The IBO takes place each year in July in one of the member countries of the IBO Association. In 2023, 34th edition of IBO is organized by the Ministry of Education, UAE. All disciplines of biology are acceptable for the IBO Competition. IBO-2023 will enable the competitors to apply not only their knowledge and skills, but also their ability to think independently and solve problems.

A typical IBO Competition consists of two rounds of theory examination (Part-1&2) and four rounds of practical experiments (Part-3) which covers the entire spectrum of the biology syllabus as prescribed by IBO. The recommended duration of each part is four to six hours with a break for refreshment. There will be at least a one-day interval between the two examinations.


The IBO theoretical tasks will test the competitors’ understanding, processing skills and application of biological knowledge. Theoretical questions will cover the following topics in the indicated proportions.

Cell biology
Structure and function of cells and their components
(20 %)
Plant anatomy and physiology
(with emphasis on seed plants)
(15 %)
Animal anatomy and physiology
(with emphasis on vertebrates and especially man)
(25 %)
(5 %)
Genetics and Evolution
(20 %)
(10 %)
(5 %)

All of the questions asked will be done in a way to enable objectively marking and scoring. Thus, the following are the types of questions that are commonly seen in IBO.

  • Multiple choice (MC)
  • Matching
  • Sequencing
  • Filling out (only numbers, numeric, or alphabetical codes)
  • Judging a set of statements, whether each is right (true) or wrong (false)

Practical Examination

IBO typically consists of four experiments that must be performed by all the students. The tasks in the practical examination will focus on the evaluation of the competitors’ ability to solve biological problems using the skills and methods commonly used in biological laboratories. In 34th IBO hosted by UAE, the students will be expected to perform experiment in the following four areas:

  • Ecology & Ethology
  • Plant Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioinformatics

Instructions will be provided to the students before or during the examination for any practical procedure involving specialized technical equipment to prevent faulty operation and damage to the equipment.


The final ranking of the competitors is based upon their equally weighted scores for the theoretical and practical tasks according the t-score method. First, the t-score of the average of the t-scores of the individual practical tasks is calculated. Second, the t-score of the summed score of both theoretical tasks is calculated. The final score of the competitor is the sum of these two. As a last step, the score is rescaled as follows: final score = 50 + 10 × final t-score.

The awards are determined according to the cutoffs below, where n is the number of competitors, and [n] is the ceiling function (e.g., [4.1] = 5, [4.9] = 5). The maximum number of awards equals 0.7 [n] + 2.

Gold medal

w = [0.1 n]

The last gold medal winner is the one preceding the largest gap out of the three following the top w competitors.

Silver medal

x = [0.3 n]

The last silver medal winner is the one preceding the largest gap out of the three following the top x competitors.

Bronze medal

y = [0.6 n]

The last bronze medal winner is the one preceding the largest gap out of the three following the top y competitors.

Certificate of Merit

z = [0.7 n]

The last certificate of merit winner is the one preceding the largest gap out of the three following the top z competitors.

Closing Ceremony - 34th IBO 2023 UAE

Opening Ceremony - 34th IBO 2023 UAE