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FAQ - The BPhO paper

Entry requirements

Do students need to enter the A2 Challenge to enter the BPhO Round 1 paper ?

No, there are no entry requirements for the BPhO paper. Students are not required to take the A2 Challenge to enter The British Physics Olympiad. The papers are different in style.


How can my students prepare for the BPhO paper?

Students must prepare for this paper by attempting several past papers available on the BPhO website. Solutions can also be downloaded.

Setting the papers in your school

Do the students need to take the BPhO paper at a specific time?  

No, there is no specific  time to take the test.

Do the students need to take the BPhO paper on the Fri 13th November 2015?

No, it is fine to take the test a few days either side of the test date. But students must not be allowed to take away the question paper. However, the students’ answers need to be back with us for marking  Fri 20th November 2015.

Can students sit the BPhO Paper in two sittings?

Yes, the BPhO paper is provided in two sections which can be sat in one or two sittings. Section 1 is 1 hr 15 min in length (including reading time) and Section 2 is 1 hr 15 min in length.

If the paper is sat in two sittings then students are not permitted to see Section 2 before they begin the second sitting and students are not permitted to revisit Section 1 once they have submitted the paper.

Can students use a formula sheet when they take the BPhO paper?

Yes, students are permitted to use a formula sheet. Please provide a standard formula sheet.

Is there a syllabus for the BPhO paper?

There is no syllabus because we set the papers for students sitting different examination boards, who have different syllabi, and we do not know how much of their syllabus has been covered.

There is an extensive choice of questions for the BPhO paper and students should be able to answer sufficient questions to obtain full marks, if answered correctly. We do not expect that students to have covered all of the material in the question paper.

Should I include students’ rough paper and workings out when I submit the BPhO paper for marking?

Yes, please submit all workings out as students can gain additional marks for their workings out even if the answer they submit is not correct. Marks are carried forward. Ensure that students write their name on each sheet of paper submitted. 

Are students with special needs allowed additional time to take the BPhO paper?

Yes, students with special needs are allowed additional time to complete papers. This should be in line with that allocated by exam boards.

Mark allocation

How are marks allocated for the BPhO paper?

Click on the links below to see the cover sheets for each section of The British Physics Olympiad.

How do you allocate marks if students attempt more than two questions in Section 2 of The BPhO Paper?

The two questions with the highest marks only are counted. Answering more than three questions is discouraged as students have limited time to complete the paper.

Ordering papers

If you have an enquiry about ordering papers or certificates please click here.

If you question did not appear in this section please visit the other FAQ sections or email us at BPhO@physics.ox.ac.uk and we will be happy to help.