Indian National Physics Olympiad

Indian National Physics Olympiad

Table of Content

Eligibility, Syllabus and Structure
Exam Pattern and Structure
INPhO Past Year Paper
Books for INPhO

The Physics Olympiad program follows the following 5 stages-

Stage I: NSEP- National Standard Examination in Physics

Stage II: INPhO- Indian National Physics Olympiad

Stage III: OCSC- The Orientation cum Selection Camp inPphysics

Stage IV: PDT- Pre-departure Training Camp for IPhO

Stage V: IPhO- Participation in International Physics Olympiad

Stage I, the National Standard Examination is entirely the responsibility of Indian Association of Physics Teachers. All the remaining stages are organized by HBCSE. NSEP is essential to be qualified so as to participate in the INPhO.

Eligibility, Syllabus and Structure
Following is the detailed information about eligibility and structure of NSEP and INPhO in detail. It is very important to learn about NSEP before you gear up for the INPhO.

Stage I: NSEP- National Standard Examination in Physics

NSEP is the first stage in selection of students for the physics Olympiad Programme, which is organised by the IAPT- Indian Association of Physics Teachers. Every student aspiring to go through the successive stages of the programme, must enroll for NSEP. National Standard Examination in Physics is held at a large number of centers in the country.

NSEP is an examination of 2 hours. NSEP 2014-2015 was held on November 23, Sunday, for which the last date of enrolment was September 15, 2013.

All Indian students who are born on or after July 1st, 1994 and also, are in addition, in Class XII or lower as of November 30th, 2013were eligible to appear for NSEP 2014 – 2015. Any student may appear for more than one subject in NSEP provided the examination schedule allows it. For this you would have to check the examination schedule pertaining to different subjects. Also, the students who have passed Class XII are not eligible to enrol for NSEP exam.

It is entirely a student's responsibility to ensure that the eligibility criteria are satisfied before he or she applies for the exam. In case at any stage of the programme it is found that the student does not satisfy the eligibility criteria, thenhe or she may be disqualified from the programme.

The detailed guidelines for NSEP syllabus is not given but it is roughly estimated to be of the Class 11th and 12th standards (CBSE board). Those students who are interested in INPhO must start preparing for it directly as the detailed syllabus of INPhO is listed out below (find in the INPhO section below). In such a way NSEP syllabus will automatically get covered.

Exam Pattern and Structure
NSEP exam does not emphasize on rote memory, but the comprehension of the structure.

The format is as follows:

Exam Pattern and Structure
Part A (180 marks)

50 multiple choice questions consisting of-


40 questions.

Each question with only one of the four options is correct


10 questions.

Each question with one or more than one options can be right. To get credit, no incorrect option or options should be marked and all correct option or options must be marked.

Part B (60 marks)

5 or 6 questions are problems or short-answer type questions. All the questions carry equal marks.


English universal.

However, the NSEP question papers may be available in Hindi, and other regional languages provided that there are more than 300 students for that language. However, this has to be checked with IAPT.

Qualifying for the Second Stage:
The aim of the first stage examination is to have a wide range, then to progressively increase this reach,then to attain nationwide representation for stage II without overly compromising on merit or quality. Thus the selection to the stage II examinations i.e. the Indian National Olympiad Examinations (INOs) is based on the following structure-

a. Eligibility Clause: Any participating candidate must secure a score equal to or greater than a Minimum Admissible Score (or MAS) to be eligible for the Stage II INO exam leading to the International Olympiad. By default, the MAS for a given subject will be 40% of the maximum score in that subject.

b. Proportional Representation Clause (PRC): The number of students selected for Stage II (INO) in each subject is around 300 students. Hence, in the event of a tie at the last position in the list, all students with the same marks at this position will qualify to appear for the Stage II examinations. However, the selected students must nevertheless satisfy the eligibility clause laid out above.

c.Minimum Representation Clause (MRC): Notwithstanding the proportional representation clause as explained above, the number of students selected for INO from each State and UT must be at least 1, provided that the eligibility clause is satisfied thoroughly.

d.Merit Clause: Given the eligibility clause as stated above, it is conceivable that 300 students may not qualify for Stage II in a subject. In a case like this, the shortfall (less from 300) will be selected based purely on merit without further consideration to proportional representation and minimum representation clauses. Thus in the event of a tie at the last position in the list all students with the same marks at this position will qualify to appear for the Stage II examination.

