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Chemistry Olympiad

2019 U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) Hampton Roads American Chemical Society Event


The Hampton Roads Local Section of the American Chemical Society, the Department of Chemistry at Norfolk State University (NSU), Granby High School (GHS), Norfolk, Ocean Lakes High School (OLHS), Virginia Beach and Princess Anne High School (PAHS), Virginia Beach, will sponsor the local exams of the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) in the Hampton Roads area this year.

The Competition:

The USNCO is a multi-tiered competition designed to stimulate and promote achievement in high school chemistry. Students scoring above a threshold percentage on the qualifying exam are invited to the National Exam, which involves both written and practical examinations. Up to two students from each high school who score above the threshold may participate in Phase II and have their National Exam responses scored by officials at the American Chemical Society. Other high scorers may be offered seats for the exam if slots are available, and they will gain the experience and opportunity, but their exams will not be graded.


Please announce the Olympiad to your advanced chemistry students and encourage them to participate. Letters confirming information included in this post will be sent to high school chemistry teachers in the region and should arrive before February 13, 2019.

The exam is THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2019, and the registration deadline is MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2019.

The online form for 2019 registrations is available at 2019 USNCO Nomination Form

  • Students and teachers will receive certificates of participation.
  • Outstanding performance will be recognized at an award ceremony in May or June.
  • A cash prize will be given to the top three participants, depending on availability of funds.

Qualifying Exam (Phase I):   

  • The qualifying exam will take place on March 14, 2019 at 3:15 pm. Princess Anne High School (PAHS) and Ocean Lakes High School (OLHS) in Virginia Beach, and Granby High School (GHS) in Norfolk will serve as host facilities for the exam. Specific information will follow regarding rooms where testing will occur at each location.
  • Students should plan to be on-site at least 15 minutes before the beginning of the exam.
  • The exam takes 110 minutes and consists of 60 multiple choice questions.
  • Students will need two pencils with erasers, and a non-programmable calculator. If they bring programmable calculators, they will be required to erase all the memory contents.

Second Phase Exam (Phase II):

  • Students’ scores on the Qualifying Exam will be sent to their teachers.
  • Students receiving the top scores will qualify for Phase II, to take place on April 26, 2019 from 9:00 am-3:00 pm at Norfolk State University.
  • Up to two students per school may take part in the second phase.
  • Additional second phase information is included below, and confirmation will be sent to those qualifying.

Preparing for Exam:

You may obtain more information about the Chemistry Olympiad and access old exams by reaching the American Chemical Society web site:, Click on the top tab “Education”. Select “High School” under “Students”, then choose “Chemistry Olympiad”.

Second Phase Exam Details:

  • Students scoring above a threshold percentage on the 3/14/2019 Qualifying Exam may be invited to the Phase II National Exam, which involves both written and practical laboratory examinations. Up to two students per high school may be accepted and have their exams scored by ACS, competing for an opportunity to attend Olympiad Study Camp in Colorado, and for a position on the US National Team, which will compete at the International Olympiad in Paris, France, July 21-30, 2019.
  • The 9 am-3 pm National Exam will take place on April 26, 2019 at Norfolk State University. Specific information will follow as available.
  • The written portions of the exam will take place in MCAR, the 6-story NSU building at the intersection of Park Avenue and Brambleton Avenue. The laboratory portion will take place in Woods Science Building (WSB), located on the main campus. Students will take a shuttle to the main campus for the laboratory portion. Campus Map
  • It is suggested that students be dropped off in the morning, as parking space is limited. Students who would like to park on campus must go to the Police Station, Building 6 on the map linked above, request a temporary visitor parking permit, and obtain directions for parking locations. This should be completed by 8:30 am to avoid being late for the exam. There is a parking lot adjacent to MCAR where students may park, but the parking permit is required.
  • Since the exam takes place from 9 am to 3 pm, we will provide lunch. If there are particular dietary needs or requests, please let us know as soon as possible. We usually provide subs, chips, fruit and water.
  • Students will take written exams in the morning and the lab practical exam in the afternoon.


  • The Hampton Roads Section of the American Chemical Society
  • National Science Foundation: Center for Renewable Energy and Advanced Materials (CREAM)
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Spartans Engaged in Community-focused, Collaborative, Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (SEC3UREs)
  • Norfolk State University, Norfolk
  • Princess Anne High School, Virginia Beach
  • Ocean Lakes High School, Virginia Beach
  • Granby High School, Norfolk

Ms. Clare Ellen Q. Kerr, Chemistry Teacher at PAHS, and Dr. Suely M. Black, Chemistry Professor at Norfolk State University (NSU), coordinate the event. Mrs. M. Beth Anderson, NSU Chemistry Laboratory Specialist, with the assistance of graduate students, coordinates the preparation of the lab practical exam.

Please do not hesitate to email or call Dr. Suely M. Black at, 757-823-8403, or contact Kathryn Simmons at, 757-823-8790, if you have any questions. Thank you very much for your participation.