Within the USA, the International Geography Bee is split into six age divisions: Varsity, Junior Varsity, 8th grade, 7th grade, 6th grade, and Elementary School. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the Varsity Division is for students born before July 1, 2003 (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 8th grade and younger may compete in BOTH the Junior Varsity Division and whichever other age division they are eligible for based on their grade in school or homeschool equivalent (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).
To qualify for Nationals, most students take 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 8th grade and younger levels. They are meant to be comparable in difficulty, and students need to only qualify on any one version for the National Championships.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, the 5 separate versions of the Middle School & Elementary School National Qualifying Exam are offered as follows:
D Set Exam: Offered at US Academic Bee and Bowl tournaments – also available to be taken with a proctor
E Set Exam: Offered to competing students at the National History Bee Regional Finals – also available to be taken with a proctor
F Set Exam: Offered to competing students at the National Science Bee Regional Finals – also available to be taken with a proctor
G Set Exam: Offered to school & homeschool sponsors of National History Bee & National Science Bee – not available to be otherwise taken with a proctor. This version of the Exam only is completed online.
H Set Exam: Offered at National History Bowl tournaments with a Middle School Division – also available to be taken with a proctor
The D and H Set Exams cost $10 when taken in person at the tournament sites.
The E, F, and G Exams are offered free of charge at the tournament sites or when taken with a sponsor supervising, in the case of the G Set Exam.
If you are planning on take the D Set Exam at a USABB tournament site, please register here (and consider competing in the Academic Bee too, though this isn’t required) and arrive in advance of the time listed for the geography exam (you can find these by clicking on the dot on the map at www.usacademicbowl.com for the tournament you are looking to attend).
The D Set Exam is open to any student competing in the National History Bee Middle School and Elementary School Regional Finals while the E Set Exam is open to any student competing in the National Science Bee Middle School and Elementary School Regional Finals.
Students competing in the National History Bee and National Science Bee need to qualify for their Regional Finals by taking the Online Regional Qualifying Exam in advance. When students’ sponsors (for information on how to become a sponsor for your child or students and register, click here to do this for the National History Bee and click here to do this for the National Science Bee) receive the links for the History and Science Bee Online Regional Qualifying Exam, they will also be given a link for the G Set Version of the US Geography Olympiad / International Geography Bee National Qualifying Exam.
If you are planning on take the H Set Exam at a National History Bowl Middle School tournament site, please register here. Note that any of these tournaments occurring in early 2019 (but not those occurring in the last few months of 2018) will also feature an International Geography Bee Regional Quiz Tournament which may be of interest as well.
Please arrive in advance of the time listed for the geography exam (you can find these by clicking on the dot on the map at www.historybowl.com for the tournament you are looking to attend).
With a Teacher or Homeschool Proctor – If you are unable to make it to a site or wish to have a second chance at qualifying, a teacher at your school or an instructor who advises homeschoolers can separately administer the National Qualifying Exam for you. The D, E, F, and H Exam Versions may be taken this way. In this case, the National Qualifying Exam costs $20, and here are the steps you need to follow:
A. Send a check for $20 per Exam version per student made out to “US Geography Olympiad” to the following address:
USGO 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 – note that A, B, and C are Varsity and JV Division Exams and are open to all students, but are harder than the Middle School and Elementary Division Exams which are only open to students in those divisions (and thus cannot qualify students for the Varsity or JV National Championships). The G Set Exam is not available to be requested this way as it is done entirely online, but you can request the D, E, F, or H Set Exam.
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, and if the score is high enough, then they will qualify for Nationals.
D. If the student does not qualify on the Exam Version they took, then they can take the other Versions they haven’t yet taken. The process would work the same way.
JV/Varsity Transfer Option – Students are also welcome to take any or all of the 3 versions of the National Qualifying Exam at the JV or Varsity level. This can be done either at any Varsity/JV Regional or State level tournament of the National History Bee and Bowl – a list of which is maintained here; click on the tournament page to see the version of the exam on offer which corresponds to the Set being used at the tournament (either A, B, or C). This option costs $10. Or you can take any Exam version with a teacher or homeschool instructor proctoring it for you (as described above) for $20 per student per Exam.
If your score is above the national median in the JV division for the version of the Exam you take, or – if you do the Exam at a tournament – if it is above the median score in the JV division at that tournament, then you qualify for BOTH JV and Elementary/Middle School Nationals. Because of this option, elementary and middle school students effectively have 5 chances to qualify for the Elementary and Middle School USGO National Championships – you only need to qualify on any one version of the Exam (there are 2 Elementary/Middle School versions and 3 JV versions).
Sample Questions & Answer Keys – Click here to find sample questions and answers for the Middle School & Elementary Divisions
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).
IGB Regional Quiz Tournaments
Beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year, IGB will also be offering Regional Quiz Tournaments at all 2019 (but not late 2018) Middle School History Bowl Tournament Sites. These consist of 3 rounds of buzzer-based play with 30 questions per round and a final round for the top students. These are held at the same point in the day when the Varsity and Junior Varsity History Bees are taking place. The IGB Regional Quiz Tournaments, however, are only open to students in 8th grade and younger. The rules are the same as are used at the IGB National Championships.
At the IGB Regional Quiz Tournaments, 7th and 8th graders compete together, and students in 6th grade and younger compete together. Students can qualify for Nationals by finishing either in the top 50% of students in their specific grade (for 6th-8th graders), among all 5th graders and younger (for Elementary School students), or in the combined totals of 7th & 8th graders OR the combined totals of all 6th graders and younger.
Please click here (and scroll down the page) for information on the IGB Middle School and Elementary School National Championships.
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 2018-2019 or the 2019-2020 academic year then qualify for the 2020 IGB World Championships.
Qualification is valid for two years; thus students may qualify in either the 2018-2019 or 2019-2020 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 2020 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, 2003 will be considered Varsity at the 2020 IGB World Championships, students born between September 1, 2003 and August 31, 2005 will be considered Junior Varsity, and those younger than that (i.e. born on or after September 1, 2005) will be considered Middle School.
For further information, please see the FAQ page here.
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