Within the USA, the International Geography Bee is split into four age divisions: Varsity, Junior Varsity, Middle School, and Elementary. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the Varsity Division is for students born before July 1, 2002 (regardless of their grade in school). All younger students, again, regardless of their grade, are welcome to compete in the Junior Varsity Division. Students in eighth grade and seventh grade may also compete in the Middle School Division; students in sixth grade and younger may also compete in the Elementary Division (even if they are in Middle School). Note further that while students may compete in BOTH the Junior Varsity Division and EITHER the Middle School OR Elementary, they CANNOT compete in BOTH the Middle School and Elementary Divisions (as at the National Championships, these two divisions are held at the same time on the same questions, but the Junior Varsity National Championships are on a different weekend on a different set of questions).
Note: Beginning with the 2018 US National Championships, the Middle School Division will be split into 7th and 8th grade classifications. The Elementary National Championships will be split into 6th, 5th, and 4th grade and younger classifications. Students will only compete against other students in their classification, and separate National Champions will be named in each classification.
The Middle School and Elementary Divisions use identical questions at all stages of the competition. The first stage is the National Qualifying Exam (NQE) which is also used to qualify students for the US Geography Olympiad, which functions the exact same way in terms of its age divisions. It does not cost extra if a student wishes to also then use the NQE as a way to qualify for the National Championships of the US Geography Olympiad. The NQE has five separate versions: D, E, F, G, and H Sets at the Middle School and Elementary levels. They are meant to be comparable in difficulty, and students need to only qualify on any one version for the National Championships. The NQE is always administered at the US Academic Bee and Bowl‘s regional tournaments; the version of the NQE given at each tournament is always the D Set version. E Set is only available for taking with a teacher or homeschool instructor proctoring it. Also, the F, G, or H Set Version of the NQE will be offered at all Middle School and Elementary National History Bee Regional Finals free of charge. These sites are open to students who are not competing in the National History Bee as well. A list of these sites is maintained on the ACE (the administrator of the Middle School and Elementary National History Bee) website located here. Contact email@example.com for more information on these. For the F, G, and H Exams, the only way students qualify is to finish with a score of at least 40 if they are in 7th or 8th grade, or 25 if they are in 6th grade or younger.
Students, however, can also take either the D or E Set version (but not F, G, or H) at their place of study without the need to go to a USABB or National History Bee tournament.
To take the NQE at an USABB site, the cost is $10, however, students can also elect to take the exam at their school or with a homeschool proctor instead for the cost of $20. To take the NQE at their school or with a homeschool proctor, students interested in taking the D or E Set versions of the Middle School or Elementary NQE should follow the instructions on the Regionals Page here. Students who finish in the top half of students taking the NQE at their USABB tournament Site, students who finish in the top half of all students across the USA as of April 1 on the D or E Set versions of the NQE, or 7th and 8th graders scoring 40 or higher, or 6th graders and younger scoring 25 or higher then qualify for the National Championships.
Note that Middle School and Elementary Division students may also take the Junior Varsity Division versions of the NQE (known as A, B, and C Set). These exams are always offered at National History Bee and Bowl Varsity and Junior Varsity tournament sites; a list of which can be found here. The version of the Exam offered at each NHBB tournament corresponds to the question set that tournament is using. If a student qualifies on any of these three versions then they may attend either or both the Junior Varsity National Championships or the Middle School and Elementary National Championships (they do not need to qualify again on a Middle School or Elementary Set version). However, if a student wishes to compete at the Junior Varsity National Championships, they must qualify off the A, B, or C Set version of the NQE (D-H Sets [which are easier than A, B, and C Set] serve only to qualify students for the Middle School or Elementary National Championships).
The 2018 Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships for the International Geography Bee will be held in conjunction with the National Championships of the US Geography Olympiad and the US Academic Bee and Bowl. The dates are June 3-4 in Atlanta at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Please click here for a schedule of events over those two days – note that the US Geography Olympiad Middle School and Elementary National Championships will be held at the same hotel in Atlanta on Friday evening, June 1 (not on Saturday, June 2 as first reported!). The 2018 IGB US National Championships for the Middle School and Elementary Divisions will consist of 4 rounds of buzzer-based competition with pyramidal quiz questions, followed by two final rounds. The International Geography Bee’s Middle School and Elementary Division USA National Championships cost $80 per student in 2018.
To best prepare for the IGB National Championships, students should review the past questions used at the 2017 National Championships on the Resources Page, as well as the questions used in the US Geography Olympiad’s Quiz Bowl Tournament from 2013-2016 (these are available here) as the IGB National Championships in the USA will be run along identical lines as the USGO Quiz Bowl Tournaments were. In particular, the 2015 Middle School and Elementary Division questions are helpful in preparing, though the Varsity and Junior Varsity Division questions can be useful too, as there is some overlap in terms of the material referenced between the older and younger age groups.
Students who finish in the top half at the IGB US National Championships within their age division / classification, or who score 75 or better on any National Qualifying Exam in the 2016-2017 or the 2017-2018 academic year then qualify for the 2018 IGB World Championships on July 11-17, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Qualification is valid for two years; thus students may qualify in either the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 academic year for the World Championships. Note, however, that students may need to play in a different age division at the IGB World Championships than what they qualified in. At the 2018 IGB World Championships, students will compete in an age division on the basis of their birthdate (regardless of which division or divisions they qualified in). Any student participating who was born before September 1, 2001 will be considered Varsity at the 2018 IGB World Championships, students born between September 1, 2001 and August 31, 2003 will be considered Junior Varsity, and those younger than that (i.e. born on or after September 1, 2003) will be considered Middle School.
Students finishing in the top 3 positions at the 2018 IGB US National Championships in each age division / classification receive discounted admission to the 2018 IGB World Championships. If students finish in the top 3 positions in both 2017 and 2018, then they are entitled to the more valuable of the two prizes, but not both on a cumulative basis.
For further information, please see the FAQ page here.
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