2018 High School National Championship Tournament Logistics Information

The 2018 High School National Championship Tournament will be held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel in Atlanta, GA, on May 25–27, 2018. This is the same hotel that hosted the 2017 HSNCT.

The HSNCT is NAQT’s overall high school championship event. NAQT also runs a Small School National Championship Tournament for small high schools. Make sure you are looking at information for the proper tournament. (Qualified small schools are welcome to attend the HSNCT, even if they also attend the SSNCT!)

Online registration is now open.


May 25–27, 2018 (Friday–Sunday). This is Memorial Day weekend.

Teams will check in on Friday, May 25, and have the opportunity to meet each other and play scrimmage matches on official NAQT questions. As an alternative to the scrimmage matches, teams may also participate in the ACRONYM popular culture tournament on Friday evening.

The tournament’s preliminary games will take place throughout Saturday and on Sunday morning, and its playoff games will take place on Sunday afternoon and evening. Teams may stay through Monday (or longer!) to explore Atlanta at the discounted hotel rates negotiated by NAQT. Teams that cannot arrive on Friday night will have a chance to check in on Saturday (if they notify NAQT of the situation in advance).


The Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel in Atlanta, GA. This building is the official hotel, and it contains all of the competition rooms.


This schedule is tentative, but Friday check-in is guaranteed to be open from 6:00 until 9:00 p.m., the Morning Session opening meeting is guaranteed not to start before 8:00 a.m., and the Afternoon Session games are guaranteed to be scheduled to finish by 8:00 p.m.

Friday (evening)

1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Early Buzzer Bonus intake Imperial Ballroom Registration Desk Marquis Level
5:00 p.m. (or upon arrival) Staff check-in TBA
5:00 – 11:00 p.m. ACRONYM popular culture tournament TBA
6:00 – 9:30 p.m. Team check-in Marquis Ballroom Foyer Marquis Level
6:00 – 9:30 p.m. Scrimmage organization Imperial Ballroom Registration Desk Marquis Level

Saturday: Morning Session

7:00 – 8:00 a.m. Late-arrival team check-in Marquis Ballroom Foyer Marquis Level
7:30 a.m. Late-arrival staff check-in TBA
7:40 a.m. All staff check-in TBA
8:00 – 8:40 a.m. Staff meeting Room A601 Atrium Level
8:00 – 8:20 a.m. Players’ and coaches’ meeting Marquis Ballroom Marquis Level
8:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Morning Session (Rounds 1–7) Throughout the hotel
1:15 – 2:45 p.m. Lunch (not provided)

Saturday: Afternoon Session

9:00 a.m.– 2:00 p.m. Late-arrival team check-in Information Desk (Marquis Registration) Marquis Level
1:50 – 2:20 p.m. Team staff meeting TBA
2:00 – 2:20 p.m. Players’ and coaches’ meeting Marquis Ballroom Marquis Level
2:45 – 7:15 p.m. Afternoon Session (Rounds 8–14) Throughout the hotel


8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Final preliminary games (Rounds 15–20) Throughout the hotel
11:30 a.m.– 1:30 p.m. Lunch (not provided)
1:15 –1:30 p.m. Individual award ceremony and playoff bracket unveiling Marquis Ballroom Marquis Level
1:30 p.m. Playoff pairings posted Information Desk (Marquis Registration) Marquis Level
1:30 – 2:00 p.m. Playoff card pick-up Imperial Ballroom Registration Desk Marquis Level
2:00 – 6:00 p.m. Playoffs (Rounds 21–27) Throughout the hotel
2:00 – 6:00 p.m. Consolation rounds TBA
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Dinner (not provided)
7:00 – 8:15 p.m. Playoffs (Rounds 28–29) Ballrooms
8:15 p.m. Finals (1 or 2 games) Marquis Ballroom Marquis Level
After finals Awards Marquis Ballroom Marquis Level

On Saturday, teams will be assigned to either the Morning Session or the Afternoon Session of games. Each team will either play seven games between 8:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. (and then have the afternoon off) or will play seven games between 2:45 and 7:15 p.m. (having had the morning off).

On Saturday morning teams should be in the Marquis Ballroom by 7:55 a.m. if they are playing in the Morning Session and by 1:55 p.m. if they are playing in the Afternoon Session.

