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Indian National Physics Olympiad


Table of Content

The Physics Olympiad program follows the following 5 stages-

  • Stage I: NSEP- National Standard Examination in Physics 

  • Stage II: INPhO- Indian National Physics Olympiad 

  • Stage III: OCSC- The Orientation cum Selection Camp inPphysics

  • Stage IV: PDT- Pre-departure Training Camp for IPhO

  • Stage V: IPhO- Participation in International Physics Olympiad 

Stage I, the National Standard Examination is entirely the responsibility of Indian Association of Physics Teachers. All the remaining stages are organized by HBCSE. NSEP is essential to be qualified so as to participate in the INPhO.

Eligibility, Syllabus and Structure

Following is the detailed information about eligibility and structure of NSEP and INPhO in detail. It is very important to learn about NSEP before you gear up for the INPhO. 

  • Stage I: NSEP- National Standard Examination in Physics 

NSEP is the first stage in selection of students for the physics Olympiad Programme, which is organised by the IAPT- Indian Association of Physics Teachers. Every student aspiring to go through the successive stages of the programme, must enroll for NSEP.  National Standard Examination in Physics is held at a large number of centers in the country.

NSEP is an examination of 2 hours. NSEP 2017 – 2018 was held on November 26, Sunday, for which the last date of enrolment was September 15, 2016.

  • Eligibility:

All Indian students who are born on or after July 1st, 1998 and also, are in addition, in Class XII or lower as of November 30th, 2017 were eligible to appear for NSEP 2017 – 2018. Any student may appear for more than one subject in NSEP provided the examination schedule allows it. For this you would have to check the examination schedule pertaining to different subjects. Also, the students who have passed Class XII are not eligible to enrol for NSEP exam.

It is entirely a student's responsibility to ensure that the eligibility criteria are satisfied before he or she applies for the exam. In case at any stage of the programme it is found that the student does not satisfy the eligibility criteria, thenhe or she may be disqualified from the programme.

  • Syllabus:

The detailed guidelines for NSEP syllabus is not given but it is roughly estimated to be of the Class 11th and 12th standards (CBSE board). Those students who are interested in INPhO must start preparing for it directly as the detailed syllabus of INPhO is listed out below (find in the INPhO section below). In such a way NSEP syllabus will automatically get covered.

  • Exam Pattern and Structure

NSEP exam does not emphasize on rote memory, but the comprehension of the structure.

The format is as follows:

Exam Pattern and Structure

Part A (180 marks)




50 multiple choice questions consisting of-


40 questions.

Each question with only one of the four options is correct 


10 questions.

Each question with one or more than one options can be right. To get credit, no incorrect option or options should be marked and all correct option or options must be marked.

Part B (60 marks)


5 or 6 questions are problems or short-answer type questions. All the questions carry equal marks.



English universal.

However, the NSEP question papers may be available in Hindi, and other regional languages provided that there are more than 300 students for that language. However, this has to be checked with IAPT.

  • Qualifying for the Second Stage:

The aim of the first stage examination is to have a wide range, then to progressively increase this reach,then to attain nationwide representation for stage II without overly compromising on merit or quality. Thus the selection to the stage II examinations i.e. the Indian National Olympiad Examinations (INOs) is based on the following structure-

a. Eligibility Clause: Any participating candidate must secure a score equal to or greater than a Minimum Admissible Score (or MAS) to be eligible for the Stage II INO exam leading to the International Olympiad. By default, the MAS for a given subject will be 40% of the maximum score in that subject.

b. Proportional Representation Clause (PRC): The number of students selected for Stage II (INO) in each subject is around 300 students. Hence, in the event of a tie at the last position in the list, all students with the same marks at this position will qualify to appear for the Stage II examinations. However, the selected students must nevertheless satisfy the eligibility clause laid out above.

c.Minimum Representation Clause (MRC): Notwithstanding the proportional representation clause as explained above, the number of students selected for INO from each State and UT must be at least 1, provided that the eligibility clause is satisfied thoroughly.

d.Merit Clause: Given the eligibility clause as stated above, it is conceivable that 300 students may not qualify for Stage II in a subject. In a case like this, the shortfall (less from 300) will be selected based purely on merit without further consideration to proportional representation and minimum representation clauses. Thus in the event of a tie at the last position in the list all students with the same marks at this position will qualify to appear for the Stage II examination.

