Every year around April, the legend of the US National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) exam sweeps across the entire United States, gathering fearless chemistry enthusiasts nationwide. 20 of the most achieving challengers are granted an opportunity to join the study camp, while the top 50th and the top 150th challengers are granted “High Honors” and “Honors” titles. This year’s USNCO exam would have been no exception if not for the unanticipated outbreak of the plague. Fortunately, in these times of trial, the organizers of the exam brought forth their unpredictable yet scintillating plan of hosting the USNCO via the Internet.
The virtual USNCO consists of two rounds. The first round lasts 90 minutes and covers 60 multiple-choice questions. Students who rank above the 150th place in the first round will receive the “Honors” title and will be invited to participate in the second round of the USNCO, which lasts 105 minutes and includes 8 free-response questions that cover a broad range of advanced topics from stoichiometry to organic chemistry.
After the local exam in March, Qiyang (junior) and William (sophomore) were qualified for the USNCO national exam, representing PRISMS. Among the 800 participants who qualified for the first round, both William and Qiyang ranked above the 150th place and were invited to participate in the second round. After combining the scores from the first round and the second round, Qiyang was one of the top 20 students in the country and was invited to participate in the 2020 Chemistry Olympiad Virtual Study Camp in June.