Information Desk

Starting Friday evening, NAQT will operate an Information Desk at the Marquis Registration Desk on the Marquis Level. The Information Desk will be in contact with all control rooms and the stat room throughout the day, and should be the first place teams go with any question about the tournament (with the exception of in-game protests). NAQT will also be selling practice questions and study guides at the Information Desk.

Participants may also text 213‑279‑6278 (“NAQT”) with questions if it is inconvenient for them to get to the Information Desk (standard messaging rates apply). Tournament staff will answer incoming messages as quickly as they can. This number is only for text messages, not calls. Call 888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”) to speak to a member of tournament staff.

Note that one question the Information Desk cannot (easily) help with is “Where is my team currently playing?”. As a result of the power-matched format, NAQT cannot quickly locate teams during the day faster than calling or texting the mobile number provided for the chaperone. We will, of course, do our utmost to find lost teams (or lost players), but it won’t be a quick process (and probably no quicker than just calling the chaperone directly). Make sure your players and chaperones have each others’ numbers in their phones before the first round begins.


This tournament will use NAQT’s Official Gameplay Rules and High School Eligibility Rules.


Schools qualify to send teams to the HSNCT through their performance at tournaments using NAQT questions that are held throughout the year.

Qualified teams may now register online.

Teams that have not qualified as of February 1, 2018 will be able to request a wildcard invitation (while also continuing to try to qualify at the buzzer at upcoming tournaments).

Teams that don’t qualify for the HSNCT (either via an automatic invitation or by wildcard) may attempt to participate in the tournament on a standby basis. Standby teams may begin signing up on February 1, 2018. The order of standby teams that sign up in the first 24 hours will be randomized. Those that sign up after the first 24 hours will be taken in order of signing up. Qualified teams may also attend on a standby basis. Standby teams are not guaranteed to participate: They are added to the field if replacement teams are needed.


The field for the tournament is limited to 304 teams.

Online registration has opened; the current field is listed here.


The participating teams will be divided into two Sessions (Morning and Afternoon) for the Saturday preliminary rounds. Those two groups of teams will compete separately on Saturday, but they will be merged for each team’s final three preliminary games on Sunday morning.

Teams are guaranteed exactly ten preliminary matches; seven of those will be played on Saturday (with each team competing either during the Morning Session or the Afternoon Session), and the final three will be played on Sunday morning.

Those matches will be determined by power-matching, so that teams with similar records will be playing each other in every round. Every team with a winning record (6–4 or better) will advance to the playoffs. The elimination playoffs will be held on Sunday; teams that finished 7–3 or better in the preliminary games can lose once without being eliminated (and will be eliminated upon their second loss); teams that finished 6–4 in the preliminary games will be eliminated by a single loss.

Registration & Fees

Online registration is now open for qualified teams.

The registration fee is $675 per team if payment is received on or before May 4, 2018. The fee is $695 per team on or after May 5, 2018. Schools that first qualified after April 1 have until May 11 to register at the lower rate. The deadline to accept an invitation is May 18, or when the field fills, whichever comes first.

The field has historically filled. Qualifying for the tournament does not guarantee a spot in the field, it merely enables your team to register for one of the spots if a spot is available. Once you have qualified, you should register as soon as you can to ensure your team a berth in the tournament. The field for the 2017 HSNCT filled around March 1 (though a number of teams were promoted from the waitlist after that).

One week after the field first fills (and the waitlist starts), teams that withdraw from the tournament will be liable for 50% of the base registration fee as a cancellation penalty. In addition, even if the field has not closed, teams that cancel on or after April 15 will be liable for 10% of the base registration fee; teams that cancel on or after May 1 will be liable for 50% of the base registration fee; and teams that cancel on or after May 20 will be liable for 75% of the base registration fee. Those deadlines notwithstanding, every team will have a one-week grace period from the time of its registration during which it may cancel with no penalty.

The registration fee only covers participation in the tournament. It does not cover transportation, lodging, food, or other expenses.

