IPhO: International Physics Olympiad


IPhO is one of the prestigious international physics competition for secondary school students. The main aim of IPhO is to test the highest level of knowledge, critical thinking and problem solving. The IPhO is organized annually in different countries as a 9-10 days competition wherein national teams comprising a maximum of five of their best physics students and two team leaders respectively.
Visit http://www.ipho-new.org for more information.


The syllabus for IPhO is as follows –

1. Mechanics
  • Foundation of kinematics of a point mass
  • Newton’s laws, inertial systems
  • Closed and open systems, momentum and energy, work, power
  • Conservation of energy, conservation of linear momentum, impulse
  • Elastic forces, frictional forces, the law of gravitation, potential energy and work in a gravitational field
  • Centripetal acceleration, Kepler’s laws
2. Mechanics of Rigid Bodies
  • Statics, center of mass, torque
  • Motion of rigid bodies, translation, rotation, angular velocity, angular acceleration, conservation of angular momentum
  • External and internal forces, equation of motion of a rigid body around the fixed axis, moment of inertia, kinetic energy of a rotating body
  • Accelerated reference systems, inertial forces
3. Hydromechanics
  • Pressure,
  • Buoyancy and
  • The continuity law.
4. Thermodynamics and Molecular Physics-
  • Internal energy, work and heat, first and second laws of thermodynamics
  • Model of a perfect gas, pressure and molecular kinetic energy, Avogadro’s number, equation of state of a perfect gas, absolute temperature
  • Work done by an expanding gas limited to isothermal and adiabatic processes
  • The Carnot cycle, thermodynamic efficiency, reversible and irreversible processes, entropy (statistical approach), Boltzmann factor
5. Oscillations and waves
  • Harmonic oscillations, equation of harmonic oscillation
  • Harmonic waves, propagation of waves, transverse and longitudinal waves, linear polarization, the classical Doppler effect, sound waves
  • Superposition of harmonic waves, coherent waves, interference, beats, standing waves
6. Electric Charge and Electric Field
  • Conservation of charge, Coulomb’s law
  • Electric field, potential, Gauss’ law
  • Capacitors, capacitance, dielectric constant, energy density of electric field
7. Current and Magnetic Field
  • Current, resistance, internal resistance of source, Ohm’s law, Kirchhoff’s laws, work and power of direct and alternating currents, Joule’s law
  • Magnetic field (B) of a current, current in a magnetic field, Lorentz force
  • Ampere’s law
  • Law of electromagnetic induction, magnetic flux, Lenz’s law, self-induction, inductance, permeability, energy density of magnetic field
  • Alternating current, resistors, inductors and capacitors in AC-circuits, voltage and current (parallel and series) resonances
8. Electromagnetic waves-
  • Oscillatory circuit, frequency of oscillations, generation by feedback and resonance
  • Wave optics, diffraction from one and two slits, diffraction grating,resolving power of a grating, Bragg reflection,
  • Dispersion and diffraction spectra, line spectra of gases
  • Electromagnetic waves as transverse waves, polarization by reflection, polarizers
  • Resolving power of imaging systems
  • Black body, Stefan-Boltzmanns law
9. Quantum Physics
  • Photoelectric effect, energy and impulse of the photon
  • De Broglie wavelength, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle
10. Relativity-
  • Principle of relativity, addition of velocities, relativistic Doppler effect
  • Relativistic equation of motion, momentum, energy, relation between energy and mass, conservation of energy and momentum
11. Matter-
  • Simple applications of the Bragg equation
  • Energy levels of atoms and molecules (qualitatively), emission, absorption, spectrum of hydrogen like atoms
  • Energy levels of nuclei (qualitatively), alpha-, beta- and gamma-decays, absorption of radiation, half-life and exponential decay, components of nuclei, mass defect, nuclear reactions
B. Practical Part

The Theoretical Part of the Syllabus provides the basis for all the experimental problems. The experimental problems given in the experimental contest should contain measurements.

Preparation tips for IPhO-

Comprehend the syllabus-

You need to properly comprehend your syllabus before you start your preparation. You only have to prepare the topics covered in the syllabus. No one will ask you anything out of the syllabus.

Ace your basics-

You are going to represent the country internationally. You cannot even qualify for this exam if your basic concepts aren’t clear. If your basics are clear, you can easily solve advanced level questions.

Have a time table-

Having a proper study plan or a time table will help you with the consistency. Make a study plan which suits you the best so you can cover all the topics and still have time for the revision.

Make notes-

When ever you are studying, keep on making short notes. This will help you the grasp everything more easily and these notes will also help you with the quick revision.


We cannot emphasize much how important revision is, and how much it can help you to ace this examination. You much revise at least twice before appearing for the examination.

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Anirudh Gupta
IIT Delhi Computer Science CBSE Class 12 - 94.2% RMO Awardee
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