Within the USA, the International Geography Bee is split into four age divisions: Varsity, Junior Varsity, Middle School, and Elementary. 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 – they can also compete separately in the 8th, 7th, 6th Grade, or Elementary School Division (for 5th graders and younger) depending on their year in school or corresponding birthdate if homeschooled and not formally enrolled in a grade.
The Varsity and Junior Varsity 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 three separate versions: A, B, and C at the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels. Each is 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 National History Bee and Bowl‘s Varsity and JV level state and regional tournaments; the version of the NQE given at each tournament corresponds to the question set that NHBB uses at each event (also called A, B, and C).
To take the NQE at an NHBB 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 Varsity and JV 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 on any given version of the NQE once the National Median Scores are calculated then qualify for the National Championships. The National Median Scores are calculated for all scores that have been reported as of December 31 for C Set, January 31 for B Set, and February 28 for the A Set versions of the National Qualifying Exam.
The 2019 Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships for the International Geography Bee will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA on Friday, April 26. Competing students must arrive by 4:00pm, and are strongly recommended to fly in on the previous night. The competition will last from 5:00 to 9:45pm, with a break in between the preliminaries and final rounds – click here and scroll down for the full schedule. Students may compete in both the US Geography Olympiad and International Geography Bee US National Championships, as they will run at different times on April 26. It will consist of 3 rounds of buzzer-based competition with pyramidal quiz questions, followed by two final rounds. The International Geography Bee’s Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships will cost $85 per student in 2019.
To best prepare for the IGB National Championships, students should review the past questions from IGB Nationals as well as those 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 are run along identical lines as the USGO Quiz Bowl Tournaments were. The basic rules are the same as the rules used in the National History Bee Varsity and JV National Championships as shown here (scroll down to access these) The number of students who advance to the final rounds will be based off of the registration numbers, but will be no fewer than 24 and no more than 40.
Students who finish in the top half at the IGB US National Championships within their age division, or who score 75 or higher on any version of the National Qualifying Exam in the 2018-2019 or the 2019-2020 academic years qualify for the IGB World Championships in July 2020. Qualification is valid for two years; thus students who qualify at US Nationals in either 2019 or 2020 may attend 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 birth date (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 2018 IGB World Championships, students born between September 1, 2003 and August 31, 2005 will be considered JV, and those younger than that (i.e. born on or after September 1, 2005) will be considered Middle School.
The top three students in each age division at the 2019 and 2020 US National Championships receive discounted admission to compete at IGB Worlds in 2020. If students finish in the top 3 positions in both 2019 and 2020, then they are entitled to the more valuable of the two prizes, but not both on a cumulative basis.
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