Teams bringing a working buzzer system to the tournament will be eligible for a $20 discount on the registration fee if it meets NAQT’s national-championship standards. There may be some surprises in that policy! Please read it in advance to make sure your system qualifies. Each team may claim up to two such discounts. NAQT will only award the discount for buzzer systems that it receives by 9:30 p.m. Friday and can keep from check-in until 7:00 p.m. Sunday. If a team anticipates arriving later than that or leaving before that, we would prefer to use (and discount) a different system to avoid inconveniencing that team and ourselves.

Early Buzzer Bonus

NAQT will pay a $20 cash “Early Buzzer Bonus” for every buzzer system dropped off between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Friday at the Imperial Ballroom Registration Desk. A team can thus get a total of $40 for each of its buzzers ($20 discount and $20 Early Buzzer Bonus) by listing it/them and dropping it/them off between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday. The bonus will be paid immediately, in cash, to whomever drops the buzzer off. Early Buzzer Bonus payments will stop at 5:00 p.m. sharp.

NAQT will begin returning team buzzer systems at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday (and not before, except in emergencies). As mentioned above, this might make it impractical for teams planning to leave as soon as they are eliminated to receive buzzer-system discounts (as their systems will not have been returned at that point). Teams should plan on picking up their systems prior to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday. If a team is unable to do that, it should make prior arrangements with NAQT for the disposition of the system. Buzzer systems will be returned from the Imperial Ballroom Registration Desk.

Teams attending both the HSNCT and the SSNCT will receive a $100 discount on their HSNCT entrance fee.

It has not yet been determined whether teams will be offered discounts for providing staff members.

Schools may earn discounts on their HSNCT registration by staffing NAQT’s other national championships: the CCCT, ICT, SSNCT, and MSNCT according to our cross-tournament discount program. All four of these tournaments will be held in Chicago in 2018.

Team rosters may be changed at any time prior to the start of the HSNCT, so it is neither necessary nor desirable to wait to register until a team’s composition has been definitively decided. Register as soon as possible and, if necessary, update the registration when the composition of a team is decided or changes.

Session Assignments

Unlike in past years, there will be two Sessions of play on Saturday; this will effectively group each team’s byes together to allow it a longer block of time for sightseeing.

Each team will be assigned to either the Morning or Afternoon Session on Saturday; this determines whether it plays its first seven preliminary games in the Morning (8:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.) or the Afternoon (2:45 – 7:15 p.m.). The two groups will be merged for each team’s final three preliminary games on Sunday morning.

Each team may request a specific Session when it registers, but these assignments are not guaranteed. NAQT does make the following guarantees:

Checking In

The primary check-in period will be 6:00 and 9:30 p.m. in the Marquis Foyer (on the Marquis Level) on Friday, May 25. Durign this period, NAQT will be disbursing information folders, answering questions, and handling outstanding administrative matters. There are “late” check-in periods on Saturday, but NAQT would prefer that as many teams as possible check-in on Friday night.

To check in, each team should send one coach or chaperone to the check-in area. That representative will be given the team’s information folder.

Check-in will start at 6:00 p.m. In past years there has been a long line just after the check-in desk opens, so we encourage chaperones to glance at the line every 20 to 30 minutes and to come (without their team!) to check in when it is short. There is no need to check in immediately! In particular, teams can play scrimmage rounds even if they have not checked in. There is no problem with a team arriving at the hotel at 6:40, playing a scrimmage game, eating dinner, playing another scrimmage game, and then checking in at 9:10 when there is nobody in line.

Remember that NAQT is paying an additional “Early Buzzer Bonus” of $20 for buzzer systems that are dropped off between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Regardless of when you choose to check in, please consider dropping off your systems during this time period to earn extra money and to help us make sure we have everything ready for scrimmages to begin at 6:00.

Teams that don’t arrive at the hotel until after 9:30 p.m. on Friday may check in between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. in the Marquis Ballroom Foyer (Marquis Level) if they are in the Morning Session. Teams in the Afternoon Session may check in between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at the Information Desk. Teams that checked in on Friday do not need to check in again on Saturday.


Between 6:00 and 9:30 p.m. on Friday night, game rooms will be set up for teams to scrimmage against each other on questions from previous championships. This scrimmaging is free and will be moderated by tournament staff. We encourage all teams to come by to play a practice game or two.

