Preparing for Competition
These are some tips to help you prepare for any type of Science Olympiad competition. They will help you stay focused and organized and will make sure that you perform your best. Some of these come from the national organization page on preparing for competition.
For information about setting up a team, please see Starting A Science Olympiad Team.
Before the Competition
- Have Goggles! Goggles are required for many build/lab events, and you may be unable to participate (or in some cases be disqualified for not having them. Some teams have a single box of goggles for the entire team, whole others have each member bring there own goggles. See Safety Glasses for more information about goggles.
- Make Extra Copies of Note Sheets - Just in case you lose your note sheet, it is good to have a few spares lying around (both digital and physical). Also, protect them with sheet protectors, so the sheets remain in good condition. For more information about note sheets, see Note Sheets.
- Have a Tool Box - for build events like Mission Possible, Roller Coaster, Scrambler, etc. If the car/bus/plane ride was very bumpy, screws could get loose, or you may need to add a nail or two.
- Know the Layout of the Competition Site - Most tournaments will provide you with a map of the campus before the tournament. Take some time to locate your events and any other important rooms (team rooms, etc.). This will lessen the probability that you get completely lost on the day of competition. Some tournaments post these maps publicly online, while others distribute them directly to teams.
- Practice Your Events - Yes, this should go without saying, but you should practice your events before the competition. Research your information, take some practice tests, and make sure you are all-around solid in your events. It will help your confidence the day of, and will save time over someone who has all of the resources while taking a test but knows nothing about the event, and has to keep searching through the papers for information. It will also help you practice your Test Taking Skills.
- For build events, this constitutes extensive testing of your device so that you're ready for any situation.
- Work on Cheatsheets -These will help you with ideas and concepts that are either too difficult or too long to memorize.
However, remember the maximum amount of pages that are allowed in the competition, because you don’t want to be disqualified. Also, remember to use reliable and fact-based sites for gathering information.
The Day Before the Competition
- Review your Information - Check over any note sheets you have to make sure you haven't left any important information out, so you are prepared. Make sure you're only bringing resources allowed by the rules.
- Check Your Building Events - Re-measure any thing you built for an event to make sure it meets the rules. Also check that you meet all of the requirements, and read over the rules again if you need to. No one wants to make last-minute changes on their towers the day of the competition because they did something wrong.
- Talk to Your Partner - Talk to all of your partners for your events, and make sure that they are just as prepared as you are for the competition tomorrow. Also make sure your partner knows what they are bringing (e.g. a device for a build, a kit of lab equipment for Forensics or Crime Busters, the note sheets for an event, etc.)
- Make Plans For Tomorrow - Look over your schedule and plan out what you will do for the day, including how you will get to each of your events, where you are eating lunch, who you are eating lunch with, and when to arrive and leave. If you have time before the tournament starts, tracing your route between events may help to ensure you don't get lost, delayed by construction or other occurrences, etc. Ask for people's phone numbers, if needed, so if you need help getting to an event, you can call someone on your team. Make sure they aren't in an event, however, if you do call them!
- Get a Good Night's Sleep - Falling asleep during a test or in the middle of device testing is probably not the greatest idea. Sleeping well will help you concentrate and focus. Having at least 6 hours of sleep is more important then cramming in extra information. This is especially important if you have to get up early the next morning to catch a bus or drive a significant distance.
- Eat! During competitions, it is not a rare sight to see team bases with snacks, brownies, and sodas. Don't skip breakfast and then plan on shoving snacks down your throat - you will get hungry later, and get a stomachache now. Try eating healthy fruits, grains, and drinking water or milk for breakfast. This will help you perform better on events, if you have eaten a good breakfast and are full. Also make sure you eat a good lunch.
- Bring More Than One Pencil! This is even more important when you have a non-mechanical pencil. Sometimes, test examiners will not provide spares or sharpeners, forcing you to improvise or be unable to answer questions. Also, bring an eraser in case you make a mistake. If you use pens, bring extra pens in case they run out. In this case it's also ideal to bring a few pencils just in case - for example, if a test involves a Scantron or other automatic grading system.
- Walk With Others! Although it may sound childish, you should always be with someone from your team, or at least in an area with lots of people. This is especially important if you are on an unfamiliar campus in an unfamiliar town, as your friends might not just be able to protect you, but also know their way around better than you (although if you studied your map, you should know your way around). Don't take any questionable shortcuts - if you don't know for sure that it leads to the right building, it may just cause you to end up even more lost than you were before. If bad goes to worse and you have no idea where you are, call someone who might be able to help you (like a teacher).
- On the flip side, if you are very familiar with your surroundings (like if you have attended the tournament several times before), help teammates who may not be as familiar if you can, instead of just going it alone. This will alleviate their stress and help them focus on competing. After all, every event counts!
- Show Up Early! When it is time for you to attend an event, it is best if you show up at least 3-5 minutes before the scheduled time. You'll be able to get settled and organize your resources if you have any, and you'll be mentally prepared once the event officially starts.
- Don't Dwell - If, by chance, one of your events does not go as planned, you will understandably be disappointed. However, if you have other events to go to, you will have to call upon an inner mental strength and focus on the next task instead of dwelling on what could have been. What happened in the past cannot be changed, so you just have to make the best of what you can. And after all, mistakes happen to everyone and Science Olympiad is meant to be fun, so enjoy yourself and appreciate the atmosphere of science!
- Have Fun! One of the great aspects of Science Olympiad is that it brings people who are passionate about science to the same place, so when you have free time, don't hide in a corner. Hang out with your teammates and meet other people who may have similar interests as you! If your competition is on a college campus, or even a multi-building high school campus, go outside and get some fresh air, and maybe throw around a ball or a Frisbee. Who knows, you might end up making some new friends, and that's really in the true spirit of Science Olympiad, isn't it?