Biology Olympiad 2023 success

Posted on: April 21st 2023School News

Biology Olympiad 2023

Congratulations to all our year 12 and 13 pupils who entered the Biology Olympiad who have received awards. The British Biology Olympiad (BBO) has close links to the Royal Society of Biology and it challenges and stimulates students with an interest in biology to expand and extend their talents. It enables students to demonstrate their talent and to be suitably rewarded with publicly recognised certificates. 13,000 student s from 800 schools took part this year. The competition is very tough with only 5% of participants achieving the Gold Award and 30% achieving Bronze or above, so our medal winners have done extraordinarily well.


Year 12 Neil achieved a Gold Award and spoke about his experiences: “I chose to sign up for the Olympiad because I am a keen scientist and saw this as an opportunity to explore my knowledge of Biology and challenge myself. I knew what to expect as I also took part in the Chemistry Olympiad. I knew that if I performed well it would be a result to be proud of and would help me in applying to university in the future. I prepared by going over the work we did in lessons this year, as well as reading ahead in the textbook to learn about some of the year 13 topics that could be on the paper. I was looking forward to the Olympiad as I knew that it would be challenging and stretch me. After I did it I didn’t think I had done very well because most of the questions were about year 13 content which I wasn’t familiar with. Since the focus of the Olympiad is problem solving, you don’t need to be familiar with all of the content. I was very happy when I found out a few weeks later that I got a gold! I was especially proud of this because only the top 5% in the country achieved this. The questions were multiple choice but certainly not easy! The experience was rewarding and intellectually challenging and has motivated me to explore science more deeply. I would highly recommend that others take part”.


Year 12 pupil Arnav achieved Silver and said: “Preparing for the Biology Olympiad competition can be a daunting task, but I found that once I got started, the process itself became really fun! With the right mindset and planning, you can ace the exam and receive a high score. In my case, I used past papers from the competition website to prepare for the competition, which helped me build my knowledge and confidence over time. At first, I found the past papers quite difficult to tackle. The questions were challenging, and I wasn't familiar with some of the concepts tested. However, I persevered and kept practicing, taking note of the areas where I needed improvement. With each paper I completed, I gained a better understanding of the question styles and the timings of the paper, and felt much more confident in my abilities. I made it a priority to work through as many practice papers as I could, as I knew that familiarity with the format and types of questions would be crucial for success on the actual exam”.

Arnav added: “When the day of the competition finally arrived, I felt excited and a little nervous. I had spent hours preparing for this moment, and I was determined to do my best. As I began working through the paper, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the time seemed to pass. The hour and a half flew by, as I focused intensely on each question and utilized all of the knowledge and skills I had developed over my preparation period. The questions on the actual paper were certainly challenging, but I was able to work through them systematically and logically. I applied the problem-solving strategies I had learned through practice, carefully analysing each question and determining the best approach. Even when I encountered questions that were particularly difficult, I didn't panic or get discouraged. Instead, I took a deep breath, and tried my best to apply my critical thinking skills to come up with a solution. At the end of the exam, I felt both relieved and proud. I had put my best effort into each question, and I knew that I had given it my all. The waiting period for the results was nerve-wracking, but when I finally received them, I was thrilled to see that I had been awarded a Silver medal, but disappointed to see I was merely one mark away from achieving a Gold Award! Nevertheless, Silver was an amazing achievement, and my hard work and dedication had paid off, and I felt a sense of accomplishment that I will always cherish. In conclusion, preparing for the Biology Olympiad competition takes time, effort, and dedication. By utilizing past papers and other resources, I was able to build my knowledge and confidence over time, eventually leading to a successful performance on the actual exam. While the questions were challenging, I remained focused and persevered, ultimately achieving a Silver award. Through this experience, I learned the importance of hard work, perseverance, and problem-solving skills, all of which will undoubtedly serve me well in future endeavours”.


Year 12 Don achieved Bronze said: “As a participant who achieved a bronze medal in the competition, I am deeply grateful for the invaluable opportunity to expand my knowledge and foster understanding of the complex and fascinating world of biology. Although I did not have the opportunity to physically practice my skills, through a journey of research and reflection, I garnered a profounder admiration for the depth and wonder of biological systems and the beauty of connections between living beings. Participation in the British Biology Olympiad provided a singular and transformative encounter that accentuated the significance of perseverance, dedication, and perpetual learning in unlocking potential. The competition facilitated interactions with like-minded individuals sharing my passion for biology and afforded a platform for stimulating discussions and debates, cultivating a love of learning and discovery. Through these interactions, I obtained invaluable insights, pivotal realizations and amassed knowledge illuminating my perceptions and inspiring awe at the mystery of life's magnificent complexity”.

Don added: “In addition to knowledge acquired, one of the most substantial benefits derived from participating in the competition was cultivation of my confidence and self-assurance. Previously harbouring doubts regarding my capabilities and apprehensive about competing with other exceptional students, the experience of rising to challenges and achieving success led to developing an unshakeable sense of self-belief in my abilities which has proven an invaluable asset in academic and personal life's pursuits. Furthermore, the competition permitted developing acumen of competence, resilience and poise as I navigated obstacles and tightropes of responsibilities. This experience instilled the significance of persistence, adaptability, efficient time-management and maintaining composure confronting any adversity, benefiting me tremendously in all spheres of life. Certainly, the ability to thrive in any field or situation depends on cultivating these qualities. The experience of participating in the competition has ignited within an insatiable passion for knowledge, discovery and the wonders of existence. Convinced that certainties remain to be uncovered in this realm, I aspire to play an instrumental role in illuminating mysteries and expanding frontiers of understanding. The British Biology Olympiad has provided a glimpse into possibilities of infinite potential, inspiring lifelong dedication to seeking truth through perseverance and open-mindedness”.

