On 25 April 2019, MGCI students participated in University of Toronto’s National Biology Competition, along with around four thousand other students across Canada and around the world. At MGCI, the contest began at 2:15 pm and concluded at 3:30 pm. Interested students registered for the contest earlier in April, with over twenty students in total writing the exam.

This year marks the twenty-fifth year that the university has held the annual biology contest, which was created to test the biology knowledge of high school students. The seventy-five minute exam consisted of fifty multiple choice questions from the Grade 11 and Grade 12 biology curriculum, as well as biology-related news topics.

Students in the middle of writing the contest. Photo: Justin Ye

Students can achieve a maximum possible score of fifty. These scores are calculated by the number of questions that are answered correctly, minus a third of the incorrectly answered questions. Based on the scores, the students who place in the top 5% are named “National Biology Scholars,” while the top 1% are “National Biology Scholars with Distinction.” The top fifteen performers are also awarded a $3 000 scholarship to the Faculty of Arts and Science at University of Toronto’s St. George campus. The scores on the National Biology Competition are used as part of the selection criteria for the Canadian Biology Olympiad team, which will then participate at the International Biology Olympiad.

Last year, Marc Garneau placed first amongst all two hundred and seventy-seven competing Canadian schools, with two Garneau students placing in the top ten. This year, many students prepared using past contests as well as studying the high school and Advanced Placement (AP) biology curriculum. Purab Patel, a Grade 12 MGCI student and last year’s first place winner of the National Biology Competition, said, “The students have spent a lot of time preparing. Hopefully, our school does just as well as, or even better, than we did last year.”

The National Biology Competition definitely serves its goal of providing students with a unique opportunity to test their knowledge and understanding of biology, with the competition still being popular with many high school students around the world.