WUCT General Information


Students who are enrolled in high school (grades 9-12) are eligible to participate in WUCT. Teams are composed of 6 students and must be accompanied by a coach (a teacher or parent chaperone). Coaches will oversee the team's registration and will serve as a point of contact for important information. Registration will be done on a rolling basis until registration closes on March 1, 2024. We will cap the number of entries at 300 competitors (≈ 50 teams), but we will begin a waitlist if that number is passed. More information on the waitlist can be found below.

The first 300 competitors that register will be guaranteed a spot. Additional competitors that register will be waitlisted. If a spot opens up, waitlisted competitors will be informed of the opening by March 15th, 2024, at the latest.

You will have until March 1, 2024 to register a new team for our April 6, 2024 competition. You will then be able to change information about the team until March 15th, 2024 for a $10 additional fee. After that, no changes can be made. If any team attempts to change their team’s profile within the last 2 weeks before the competition (e.g., by showing up on competition day with new teammates), WE WILL NOT ALLOW THE CHANGES TO BE PROCESSED AND THE NEW TEAMMATES WILL NOT BE ABLE TO COMPETE. Our grading system, which significantly expedites the process of scoring, depends on matching people’s names and codes. The system will not grade any exams if any name or code does not align with our pre-set association. If one or more members drop from a complete team within the 2 weeks before the competition, the rest of the team will be considered an incomplete team. As a result, they will still be able to compete, but may not be able to take all exams (i.e., the topics exam, which is completed in pairs) or may be at a disadvantage if they do take the exams. The WUCT committee will evaluate these cases, should they arise, and communicate directly with the team.

We reserve the right to void all exams and revoke your team’s eligibility if these rules are not followed.

Traditional Teams

Most teams participating at WUCT represent a high school. A high school can send up to 3 teams, with 6 students in each team. Please note that for every team of 6, we will require an additional adult contact besides the coach.

Mixed Teams

Mixed teams are defined as full teams of 6 students that are composed of students from different high schools. Historically, chemistry olympiad organizations (including, but not limited to, online tutoring organizations, chemistry olympiad organizations, chemistry olympiad discord groups, etc) have attempted to form mixed teams for WUCT. While we really appreciate this effort to encourage students' interest in WUCT and chemistry, we will only be able to accommodate up to 2 mixed teams from a single organization. If any student from such groups attends a school that already has registered a team for WUCT, an explicit explanation from the science teacher or the coach of that team is REQUIRED. Otherwise, that student will not be allowed to compete on the mixed organization team.

Incomplete Teams and Individuals

Individuals and incomplete teams (defined as teams composed of less than 6 students) can register for WUCT 2024! The registration fee for individuals and incomplete teams will be $20 per person. To pay this fee, individuals and incomplete teams who register will receive a special link by email after they register.

WUCT will try to match any registered individuals with incomplete teams to create full teams of 6 students. Students from the same high school will be kept on the same team, with the rest of the team being filled by individuals in the order individuals register. In addition, we will also be forming teams of 6 among registered individuals. Please keep in mind that teams will need at least one adult from each component school to accompany them to WUCT. All registered individuals and incomplete teams will be notified of their team by early March 2024.

If we are unable to form a complete team of 6 for you or your incomplete team, you will still be eligible to participate in the tournament. However, as certain exams are designed for pairs or groups of 6, you may be at a disadvantage.

Any other exceptions to the rules will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have a question on your team’s eligibility, please do not hesitate to contact us at wuct@su.wustl.edu.


Only one registration form should be submitted per team. The registration fees for 2024 are listed below. Payment (through Cashnet) can be sent here.

The registration deadline is March 1, 2024, with a cap at 300 competitors (≈ 50 teams). After 300 competitors have registered, any additional competitors will be placed on a waitlist and informed by March 15th of their status.

The standard registration fee is $120 per team ($20 per competitor).

Changes made between March 1st and March 15th will incur a $10 fee.


WUCT is a day-long event, with all teams checking in at 7:15 AM and an awards ceremony ending at approximately 6:00 PM (times are in CDT). A more detailed schedule will be posted in the weeks leading up to event day.

Exam Rounds

WUCT features 4 examination rounds, each an hour long. They serve to develop individual chemistry skills, expose students to the real-world application of chemistry, and promote collaboration.

  1. Individual Round (60 minutes)
    Teams will split up as 6 individuals and the top 10 students will be awarded.
  2. Topics Round (60 minutes)
    During this round, WUCT features 3 different exams, each involving a unique application of chemistry. Teams will split into 3 pairs of students, with each pair taking a different topic. Pairs earning the top 5 scores in each topic will be awarded.
  3. Team Round (60 minutes)
    All six members of a team will work together on a challenging exam that promotes critical thinking and teamwork. The top 5 teams will be awarded.
  4. Breaking Bonds Round (60 minutes)
    Breaking Bonds is a fast-paced, live-scored round where teams tackle sets of 3 problems, one at a time. The problems are scored on a simple correct/incorrect basis (i.e., no partial credit) and points are awarded according to the difficulty of the set. Bonus points are awarded for correctly answering all three questions on a packet. The top 5 teams will be awarded.

