USABO delayed two weeks due to system overflow

February 8, 2024 — by Alan Cai
Courtesy of USABO
USABO announces postponement of the Olympiad.
The United States of America Biolympiad (previously known as the USA Biology Olympiad) was delayed due to technical difficulties.

The United States of America Biolympiad (USABO) was postponed on Feb. 1 after host site crashed, likely due to high site traffic and will be rescheduled to Feb. 12.

On test day, some test takers were able to access the test while others were stuck at the login page, prompting the Olympiad to cancel the contest, nullify the tests for all the competitors who were able to access it and issue a statement stating that the exam was rescheduled to Feb. 12.

The Olympiad, which is run by the Center of Excellence in Education (CEE), has been held online on the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) website since the onset of COVID-19. The CEE has not announced an intention to transition back to paper and pencil.

USABO competitor Arjun Krish, a sophomore who qualified for the semifinals round last year and placed in the top 50 participants, said it was quite disappointing that the test was canceled on the test day.

“[The CEE] should’ve prepared for this knowing that the AIME was on the same day,” he said.

The American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), an intermediate test to determine International Mathematical Olympiad Team USA selection, was also held on the same day, prompting heavy AoPS traffic.

Krish suspects the large volume of people logging on to AoPS to discuss the AIME and the large number (estimated 10k-20k) of USABO test takers caused the website to crash.

Many people were already taking the test when the website announced that the USABO would be postponed.

Krish added if the CEE did not retain a test bank — a collection of secure future tests — a rush to craft an emergency test within a few weeks may compromise the quality of the questions. 

On Monday, Biology teacher and USABO coach Cheryl Lenz sent an update via email from the CEE confirming that the new open exam will contain all new questions. USABO questions require much deliberation and thought, which would be exceedingly difficult under such a tight deadline according to Krish.

Junior Armon Vuppala also expressed frustration over the unfolding of events and questioned why a handful of test takers at Saratoga High were able to log onto the test while the rest were stuck at the login screen.

“I am very disappointed at how the situation was handled but I suppose they did their best,” he said.

Both Krish and Vuppala are planning to take the postponed test, which will take place at an undetermined time, as of Feb. 6. The USABO website posted that it will be rescheduled soon.

With the additional studying time and practice material, Vuppala and Krish plan to be even more prepared for the test when the date eventually rolls around.

“I’m confident they will figure it out,” Krish said. “I’m looking forward to a great competition cycle.”

Tags: delay, usabo
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