Please also see our Past Questions and Other Resources from our Varsity and Junior Varsity Divisions as well as from the US Academic Bee and Bowl for further practice.
Please note that the Varsity and JV Division questions vary from somewhat to considerably harder than the questions used for Middle School and Elementary School Divisions, and that the USABB questions, while intended for play among Middle School and Elementary School students are on all academic subjects and not just history (though many history questions can be found in these rounds).
Rules & Format Overview
Note: An optional intramural competition may also be held in advance of the Online Regional Qualifying Exam at some schools and some homeschool groups, but this is not an officially required stage.
National History Bee Stage 1 – Online Regional Qualifying Exam – 50 question multiple choice exam on all aspects of history. 2 points are scored for a correct answer, 0 for an answer left blank, and -1 for an incorrect response. This format thus rewards partial knowledge but not lucky random guesses. This exam must be supervised by a teacher, parent, or other responsible adult who may not provide assistance to the exam taker.
National History Bee Stage 2 – Regional Finals
Beginning in 2018-2019, we will be using a format very similar to what is used in the Varsity & JV Divisions. The “incorrect interrupt” rule used in past years is no longer in effect, though see below for details.
3 rounds of buzzer-based play in preliminaries, and 1 round in the Finals. Middle School Divisions (Grade 6, 7, and 8) play separated by grade on 30 question rounds. Elementary School Division (all students in Grade 5 and younger) play together on 25 question rounds. Up to 10 students compete together in a room at any given time. One point is scored for each correct response; only one student can score per question. Once a student has rung in with an incorrect response, they cannot ring in again on that question. 3 incorrect answers kill the question. If a student is the third one to answer incorrectly before the end of the question, they score -1; otherwise, students do not lose points for an incorrect response (the first or second incorrect response, and the third incorrect response if the question has been read to completion do not incur a loss of a point).
When a student reaches 6 points they are finished for the round, but they will receive up to 9 bonus points based on how quickly they finish the round with bonus points being allotted as follows:
If a student gets their 6th point on Question…. They receive this many bonus points. For a total of:
6 9 15
7 or 8 8 14
9 or 10 7 13
11 or 12 6 12
13-15 5 11
16-18 4 10
19-21 3 9
22-24 2 8
25-27 1 7
28-30 0 6
All students play 3 preliminary rounds. The top students in each age division make the finals. Approximately the top 50% in each age division will qualify for Nationals.
There are no exams in the National History Bee Regional Finals this academic year.
National History Bee Stage 3 – National Championships
Same rules as at the Regional Finals, though all students will compete in 4 preliminary rounds. We anticipate there being 3 playoff rounds in each age division; approximately the top 128 students in each age division will make the playoffs. It is projected that in each playoff round, 8 students will play in a room, and the top 2 in each room will advance to the next round, though this will be confirmed.
There are no exams in the National History Bee National Championships this academic year.
All questions in the Regional Finals and National Championships of the National History Bee will take the form of a tossup question. Tossup questions are buzzer-based questions of short paragraph length progressing from harder to easier information from the beginning to the end of the question. Topics may cover any aspect of world history, including, but not limited to: historical geography, recent history, history of science, history of literature, history of the arts and music, and the history of sports and entertainment. Approximately 40-50% of the questions are on the history of the USA (including colonial history prior to 1776).
National History Bowl – Regional Tournaments
History Bowl Rules Are Accessible Here. The rules for the Middle School Division of the National History Bowl are the same as listed for the Varsity and Junior Varsity Divisions, with the exception that in the first quarter in the Middle School Division there are 8 questions, not 10, and in the third quarter there are 6 questions in each 60 second category, not 8.
At Regional tournaments, teams typically play 5 preliminary rounds. At some tournaments, teams may play only 4 preliminary rounds (if there is an odd number of teams) or as many as 6 preliminary rounds (if there are 4 teams, or if rebracketing is used at lunch time). Teams are ranked first on record, then on points (unless there is an odd number of teams and a round robin format isn’t used, in which case, they are ranked on average points). The top 2-16 teams make the playoffs depending on turnout.
National History Bowl – National Championships
Teams will be guaranteed at least 6 matches at Middle School Nationals in 2020. At least 3 rounds of playoffs will be played after Round 6 concludes. Further details on the exact number of rounds will be available once the number of teams in the field is finalized. It is projected, though, that teams will play a round robin among 3 other teams in Rounds 1-3, and then the top 2 teams out of each initial pool will advance to contention rounds in Rounds 4-6, while fourth place teams, and most or all 3rd place teams will play in consolation pools in Rounds 4-6.
How to Order Buzzers
Please click here for details on how to order a buzzer system. Having a buzzer system is never a requirement to compete in our events, but having a buzzer system can help to simulate tournament play in practice, and History Bowl and Academic Bowl teams get discounts to tournaments they compete in when they bring buzzer systems.