Additionally, there is an award for overall performance, titled the Director’s Award. For more information on the exams, the material covered and the scoring algorithm, please refer to the Exams subsection (note: this is subject to change).

Enrichment Activities

During the Individual and Topic Rounds, coaches that attend WUCT are invited to attend a series of workshops hosted by faculty from Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). Previous years featured interactive workshops regarding Peer-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) and speakers from WUSTL’s Chemistry and Education Department.

Additional programming may be held for teams during the lunch break between Topics and Team Round or during the intermission between Breaking Bonds and the Awards Ceremony. Previous years featured STEM teacher panels and chemistry demonstrations from WUSTL’s Chemistry Department.

Recreation & Exploring Campus

WUCT will be hosting fun activities during the lunch break and in the break before the Awards Ceremoney to allow teams to meet each other and explore Washington University's picturesque campus. More details will be announced later, but possible programming includes guided tours, trivia challenges, raffles, and more!


Teams will be provided with a welcome packet with a personalized schedule that includes all of the materials necessary for a successful WUCT.


The tournament will consist of an individual round, a topic round, a team round, and a relay-style (“Breaking Bonds”) round. Every student will take the individual exam alone, work in a pair on one of the three topic exams, and then work with the entire team during the team exam and Breaking Bonds round.

Each exam or round is 60 minutes long. Necessary equations, constants, and a periodic table will be provided.

Teams and individual students will also be provided with identification numbers during check-in that must be written on the top cover page of every exam to be graded. Do NOT write your name on the exam. This is to ensure that the graders are fully impartial throughout the grading process.

Please also review our Cheating Policy, which is found above.

Individual Exam

Questions consist of multiple parts that may require numerical answers, short written justifications, or sketches. Correct answers with reasonable supporting work will receive full credit, while correct answers without work will not receive full credit. If more than one answer is given when only one answer is asked for on the question, that question will be marked as completely incorrect.

While team members may be placed together in the same exam room, they are not permitted to communicate with other team members or their coach in any way during the individual round.

Topic Exams

The topic exams resemble the individual exam, with each question containing multiple parts that may ask for numerical answers, written justifications, or sketches. However, each topic exam will focus its questions around a specific application of chemistry. During the topic round, teams will split themselves into groups of 2 students, and each pair will work together on one of the three topic exams.

  • History of Chemistry

    This exam will take students back to the origins of many important discoveries in chemistry. Conventions and fundamental principles we take for granted were once revolutionary and new! This is *not* a trivia exam on historical icons or experiments, rather an exam exploring the roots of modern chemistry knowledge.

  • Chemystery

    This exam will apply a wide range of chemistry topics to solve a murder mystery. Though not based on forensic science, the questions will guide students toward solving the mystery.

  • Chemistry of Cancer

    This exam will apply a wide range of chemistry topics to the field of cancer.

Team Exam

During the team round, team members will work together to complete the exam. The exam itself will be in the same format as the individual and topic exams. Students are not permitted to communicate with their coach in any way during this time, but they are encouraged to collaborate among themselves to work through the problems.

Breaking Bonds

Competitors will work as a team during the Breaking Bonds round. Each team will choose one packet of 3 questions of a certain level of difficulty (easy, medium, hard) at a time. These questions will only require numerical or one word answers, and work will not be taken into account. The questions will either be completely correct or incorrect. Upon completion of the questions, the entire packet will be turned in and a new question set can be chosen, at any difficulty level. These questions will be drawn from a broad range of general chemistry topics.

The number of points earned will depend on the packet difficulty level, with 7 points per correct answer on hard packets, 3 points per correct answer on medium packets, and 1 point per correct answer on easy packets. Bonus points will be available for completing an entire packet correctly. Scores and rankings for each team are shown live during this round, as well as the difficulty of the packets being attempted.

Exam Subjects

The concepts covered will be similar to those covered in the previous years’ exams. This year’s topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Chemical and Physical Equilibrium
  • Acid-base models and reactions, relative strengths of acids and conjugate bases (Ka and Kb), Gibbs free energy, enthalpy, entropy, physical properties and their connection to bonding: enthalpies of vaporization, viscosity, boiling point and melting points, vapor pressure, Raoult’s Law, real liquids and ideal liquids, solubility of solids in liquids, Keq, Kc, and Kp.
  • Chemical Structures and Properties
  • Rules for electron filling, bonding models, Lewis structures, VSEPR, hybridization, periodic trends and the deviations, properties of gases, stoichiometry.
  • Kinetics, Electrochemistry and Thermodynamics
  • Arrhenius and Van’t Hoff equation, rate determining steps, concentration vs. time graphs, half-life concepts, zero order, first order, and second order correlations. Electrochemistry topics include Nernst Equations, galvanic (spontaneous) cells, electrolytic (non-spontaneous) cells, and salt bridges, effects of pH and size, and general diagrams. Thermodynamics topics include heat and work concepts, heat calorimeters (constant pressure) and bomb calorimetry (constant volume).

