Thirteen Stuyvesant students out of the 15 who took the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) qualifying exam made it to the semi-finals on Wednesday, February 13.
The semi-finalists were announced on Monday, March 3. Six seniors, six juniors and one sophomore were named semi-finalists–four more students than last year. This year’s semi-finalists are seniors Paula Bu, Shu Pang, Danny Zhu, Hannah Kwak, Elizabeth Min and Eva Sadej; juniors Kuanghua Guo, April Lee, Charles Choi, Alexandra Hannin, Jeffrey Sung and Judy Baek, and sophomore David Huang.
“A lot more underclassmen took the exam and did well,” two-time semifinalist Eva Sadej said. “It’s really impressive.”
The students met several times a week with biology teacher and IBO coordinator Rosyln Bierig to prepare for the exam. But “students mainly study on their own,” Bierig said. “The kids are dedicated, committed from day one.”
Hannin, who does not take advanced placement biology, tied for highest in the nation with a student from Florida. She scored a 43 out of 50 on the exam.
“The ones that choose to [take the test], besides having a competitive nature, love the challenge,” Bierig said.
The top 10 percent or top 500 participants can take the semifinal exam. The exam is two hours long and consists of multiple-choice and short answer questions that “are beyond college level,” Bierig said. The exam will be held on Monday, June 2.
The top 20 semifinalists then advance to the final examination, held Monday, June 2 through Saturday, June 14 at George Mason University in West Virginia. During those two weeks, they will take theoretical and practical tutorials.
The top four scorers on the final examination can join the United States’ IBO team. The IBO will be held on Sunday, June 15 to Monday, June 16 in Mumbai, India. Four Stuyvesant students were finalists last year, but none made it to the US team.
Students who participate in the IBO say they enjoy the experience. “We’re all working for this one goal so it feels like a family,” Pang said.