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19th March 2024

We’re thrilled to announce that nine of our Year 13 students won awards at the recent British Biology Olympiads! Two students received bronze, five got silver and two were awarded gold. The British Biology Olympiad is a nationwide competition with over 13,000 students stepping up to the challenge.

We spoke to one of our champions, Taya, who won a gold award.

So, for anyone who doesn’t know what an Olympiad is can you give them an overview of it and what you did?

It’s a challenge that builds upon the stuff you’ve learned in your lessons, and expands your horizons by encouraging you to think in new ways. I really like how it combines what I’ve studied with my general knowledge and ability to problem-solve. The challenge itself is two 45-minute papers, with a variety of questions like true/false, images and essays. My favourite question was about categorising lizards by identifying their climate. We had an image of each type and we had to use their characteristics to determine their environment. For example this one must live in a desert because its skin is light yellow.

Cool! I’ve learned something new there. Congratulations again on receiving the gold award, can you tell us what happens next?

Thanks! I’m through to the next round, it’s like a second mini-Olympiad. When the results come in for that, the qualifiers are invited to a competition that will be hosted in Coventry. The top 4 people from this event will then get to represent the UK a worldwide Olympiad.

So before we know it we’ll be seeing you on University Challenge! How did you find out about the Olympiads?

My teacher Paul is really good at letting us know whenever there’s enrichment opportunities like this and he’s great at encouraging us to go for things and believe in ourselves. I’d also taken part in the intermediate level version last year in Year 12 and really enjoyed that so was keen to get involved again.

That’s great that you enjoy them, what would you say is your favourite part of the challenge?

I thought the lizard question was really interesting but my favourite thing about the challenge itself is how it makes you pause and reflect on just how much you’ve learned, which made me more confident in my biology skills. Reflecting also made me realise how connected everything is, it was like a cool “a-ha” moment seeing for myself how it all links together. I think it’s a really good skill to develop, rather than relying on teachers to tell you how it all connects, it’s good to be able to work it out for yourself.

Finally, for anyone considering getting involved in the Olympiads, what advice would you give them?

Just do it! There are Olympiads in other subjects too if Biology isn’t your thing. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and try to enjoy it, as the challenge can be really fun. It can also be something to include within your personal statement to show just how passionate you are about a subject. I was able to reference it in my interview for Oxford University which was really useful.

As well as being one of our Olympiad champions, Taya, is also one of our four students who have received Oxbridge offers this year. You can read that story here.

If you’d like to find out more about the Olympiads, click here.