The International Geography Bee’s USA Division consists of two parts (not including the IGB World Championships), namely the National Qualifying Exam and the National Championships.

The best resource for preparing for the National Qualifying Exam are the past NQEs. These date back to 2012, as the NQE is the same exam for both the IGB’s USA Division, and the US Geography Olympiad, which began in 2012 (i.e. the same exam qualifies students for the National Championships of both competitions). Past versions of the NQE for the US Geography Olympiad, along with their answer keys, can be found here on the US Geography Olympiad website. Be sure to also consult the Distribution File at the top of the page, so you know what sort of topics in what frequencies will be asked about.

2018 IGB US National Championship Questions
(if you see a scoresheet on page 1, scroll past that to access the start of the questions)
Varsity & Junior Varsity
           Middle School & Elementary
Round 1                                      Round 1
Round 2                                      Round 2
Round 3                                      Round 3
Semifinals                                 Round 4
Finals                                          Quarterfinals    Semifinals    Finals

2017 IGB US National Championship Questions
Varsity & Junior Varsity
           Middle School & Elementary
Round 1                                      Round 1
Round 2                                      Round 2
Round 3                                      Round 3
Semifinals                                  Round 4
Finals                                          Playoffs

The best resource for preparing for the National Championships are the past National Championship questions posted here as well as the questions used in the Quiz Bowl Tournament portion of the US Geography Olympiad’s Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships from 2013-2016, as well as the Middle School and Elementary Division USGO Quiz Bowl Tournament National Championships from 2015. These can be found on the USGO website here. Questions used at the IGB’s Elementary and Middle School Division National Championships will be slightly easier than the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels, on the whole. Again, though, many (in fact, most) questions that have been asked at the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels in the USGO Quiz Bowl Tournament would not be out of place at the IGB’s USA Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships.

Likewise, if at all possible, we strongly recommend students get advance practice and experience with buzzer-based academic competition through participation in National History Bee and Bowl events (click here for Varsity and Junior Varsity tournaments, which are also open to elementary and middle schoolers – and see here for the dedicated Middle School and Elementary National History Bee and Bowl events) and through all subject quiz bowl tournaments (see here for the best compendium of upcoming tournaments, though the events listed on these forums are by no means the only competitions that exist). Many students (especially those with experience in other non-buzzer based geography competitions, but lacking buzzer-based academic competition experience) may find buzzer-based play takes some getting used to in order to excel at, and it is beneficial for students to get some buzzer-based competition experience (even if not on mostly geography questions) prior to the National Championships.

Links to additional buzzer-style quiz questions can be found on the National History Bee and Bowl’s website here (many of these questions have a historical geography focus). You can also view all-subject quiz questions at including a much narrower selection of all-geography events (in particular, any event labeled “Geography Monstrosity” in the Collegiate section of the website though those questions are considerably harder on average than even the Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships questions for IGB. Still, there is certainly some overlap).

Additionally, we recommend that students keep up to date with current events, as a fair number of the questions have a focus on what is currently happening in the world, and how geography applies to national and international affairs. The Economist and The New York Times are worth reading in particular for this purpose (paywalls apply).

Motivated students might also consider becoming an AFS Exchange Student (or hosting one from another country) for a particularly unique chance to learn about foreign cultures and languages while studying overseas and living with a host family. Upon graduation, students can also further their geographic, international relations, and intercultural knowledge through participation in the International Youth Leadership Conference. Contact IGB founder, AFS alumnus (Semester Program to Vienna, Austria in 1998-1999), and IYLC past participant (Prague, 2003) David Madden if you have any further questions about either of these adventures at