11 STEM Competitions for High School Students

8 stem competitions for high school students
For high school students who're pursuing STEM fields for college, participating in STEM competitions is crucial for college application. Among many international and American STEM competitions, what are the ones worth paying attention to?

University applications are getting more and more competitive for students, especially those aiming for the best universities in the US. Furthermore, with the prevalence of the “test-optional” policy this year across all universities, standardized test results have been gradually used less when evaluating an application. Therefore, many students are concerned about how to leverage their strengths and express their potential through other application materials.    

For students who’re interested in pursuing STEM majors in college, Aralia Education suggests students consider participating in STEM competitions such as: mathematics, physics, and chemistry competitions because those not only give you a door to further learn about your topics of interest, but also add extra points to your application achievements.  

Among many international and American competitions, what are the ones worth paying attention to? Let us take a look today! 


1. American Mathematics Contest (AMC)

Since having first taken place in 1950, AMC has now become the leader in strengthening the mathematical capabilities of the next generation’s problem-solvers around the world. There are dozens of participating countries, including nearly 3,000 schools in Canada, Britain, France, Singapore, South Korea, India, Belgium, Finland, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. 

There are 350,000 students and 6,000 schools that register for the competition in the United States every year. 

Official website: https://www.maa.org/math-competitions 

2. High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling (HiMCM)

HiMCM is an international mathematics competition organized by the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP). Contestants work in teams to use applied mathematics knowledge and provide solutions to real problems through modeling. The competition aims to provide students with opportunities to use their strengths in competitions as team members and improve their problem-solving and writing skills. 

Official website: https://www.comap.com/highschool/contests/himcm/index.html 

3. International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO)

The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for High School students and is held annually in a different country each year. Among all the competitions, IMO has the highest entry threshold and is the most difficult, since it attracts the most intelligent students worldwide. If students want to apply to the top 30 American universities, it will be very beneficial to have a national competition award in their application.   

Official website: https://www.imo-official.org/ 


1.  U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO)

The American Chemistry Olympiad has been organized by the American ChemicaI Society (ACS) since 1984. It is an influential high school chemistry competition in the United States. It aims to stimulate and cultivate a new generation of young students’ passion for pursuing chemistry in higher education. As one of the top competitions in the United States, nearly 1,600 American students participate every year. 

Official website: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/students/highschool/olympiad.html 

2. UKChO(UK Chemistry Olympiad)

UKChO is hosted by the Royal Society of Chemistry, one of the most influential chemical academic organizations globally, and UKChO has a recorded history of 50 years. Under RSC’s leadership, a 175-year-old non-profit organization, UKChO has developed into the UK’s leading, historical, and influential high school chemistry competition. 

Official website: https://www.edu.rsc.org/enrichment/uk-chemistry-olympiad 

3. ANCQ(Australian National Chemistry Quiz)

The Australian Chemistry Competition is organized by the Royal Australian Institute of Chemistry (RACI). The ANCQ aims to promote interest in chemistry and the role of chemists in our society. The competition is open internationally for middle school and high school students in grades 7 – 12 / ages 12 – 18 who’re interested in the exciting and stimulating chemistry process.

Official website: https://www.ancq.com/ 


1. Physics Bowl

The Physics Bowl American High School Physics Competition is organized by the American Physics Teachers Association, the only academic institution in the U.S. specializing in popularizing and improving physics education. Every year, the association provides the latest physics frontier ideas and the richest physics education resources for American universities and high schools through conferences, forums, and competitions. 

 Official website: https://www.aapt.org/Programs/PhysicsBowl/ 

2. Princeton University Physics Competition (PUPC)

The Princeton University Physics Competition is a physics competition for high school students around the world. It is organized by the undergraduate students affiliated with Princeton University and supported by the Department of Physics and Astrophysics of Princeton University. PUPC aims to exhibit global high school students with physical intuition and mathematical prowess to answer unconventional physics questions and learn the most cutting-edge research capabilities in the field. 

Official website: https://pupc.princeton.edu/ 


Imagine Cup is an annual competition hosted by Microsoft, inviting student developers from around the world to submit their original technology solutions in different categories. In 2021, the categories are: Earth, Education, Healthcare, and Lifestyle. Examples of winning entries are  prototype application to monitor blood glucose for Type 1 diabetes, and mixed reality innovation that allows engineers from around the world to be holographically “teleported” into a workspace when needed.

Official website: https://imaginecup.microsoft.com/en-us/Events

Swift Student Challenge is created by Apple. Apple invites young coders around the world to create an interactive scene in a Swift playground (Swift is a programming language developed by Apple) that can be experienced within 3 minutes. 

Official website: https://developer.apple.com/wwdc21/swift-student-challenge/

In this competition, students are invited to code and build an app of their choice. Students are allowed to use any programming language and platform, but the app must have some degree of functionality to be
competitive. Students can register as an individual or a team, but no more than 4 students per team. Students must register and submit their app by November 1st.

Official website: https://www.congressionalappchallenge.us/students/rules/


For students who want to participate in the stem competitions, especially math competitions, we will provide practice exams for the American Mathematical Competition AMC and the American Chemistry Olympiad with real questions and answers from prior year tests. 

If you need additional classes outside of regular class time to practice, consider signing up for one of Aralia Education’s AMC 10 and AMC 12 Preparation Programs. The AMC 10 program provides a total of 10 lessons, 90 minutes per lesson, and 1 lesson/week. The AMC 12 program provides a total of 9 lessons, 90 minutes per lesson, and 1 lesson/week. Our teacher has a master’s degree in mathematics from Tufts University, specializing in mathematical analysis, abstract algebra, geometry, and topology. During his time in university, he was admitted as an honor student by MIT and participated in many conceptual mathematic lectures and linguistics seminars at MIT.   

Due to high demand, our class only admits 4-7 students. Qualified students who show passion and potential in mathematics should register to take the course. If this sounds like you, please read more information about course registration below.   

AMC10 AMC 12 Preparation Class
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