Note: There will be no other criterion or provision for selection to the Indian National Olympiad Examinations (INOs).

All students who qualify to appear for the INPhO get a certificate of merit from IAPT.

Stage II: INPhO- Indian National Physics Olympiad
The Indian National Physics Olympiad is organized by HBCSE in about 15 centres in the country.


Students selected from Stage I examination (i.e. NSEP) are eligible to appear for INPhO.

In addition, those students who have represented India in International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) in the previous year, need not appear for the first stage NSEP examination in physics. They may be allowed on special request to the National Coordinator for the respective subjects, to directly appear for the second stage i.e.- Indian National Physics Olympiad (INPhO) examination, in case they satisfy other eligibility criteria like as age, class, etc. which are applicable for the Physics Olympiad.

Exam Pattern and Structure

The INPhO duration is of 3 hours. INPhO 2014-2015 happened on February 1st, 2015, Saturday. The date and time information of the exam is usually given out on HBCSE site in the 1st week of January every year. The tentative date and time of INPhO 2015 examination is as follows:

The confirmed schedule and date is hosted on the site and also communicated to the eligible students by post, so that no one misses out this crucial information. Students who appear for INPhO are eligible for Travel Allowance and Dearness Allowance as per the norms of the programme.

INPhO Past Year Paper
2008 2009 2010 2011
2012 2013 2014 2015
As like NSEP, the syllabus for INPhO is also based roughly on the school syllabus of class 9th and 10th (CBSE board). But, the syllabus of higher secondary school is only a broad guideline. Here the problems and questions in National Physics Olympiad are usually non-conventional and of really high difficulty level, just as comparable to International Physics Olympiad. For that matter, the syllabus of IPhO should be considered for INPhO.

Syllabus in detail for INPhO on lines of IPhO
S. No


Foundation of kinematics of a point mass

Vector description of the position of the point mass and velocity and acceleration as vectors

Newton's laws and inertial systems

Problems may be set on changing mass

Closed and open systems; momentum and energy, powerwork,

Conservation of energy, impulse, conservation of linear momentum

Elastic forces, the law of gravitation, frictional forces, potential energy, work in a gravitational field

Hooke's law, frictional forces static and kinetic,coefficient of friction (F/R=const), choice of zero of potential energy

Centripetal acceleration, Kepler's laws


Mechanics of rigid bodies

Statics, torque, centre of mass

Couples; conditions of equilibrium of bodies

Motion of rigid bodies, translation, angular velocity,rotation, angular acceleration, and conservation of angular momentum

Conservation of angular momentum about fixed axis only

External and internal forces, equation of motion of a rigid body around the fixed axis, kinetic energy of a rotating body, moment of inertia

Parallel axes theorem (Steiner's theorem) and additively of the moment of inertia

Accelerated reference systems and inertial forces

Knowledge of the Coriolis force formula is not required



No specific questions will be set on this but students would be expected to know the elementary concepts of pressure, the continuity law and buoyancy


Thermodynamics and molecular physics

Internal energy, first and second laws of thermodynamics, work and heat

Thermal equilibrium and quantities depending on state and quantities depending on process

Model of a perfect gas, pressure and molecular kinetic energy, equation of state of a perfect gas, Avogadro's number,absolute temperature

Also molecular approach to such simple phenomena in liquids and solids as boiling and melting etc.

