Michael Smith Challenge Instructions

[Updated on February 2, 2022]

Part 1: Eligibility

Michael Smith Challenge is designed to be written by students currently taking grade 10 Science or lower. Students who have started their grade 11 science courses for a month or more prior to the Challenge official writing date, or have completed any grade 11 level science course, are not eligible for the competition. Students in non-standard advanced programs that do not follow provincial curriculum standards should contact the Michael Smith Challenge prior to registration to prevent possible disqualification.

We understand that this means students in the International Baccalaureate program are not eligible to participate in the Michael Smith Challenge in their grade 10 year if they are already taking grade 11 level science courses for more than a month. However, we encourage these students to participate prior to taking their Science 11 courses, i.e. in Grade 9 or before. Individual students may participate in more than one year.

Part 2: Registration

  • Registration for the challenge will open in mid-January.
  • The 2022 Challenge will be run entirely online – students will complete the challenge entirely online at school or at home – depending on local circumstances and at the discretion of the teacher. No teacher invigilation is required. 
  • To register a student you must be a teacher or official at the student’s board-accredited school. We do not accept individual registrations by students or their parents. The registration deadline is February 11, 2022.
  • By registering online and providing your contact information, you will be responsible for ensuring students receive all information regarding the challenge and receive access to the challenge.
  • Once you submit your registration, you will receive a confirmation email. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact us at mschall@phas.ubc.ca. 
  • There is a marking fee of $6 per script.
  • Please keep in mind that this examination may only be taken by students taking Grade 10 Science or lower.
  • If you have questions, please check our FAQ!

Part 3: The Contest

This challenge will be a one-hour, timed contest to be started and completed between 06:00-20:00 Pacific Standard Time on  February 15, 2022. Students will complete the challenge individually either at home or in school, following school/district safety requirements (such as learning remotely or staying within the learning cohort). The challenge will consist of 14 questions on the following topics:

  • Astronomy
  • Earth Science
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry

Some questions will be multiple choice, others calculational with randomized inputs, and a tiebreaker question requiring a short written answer. Each question will be randomized in some fashion – mostly the numerical input – such that each student’s set of questions will be unique.  

Students may seek information during the contest from existing content in books or on the web, but may not seek assistance from another individual in person or remotely. If any contest questions are found to appear on social media platforms or on one of the many tutorial/homework help sites (e.g. chegg.com) the student associated with the question (which will have numerical parameters unique to each student) will be disqualified from the contest. We will notify the teacher and the school of the disqualification. 

Part 4: Payment

Payments will be collected after the challenge is completed. Due to Covid-19, we will only accept credit card payments this year. If you are unable to pay via a credit card, please contact mschall@phas.ubc.ca  

Part 5: Results

Challenge results (awards) and detailed analysis will be posted on the Michael Smith Challenge website by end of April. Teachers will receive an email with scores for all their students, and will be contacted directly if they have students who will receive awards.