Skip to main content

Chemistry Olympiad

2020 U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) Hampton Roads American Chemical Society Event

Qualifying Exam:   *******  the exam has been suspended at this time. further information will be available at a later date. those who have submitted nominations will be contacted at a later time. Thank you for your patience.******

The Hampton Roads Local Section of the American Chemical Society, the Departments of Chemistry and Biology and the Center for Materials Research 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 Phase II 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 Phase II 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 by February 24, 2020.

The exam is THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2020, and the registration deadline is MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2020.

The online form for 2020 registrations is available at 2020 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, amount depending on availability of funds.

Qualifying Exam (Phase I):   

  • The qualifying exam will take place on March 19, 2020 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 Friday, April 24, 2020 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: . Hover over the top tab “Students & Educators”. Select “For Students”, then select “High School”, and click on “Chemistry Olympiad”.

Second Phase Exam Details:

  • Students scoring above a threshold percentage on the 3/19/20 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; they are competing for an opportunity to attend Olympiad Study Camp and for a possible position on the US National Team, which will compete at the International Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, July 6-15, 2020.
  • The 9 am-3 pm National Exam will take place on Friday, April 24, 2020 at Norfolk State University.
  • The written and laboratory portions of the exam will take place in Roy A. Woods Science Building (WSB), located on the NSU main campus. Please see the Campus Map link, below, and locate building #33. We recommend Gate 8 for closest access to WSB for drop-off and pick-up (Campus Map) . The two written parts of the exam will take place in WSB 213. Please go to room 213 when you arrive in WSB, between 8:30 and 8:45 am. The lab portion will take place in one of the NSU chemistry labs.
  • We suggest student drop-off in the morning, as parking space is limited. However, for students who choose or need to park on campus, please visit the Campus Police Station, Building 6 on the map linked above, to request a visitor temporary parking permit, and to obtain directions for parking locations. This should be completed by 8:30 am to avoid being late for the exam.
  • 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, by email to Kathryn Simmons ( We usually provide subs, chips, fruit and water.
  • Students will take written exams in the morning and the lab practical exam in the afternoon. It will be a long, arduous day!


  • 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

Dr. Suely M. Black, Chemistry Chair at Norfolk State University, serves as the Local ACS Member Coordinator for the event. Mrs. M. Beth Anderson, NSU Chemistry Laboratory Specialist, with the assistance of graduate students, coordinates the preparation of the lab practical exam.

Points of Contact

Please do not hesitate to email or call Dr. Suely M. Black at, 757-823-8403, or contact Kathryn Simmons at, 757-823-8973, if you have any questions. Thank you very much for your participation