USA Biology Olympiad: A challenge for biology lovers

Students discuss why they want to participate in the USA Biology Olympiad

Photo used courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo used courtesy of Creative Commons

Claire Yang

Sophomore Audrey Cui yawns as she flips through the thick textbook in front of her. She has been studying for hours, yet she still unceasingly scans the pages. The USA Biology Olympiad is just around the corner in February, and she is determined to pass the open exam.

The USA Biology Olympiad (USABO) is a national competition which selects competitors for the International Biology Olympiad each year.

“It’s just a lot of studying,” Cui said. “There’s a few textbooks that the test is based off of, and to do well, you basically memorize everything that’s in those textbooks. [You also need to do] a lot of practice tests, because although there is a lot of memorization involved, you can’t get by with only memorization.”

Senior Biology Club USABO lead Forest Yang agrees. He explains that USABO is not only about knowing the concepts, but also requires critical thinking and applying knowledge to problems. Yang first competed in USABO in his sophomore year, and made it to the finals in his junior year. The twenty National Finalists are given the opportunity to participate in a two-week training camp, which Yang said was a very fun and informative experience.

On the other hand, sophomore Megan Chang will be competing in USABO for the first time in 2018, and is highly interested in a career in medicine. She takes a biology class outside of school, and finds learning about the human body especially fascinating.

“I like medicine because I want to know more about the human body, and just the processes that are going on,” Chang said. “Something about biology just draws me in.”

Chang and Cui are still in the process of reading textbooks like “Campbell’s Biology,” “Raven’s Biology of Plants” and “Molecular Biology of the Cell.” However, Yang reveals that there are many problems on the USABO not covered in textbooks. He does lectures every one or two weeks for Biology Club, and tries to cover the information not in textbooks.

As a USABO finalist and officer of the Biology Club, Yang tries to help others with an interest for biology. He appreciates biology for its diversity and variety of topics, and feels USABO can really bring out that aspect of the subject.

“[The concepts are] all really connected together,” Yang said. “Being able to see those connections and learning the concepts from each of those areas and applying them together to solve different problems [is] what USABO makes you do, I think that’s why I really enjoyed it.”