress associated with all these tasks at hand but all we end up doing is creating more stress for the future us. Convincing yourself that it is you who will have to solve all those question papers anyway (with much less time) might actually help you get started.

Avoid distractions

Not only is procrastination about avoiding stress or other bad feelings that come with work, it has also got to do with the immediate pleasure of doing more “fun” things instead. For example, playing video games. Now I’m not going to ask you to abandon doing what you love most, we all deserve to get a break every now and then but you should always remember to keep it within a limit. Never let yourself get addicted to something. If you find yourself wasting more than two hours a day on a particular task, you know that it’s getting out of hand. It is rather common nowadays to see a kid spend his/her entire day on various social media platforms like Facebook. How to tackle this addiction? Simple. Switch off your phone and tuck it off safely in a place that is away from your immediate line of sight.

The hacks mentioned above, as simple as they may sound, can actually make a difference to the way you study. Now these are no magic tricks; it is you who has to be determined enough to get the job done. And the best hack is to believe in you. Know that you can do it. And that you WILL do it! So waste no more time and get started with whatever it is you’re procrastinating working on right now because I know you wouldn’t be reading this post otherwise. Best of luck!

Writer: Mubtaseem Ahnaf

Ahnaf is a veteran of 9th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) and 14th International Linguistics Olympiad.  His interests range from mathematics to history, but true passion lies mainly in the fields of astronomy and physics.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Bangladesh Physics Olympiad 2018

Registration for Bangladesh Physics Olympiad 2018 is going on. There will be three categories in this year. Students who are studying at class 7 and 8 will be in the 'A' category; Students who are studying at class 9 and 10 will be in the 'B' category; Students from 11th and 12th grade will be in the 'C' category. 

Students who appeared H.S.C or A Levels exam this year will not be able to participate in any circumstances. Based on the performance of training camp, top 5 students will be selected for next year's International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) 2018 to be held in Portugal.

For online registration, Click Here.

Check these Preparatory Materials and Books.

Past papers from IPhOs and National Physics Olympiads: Click Here.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

How I prepared for the IESO and what helped me at Internationals: 6 Tips

Hello readers! I am Katherine Zhang from the United States of America. I was a Silver Medalist at the International Earth Science Olympiad 2016, Mie, Japan. In this article, I will suggest to the future participants of USA and around the world some preparatory guidelines based on my own experience. 

1. Start Early

The IESO covers a broad range of topics, including but not limited to: geology and mineralogy, sedimentology, meteorology and climatology, solar system astronomy, and remote sensing. You may not have even heard of nor studied some of these areas. Beginning early and establishing a schedule by which you’ll study is the basis for succeeding in the IESO.
2. Focus on application of material, as opposed to memorization

Of course, you’ll need to know the basics of every topic you study. And learning essential information may involve an initial period of memorization which precedes internalization of that information. But beyond that period, pure memorization won’t take you far; most of the competition is based on application of material. For example: rather than asking you to regurgitate the percentage composition of basalt, a question might ask you to identify a type of rock based on the nearby structural geology. Then (in multiple parts), it might ask you to use the information and data you’ve gathered to address real societal needs and concerns, such as disaster relief.

3. Use Practical Aides

Reading textbooks isn’t enough. Invest in kits, especially for rocks and minerals, to help you learn hands-on. The IESO competition involves identification of rocks and minerals samples, and your first-hand experience is vital in helping you complete those sections. Kits are not always available nor affordable, so if they’re beyond your reach, use visuals to aid you in your studying.

4. Search for application in your daily life in order to strengthen and supplement the information you’re learning

Hey, maybe I’m just a weird rock person, but I look for application of my knowledge wherever I go. Transfer the information from your computer screen to a tangible platform. Keep your eyes open; identify instances in your everyday life in which you can stop to visualize the information you’ve learned. For example, at the beach, you can see ripple marks in action. Pause to identify the rocks at the side of the road (or maybe in a safer place). Quite possibly, there’ll come a time in which you’ll recall vital information by remembering a specific time you applied your knowledge in a real-world setting.

5. Look at old IESO Tests

Refer to past tests to get an idea of the types of questions you’ll be asked. See the bottom of this post for links to those resources.
6. Recognize that the IESO is based in cooperation

Medals are great and shiny, but they represent only individual accomplishment. Team achievement is equally, if not more, important. During the IESO, you will participate in the International Team Field Investigation and the Earth Science Project. Both of these require you to work in a group. If you refuse to recognize that the basis of your success in these portions of the competition is your ability to compromise and connect with your global peers, then you’ll have walked away from the competition with a fraction of the knowledge and benefit you would have otherwise gained. This focus on international camaraderie is what will get you not only titles in the competition, but also bring you into a global network of friends that you’ll come to treasure, and that will take you farther than any medal will.
A list of books that I’ve used

Smithsonian Fossil Guide
Meteorology Today by C. Ahrens
The Complete Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Hermes House
Syllabus: Link Past Tests/Papers: Link

Pathway to the BioCamp

You guys probably have heard that the Bangladesh Biology Olympiad is going to take place soon. Those who are going to excel at the national round will make it to the BioCamp. This writing is a short treatise on guiding the BioCamp aspirants.

Let’s get straight to the business. Firstly, Campbell Biology (Download) is considered as the Bible of for Biology Olympiad's preparation. When you’ve the best book in hand, you shouldn’t waste a single minute reading other non-comprehensive books. That will be counterproductive. Given there are around 90 days remaining for the National, and Campbell has 56 chapters, if you study religiously about one to two chapters each day with proper understanding, you'll most likely make it to the national camp.

Only reading won't suffice, you need to properly understand the concepts- which is a prerequisite for solving problems in any scientific Olympiad. Now, while studying the book, you may come across concepts which are poorly explained. In such case, you can watch videos from 10 Minute SchoolArmando HasudunganAll About Molecular Biology, or Khan Academy to clarify your understanding. Also, take as many notes as possible while preparing for the competition. 

Finally, do not forget to solve problems from other countries' national Olympiads (i.e. Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, British - they have papers uploaded online. Just Google or look at the Google Drive for Biology Olympiad at SOB). If you work for the next couple of months with determination, you'll surely be able to secure a spot at the National Camp for Bangladesh Biology Olympiad. 

So, what are you waiting for? Buckle up your seat belt, and start your journey for the BioCamp. If luck is on your side, you might also make it to the national team for International Biology Olympiad! Best wishes.

Resources: Campbell Biology Slides (Link), Campbell Biology Short Notes (Link), Science Olympiad Blog All Biology Olympiad Resources Google Drive (Link), Biology Olympiad Textbooks for Download (Link).