Work done by an expanding gas limited to isothermal and adiabatic processes

Proof of the equation of the adiabatic process is not required

The Carnot cycle, reversible and irreversible processes, thermodynamic efficiency, entropy (statistical approach)and Boltzmann factor

Entropy as a path independent function, quasistatic processes, entropy changes and reversibility


Oscillations and waves

Harmonic oscillations and equation of harmonic oscillation

Solution of the equation for harmonic motion; attenuation and resonance - qualitatively

Harmonic waves, transverse and longitudinal waves,propagation of waves, linear polarization, sound waves, the classical Doppler effect

Displacement in a progressive wave and understanding of graphical representation of the wave, Doppler effect in one dimension only, measurements of velocity of sound and light, propagation of waves in homogeneous and isotropic media, Fermat's principlereflection and refraction,

Superposition of harmonic waves, interference, coherent waves, standing waves, beats

Realization that intensity of wave is proportional to the square of its amplitude.

Fourier analysis is not required but candidates should have some understanding that complex waves can be made from addition of simple sinusoidal waves of different frequencies.

Interference due to thin films and other simple systems (the final formulas are not required)


Electric charge and electric field

Conservation of charge, Coulomb's law

Electric field, Gauss' law,potential

Gauss' law confined to simple symmetric systems like sphere, plate,cylinder etc., and electric dipole moment

Capacitors and capacitance, dielectric constant and energy density of electric field


Current and Magnetic field

Current, resistance, Ohm's law, internal resistance of source, Kirchhoff's laws, Joule's law,work and power of direct and alternating currents

Simple cases of circuits containing non-ohmic devices with known V-I characteristics

Magnetic field (B) of a current, Lorentz force, current in a magnetic field

Particles in a magnetic field, magnetic dipole moment, simple applications like cyclotron

Ampere's law

Law of electromagnetic induction, Lenz's law, magnetic flux, self-induction, energy density of magnetic field, inductance, permeability

Magnetic field of simple symmetric systems like circular loop, straight wire, and long solenoid

Alternating current, voltage and current (series and parallel) resonances, resistors, inductors and capacitors in AC-circuits

Simple AC-circuits, final formulae for parameters of concrete resonance circuits, time constantsare not required


Electromagnetic waves

Oscillatory circuit, generation by feedback and resonance, frequency of oscillations

Wave optics, diffraction grating, diffraction from one and two slits,Bragg reflection, resolving power of a grating

Dispersion and diffraction spectra and line spectra of gases

Electromagnetic waves as transverse waves, polarizers, polarization by reflection

Superposition of polarized waves

Resolving power of imaging systems

Black body and Stefan-Boltzmann’s law

Planck's formula is not required


Quantum Physics

Photoelectric effect and energy and impulse of the photon

Einstein's formula is required

De Broglie wavelength and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle



Principle of relativity, relativistic Doppler effect, addition of velocities

Relativistic equation of motion, energy, momentum, relation between energy and mass and conservation of energy and momentum

Simple applications of the Bragg equation

Energy levels of atoms and molecules (qualitatively), absorption, , spectrum of hydrogen like atomsemission

Energy levels of nuclei (qualitatively) alpha- beta-gamma-decays, half-life and exponential decay,absorption of radiation, components of nuclei, nuclear reactions, mass defect

Books for INPhO
Books for Preparation of Physics Olympiad (INPhO and IPhO). Many titles are in international languages for which English translations are available-

Nicolaus Vermes- International Physics Competitions 1967-1977

Marius Gall- Anatolie Hristev - Probleme date la Olimpiadele Internationale de Fizica

Kahmeg K. Kudawa- International Physics Olympiads

Proceedings of the 15th International Physics Olympiad

Rudolf Kunfalvi- Collection of Competition Tasks from the I through XV International Physics Olympiads 1967-1984

Oleg F. Kabardin- Vladimir A. Orlov - International Physics Olympiads for Pupils

Ana Smontara- Ivo Batistic- Katica Biljakovic- Erna Sustar- Fizikalne olimpijade - znacajni medunarodni susreti mladih

16th International Physics Olympiad- ed. by Anton Moljk- Bojan Golli

Gunter Lind- Physikalische Olympiade-Aufgaben

17th International Physics Olympiad

Procedures for Selecting Teams to the International Physics Olympiads- Waldemar Gorzkowski- Andrzej Kotlicki - Lars Silverberg