This is not a comprehensive list and is meant to guide preparation.

For information on scoring and awards, see below.


Scores will come from the number of raw points competitors score on each exam.

Individual Awards

Individual competitors with the top ten raw scores on the individual exam will be awarded 1st-10th place Individual Awards. Ties will be broken as described below.


Topic Awards

For each topic exam, the five pairs with the highest raw scores for that specific topic exam will be awarded 1st-5th place Topic Awards. There will be fifteen total Topics Awards, five for each topic. Ties in ranking scores for each exam will be broken as described below.


Team Awards

The five teams with the highest raw scores on the team exam will earn 1st-5th place Team Awards. Ties will be broken through the procedures described below.


Breaking Bonds Awards

The five teams with the highest raw points scores from the Breaking Bonds round will earn 1st-5th place Breaking Bonds Awards. Ties will be broken as described below.


Director’s Award

The Director's Award is the highest honor awarded at WUCT. To determine the recipient of this team award, different weights are given to each of the following: the sum of each team member's raw inidividual exam score, the raw team exam score, the sum of the three topic exams scores for the team, and the team's raw breaking bonds score. The weights assigned to each of these values is shown below. The team with the highest calculated weighted sum will win the Director's Award!

  • Individual Round: 15%
    The individual exam scores for each member of the team will be summed, and this sum will be given a 15% weight.
  • Topic Rounds: 15%
    The raw scores from the three different topic exams taken by a team will be summed, and this sum will also be given a 15% weight.
  • Team Round: 40%
    The raw team exam score for the team will be given a 40% weight.
  • Breaking Bonds: 30%
    The Breaking Bonds score for the team will be given a 30% weight. In the event of a tie after calculating the weighted sum of all the exam scores, the team with the highest Breaking Bonds score will be the winner.


Please note that there will be no ties. If two teams or students achieve the same score in a round, the WUCT grading team will analyze the performance on each question of the relevant exam to determine the most difficult question on that specific exam. The individual or team with the best score on that question will be given the higher ranking. In the event that each team has the same score on the hardest question, the second hardest question will be used to break the tie, and so on. For Breaking Bonds, ties will be broken in favor of team that completed a greater number of problem sets from the "Hard" category.


As with any national tournament, competitors are expected to respect all competition rules and any safety protocols instituted by the university.

Cheating Policy

The purpose of this competition is to allow participants to demonstrate their chemistry knowledge and their scientific problem-solving skills. Attempting to improve one’s own performance or gain an advantage on any examination by dishonest means, such as by accessing prohibited resources during the exam, will be considered cheating. Our proctors have been extensively trained to take note of any suspicious behavior.

Cheating of any sort will not be tolerated. If an individual or team is caught cheating, they and their entire team will be disqualified from the competition.

We reserve the right to make changes to this policy as we see fit.


Each team is responsible for addressing their members' health concerns during the tournament. While volunteers will be on hand, they may not have the experience necessary to deal with the situation. In the event of an emergency, please call 911 or alert the appropriate authorities. In the case of a medical emergency, call Washington University’s Emergency Support Team at (314) 935-5555. If calling from a campus phone, dial 5-5555. To report any suspicious or criminal activity, please contact Washington University’s Police Department at the same number, (314) 935-5555.


The only things students need with them on tournament day are a pencil, eraser, approved calculator, and their chemistry knowledge!

Students will be allowed to use a non-programmable calculator for all rounds in the competition. Calculators will be checked to ensure they are not programmable. Examples of allowed calculators include TI-30, TI-34, etc. Prohibited calculators include, but are not limited to, TI-83, TI-84, and TI-nSpire.

Competitors will be given a reference sheet with all necessary equations and constants, a periodic table, and any needed scratch paper. No other resources, including notes, protractors, compasses, etc., will be permitted. No electronic devices, with the exception of approved calculators, are allowed during the exams.

WUCT 2024 Reference Sheet


The goal of WUCT exams is to test your ability to apply your chemistry knowledge and problem-solving skills to challenging problems that focus on real-world and advanced applications of chemistry. Past exams can be found on the Archives pages. The best way to prepare for WUCT is to study our topics using a chemistry textbook, your class notes, or other online resources (some good resources are linked below). We write our own exams and receive editorial help from WashU professors and graduate students from the Department of Chemistry. While it can be helpful to study using other competitions’ test material and other online resources, you will find that our questions are very different and will challenge you in a novel way. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep beforehand, eat a good breakfast, and keep your mind clear so you can focus on the problems in front of you.

Good Web-based Resources to use in your preparation (find more by searching for "AP Chemistry reviews"):


We do offer financial assistance to participants demonstrating financial need. Please contact WUCT (wuct@su.wustl.edu) for this process.