Note: There will be no other criterion or provision for selection to the Indian National Olympiad Examinations (INOs).

All students who qualify to appear for the INPhO get a certificate of merit from IAPT.

  • Stage II: INPhO- Indian National Physics Olympiad 

The Indian National Physics Olympiad is organized by HBCSE in about 15 centres in the country.


  • Students selected from Stage I examination (i.e. NSEP) are eligible to appear for INPhO.

  • In addition, those students who have represented India in International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) in the previous year, need not appear for the first stage NSEP examination in physics. They may be allowed on special request to the National Coordinator for the respective subjects, to directly appear for the second stage i.e.- Indian National Physics Olympiad (INPhO) examination, in case they satisfy other eligibility criteria like as age, class, etc. which are applicable for the Physics Olympiad. 

Exam Pattern and Structure

The INPhO duration is of 3 hours. INPhO 2017-2018 happened on January 31st, 2018, Saturday. The date and time information of the exam is usually given out on HBCSE site in the 1st week of January every year. The tentative date and time of INPhO 2018 examination is as follows:

The confirmed schedule and date is hosted on the site and also communicated to the eligible students by post, so that no one misses out this crucial information. Students who appear for INPhO are eligible for Travel Allowance and Dearness Allowance as per the norms of the programme.

INPhO Past Year Paper

2008 2009 2010 2011
2012 2013 2014 2015
2016 2017    


As like NSEP, the syllabus for INPhO is also based roughly on the school syllabus of class 9th and 10th (CBSE board). But, the syllabus of higher secondary school is only a broad guideline. Here the problems and questions in National Physics Olympiad are usually non-conventional and of really high difficulty level, just as comparable to International Physics Olympiad. For that matter, the syllabus of IPhO should be considered for INPhO.

  • Syllabus in detail for INPhO on lines of IPhO

S. No






  1. Foundation of kinematics of a point mass

Vector description of the position of the point mass and velocity and acceleration as vectors


  1. Newton's laws and inertial systems


Problems may be set on changing mass

  1. Closed and open systems; momentum and energy, powerwork,


  1. Conservation of energy, impulse, conservation of linear momentum


  1. Elastic forces, the law of gravitation, frictional forces, potential energy, work in a gravitational field

Hooke's law, frictional forces static and kinetic,coefficient of friction (F/R=const), choice of zero of potential energy

  1. Centripetal acceleration, Kepler's laws



Mechanics of rigid bodies

  1. Statics, torque, centre of mass

Couples; conditions of equilibrium of bodies



  1. Motion of rigid bodies, translation, angular velocity,rotation, angular acceleration, and conservation of angular momentum

Conservation of angular momentum about fixed axis only



  1. External and internal forces, equation of motion of a rigid body around the fixed axis, kinetic energy of a rotating body, moment of inertia

Parallel axes theorem (Steiner's theorem) and additively of the moment of inertia



  1. Accelerated reference systems and inertial forces

Knowledge of the Coriolis force formula is not required



  1. No specific questions will be set on this but students would be expected to know the elementary concepts of pressure, the continuity law and buoyancy




Thermodynamics and molecular physics

  1. Internal energy, first and second laws of thermodynamics, work and heat

Thermal equilibrium and quantities depending on state and quantities depending on process



  1. Model of a perfect gas, pressure and molecular kinetic energy, equation of state of a perfect gas, Avogadro's number,absolute temperature

Also molecular approach to such simple phenomena in liquids and solids as boiling and melting etc.



