High School Chemistry Olympiad

The Southern California Section of the American Chemical Society has been offering the Chemistry Contest since 1914, at which time Nordhoff High School was the top-scoring school. It became the High School Chemistry Olympiad in 1968 when National ACS began sponsoring it. In 2008, the Section won a National award for 25 years of continuous support of the Chemistry Olympiad. In 2014, we celebrated 100 years of offering the High School Contest. The Southern California Section has the longest-running contest in American Chemical Society history.

The Chemistry Olympiad is a way for the Section to locate and recognize high-achieving students and mentor them in chemistry. Each year, we offer the test at over 30 high school campuses all over Los Angeles County. The test is designed to test a student’s knowledge of a wide variety of topics in chemistry. The top scorers on the local exam are nominated to compete in the National Exam. The top 20 national winners are invited to attend an all-expense paid two-week study camp. The top four finalists from the camp are then selected to represent the United States at the International Chemistry Olympiad which is held in a different country each year. We recognize the top local students at an Educational Awards event in May with monetary awards and certificates.


KEY DATES for 2024 USNCO Exam

October 2023 Online Form opens to all eligible participants
December 2023 Friday, December 15 – Completion of this form by all eligible participants
January 2024 Friday, January 12 – Confirmation of participation sent to participants from local coordinators
March 2024 Friday, March 1 – First day of Local Section Exam testing
Sunday, March 24 – Final day of Local Section Exam testing
Monday, March 25 – Deadline for Local Sections to submit LSE answer sheets to ACS National
April 2024 Monday, April 1 – Deadline for ACS National to share scores with Local Sections
Friday, April 5 – Deadline for National Exam nominees to ACS National
Saturday, April 13 – First day of National Exam testing window
Sunday, April 21 – Final day of National Exam testing window
Monday, April 29 – Study Camp participants notified
June 2024 Sunday, June 2– First day of Study Camp  (tentative)
Saturday, June 15 – Last day of Study Camp (tentative)
July 2024 Sunday, July 21 – First day of IChO in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, July 31 – Last day of IChO




USNCO has informed all local sections of new registration changes for the 2024 USNCO Exam. This year all students must register ONLINE at the ACS website via the link below in order to participate in the local exams. If students have not registered with USNCO by the January 15, 2024 deadline, they will not be able to participate in the local exam. (Teachers, please copy and send your students this link: https://fs10.formsite.com/ACS_Outreach/USNCO2024/index)
  1. 2024 USNCO Rules & Eligibility 2024 – You must read the 2024 Rules and Eligibility before you sign up.
  2. Deadline to register: January 15, 2024
    NOTE: When completing the registration form, there are multiple California sections. SCALACS is listed as “Southern California” on the dropdown menu. Choose this option.
  3. Once the registration closes on January 15, 2024, SCALACS will receive the list of registered participants from USNCO.
  4. SCALACS  will then reach out to all teachers with students who are registered.
    *If there are multiple teachers at the same school, SCALACS will reach out to these teachers in a group e-mail so that we are all on the same page and we can determine which teacher will proctor the local exam.
    *Please let SCALACS know if your school would be willing to accept students who do not have a testing site.
    *SCALACS will the list of students, student information, and exam payment with the teachers.
  5. There will be no Scantrons this year. SCALACS will be sending each school the printed exams along with the new bubble answer sheet for students to use.
  6. USNCO will be handling all the scoring of the exam. Once the exam is over, teachers can either scan all the bubble answer sheets in (1) PDF file and e-mail them to SCALACS office at office@scalacs.org or mail them to the office at 2700 E. Foothill Blvd, Suite 209, Pasadena, CA 91107. The office administrator will scan them and submit them to USNCO.<
  7. Exam Payment — SCALACS will send an invoice to the teachers of the participating students. All payments must be received by March 1, 2024.

Any questions, please contact our administrator, e-mail office@scalacs.org or call 310-327-1216.