BPhO Round 1


This paper consists of a set of short answer and several long answer thematic questions. They require the student to solve problems, hence the time allocation. Results determine if students will be invited to participate in the next round (in January), and ultimately on to the team for the IPhO. Students at this team level typically achieve 70-80%, but considerably lower scores indicate a level of achievement that should in itself be considered by pupil and school a profound depth of development, skill at the subject; and a determination to solve hard physics problems. About 2000 students particpate in the competition. This paper is a challenge and is not an A level replica. It is a very tall ladder of skill, ability and preparedness which students climb until they grind to a halt. Good students should be encouraged to prepare for it by working through some past papers; questions from past papers should also be occasionally integrated in to your teaching scheme of work. Participation itself reflects strongly on a student’s interest and determination.

Award allocation

Certificates are awarded to the top students in approximately the following numbers:

Book prizes are also awarded for Top gold awards winners.

Students achieving a certificate of any colour in the BPhO are very able physics problem solvers. We would encourage schools to present these certificates in a manner that recognises the significant achievement of successful students at a national level.

Past papers can be found here.

Leads to qualification for Round 2 and selection for the Oxford Training Camp at Easter

The top 50 or more students will be invited to take part in Round 2 in late January.

Ordering papers

To order, visit the online store from September. Papers are posted out from two weeks before the exam date. Schools in China must go through the company ASDAN China (see details in the online shop).

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