FAQs

How can I get involved?

If you’re a high school student, register to take the First Round Exam, take a look at Resources for preparation, and tell all your friends!

For everyone else, we can always use help with funding so we can run a training camp and cover the team’s travel costs. If you’re qualified,  we’d love help with question-writing. Most importantly, though, make sure to tell everyone you know (especially high school students) about us!

Who can participate?

Anyone can participate in the First Round Exam. Everyone who scores above the cutoff can participate in the NAC.

To qualify for the national team, however, you must be a high school student with US citizenship or permanent residency.

How do I register?

Check out the Registration page!

How does the selection process work?

Check out our Selection Process page!

Who can be a proctor?

A proctor can be any teacher (does not have to be astronomy or physics) from your school that is willing to print the exam, proctor and scan your work. If no teacher can be found, we recommend looking into the local test centers and asking there. If no proctor can be found, you can email us at info@usaaao.org and we can try to connect you to another school in the area.

What topics are being tested?

Take a look at the IOAA Syllabus.

What is the NAC?

The NAC, or National Astronomy Competition, is a 2.5 hour written exam that covers a wide variety of material related to astronomy and astrophysics. To qualify for the NAC, you must score above a cutoff value on the First Round Exam. As of 2018, the top five eligible scorers on the NAC will be invited to represent the USA at the next IOAA.

Why do we send a team to the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) and not to the International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO)?

IOAA and IAO are both international competitions for high-school students interested in astronomy and astrophysics in general. Historically, the first IAO was held in 1996 while IOAA was introduced more recently in 2007. Though both the competitions are similar in spirit, there are some differences. The number of participating countries in IAO 2019 (Romania) was 20 while it was 46 in IOAA 2019 (Hungary). The administrative structure of the IOAA is open and includes an international board consisting of team leaders with an elected President and General Secretary from among the member states. Hence, due to the broader scope of the IOAA on the world stage, and ease and transparency with logistics of the actual event, we choose to send a team only to the IOAA.