Below we’ve listed some Frequently Asked Questions, grouped under five major headings. Hopefully, the information below, as well as on the other pages of this website will answer most of your questions about how the International Geography Bee works. If you are still confused about something, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll not only respond to you, but add your question to the FAQ page if it’s something that would apply to other participants as well.
Please note: Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the information listed below is subject to change.
Participation & Eligibility
1. Who is the International Geography Bee’s US Division meant for?
Any primary or secondary student with an interest in geography is welcome to compete. Students must be enrolled in a primary or secondary school or homeschooled and not have already graduated high school at the time they take the Qualifying Exam. Students who graduate between the time they take the Exam and the next IGB US National championships may still compete at the next Regional Championships, as well as at the subsequent IGB World Championships.
2. Which age divisions can students compete in?
Within the USA, the International Geography Bee consists of 6 Age Divisions, defined as follows for the 2020-2021 school year:
-Varsity (solely for students born on or before June 30, 2005)
-Junior Varsity (open to any student born on or after July 1, 2005 and attending high school. This school year, middle school students are not allowed to play up.)
-8th grade (open only to students in 8th grade, or homeschoolers lacking a formal grade who were born between October 1, 2006 and September 30, 2007)
-7th grade (open only to students in 7th grade, or homeschoolers lacking a formal grade who were born between October 1, 2007 and September 30, 2008)
-6th grade (open only to students in 6th grade, or homeschoolers lacking a formal grade who were born between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009)
-Elementary School (open only to students in 5th grade and younger)
3. If I am a citizen of a country where I do not live or attend school, can I compete in the division that corresponds to the country of my citizenship? Can I compete in multiple divisions?
Students may only compete in one division in any given school year. If they have citizenship of a country outside the division where they attend school, then they may compete in either the one division or the other, but not both. Within the USA, since the same National Qualifying Exam is used both for the US Geography Championships and the USA Division of the International Geography Bee, if anyone takes the NQE in the USA, even if only to compete in the US Geography Championships, they are then ineligible to compete in other divisions of the International Geography Bee for that school year, even if their residency status would otherwise allow them to do so.
4. Can homeschooled students compete?
Yes, absolutely! All homeschooled students who are studying a primary or secondary education course of study may compete. Since the International Geography Bee is a competition for individual students, it doesn’t matter if you are homeschooled or attend a school, nor does it matter if other students from your homeschool association (or school for that matter) compete or not.
5. My school won’t fund me or give its official approval; does this matter?
Not as far as the International Geography Bee is concerned. As long as you, a parent, or someone else pays for your entry fee, and you appear on time for your competition, you can compete. If you prefer that your name is not listed on the website in order to prevent a hassle at your school, we can do this too – just let us know at email@example.com.
(Note that the answer below is for when Covid-19 subsides; otherwise, the National Qualifying Exam may be taken online; please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details).
1. Where are the sites for the Varsity and Junior Varsity Division for the National Qualifying Exam for the International Geography Bee?
The sites of the Varsity and JV Qualifying Exams for the US Division of the IGB are the exact same sites as the Regional and State-level tournaments of The National History Bee and Bowl at the Varsity and JV level. These tournaments are indicated by the dots on the map on the US Geography Championships homepage. The same exam is used to qualify students for the National Championships of the US Geography Championships as well as the International Geography Bee. There is no added cost for this at the regional or state level. A green dot indicates a tournament that has been scheduled. A blue dot indicates a tournament that will definitely take place but has not been scheduled yet. A yellow dot indicates a tournament that may or may not take place while a red dot indicates a tournament that has already taken place. Note that the map will be updated on an ongoing basis throughout the 2019-2020 academic year as new tournament sites are scheduled and tournaments take place.
Also, not only are the sites identical with the Regional and State-level tournaments of The National History Bee and Bowl at the high school level, but the dates are too. The IGB/USGC Qualifying Exam will almost always be offered during the lunch break of the tournament; for some tournaments, it may be offered at slightly different times. The start time of this (usually around 12:45-1pm, but double check and be sure to arrive a bit early), is indicated on each tournament page (accessed by clicking on the respective dot on the map). The Exam will have 50 multiple-choice questions and a 20 minute time limit for completion.