  1. Work done by an expanding gas limited to isothermal and adiabatic processes

Proof of the equation of the adiabatic process is not required



  1. The Carnot cycle, reversible and irreversible processes, thermodynamic efficiency, entropy (statistical approach)and Boltzmann factor

Entropy as a path independent function, quasistatic processes, entropy changes and reversibility


Oscillations and waves

  1. Harmonic oscillations and equation of harmonic oscillation

Solution of the equation for harmonic motion; attenuation and resonance - qualitatively



  1. Harmonic waves, transverse and longitudinal waves,propagation of waves, linear polarization, sound waves, the classical Doppler effect

Displacement in a progressive wave and understanding of graphical representation of the wave, Doppler effect in one dimension only, measurements of velocity of sound and light, propagation of waves in homogeneous and isotropic media, Fermat's principlereflection and refraction,



  1. Superposition of harmonic waves, interference, coherent waves, standing waves, beats



Realization that intensity of wave is proportional to the square of its amplitude.

Fourier analysis is not required but candidates should have some understanding that complex waves can be made from addition of simple sinusoidal waves of different frequencies.

Interference due to thin films and other simple systems (the final formulas are not required)


Electric charge and electric field

  1. Conservation of charge, Coulomb's law




  1. Electric field, Gauss' law,potential

Gauss' law confined to simple symmetric systems like sphere, plate,cylinder etc., and electric dipole moment



  1. Capacitors and capacitance, dielectric constant and energy density of electric field



Current and Magnetic field

  1. Current, resistance, Ohm's law, internal resistance of source, Kirchhoff's laws, Joule's law,work and power of direct and alternating currents

Simple cases of circuits containing non-ohmic devices with known V-I characteristics



  1. Magnetic field (B) of a current, Lorentz force, current in a magnetic field

Particles in a magnetic field, magnetic dipole moment, simple applications like cyclotron



  1. Ampere's law




  1. Law of electromagnetic induction, Lenz's law, magnetic flux, self-induction, energy density of magnetic field, inductance, permeability

Magnetic field of simple symmetric systems like circular loop, straight wire, and long solenoid



  1. Alternating current, voltage and current (series and parallel) resonances, resistors, inductors and capacitors in AC-circuits

Simple AC-circuits, final formulae for parameters of concrete resonance circuits, time constantsare not required




Electromagnetic waves

  1. Oscillatory circuit, generation by feedback and resonance, frequency of oscillations




  1. Wave optics, diffraction grating, diffraction from one and two slits,Bragg reflection, resolving power of a grating




  1. Dispersion and diffraction spectra and line spectra of gases




  1. Electromagnetic waves as transverse waves, polarizers, polarization by reflection

Superposition of polarized waves



  1. Resolving power of imaging systems




  1. Black body and Stefan-Boltzmann’s law

Planck's formula is not required


Quantum Physics

  1. Photoelectric effect and energy and impulse of the photon


Einstein's formula is required



  1. De Broglie wavelength and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle




  1. Principle of relativity, relativistic Doppler effect, addition of velocities




  1. Relativistic equation of motion, energy, momentum, relation between energy and mass and  conservation of energy and momentum




  1. Simple applications of the Bragg equation




  1. Energy levels of atoms and molecules (qualitatively), absorption, , spectrum of hydrogen like atomsemission




  1. Energy levels of nuclei (qualitatively) alpha- beta-gamma-decays, half-life and exponential decay,absorption of radiation, components of nuclei, nuclear reactions, mass defect


Books for INPhO

Books for Preparation of Physics Olympiad (INPhO and IPhO). Many titles are in international languages for which English translations are available-

  • Nicolaus Vermes- International Physics Competitions 1967-1977

  • Marius GallAnatolie Hristev - Probleme date la Olimpiadele Internationale de Fizica

  • Kahmeg K. Kudawa- International Physics Olympiads

  • Proceedings of the 15th International Physics Olympiad

  • Rudolf Kunfalvi- Collection of Competition Tasks from the I through XV International Physics Olympiads 1967-1984

  • Oleg F. Kabardin- Vladimir A. Orlov - International Physics Olympiads for Pupils

  • Ana Smontara- Ivo Batistic- Katica Biljakovic- Erna SustarFizikalne olimpijade - znacajni medunarodni susreti mladih

  • 16th International Physics Olympiad- ed. by Anton MoljkBojan Golli

  • Gunter Lind- Physikalische Olympiade-Aufgaben

  • 17th International Physics Olympiad

  • Procedures for Selecting Teams to the International Physics Olympiads- Waldemar Gorzkowski- Andrzej Kotlicki - Lars Silverberg

