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Did you know?

The Olympiad is a nine-day international competition among pre-university students from more than 60 nations. — AAPT.ORG



Exam Procedure for Selection of the U.S. Physics Team

There are two exams: the preliminary "F= ma" exam consisting of multiple-choice questions, and the USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) exam for the top 300 to 400 students from the "F= ma" exam.

Preliminary Exam: The F=ma contest.

Multiple-choice only, focusing on mechanics; problems can be solved without the use of calculus. Exam time: 75 minutes (allow 90 minutes total to administer the exam). We strongly encourage you to have your physics students participate in this part of the contest and are certain that they will benefit from participating in an international educational forum.  NOTE: Students must be U.S. citizens or legal, permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) to register for the F=ma exam.

USA Physics Olympiad Exam (USAPhO)

The top 300 to 400 students based, on the score on the preliminary exam, will be invited to take this exam. This is a free response exam and may require the use of derivatives or simple integration. The exam covers all topics in introductory physics: Mechanics, E&M, Thermodynamics and Fluids, Relativity, Nuclear and Atomic Physics, and Waves and Optics. Part A: 4 problems, 90 minutes. Part B: 2 problems, 90 minutes. Allow 3.5 hours to administer the exam.  Please note that although we will allow students who are U.S. citizens outside of the U.S. to take the F=ma exam, as of 2017 we are no longer allowing students who are not located in the U.S. to take the USAPhO exam.


PLEASE NOTE: Students taking the USA Physics Olympiad Exam may be invited to be a part of the U.S. Physics Team. Students accepting invitations to be a part of the U.S. Team must be willing and able to attend the entire training camp.  They must be able to compete internationally as representatives of the U.S. Team. This requires that they are U.S. citizens or hold a green card and have attended school in the U.S. for at least three years.

Contact Information

For more details and information about the U.S. Physics Team, please contact AAPT's Programs department at 301-209-3340 or programs@aapt.org