Don concluded: “Achieving success in the British Biology Olympiad was a profoundly rewarding and invaluable experience granting a singular opportunity to broaden perspectives, ignite wonder and realise possibilities. The competition cultivated attributes fundamental to achieving dreams and deeper fulfilment; essential qualities for a purposeful and impactful life. Through this experience, I gained invaluable insights, fortified qualities instrumental to flourishing and awakened within an irrepressible thirst for knowledge and growth. I strongly advocate any individual who yearns to comprehend our world more deeply considering participation in such intellectually stimulating adventures, providing a chance to transform one's perception of potential through determination and openness”.


Year 13 pupil Saran also achieved Bronze and said: “I heard about the Olympiad through my Biology teacher, and was interested in applying to do it because it would be a good way of consolidating my A-level knowledge and would be a fun challenge. The UK Biology Competitions website was very useful in practising questions as it had all of the previous years’ papers, and the ongoing revision for my exams was also helpful. The questions were challenging because they required the application of knowledge, but the topics involved were intriguing and different to the examples we learn in class. Overall, I enjoyed the competition and would recommend the Biology Olympiad; there are no negative impacts from this and it is a very rewarding process”.


Year 12 pupil Edward achieved Silver and said: “I didn’t know anything about the Biology Olympiad before I received an email from Mr Blair inviting biology students to participate. Indeed, my only reference point were friends who had done the Chemistry Olympiad and reported that it was unbelievably difficult. Nevertheless, I decided I wouldn’t have anything to lose were I to enter, so I replied to Mr Blair’s email saying I was interested, although without much hope for a good mark. My preparation for the Olympiad, surprisingly, was minimal. The point of the Olympiad is not to test one’s memory, one’s ability to recall basic biology facts such as “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”, but rather to assess one’s skill with understanding biological concepts in deliberately unfamiliar situations. As a result, this meant my “preparation” for the competition mostly consisted of making sure I got a good night’s sleep the day before and checking I had a reminder on my phone so I didn’t turn up late. If I didn’t have the raw skill for which the Olympiad was looking, I wasn’t going to gain it suddenly with an urgent revision session.

“Then the time came to do the Olympiad, and, surprisingly, I found it quite fun … not a word I would often use to describe standardised testing. But it was a genuine joy to be provided with situations which stimulated me and my brain, making me make connections I hadn’t necessarily been taught directly but had to work out using my logical reasoning and biological foundations. Given all this, I finished the Olympiad with the overall impression that I wasn’t expecting to do spectacularly, but it had been a good time and I enjoyed the process. Imagine my surprise, then, upon discovering I had achieved a Silver Medal. I was overjoyed! I suppose it just goes to show that what matters most is to enjoy one’s studies, and, if that is one’s priority, then good grades are sure to follow”.


Year 12 pupil Hamza achieved Bronze said: “Entering the British Biology Olympiad was an exciting opportunity for me to showcase my knowledge and passion for the subject. As soon as I read the email that the enrolment for the Olympiad is open, I entered straight away and began to look into what I would need to know for the challenge. To begin my preparation, I first looked at the past papers and quickly realised that this was not like anything I had done before in Biology. It required a strong base in topics we had already covered but it also required me to be able to apply my knowledge into unfamiliar situations and often bizarre ones you wouldn’t see in an A level exam. Although at times looking at the past papers could be very difficult, I persevered through and continued to develop my skills.

“Throughout my preparation I prepared with friends, and we all helped each other, pushing each other to do the best we can. We all wanted to do the best we could and so we would provide each other with the biological knowledge required for each question. Although it was a ‘competition’, I feel that it brought us closer together and we all wanted each other to succeed to the highest degree, as Biology is a subject that meant a lot to each of us. When the day of the Olympiad arrived, I felt nervous but also excited to put my skills to the test. The competition consisted of a series of multiple-choice questions and many of the questions I was unfamiliar with, and I found this year’s Olympiad to be more difficult than previous years. However, I did not let this put me down and I pushed myself through, using my biological knowledge wherever I could and even on questions I was unfamiliar with, I tried my best and applied knowledge from other subjects, such as mathematics and sometimes chemistry. The questions were often engaging and even If I did not know the answer it widened my perspective on how vast and intriguing Biology can really be”.

Hamza concluded: “After the competition, I was thrilled to receive a bronze award. Although I was proud of my achievement, I also felt a sense of disappointment that I had not received a higher award. I recognized that there were areas where I could have improved, such as my ability to apply my knowledge to real-world scenarios. However, I am more than happy with the award I have received and it further strengthens my love for the subject. Overall, participating in the British Biology Olympiad was a valuable experience that allowed me to challenge myself and push my limits. It taught me the importance of perseverance and hard work, as well as the value of seeking out opportunities to improve my skills. I would recommend anyone with even the smallest interest in Biology to enter the competition as it helped me to further understand and enjoy the subject”.

Well done everyone!