Students may take the IGB/USGC National Qualifying Exam up to three times, though it must, of course, be a different version each time. A different version of the Exam is offered at tournaments listed as “A Set”, “B Set”, and “C Set” – you can check which set a tournament uses by clicking on the dots on the map. Students only need to qualify once for Nationals on any one Exam Version, though they can take as many as they like. If a student qualifies on one Exam Version, and thereafter takes a different version and receives a non-qualifying score, that does not “unqualify” them from Nationals. Students who are eligible to compete in the Middle School or Elementary Divisions who take a JV Exam and qualify for JV Nationals are automatically eligible for Middle School or the Elementary Division Nationals as well without having to take a specific Middle School or Elementary level exam (i.e. D-H Sets).
Note that the three separate versions of the Varsity and Junior Varsity National Qualifying Exam offered at “A Set”, “B Set”, and “C Set” tournaments respectively are not meant to vary in length or difficulty. It is also possible to take any of the Exam versions with a teacher or homeschool instructor proctoring (see below for instructions) if unable to reach an official Exam site.
2. Where are the sites for the Middle School and Elementary Divisions for the Regional Finals for the US Division of the International Geography Bee?
The 2021 International Geography Bee Regional Finals will take place in February and March entirely online and will be held in conjunction with the Regional Finals of the National Science Bee, of the National History Bee and of the US Academic Bee.
3. What is the cost?
The cost is $10 to take the any version of the Varsity or JV National Qualifying Exam at a scheduled site (i.e. National History Bee and Bowl tournaments for Varsity and Junior Varsity).
For students in the Middle and Elementary School Division, the 2021 International Geography Bee Regional Finals will cost $40 per student
4. How do I sign up to have the National Qualifying Exam proctored by a teacher or homeschool instructor?
A. Send a check for $20 per Exam version per student made out to “International Academic Competitions” to the following address:
IAC c/o Enrico Contolini
14073 W. Amherst Court
Lakewood, CO 80228
B. Along with the check, include a piece of paper with the student’s name and school (or indicate they are homeschooled), their birthdate and grade (to determine their division), a contact email for the student or their parent(s), and the name and email of the proctor. If you have multiple students who wish to take the Exam, please supply this information for each student.
Please also indicate which Exam Version(s) is/are requested.Once we receive the check, we will forward the proctor the requested Exam Version(s) and the answer key(s).
C. The proctor will then report the score for each Exam Version to us. For the A-C Set Exams used in the Varsity and JV Division, if the score falls above the National Median Score for the division the student is in on the version of the Exam they take, then they will qualify for Nationals, and we will let you know that by early-mid January for C Set Exams, early-mid February for B Set Exams, and early-mid March for A Set Exams.
D. If the student does not qualify on the Exam Version they took, then they can take the other Exam Versions they haven’t yet taken that they are eligible to take. The process would work the same way.
7. When and how will I receive my score on the IGB/USGC National Qualifying Exam?
Students taking the Exam with a proctor can request their score from the proctor once the Exam has been graded.
8. What should I study to prepare for the IGB/USGC National Qualifying Exam?
Questions on the National Qualifying Exams for all divisions will reference both geographical facts (e.g. capitals, landforms, linguistic distribution, etc.) and a knowledge of geographical concepts (e.g. patterns of population distribution, effects of geography on weather, continental drift, etc.). The questions will not require computation or detailed analysis of maps or diagrams; given the limited time to complete the Exam (20 minutes), questions should not take more than 20 seconds to answer.
Please also “like” us on Facebook and sign up for our Twitter feed to get study tips, sample questions, and the latest information!
Sample National Qualifying Exams for the International Geography Bee are posted here on the US Geography Championships website (see the “Regionals” tab on the menu bar). Students can use these as a basis of their preparation, as questions on the National Qualifying Exams will reference comparable material.
9. Does the International Geography Bee’s US Division only test knowledge of United States geography?
No, the International Geography Bee is not limited to questions on the geography of the USA. Questions on the geography of the USA form about 20-30% of the questions we ask for the IGB in the USA.
