National Chemistry Olympiad Rules

Rules & Eligibility

These rules apply to the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Exam only

  • Students must be U.S. citizens or legal, permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) to take the U.S. national examination.

  • High school students who will graduate no earlier than the first of May of the year in which they participate in the competition are eligible.

  • Students must be under the 20 years of age on the first of July of the year of the competition.

  • No more than two students per high school per local section may be nominated to take the national exam. In the case of magnet programs, split enrollment, or cyber students, a student’s school is defined as the high school from which the student will receive his or her diploma.

  • Eligible students who have previously attended the study camp automatically qualify for the national exam and do not count against the limit on the number of eligible students from their local section or school.

  • Winners of gold medals at the International Chemistry Olympiad are not eligible to participate in subsequent International Chemistry Olympiad competitions or study camps.

  • Students who have taken advanced placement courses in chemistry are eligible.

  • A student may participate only in the competition of the section in which the student's high school is located. In the case of a cyber-student, the student shall participate in the local section where he or she is geographically located, regardless of where the cyber school is located. 

  • A student who participates in the Physics Olympiad study camp, the Mathematics Olympiad study camp, or the Biology Olympiad study camp is not eligible to participate in the Chemistry Olympiad study camp during the same summer.

  • Only non-programmable calculators are to be used on the  national exam and on the ACS local section exam, if used.  The use of a programmable calculator, cell phone, or any other device that can access the internet or make copies or photographs during the exam is grounds for disqualification.


The American Chemical Society provides a basic excess accident insurance coverage for all activities scheduled and supervised by ACS during the administration of the Chemistry Olympiad program. To ensure proper coverage, the coordinators must submit a list of all lab practical sites and names of all participants to the USNCO office.

Students with Disabilities

The USNCO will make accommodations to allow students with disabilities to participate, those accommodations cannot alter the fundamental aspect of the competition. For more information, email

Translating to Other Languages

You may translate the Local Section examinations from English into other languages to encourage participation by non-English speaking students. If you do so, please send a copy to the USNCO national office.  

The National Exam must be administered only in English.

Local Competitions

Local sections are encouraged to develop their own procedures for identifying outstanding students at the local level and choosing national examination candidates.