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 !