18th International Physics Olympiad Report

Collection of Competition Tasks from the I through XVII International Physics Olympiads

Recueil des Sujets de Concours des Olympiades Internationales de Physique 1967-1984

Olimpiadas Internacionales de Fisica 1967–1986

19th International Physics Olympiad Report

Olimpiadas Internacionales de FisicaI a XV 1967-1984 translated by Teresa Martin Sanchez - Manuela Martin Sanchez

XX International Physics Olympiad - Waldemar Gorzkowski

International Physics Olympiads, vol. I - Waldemar Gorzkowski

A Report on International Science and Mathematical Olympiads - Peter O’Halloran

Olimpiadas Internacionales de Fisica 1967-1990 - Fernando Vega Salamanca

Hans Jordens - XXI International Physics Olympiad

XXII International Physics Olympiad- compiled by Carlos Sifredo Barrios - Rafael Llames Izquierdo

XXIII International Physics Olympiad- Heimo Saarikko

XXIV International Physics Olympiad- Arthur Eisenkraft

Daniel Kluvanec- Ivo Volf- Mezinarodni Fysikalni Olympiady -metodycky material

Don-Hyung Choi- Sang-Wuk Lee - History and Collection of the Competition Tasks from the I through the XXII IPhO 1967-1992

Waldemar Gorzkowski- Zadania z fizyki z calego swiata, 20 lat Miedzynarodowych Olimpiad Fizycznych

XXV International Physics Olympiad- Shen Ke-qi - Cong Shu-tong,

Giuliana Cavaggioni- Dennis Luigi Censi- Francesco Minosso- Paolo Nesti- Umberto Penco

Olimpiade Internationale 1990-1994- Matematica Fizica- Chimie Informatica Constantin Harabor - Sofia Buse

Chaleo Manilerd- International Physics Olympiads: Problems and Solutions from 1967-1995

Duong Trong Bai- Cao Ngoc Vien- Bai Thi Vat li Quoc te

XXVII International Physics Olympiad- Arnt Inge Vistnes

XXVI International Physics Olympiad-Rodney L. Jory- Michael F. J. Peachey-John P. Rayner

XXVIII International Physics Olympiad

Pavlos Ioannou- International Physics Olympiads 196 –1997

Proceedings of the 29th International Physics Olympiad- Vidar Agustsson

International Physics Competitions- International Physics Olympiads and First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics- Waldemar Gorzkowski

Megjunadodni Olimpijadi po Fizika, Viktor Urumov

Medzunarodne Olimpijade iz Fizike, Boris Grbic- Marko Dzordzevic- Mirjana Popovic-Bozic - Marko Stoshic

Proceedings of the XXX International Physics Olympiad, Giuliana Cavaggioni

Kompetisi Fisika Internasional : Olimpiade Fisika Internasional dan Langkah Pertama Meraih Hadiah Nobel Fisika, W. Gorzkowski; translated by Zamroni-Herwindo Haribowo-Yohanes Surya- Saparudin

Duong Trong Bai- Dam Trung Don- Bai Thi Vat li Quoc te- Problems of the International Physics Olympiads, vol. 2

International Physics Olympiad XXXI

S. M. Kozel- V. A. Korovin- V. A. Orlov- Sbornik zadach i zadanii s otvetami i resheniami- Mnemozina, Moskva 2001

32nd International Physics Olympiad– Proceedings, Sinan Kaan Yerti and Ibrahim Gunal

O. Guttersrud- C. Angell- Olympiad finalists : where do they go?

Proceedings of the 33rd International Physics Olympiad

Supplement to the Proceedings- Problems and Solutions

Proceedings of the Thirty Fourth International Physics Olympiad, Ming-Juey Lin- Jessica Chang and Sophia Yang

35th International Physics Olympiad : Proceedings

Proceedings of 36th International Physics Olympiad

CREDIT : - this information has been taken from AskIITians.Com, so whole credit goes to them.
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