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.

Nationwide, most quiz bowl events are tournaments on Saturday, for 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. Some regions have tournaments nearly every non-holiday weekend of the school year; others have just a few. There are also leagues, conferences, televised competitions, and other types of events in some parts of the country. (League and conference matches usually take place on weeknights.)

Most tournaments let schools enter multiple teams; schools wishing to do so will group their players according to complementary strengths and designate the teams “A,” “B,” and so on. Regardless of the size of a team, four players play at a time.

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. Some tournaments are run by community organizations like Rotary Clubs.

NAQT sells both tournament and practice questions (including a New High School Package for beginning teams). NAQT is not a universal governing body for all quiz bowl tournaments.

At the end of the season, teams may attend a state championship (if their state has one). 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 2024 HSNCT brought 320 teams from across the U.S. and Canada to Atlanta, Georgia for 29 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 material, and a deeply discounted starter package for new schools.

If you’d be interested in learning more about quiz bowl, please write to hs@naqt.com or call 888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”).

Starting a High School Team

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Tournament Schedule

NAQT maintains a schedule of high school tournaments, TV shows, conferences, and leagues.

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