Physics underpins all sciences, so no matter what science one wants to study, Physics will be an important part of that. The International Year of Physics in 2005 had the aim of raising the awareness and importance of Physics, and a spin off from this was the launching of the South African Physics Olympiad, SAPhO. Today it attracts entries from across South Africa and neighboring countries.

The main objectives are to:

  • identify students with ability in Physics
  • raise the awareness of Physics
  • to show how Physics impacts on our daily lives
  • encourage students to study Physics

Entry Requirements

Students who do well in other National Physical Science Olympiads are selected and invited to write the SAPhO.

Entrance is free.


The South African Institute of Physics, SAIP.

How does it work

On the day of the exam, the SAPhO paper for that year is sent to the schools attended by the invited students, and completed there. The paper consists of 50 multiple choice questions, with 5 alternatives and is to be completed in 90 minutes. It covers Physics that is in the CAPS curriculum and beyond.

Medal, Prizes and Awards

Winner receives the SAIP Medal, a Gold Certificate and a cash prize, 2nd  place receives a Silver Certificate and a cash prize and 3rd place receives a Bronze Certificate and a cash prize. Merit Certificates are awarded to those who score less than 3rd but more 60% and Honourable Mention Certificates are awarded to those who score between 60% and 50%. All others receive Certificates of Participation. The top three are invited to the Annual SAIP Conference Gala Dinner where they are awarded their prizes.


SAPhO is written on the first Monday afternoon of the National Science Week each year.

Supported by

SAIP, SAASTA and the National Institute of Theoretical Physics, NITheP.


Convener: Case Rijsdijk

Tel: 044 877 1180 | e-Mail:

Project Manager: Ndanganeni Mahani

Tel:  012 841 2655|e-Mail: