2016 Academic Competitions for High School Students

Think you're a hotshot in your favourite subject? Why not try your skills and knowledge out against others in an academic competition? Here's a list of what's on.

Academic competitions offer students numerous personal and academic benefits. You are given the opportunity to discover a new talent or skill, to exhibit existing ones to wider audiences, and to push yourself beyond imagined limits. Additionally, you may expand your network by meeting other like-minded students from competing schools and connecting with industry professionals.

Consult the tables below for some academic competitions that you may be interested in. To apply for any of the following competitions, please consult your school as most competitions listed require registrations to be made through the school.



Competition Applicable Grades Description Event Date Final Registration Date
Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award 7 – 8 This competition aims to enhance students’ public speaking skills and the appreciation of the ideals of Legacy. Students are asked to prepare a 5-minute speech on topics relating to Legacy ideals, and present a 2-minute impromptu speech on a common topic. July- August Late March
The Whitlam Institute ‘What Matters?’ Competition 7 – 12 Students are asked to write a 400-600 word literary response to the question ‘What matters?’. To enter, students submit a response and signed entry form (available when the competition opens) by mail or email. Late January Early May
ICAS (Writing) 7 – 12 This competition assesses a student’s ability to write an extended response for a given task in 30 minutes. In 2016, students are asked to write one or two stages of a narrative and marked against the following criteria: Genre, Textual Grammar, Syntax/Punctuation and Spelling. Each student receives a performance report and a certificate. 13 June- 17 June 16 May
ICAS (English) 7 – 12 This competition assesses a student’s reading and language skills in a range of contexts. Students are asked to read texts that cover a variety of topics and are presented in various formats. For those in Years 7 & 8, the exam is 55 minutes long and comprises of 55 multiple choice questions.For those in Years 9 – 12, the exam is an hour long and comprises of 60 multiple choice questions. Each student receives a performance report and certificate. 2 August 21 June


Competition Applicable Grades Description Event Date Final Registration Date
Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians (MCYA) 7 – 10 This is a multi-stage program that encourages the development of Mathematics problem-solving skills and interest in Mathematics. The first stage, ‘Challenge’, asks students to work in groups of 2-3 to solve 6 problems. The second stage, ‘Enrichment’, lasts for 16 weeks and asks students to solve a varying number of problems. The final stage is the Australian Intermediate Mathematics Olympiad, a 4-hour examination. Early March Early May
ICAS (Mathematics) 7 – 12 This competition assesses a student’s Mathematical skills in 5 strands: Algebra and Patterns, Chance and Data, Measures and Units, Number and Arithmetic, Space and Geometry. The test will comprise of 35 multiple choice questions and 5 free response questions. 16 August 21 June
Australian Mathematics Competition 7 – 12 This competition asks students to solve 30 problems (of progressive difficulty) in 75 minutes. Students receive a performance report and a certificate/medal.Top students from this competition will also be invited to join the Australian Mathematical Olympiad Committee Invitational Program, which provides extra-enrichment opportunities and can lead to participation in the International Mathematical Olympiad. 28 July Early May


Competition Applicable Grades Description Event Date Final Registration Date
USYD Gifted & Talented Discovery Program 7 – 9 Students have the opportunity to participate in a 3-day workshop, in which they will enjoy academic stimulation in the areas of Biology, Physics and Chemistry. To be eligible, students must sit an entrance exam and score within the top 10-15% of their cohort.The exam is 40 minutes in duration and consists of multiple choice questions that are designed to test one’s problem-solving abilities in the respective Science strands. All participants receive a performance report. Early November Late October
Rio Tinto Big Science Competition 7 – 12 In this competition, students are asked to complete 30 multiple choice questions within 50 minutes. These questions are on contemporary Science issues and are based on the new Australian Science Curriculum. This competition allows students to discover their talent for Science, and also encourages the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills. All participants receive a certificate and performance report. 18-25 May 20 April (Paper version).
ICAS Science 7 – 12 This competition assesses a student’s skill in the areas of data interpretation and application and higher order skills such as problem-solving. The paper will cover content incorporating the fields of Earth Sciences, Astronomy, Physics, Biology, Ecology and Chemistry. The exam is 1 hour in duration, and comprises of 45 multiple choice questions. All participants receive a performance report and certificate. 31 May 3 May
Australian National Chemistry Quiz 7 – 12 This quiz comprises of 30 multiple choice questions to be answered in 60 minutes. The questions will test a student’s fundamental Chemistry knowledge and applications in modern society. Students receive a detailed report providing feedback on their performance, and a certificate or plaque in accordance with their performance. 21 July 7 June
Australian Brain Bee Challenge  10 This competition aims to encourage further learning about the brain and its functions and the neuroscience field. Students may complete up to 4 rounds. In Round 1, students are asked to study a book and use that knowledge to complete an online quiz, comprising of 30 multiple choice questions.Round 2 involves participating in 2 rounds of live questioning. In Round 3, 8 students will compete in 4 challenges over 2 days. Round 4 will see students competing at an international level. 14-20 March 7 March
Australian Science Olympiad Exams 10 – 12 Each one of the four Science exams (Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science and Physics) is 2 hours in duration and held on separate days. Students are tested on their knowledge of scientific concepts and its application in modern contexts. All students receive a certificate.Top performing Year 10 and Year 11 students in these exams will be invited to join the Australian Science Olympiad summer school, which can lead to an invitation to attend the International Science Olympiads. 3-10 August 20 July
NSW Schools Titration Competition 11 – 12 This competition is open to any NSW student currently enrolled in Year 11/12 Chemistry. Students are asked to form groups of 3 and travel to a specific test venue, where they will be asked to determine the concentration of an acid by applying titration techniques, within 90 minutes.Each participant receives a certificate depending on their team score. A team with outstanding performance may be invited to compete in the National Competition. 12-13 June Varies according to school. Usually in May.


Competition Applicable Grades Description Event Date Final Registration Date
Da Vinci Decathlon  5 – 10 Students work in groups of 8 to complete a series of challenging academic tasks (written and practical) in a given time-frame.  These activities are from the following disciplines: Engineering, Maths, Code breaking, Art & Poetry, Science and English. The winning team will be invited to participate in the State Final, and the winning team at the State level will be invited to participate in the National Decathlon. 24 – 26 May Varies according to school. Usually in April.
Tournament of the minds 7 – 12 Students work in teams of 7 to solve demanding problems from a specific discipline. Teams are required to work on long term challenges lasting 6 weeks, without obtaining the assistance from others, as well as take part in a spontaneous challenge on the day.The tournament will assist students in developing diverse skills and the discipline to work collaboratively in a challenging environment. 21, 27 & 28 August Early May

Please note that the information above is subject to change without prior notice by competition organisers. Matrix Education bears no responsibility for any inaccurate or outdated information. Please refer to each website for the most up-to-date information.


Written by Matrix Education

Matrix is Sydney's No.1 High School Tuition provider. Come read our blog regularly for study hacks, subject breakdowns, and all the other academic insights you need.


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