National Science Olympiad™

National Science Olympiad™


The National Science Olympiad™ was started in 1964 by FEST (Foundation for Education, Science, and Technology), an organisation that became the business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2002 and subsequently renamed as the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). The aim of the National Science Olympiad is to identify and nurture evident and latent talent in Sciences, encourage excellence in Science education, while also stimulating interest. It seeks to inspire the youth to consider careers in Science and Technology to address the inadequate renewal of SET human capital in South Africa.

Entry requirements

Physical and Life Sciences Educators enter for the Olympiad on behalf of the learners by submitting a completed entry form that can be downloaded from


The National Science Olympiad is coordinated by the Science Education Division of the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement; a business unit of the National Research Foundation.


Learners are provided with the opportunity to compete and test their knowledge in Physical (Physics and Chemistry) or Life Sciences on a national scale. The top participants are then provided with the opportunity for further development during a Science Focus Week, where they are exposed to different applications of Science through lectures, exhibitions, and industry excursions, amongst others.


Grade 10 to 12 learners from schools based in South Africa and the South African Developing Countries (SADC).

How it works

Exam papers are couriered to participating schools on the scheduled date. The participants then engage in a paper-based, curriculum-aligned and beyond examination that consists of 100 multiple choice questions in either the Life Sciences or Physical Sciences stream. The answer sheets are then collected from the schools and marked by an independent body. Subsequently, the results are then communicated to each school.


R35 per learner.


Each learner, who scored 50% and above, receives a participation certificate with his or her result range. In addition, the top learners are invited to a focus week that concludes with an award ceremony. At this ceremony, top performing learners are segregated into categories and awarded with the latest technological gadgets based on their performance. Finally, the top four learners are announced that will be attending the London International Youth Science Forum.

Competition timelines

The written examination is conducted during May, followed by the Focus Week during the September/October school holidays and ending off with a prestigious Gala event.

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