Rules Manual

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Each year, the Science Olympiad national organization publishes a Rules Manual for each secondary school division (B and C) which contains the official rules for each of the 23 national events.


Since the rules manuals are copyrighted by Science Olympiad, Inc. and may not be posted online, this website will never host copies of the rules manuals. See here for more information.


Each rules manual contains the rules for the events in one division (B or C) in a specific season.

The primary method of publication for rules manuals is as a physical booklet of around 35-40 pages. These are distributed to state organizations in late August, which mail them to registered teams starting in early September. In addition, the rules manuals can be ordered directly online - typically they are released the day after Labor Day (although the national organization store website often updates a few hours before midnight on Labor Day). Ordering the rules manuals directly is almost always faster than waiting for them to be mailed by the state organization, however it involves additional cost (historically $8 plus shipping).

Since 2015, the rules manuals have also been released as mobile apps on the iTunes store and Google Play store. These are typically half the price of the printed rules, but are usually released in early October.

Local Variation

It is common for either the event slate or the rules for specific events to vary between different parts of the nation - most commonly different states, but also individual tournaments.

Trial Events

Frequently, state tournaments - and sometimes regional and invitational tournaments - run trial events. These are events not counted toward the team score. Usually these are events that are being tested in hopes/preparation of eventually being run as national events (see the national organization's trial events page), although sometimes they are just run for fun. In many cases alternates are allowed to compete in trial events.

Event Slate Modification

Several states and tournaments run a modified slate of events. The following is a list of such modifications. Note that this is likely not a comprehensive list.

  • North Carolina has historically replaced several events in each division, with the state-specific events typically being nonexistent outside of North Carolina. In recent years the number of events being replaced has decreased, especially in Division B.
  • Texas runs a modified slate of 28 events - the 23 national events plus 5 other events - in which each individual team chooses 23 of the events to count toward their team score. The 5 added events are typically a mix of past national events (such as Fermi Questions), up and coming trial events (such as Roller Coaster), and events typically not run outside of Texas (such as We've Got Your Number).

Rules Modifications

Many states and individual tournaments make modifications to the rules for specific events based on local conditions. The following is an illustrative list. Since these modifications are very common and change frequently, this list may never be complete.