  • 18th International Physics Olympiad Report

  • Collection of Competition Tasks from the I through XVII International Physics Olympiads 

  • Recueil des Sujets de Concours des Olympiades Internationales de Physique 1967-1984

  • Olimpiadas Internacionales de Fisica 1967–1986

  • 19th International Physics Olympiad Report

  • Olimpiadas Internacionales de FisicaI a XV 1967-1984 translated by Teresa Martin Sanchez - Manuela Martin Sanchez

  • XX International Physics OlympiadWaldemar Gorzkowski

  • International Physics Olympiads, vol. I - Waldemar Gorzkowski

  • A Report on International Science and Mathematical Olympiads - Peter O’Halloran

  • Olimpiadas Internacionales de Fisica 1967-1990Fernando Vega Salamanca

  • Hans Jordens - XXI International Physics Olympiad

  • XXII International Physics Olympiad- compiled by Carlos Sifredo Barrios - Rafael Llames Izquierdo

  • XXIII International Physics Olympiad- Heimo Saarikko

  • XXIV International Physics Olympiad- Arthur Eisenkraft

  • Daniel Kluvanec- Ivo Volf- Mezinarodni Fysikalni Olympiady -metodycky material

  • Don-Hyung ChoiSang-Wuk Lee - History and Collection of the Competition Tasks from the I through the XXII IPhO 1967-1992

  • Waldemar Gorzkowski- Zadania z fizyki z calego swiata, 20 lat Miedzynarodowych Olimpiad Fizycznych

  • XXV International Physics Olympiad- Shen Ke-qi - Cong Shu-tong,

  • Giuliana CavaggioniDennis Luigi Censi- Francesco Minosso- Paolo NestiUmberto Penco

  • Olimpiade Internationale 1990-1994- Matematica Fizica- Chimie Informatica Constantin Harabor - Sofia Buse

  • Chaleo Manilerd- International Physics Olympiads: Problems and Solutions from 1967-1995

  • Duong Trong Bai- Cao Ngoc VienBai Thi Vat li Quoc te

  • XXVII International Physics Olympiad- Arnt Inge Vistnes

  • XXVI International Physics Olympiad-Rodney L. JoryMichael F. J. Peachey-John P. Rayner

  • XXVIII International Physics Olympiad

  • Pavlos Ioannou- International Physics Olympiads 196 –1997

  • Proceedings of the 29th International Physics OlympiadVidar Agustsson

  • International Physics Competitions- International Physics Olympiads and First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics- Waldemar Gorzkowski

  • Megjunadodni Olimpijadi po Fizika, Viktor Urumov

  • Medzunarodne Olimpijade iz Fizike, Boris Grbic- Marko Dzordzevic- Mirjana Popovic-Bozic -  Marko Stoshic

  • Proceedings of the XXX International Physics Olympiad, Giuliana Cavaggioni

  • Kompetisi Fisika Internasional : Olimpiade Fisika Internasional dan Langkah Pertama Meraih Hadiah Nobel FisikaW. Gorzkowski; translated by Zamroni-Herwindo Haribowo-Yohanes SuryaSaparudin

  • Duong Trong Bai- Dam Trung Don- Bai Thi Vat li Quoc te- Problems of the International Physics Olympiads, vol. 2

  • International Physics Olympiad XXXI 

  • S. M. Kozel- V. A. Korovin- V. A. OrlovSbornik zadach i zadanii s otvetami i resheniami- Mnemozina, Moskva 2001

  • 32nd International Physics Olympiad– Proceedings, Sinan Kaan Yerti and Ibrahim Gunal

  • O. Guttersrud- C. Angell- Olympiad finalists : where do they go?

  • Proceedings of the 33rd International Physics Olympiad

  • Supplement to the Proceedings- Problems and Solutions

  • Proceedings of the Thirty Fourth International Physics Olympiad, Ming-Juey LinJessica Chang and Sophia Yang

  • 35th International Physics Olympiad : Proceedings

  • Proceedings of 36th International Physics Olympiad


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