Teams that want to participate in the scrimmages should go to the Imperial Ballroom Registration Desk. Note that a team does not need to have checked in to be allowed to scrimmage.

Scrimmages will be organized by means of “scrimmage tickets”: When a team shows up to the scrimmage desk, it will be given a ticket listing a room and a time; that team should go to that room and be prepared to play at that time. The majority of tickets will be for games that start within 5 to 15 minutes, but it is possible that there could be a 30-to-45-minute wait during the busiest periods. If a team wants to play another match, it should return to the scrimmage desk to get another ticket after its game finishes.

Scrimmages are open to all players, including alternates and standby teams. Ineligible players (e.g. parents or coaches) may compete if both teams are amenable to their participation, but the purpose of the scrimmages is to let actual teams experience actual tournament conditions. A more appropriate time for parents and coaches to partake of quiz bowl is during the Sunday consolation rounds.

In light of the ACRONYM popular-culture tournament taking place at the same time, scrimmages will be scaled back in scope from previous years. In particular, the number of rounds per team will be limited in a manner yet to be determined.


The exact list of trophies and awards has not yet been announced, but it will be similar to the list from last year, when the top 40 teams received team trophies and the top 36 All-Stars received individual awards.

Consolation Rounds

Teams that do not qualify for the playoffs are encouraged to return after lunch on Sunday to play against any other teams they want (or to mix-and-match from across the country) on the playoff questions. These consolation rounds will be moderated by tournament staff. Please note that all students, even alternates or observers, are welcome to take part. Teams that qualify for the playoffs may also join the consolations once they have been eliminated.

Two kinds of consolation rounds will be offered:

If rooms, buzzers, or staffers run short, consolation mini-tournaments will be given priority over ad hoc matches.

The consolation rounds (whether mini-tournaments or not) have no effect on a team’s overall standing in the tournament. They are played solely for fun.

ACRONYM Popular Culture Side Event

NAQT has arranged with Erik Nelson of Play Quiz Bowl to host a mirror of its ACRONYM popular culture tournament as a “side event” on Friday evening. This event is not part of the official championship and is entirely optional.

The mirror is open to all people at the national championship including players, coaches, parents, and staffers (assuming they haven’t played the ACRONYM 11 question set at a prior tournament!). People affiliated with schools may mix-and-match to form chimera teams. There is a separate registration fee ($90) for the ACRONYM mirror. Most side events have a lenient registration policy that allows teams to sign up immediately prior to an event’s start, but NAQT suspects that the ACRONYM field will fill (and thus encourages teams to register as soon as they can commit).

The tournament will have two divisions, one for teams composed entirely of high schoolers and another that is open to all competitors (of any age).

More information about the side event has been posted on hsquizbowl.org. Questions about ACRONYM should be directed to Erik Nelson.

Registration for ACRONYM is now open. If you are registering a mixed team or a team that wants to play under a nonstandard name, you may need to create a new organization, affiliate yourself with it as a Coach, and then register under its name.


Teams should fly into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (airport code ATL).

Transportation from the Airport to the Hotel

The hotel does not operate a shuttle to or from the airport.

NAQT recommends that teams take the MARTA train to reach the tournament. NAQT’s members have ridden MARTA and found it to be safe and convenient; there are also taxi and shuttle options, but MARTA will probably be the easiest and cheapest way to travel. It is a 20-minute trip.

Taking the MARTA train costs $5 per person round trip (plus $2 per person for a reusable Breeze Card). To reach the Marriott Marquis, take a northbound Red Line or Gold Line train (it doesn’t matter which one) from the airport to Peachtree Center Station (one stop north of the Five Points transfer station). After getting off the train, take the escalator labeled “Harris Street” to the mezzanine, then follow the signs to “Peachtree Street East” after walking through the fare gate. At street level, turn right (north) on Peachtree Street then right (east) on Harris Street/John Portman Blvd. The hotel is one block down at the intersection of Harris Street/John Portman Blvd. and Peachtree Center Ave. Here is a map of the walking directions. Between roughly 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., you can also walk through the Peachtree Center mall and cross the skyway to the Marriott Marquis.