US National Championships
1. Who will qualify for the US National Championships?
Varsity and Junior Varsity
Students who finish in the top half of their division, inclusive of ties, at the site where they take the National Qualifying Exam will qualify for the National Championships. Likewise, we will tally all of the scores from every Varsity and Junior Varsity student across the country as of December 31 (for C Set), January 31 (for B Set), and February 28 (for A Set) and announce the respective National Median Scores within 7-10 days of those dates.
Students who had scored at or higher than the National Median Score for their division on their version of the Qualifying Exam will then also qualify for the National Championships. For each version of the National Qualifying Exam and for each age division it encompasses, there will be a separate National Median Score.
Middle School and Elementary School
The top 60% students in each grade at the Regional Finals will qualify for the National Championships.
2. How do I register? Is advanced registration required?
Advanced online registration is required for the National Championships!
Registration will open for the Varsity and Junior Varsity IGB National Championships in late 2019 at this link.
Registration for the Middle School and Elementary IGB National Championships will open at this link by early 2020.
3. What is the deadline for registration?
April 11, 2020 for the Varsity and Junior Varsity Divisions. May 20, 2020 for the Elementary and Middle School Divisions. Students may be allowed to register on a space-available basis up to the date of the National Championships, but they should not assume this will be possible.
4. What does it cost?
$85 for students in the Varsity and JV divisions, $80 for students in the Elementary and Middle School divisions.
5. When and where will it take place?
For the Varsity and Junior Varsity Divisions, the 2020 IGB National Championships will take place on Friday, April 24, 2020 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA. Competing students must arrive by 4:30pm on Friday, and are strongly recommended to fly in on the previous night.
Students may compete in both the US Geography Championships and the International Geography Bee US National Championships, as they will run at different times.
For the Middle School and Elementary Divisions, the 2020 IGB National Championships will take place on June 12-13 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois (next to Chicago). There is a free shuttle from O’Hare to the hotel that operates around the clock. For Middle School and Elementary School IGB Nationals, staying at the official hotel(s) is required for all students and families coming from outside a 3 hour driving radius per Google Maps. If our block fills up, we will secure additional blocks at nearby hotels. Room rates are $149 for a king bed room and $159 for a room with two double beds, plus applicable taxes. Rooms must be booked through a secure link that has been posted to the Middle School Nationals page on this website, otherwise, it is not valid, so please do not make bookings via any other method (i.e. calling the hotel, hotels.com, etc.)!
6. Will there be prizes?
Yes, the prize file is posted here for the Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships and here for the Middle School and Elementary School National Championships.
Please note the policies regarding prizes explained on the Varsity and JV Nationals page here and the Middle and Elementary School Nationals page here.
7. How can I best prepare for the US National Championships
The best resources are the questions that have been used at past IGB US National Championships which are posted on the IGB USA Resources page here. Please also see the quizbowl questions used at the US Geography Olympiad from 2013 to 2016 which are available on the USGC website here.
1. How do I qualify for the next IGB World Championships?
Students in the USA can qualify for the 2020 IGB World Championships in either of the following three ways:
A. Students qualify who finish in the top 50% of students competing at the USA National Championships of the International Geography Bee for any age division or classification either in 2019 or 2020.
B. Students qualify who obtain a score of at least 75 on any version of the IGB National Qualifying Exam during either the 2018-2019 academic year or the 2019-2020 academic year.
C. Students who finish in the top 25% at any IGB Regional Quiz Tournament in either the 2018-2019 or the 2019-2020 academic year.
2. What events will the International Geography Bee World Championships consist of?
Please see the IGB World Championships page here for a draft schedule of events, this page for descriptions of buzzer-based competitions, this page for descriptions of other competitions, and this page for other events that are part of the 2020 IGB World Championships.
3. When and where will the IGB World Championships take place?
July 12-19, 2020 on a Caribbean cruise on board the Carnival Fascination. Please see www.igbworlds.com for all the details and registration.
4. What will the cost be?
Costs are explained here.
1. Do you have any connection to The National Geographic Society or The National Geographic Bee or the International Geography Olympiad (aka iGeo)?
No, we are completely independent. For students in the USA, our sister competition, the US Geography Championships, provides a way for US students to qualify for the International Geography Olympiad. Please see www.geographychampionships.com for further details.
2. Do you have any sponsors?
Currently, we are sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the world’s leading textbook publisher. If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities with the International Geography Bee, please contact email@example.com.