To register for the 2017 Middle School and Elementary US National Championships of the International Geography Bee, please click here.
Within the USA, the International Geography Bee is split into four age divisions: Varsity, Junior Varsity, Middle School, and Elementary. For the 2016-17 academic year, the Varsity Division is for students born before July 1, 2001 (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).
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 two separate versions: D Set and E Set at the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels. Both 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. Students, however, can also take either version at their place of study without the need to go to a USABB 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 any or all 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 Exam Site or students who finish in the top half of all students across the USA as of March 25 on any given version of the NQE 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 the D or E 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 and E Set [which are easier than A, B, and C Set] serve only to qualify students for the Middle School or Elementary National Championships.
The 2017 Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships for the International Geography Bee will be held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL (right next to Chicago) on Sunday, May 28 and Monday, May 28 (Memorial Day). Competing students must arrive by 2:00pm, and are strongly recommended to fly in on the previous night. The preliminary rounds will last from 3:00 to 6:30pm, and then the final rounds will be held on Monday from 12:30pm to 2:00pm. Students may compete in both the US Geography Olympiad and International Geography Bee US National Championships, as they will run at different times on May 28. The 2017 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 National Championships costs $75 per student in 2017.
To best prepare for the IGB National Championships, students should review the past 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 qualify for the IGB World Championships in July 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Qualification is valid for two years; thus students may qualify in either 2017 or 2018 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.
The winning students in each age division at the 2017 and 2018 US National Championships will receive free flights to Berlin to compete, though they must still pay the entry fees. Students who finish in second place in their age division receive free entry into the competition; students who finish in third place receive free entry if they are also competing in the International History Olympiad; otherwise they receive a 50% discount. 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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