The official hotel for the tournament is the Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel. Quadruple-occupancy rooms (with two double beds) are available for $109 per night. To receive that rate, book online or mention “NAQT” when making a reservation over the phone. The last day to reserve rooms at this special price is May 9. Note that there are several Marriott hotels in the Atlanta area; make sure you are reserving rooms at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta!

We have a room block that is calculated to cover the entire tournament, but we encourage teams to reserve their rooms as early as possible; if we end up needing more space, we would like as much time as possible to negotiate that!

Parking is $16/day and includes in-and-out privileges. The hotel only offers valet parking, so teams should be prepared to hand over their keys in exchange for a valet ticket when they reach the hotel. You will need this ticket (and your room number) to retrieve your car. Note that parked cars will not be easily accessible, so teams should remove everything they will need before parking.

Teams parking at the Marriott Marquis but not staying overnight can follow the same procedure, except that they will need to pay when retrieving their car (as they have no room to which the charge can be billed). They will also need to verbally identify themselves as “with NAQT” to get the discounted rate. If they are planning to return that same day, they can request a “sticker” from the valet staff to prevent them from having to pay a second time on the same day.

Buses cannot be parked in the hotel lot. The hotel has provided a list of nearby lots that allow bus parking. Buses can drop off at the hotel, but they will need to park elsewhere.

As part of the contract negotiated by NAQT, the hotel will offer complimentary guest room Internet access to tournament participants and their families. This only applies to rooms booked using the NAQT group code.

The standard check-out time at the Marriott Marquis is 11:00 a.m. Teams that are not staying Sunday night should make sure to check out of their rooms before their final preliminary games on Sunday morning.

Atlanta Marriott Marquis
265 Peachtree Center Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Phone: 404-521-0000
Fax: 404-586-6128


The Atlanta Marriott Marquis is connected by a skyway to a 60-restaurant food court at the Peachtree Center that offers a variety of affordable meals (sandwiches, Thai, pizza, Chinese, cheesesteaks, etc.). There are also additional restaurants in the hotel itself and within walking distance that should satisfy any combination of appetite and price range.


The Atlanta Marriott Marquis is downtown and within walking distance (10–15 minutes) of many of Atlanta’s major attractions including the Georgia Aquarium, the High Museum, Centennial Olympic Park, and the World of Coca-Cola.

Social Media

The official hashtag for the tournament is #hsnct; please use this tag for all messages about the tournament.

Remember that question content for the championship cannot be posted online (or shared through other channels)! This means that team members, coaches, spectators, and moderators should not discuss clues, answers, or even overall themes (e.g., “Lots of opera”) with people on other teams (even those from the same school).

Livebloggers will cover the tournament on NAQT’s social media, especially Twitter (@NAQTLive) and Instagram (@NAQTqb).

Relationship to the SSNCT

Small schools are eligible and welcome to attend the HSNCT (if qualified), regardless of whether they attend the Small School National Championship Tournament. The SSNCT and HSNCT will use different question sets, and a school that attends both will receive a $100 discount on its HSNCT registration fee.


NAQT anticipates offering t-shirts and other apparel for pre-order and on-site purchase through Fine Designs, the Official Event Merchandiser of the 2018 HSNCT. Details on products and pricing, along with ordering information, will be posted here (and teams who have already registered will be notified) when the details are finalized.

Practice Material

Teams that have been invited to compete at the 2018 High School National Championship Tournament may be interested in purchasing questions from previous years to prepare for the event. All 166 of NAQT’s past regular-season sets are available, as are the sets from previous championships.

Teams may also want to purchase frequency lists or Power Up study guides. These are also available on our practice questions page.

Finally, teams may want to look at the information contained in NAQT’s free You Gotta Know articles before the tournament. These detail the most frequently asked about question topics in a wide variety of areas.


Make checks payable to “NAQT” and send them to

National Academic Quiz Tournaments
11521 W 69th Street
Shawnee, KS 66203
If you wish to pay by credit card, call us at 888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”).

Further Questions

To ask specific questions about the HSNCT, e-mail hsnct@naqt.com.

We look forward to answering any and all questions, no matter how expansive or trivial, in the hopes of eliminating any possible confusion or mistakes in teams’ plans. If something’s not clear, let us know!