High School Quiz Bowl


At the high school level, quiz bowl is a competitive, academic, interscholastic activity for which players attend periodic practices and then represent their school at varsity tournaments. Those tournaments may be based on the school’s athletic conference, school district, county, or state; they may also be open to all comers.

Quiz bowl questions range over the entire spectrum of a high school curriculum and also include a certain amount of current events, sports, and popular culture. The matches feature a blend of individual competition and team collaboration, since no individual player is likely to be an expert in all subject areas. Quiz bowl can reinforce classroom lessons and also encourage players to go beyond their assignments to master other areas as well.

Tournaments that use NAQT’s eligibility rules are open to all high schools: public schools, private schools, religious schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and so on. Those tournaments are also open to home school collectives with students of an appropriate age.

A school’s quiz bowl season would generally run from early October until late April, though events do occur both before and after those thresholds. Teams will usually practice weekly, but more dedicated teams choose to do so more frequently, particularly in weeks leading up to major tournaments. Most practices consist of intrasquad games, but some may also include alternate activities to emphasize particular subject areas.

From time to time during the year, the players will be grouped into teams (of players with complementary strengths) and sent to tournaments. NAQT rules allow multiple teams from the same school to participate, so everybody can get a chance a play.

Nationwide, the most common form of competition is the so-called “Saturday tournament,” in which anywhere from 4 to 104 teams from different schools drive to a central location (the “host”) and play five to twelve matches, each of which takes about 30 minutes. Other types of competition include leagues, conferences, competitions run by television stations, and tournaments limited to a specific geographic area or political entity. League and conference matches usually take place on weeknights.

Some tournaments require the coaches of competing teams to assist as moderators or scorekeepers; other provide their own staff. Most tournaments have a registration fee of $40 to $100 that varies with location, length, and amenities.

Any high school may choose to host a tournament, which can serve as a fundraiser for its team. Many college quiz bowl teams also run high school tournaments as fundraisers and to entice players into considering them for their post-secondary education.

At the end of the season, teams may attend their NAQT State Championship. If they have done well during the year, they may earn an invitation to the NAQT High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT) and/or the NAQT Small School National Championship Tournament (SSNCT). The 2014 HSNCT brought 272 teams from across the U.S., Canada, and Honduras to Chicago for 26 rounds of amazing competition.

NAQT is a national quiz bowl format; many states also have their own forms of quiz bowl organized by a state activities association. Most active teams choose to compete in both; there are certainly differences among the various options, but, by and large, they are all activities that glorify learning and players that enjoy one are likely to enjoy the others.

NAQT is always willing to provide guidance to coaches, students, or parents interested in starting a new team or to players interested in improving. We also sell tournament questions, practice questions, and a deeply discounted starter package for new schools.

If you’d be interested in learning more about quiz bowl, please don’t hesitate to contact us by e-mail at naqt@naqt.com or by phone at 1.888.411.6278 (“NAQT”).